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

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
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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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A cyclist rides on 42nd street in New York City on May 15, 2020.Johannes Eisele / AFP - Getty Images

Fort Lauderdale will allow restaurants, shops to reopen

Officials in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will allow restaurants, retail stores and other businesses to reopen beginning Monday.

Dean Trantalis, the mayor of the popular beach destination, said Friday that the decision was made in light of COVID-19 cases appearing to "drastically decline" in the community. He said in a memo that while positive coronavirus tests accounted for 13.4 percent of all results in the week that ended April 11, the number fell to 3.6 percent in the week that ended May 9.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Broward County officials have permitted the reopening, Trantalis added. But there will still be restrictions, he said, including that restaurants and retail stores can't be at more than half their normal capacities and must still follow certain social distancing guidelines. Other places that can reopen are hair and nail salons, museums and drive-in theaters. Gyms and community rooms in condo complexes can also open to members.

Trump names ex-pharma executive, Army general to lead coronavirus vaccine effort

President Donald Trump on Friday announced a team of two men to lead his administration’s effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, dubbed “Operation Warp Speed.”

The team consists of Moncef Slaoui, the former head of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division, and Gen. Gustave Perna, a four-star U.S. Army general, Trump said during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

Slaoui will serve as the chief scientist for the White House initiative and Perna will serve as its chief operating officer, said Trump, whose suggestions that a coronavirus vaccine could come within months have been repeatedly refuted by prominent health experts and veteran vaccine developers.

Trump repeated his timeline objective Friday, saying he wanted a vaccine ready "by the end of the year if we can." He also indicated that he would urge state governments to reopen their economies regardless of whether the timeline was met.

Read the full story here.

Connecticut to distribute 50,000 infrared thermometers

Connecticut will distribute 50,000 infrared thermometers for small businesses, nonprofits and places of worship to aid in COVID-19 monitoring efforts, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Friday.

The thermometers will be delivered to municipalities, which in turn will contact organizations that fill out an online form with instructions on picking up the thermometer.

The state partnered with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and its affiliate CONNSTEP to distribute the thermometers. Businesses with between 2 and 100 employees are eligible to receive a thermometer.

Beaches in New York, New Jersey, neighboring states to reopen for Memorial Day weekend

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware will open beaches the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday, a day after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced his plan to open the Jersey Shore. 

Cuomo said group sports such as volleyball will be prohibited, and picnic areas, playgrounds, arcades and concession stands will remain closed to help prevent a resurgence of coronavirus infections. Beaches will only open to 50 percent capacity, according to the governor. 

Social distancing will be enforced, and visitors who cannot keep a distance of at least six feet from another person will have to wear a mask, Cuomo said. The reopening does not include pools.

Coronavirus vaccine: This week's updates from Oxford and the NIH

The race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is on, as scientists work as quickly as they can to find a way to prevent the disease that has sickened more 4.4 million people and killed more than 300,000 worldwide.

On Friday, Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said the agency is planning to begin large-scale testing of several of the most promising vaccine candidates this summer. Despite such efforts, and despite statements from President Donald Trump this week, a vaccine most likely won't be ready by the end of the year.

Read more. 

Here are all the major retail companies who have filed for bankruptcy since the coronavirus pandemic hit

From iconic department stores to entertainment giants, the coronavirus has seemingly spared no one in its devastation of the U.S. economy.

With bankruptcy currently hovering over household staple JCPenney, factors such as falling consumer demand, reduced entertainment spending, and stay-at-home orders mandating certain businesses stay closed continue to take their toll. 

Even with the slow reopening of the economy as lockdowns beginning to lift, social distancing measures may continue for months. That will impact store capacity for retail and restaurants. For some businesses, these temporary changes could indicate bigger problems.

While bankruptcy doesn’t inherently mean that a company will go out of business — it's more a financial restructuring — it does spell news of changes to come.

Click here for the full list of companies who have filed for bankruptcy so far since the start of coronavirus.

Fact check: Trump needs 'miracle' to be right about rosy vaccine timeline, experts say

President Donald Trump has suggested multiple times that a coronavirus vaccine could come within months, an accelerated timeline prominent health experts and veteran vaccine developers say is unlikely absent a miracle.

“Vaccine work is looking VERY promising, before end of year,” Trump tweeted on Thursday.

But experts said the development, testing, and production of vaccine for the public is still at least 12 to 18 months off, and that anything less would be a medical miracle.

“I think it’s possible you could see a vaccine in people’s arms next year — by the middle or end of next year. But this is unprecedented, so it’s hard to predict,” said Dr. Paul Offit, a professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Read the full fact check here.

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.