House passes $3T 'HEROES' aid package as U.S. death toll nears 90,000

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Food Bank Distributes To Those In Need At The Barclays Center In Brooklyn
People wait on a long line to receive a food bank donation at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on May 15, 2020.Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

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As the number of deaths neared 90,000 in the U.S., 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.

Similar to the first major coronavirus aid package signed into law in late March, the 1,815-page HEROES Act passed by a vote of 208-199 and now heads to the Senate. One Republican backed the bill, while 14 Democrats voted against it.

It came as 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.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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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Italy to ease travel restrictions

Italians will be allowed to move freely in the region where they live as pandemic restrictions are eased, the country's government said in a news release on Saturday. International travel will also begin next month, it added. 

The inter-regional and foreign travel ban remains in place until after Italy’s June 2 Republic Day holiday in order to prevent any mass travel over the long-holiday weekend.

Italy imposed a nationwide lockdown in early March after it became the first country outside Asia with a major outbreak of virus. More than 31,000 people have died, leaving Italy with the third highest global death toll after the U.S. and the U.K.

The government has recently gradually reopened the country as the rates of infections and deaths have fallen. Social distancing rules are being implemented in the sectors of the economy that have reopened, including factories and some businesses. Schools remain closed and crowds are not permitted, although people will be allowed to attend Mass in churches with some restrictions starting next week, according to the Associated Press.

Impoverished Burundi, battered by violence and coronavirus, gears up for elections

Burundi will have its first competitive presidential election since the civil war erupted in 1993, but simmering political violence and fears that campaign rallies could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus have already marred the campaign.

President Pierre Nkurunziza is stepping down, although he intends to remain a prominent force in the impoverished East African nation. The ruling party is to hold its last rally on Saturday and the election will be held Wednesday.

Burundi said most election observers would have to undergo a 14-day quarantine. While the government is working to show the election as legitimate process, journalists in the country face the constant threat of arrest or attack; many have fled. Some civil society organizations have been closed.

Earlier this week, the government expelled the country representative for the World Health Organization despite mounting fears that Burundi's election rallies could help spread of the new coronavirus. The nation of 11 million has reported 27 cases so far but has only carried out about 520 tests in total.

Nightclub hotspot shows how hard it is to contain virus, South Korean authorities say

South Korean health authorities said on Saturday that a new virus hotspot linked to a nightclub district in the country’s capital Seoul, shows how difficult it is to contain the virus. At least 150 new cases have been linked to the city's densely populated Itaewon district after recent easing of lockdowns.

However, South Korea — which has been noted for its strong virus testing and tracing campaigns — are expressing cautious hope that new infections are beginning to wane.

Health Ministry official Son Young-rae on Saturday said that 46,000 people have so far been tested following a slew of infections linked to the nightclub district. “It’s notable there were no new transmissions in churches, call centers and gyms where virus carriers went to,” Son said according to the Associated Press.

The country reported 19 new cases of the virus on Saturday, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control, bringing its total to 11,037.

London mayor urges Londoners to stay at home despite restrictions easing

The Mayor of London urged people in the capital city to stay home this weekend, despite a relaxation of lockdown measures across the United Kingdom.

“I want to be clear with Londoners: lockdown has not been lifted,” Sadiq Khan said in a tweet on Saturday.“COVID-19 is still an extremely dangerous threat.”

It comes after some confusion surrounding British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement of a tentative road map for loosening restrictions earlier this week.

The U.K. has so far reported more than 238,000 cases and more than 34,000 deaths, the highest death toll in Europe, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

'Today there are two zeros' as Thailand reports no news cases or deaths

Patrons eat in between plastic partitions to contain the spread of COVID-19 at the Penguin Eat Shabu hotpot restaurant in Bangkok earlier this month.Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP - Getty Images

Thailand on Saturday reported no new virus cases or deaths, as the country begins to reopen businesses and ease restrictions.

"Today there are two zeros... thank you all Thais who have given their cooperation," Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government's Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, said.

This is the second day since Mar. 9 that the country has reported no new daily cases. The country on Sunday will allow malls and department stores to re-open. It will also shorten a nighttime curfew by one hour to 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. local time from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Thailand has so far reported a total of 3,025 cases of the virus and 56 fatalities.

India cases surpass the number in China

India’s confirmed cases have surpassed China’s on Saturday, as India's Health Ministry reported a spike to 85,940 total infections and 2,752 deaths. In the last 24 hours, India also confirmed 3,970 new cases and 103 fatalities.

China has reported a total of 82,941 confirmed cases and 4,633 deaths since the virus was first detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is due to announce this weekend a decision whether to extend the country's 54-day-old lockdown of its 1.3 billion people. 

Early this month, it started gradually easing the restrictions to resume economic activity by allowing neighborhood shops to reopen and manufacturing and farming to resume.

Australia reopens restaurants, bars, with a warning to be cautious

BRISBANE, Australia — Australians headed out to eat for the first time in weeks Saturday, but the reopening of restaurants, pubs and cafes came with a warning: don’t overdo it.

Public heath experts are urging caution as governments ease restrictions on eateries, shops and parks in many countries and roll out measures to restart dormant factories. The coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 300,000 people, has slowed in many places but could pick up again if precautions aren’t taken or officials move too quickly to get people back to work.

“The message is, yes, appreciate all the efforts, appreciate the opportunity to release some of those measures, but let’s not have a party, let’s not go to town,” said Tony Bartone, president of the Australian Medical Association.

Most restaurants are limited to 10 customers at a time, and Bartone said people must maintain social distance, follow coughing etiquette, wash their hands regularly and stay away from others if they are ill.

Tourists enter reopened Grand Canyon despite virus concerns

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — Tourists appeared ready to roam Grand Canyon National Park again after it partially reopened Friday, despite objections from Navajo officials and others that it could hurt efforts to control the coronavirus.

By 7:30 a.m., more than two dozen people were enjoying viewpoints along the South Rim.

The Grand Canyon had been closed since April 1, one of the last big national parks to shut down completely to visitors. At the time, health officials in Coconino County said keeping the park open put employees, residents and tourists at risk.

Park officials said the South Rim entrance will only open from 6-10 a.m. through Monday. Commercial services within the park remain closed. Those include hiking trails, visitors centers, hotels and restaurants — the places people tend to congregate. There are no overnight accommodations available. Some restrooms along with portable ones were available.

Meanwhile, the residential area where more than 2,000 people live year-round was cordoned off with cones and barrels to keep visitors away from the housing areas. About 20 miles (32 kilometers) of roadway were accessible to tourists that allow them to walk along the rim of the canyon and stand at a number of viewpoints.

Pelosi 'thrilled' over passage of $3 trillion aid package

It’s a work from home Congress as House approves proxy vote

WASHINGTON  — It all started with the grandchildren.

As House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer saw it, if he could Face Time with the grandkids, why not have Congress legislate by video chat and avoid the health risks of convening at the Capitol during the coronavirus pandemic?

And so the silver-haired, 80-year-old congressman from Maryland helped steer the House into one of the more substantial rules changes of its 230-year history.

“This is no revolutionary, radical change,” Hoyer said. “This is exactly what the Founders wanted to happen.”

The House approved the new rules Friday, during what could likely be the chamber’s last fully in-person votes for the foreseeable future.

From now on, lawmakers will be allowed to cast House floor votes by proxy — without being “present” as the Constitution requires. The next step will allow them to skip the middle-man and simply vote remotely once leaders approve the technology.