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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

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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This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading May 17 coronavirus news.

Mexico reports 47,144 cases, 5,045 deaths


MEXICO CITY - Mexico registered 47,144 cases of coronavirus on Saturday, with the country's death toll rising to 5,045, health authorities said.

Mexico has seen a slightly higher death rate from coronavirus than the global average so far due to the widespread presence of pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity, experts say.

Obama tells 2020 high school graduates they'll have to grow up fast

Former President Barack Obama gave a virtual commencement address to graduating high school seniors across the country Saturday night during a televised event hosted by NBA star LeBron James.

It was part of a special called "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020" that included appearances by numerous musical stars, celebrities and athletes, including the Jonas Brothers, Megan Rapinoe, Pharrell Williams, Maren Morris and Malala Yousafzai.

The former president expressed pride in the class of 2020, especially because "the world is turned upside down by a global pandemic," he said.

"You’re going to have to grow up faster than some generations," he said.

Read the whole story here.

A 46-year-old doctor with coronavirus was critically ill but made startling recovery

A 46-year-old physician in Arizona with no prior health issues contracted the coronavirus and was so ill that his doctors feared he would die. But Karl Viddal ended his nearly two-month hospital stay on Friday after being put on a life-support machine that is not widely available.

His treatment illustrates how hospitals around the country are using a variety of methods to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The Phoenix-area physician came down with flu-like symptoms soon after returning from a trip abroad in March, according to an account of his illness and recovery by the Dignity Health hospital system. As he began to feel worse and had trouble breathing, the father of three young children was admitted to a hospital in Gilbert, Arizona, on March 22.

Read the full story here.

Wisconsin nurse went to bar to help sister reopen, now apologizes for 'lapse in judgment'

Wisconsin nurse who was interviewed on TV while at a local bar to support her sister's reopening is now apologizing for not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing.

The apology from Katie Koutsky comes after she was interviewed Wednesday by NBC affiliate WTMJ in Milwaukee for a story on crowds gathering at bars in the nearby city of West Allis after the state Supreme Court struck down the governor's stay-at-home order.

“I have a toddler at home, and I’m a full-time nurse, so it’s been very stressful and hard to not be able to go out and be with my friends and family at the bars,” Koutski said at the time, telling the outlet that she didn't think being at the bar presented a greater risk than going to a grocery store.

Read the full story here.

Obama slams Trump administration's leadership amid coronavirus pandemic

WASHINGTON — Former President Barack Obama criticized “the folks in charge” for their response to the coronavirus pandemic in a commencement address Saturday, offering some of his most pointed condemnation of President Donald Trump’s administration.

“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Obama said in the address, which was streamed online. “A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

“If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you," said Obama, who has rarely criticized Trump publicly since leaving office three years ago.

The commencement address was delivered to 27,000 students at 78 historically black colleges and universities in a two-hour event called “Show Me Your Walk H.B.C.U. Edition.”

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Pence to visit Florida on Wednesday

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence announced he will travel to Florida on Wednesday to meet with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss the state’s phased economic reopening. 

Pence’s office said the vice president will also deliver personal protective equipment to a nursing home and attend a roundtable discussion with hospitality and tour tourism industry leaders. 

Pence’s trip comes as both he and the president have started to make out of town visits to battleground states to highlight their coronavirus relief response.

DeSantis, a close ally of President Donald Trump, has been criticized for his response to the pandemic, including allowing some beaches to remain open to spring breakers and rushing to reopen the state.

New York will reopen racetracks as COVID-19 deaths keep declining

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that the state will on June 1 reopen its horse-racing tracks. Watkins Glen International automobile racetrack will also reopen. But events at all the tracks will be without fans.

The state is "looking for all opportunities to reopen economic activity without crowds," Cuomo said.

In addition, Westchester County and Suffolk County in the New York City metropolitan area will soon be able to perform elective surgeries and provide ambulatory care. 

"Hospitals are safe places to go," said Cuomo. "We want to make sure that people who need medical services get it."

As the state continues it's phased reopening, Cuomo said officials anticipate a possible increase in coronavirus cases, but, he added, "We don't want to see a spike" that would overwhelm hospitals' capacity to care for COVID-19 patients.

The number of deaths from the virus increased on Friday to 157, compared to the previous day's 132, which was the lowest number of fatalities the state saw this week. The number of new hospitalizations was 400, down from the prior day's tally of 431, Cuomo said.

NYC tourist who posted pics at the beach in Hawaii arrested for violating quarantine rule

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A New York City tourist in Hawaii was arrested for violating the state's quarantine rule after he shared photos of himself on Instagram at the beach, authorities said.

Tarique Peters, 23, was arrested on Friday after local residents saw the pictures and alerted Hawaiian authorities.

"He allegedly left his hotel room the day he arrived and traveled many places using public transportation," a press release from the state's COVID-19 information center states.

Peters posted numerous photos of himself as he walked around Waikiki, went to the beach with a surfboard and sunbathed, the release states.

Read the full story here.

Thailand extends ban on international flights until end of June

Nat Sumon

Thailand on Saturday extended a ban on international passenger flights until the end of June, the country's aviation regulator said.

The Civil Aviation Authority's, which comes as new cases in the country dwindle, extends a previous order that was set to run until the end of May.

The country has started to relax local restrictions after reporting single-digit increases of infections from the virus this month. On Saturday, the country reported no new cases and no new deaths, leaving the total at 3,025 cases of the virus and 56 fatalities.

Soccer kicks off in Germany as first major sports league reopens amid pandemic

Carl Nasman

Carl Nasman and Henry Austin
Image: FC Bayern Muenchen v RB Leipzig - Bundesliga
U.S. international Tyler Adams of RB Leipzig battles for possession with Thiago Alcantara of Bayern Munich during a Bundesliga match in FebruaryAlex Grimm / Bongarts/Getty Images file

As Germany’s top soccer league, known as the Bundesliga, prepares to kick off for the first time since the country entered a coronavirus lockdown, 10-time U.S. international Tyler Adams admitted there was one thing he had not thought about — how he will celebrate if he scores for his RB Leipzig team on Saturday.

“I haven’t thought about anything yet,” the 21-year-old midfielder told NBC News, adding that he would hopefully get a goal against SC Freiburg. “That’s my first concern, and then we’ll see,” he said.

In the week leading up to the game, Adams has been living in quarantine with his teammates at his team’s training ground in the eastern German city of Leipzig.

Read the full story here.

RNC plans in-person convention 100 days out

WASHINGTON — Despite warnings from health officials about the potential risks of mass gatherings this summer, the Republican National Committee says it's still planning an in-person convention for this August in Charlotte, N.C. The RNC expects as many as 50,000 visitors to gather to re-nominate President Trump. 

“This 5-star event will play an integral role in promoting local businesses and generating millions of dollars across the region. It will leave a lasting impact,” the group said on Saturday — Saturday also marks the 100-day countdown to the event.  

Image: Republican National Convention
The stage is left empty after Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus left the stage during protests on the floor on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.Alex Wong / Getty Images file

Earlier in May, the RNC announced it was adding a medical expert as a senior adviser to the convention planning team to develop “health and safety protocols.” That came after NBC News reported the group was considering alterations to the traditional four-day spectacle due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Democratic National Committee already pushed back their Milwaukee, Wis. convention from mid-July to August because of health concerns. The DNC has left open the possibility that parts of the convention will be held virtually, but officials expect a portion of the event will be held in-person.   

Kansas City Zoo penguins take a field trip to the museum


Greeks return to beaches in heat wave, but keep umbrellas apart


Image: Greece re-opens beach
Visitors at Alimos beach, near Athens, on Saturday.Yorgos Karahalis / AP

Greeks flocked to the seaside on Saturday when more than 500 beaches reopened, as the country sought to walk a fine line between protecting people from the coronavirus while reviving the tourism sector that many depend on for their livelihoods.

For a lot of people in Greece, it was a first foray into a big public venue since the country began easing its lockdown earlier this month, and it also coincided with the first heat wave of the year. Sun-seekers were required to respect distancing rules, which even stipulated how far umbrellas must be kept apart.

No more than 40 people were allowed per 1,000 square meters (10,750 square feet), while umbrella poles had to be 13 feet apart, with canopies no closer than one meter to one another (about three feet), according to a government-issued manual, complete with a diagram.

Greece has reported a fraction of the coronavirus cases of neighboring countries — more than 2,800 infections with 160 deaths.

Wave of 'vaccine nationalism' hinders global efforts to halt virus

The coronavirus crosses borders without regard for national boundaries or identities. But the response to it, and the hunt for a vaccine, has been caught up in a tide of nationalism that was already sweeping the world before the virus hit, and which may end up delaying distribution of a vaccine to billions of people.

A competitive vision outlined in the United States and other vaccine-producing powerhouses such as China and India threatens to undermine the efforts of dozens of countries, which are raising billions of dollars in an attempt to find an effective immunizing shot that they say should be available equally around the world.

Some experts and former officials fear that leaders such as President Donald Trump may be pursuing the doctrine of "vaccine nationalism." This is the idea that any government whose scientists win this vaccine "race" — as it's often described — might try to hoard the shots for domestic use.

Read the full story here.

'I gave this to my dad': COVID-19 survivors grapple with guilt of infecting family

Paul Stewart holds a photo of his parents, Dolores and Robert Stewart, outside his home in Winfield, Ill.
Paul Stewart holds a photo of his parents, Dolores and Robert Stewart, outside his home in Winfield, Ill.Joshua Lott / for NBC News

Paul Stewart thought he’d caught a bad cold.

In the third week of March, he came down with a sore throat, mild fever, cough, chills and body aches. The coronavirus was just starting to spread across Illinois, shuttering schools and workplaces, including the clinic in DuPage County where he worked as a rehabilitation technician. It didn’t occur to him that he might have the virus, even after a co-worker tested positive. Paul’s symptoms came and went, and on some days he felt well enough to go on a five-mile run.

Then his father started coughing.

Paul, 55 and twice divorced, lived with his parents in the house where he grew up. He assumed his father, Robert, 86, a tough former professional baseball player, Army veteran and cancer survivor, had picked up his cold. But the bug seemed to take over Robert’s body, wrecking his appetite and pummeling his lungs.

Read the full story here.

How comic strips have changed during the pandemic


Midwest manufacturing workers sound alarm over COVID-19 outbreaks

Lisa Riordan Seville

Suzanne Ciechalski and Lisa Riordan Seville

COVID-19 outbreaks at meat and poultry facilities have hobbled the nation’s meat supply chain, leading President Donald Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to keep them open.

But outbreaks at manufacturing facilities that make everything from wind turbine parts to soap have also sickened scores of workers while garnering far less attention.

Some of those employees are sounding the alarm on what they say were poor safety practices that led to widespread infection among their co-workers.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has more than 1,300 open safety complaints related to COVID-19 at manufacturing facilities, according to NBC News analysis of data that runs through May 4. Those make up about 20 percent of the 6,672 open complaints related to the coronavirus. OSHA also closed 466 complaints from manufacturing facilities through April 22.

Experts said OSHA has taken a lax approach to enforcing safety laws during the pandemic, putting workers at risk.

Read the full story here.

Caught in India's lockdown, 23 migrants die in truck crash going home


A truck crammed with migrant laborers trying to reach their distant homes amid a nationwide lockdown crashed in northern India on Saturday, killing at least 23 and injuring 35.

The accident occurred before daybreak, when the truck collided with another truck that was parked by a roadside eatery in the Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh state, a top district official said.

India locked down its 1.3 billion citizens almost seven weeks ago in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, sparking a crisis for the hundreds of millions of Indians that rely on daily wages to survive.

With no work — and little public transport — many urban migrants attempting to return to their home villages have set out on grueling journeys on foot, or hitching rides in the back of trucks.

Italy to ease travel restrictions

Lidia Sirna

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

Stella Kim

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

Isobel van Hagen

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

Vivi Wu

Associated Press

Vivi Wu and Associated Press

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

The Associated Press

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

The Associated Press

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

The Associated Press

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.

Washington governor backs off requirement for restaurant logs

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday sought to clarify a rule that would require restaurants to keep daily logs of all customers once they reopen, saying it's now voluntary.

"We are asking visitors to voluntarily provide contact information in case of COVID-19 exposure," Inslee said in a statement, adding that the information would be shared with health officials if a visitor is exposed to the virus. If unused, the log would be destroyed in 30 days. 

"This will not be required of anyone," Inslee said.

On Monday, Inslee issued guidance that said restaurants allowed to reopen with  table service were required to "create a daily log of all customers" in case contact tracing was needed later.

The data collection requirement caused an uproar, and several restaurant owners were skeptical of the rule, The Seattle Times reported.

Businesses are still required to keep a log of those who voluntarily give their information.