States struggle with contact tracing, Pence isn't taking hydroxychloroquine

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
COVID-19 Testing Begins in Historic Black Neighborhoods in Altamonte Springs, US
Health workers test people in cars for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site at the Apostolic Church of Christ in Altamonte Springs, Fla. on April 21, 2020.Paul Hennessy / Barcroft Media via Getty Images file

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States across the country are reopening their economies, but they’re struggling with what public health officials have called a key component aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus — contact tracing.

President Donald Trump might be taking hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic against COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean his vice president is.

"My physician hasn’t recommended that, but I wouldn’t hesitate to take the counsel of my doctor," Mike Pence told Fox News on Tuesday.

Walter Barton, 64, was put to death in Missouri on Tuesday. His was the first execution in the United States since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

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 to May 20 coronavirus news.

Italy's 24-hour death toll dips below 100 for first time since March

For the first time in nearly 10 weeks, Italy reported fewer than 100 deaths due to the coronavirus in a 24 hour period as the nationwide lockdown eased, officials said Tuesday. 

Italy was one of the hardest-hit countries in the world and more than 32,000 people have died since the pandemic began. But on Monday the country saw 99 deaths, far lower than the peak of several hundred deaths a day several weeks ago, while four regions reported no new infections at all.

With conditions improving, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in press release that Italy is aiming to allow the return of European tourists beginning June 3.

Mexico's COVID-19 death toll could be three times official count

MEXICO CITY — A registry of death certificates in Mexico City suggests there have been 4,577 cases in which doctors mentioned coronavirus or COVID-19 as a possible or probable cause of death, more than three times the official count.

The federal government acknowledges only 1,332 confirmed deaths in Mexico City due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Mexicans Against Corruption said in a report Monday it obtained access to a database of death certificates issued in Mexico City between March 18 and May 12. It showed that in explanatory notes attached to 4,577 death certificates, doctors included the words “SARS,” “COV2,” “COV,” “Covid 19,” or “new coronavirus.”

The virus’ technical name is SARS-CoV-2. The notes the group counted included terms such as “suspected,” “probable,” or “possible” when describing the virus’ role in the deaths. In 3,209 certificates, it was listed as a suspected contributing factor along with other causes of death, like pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ failure.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has acknowledged there are more virus-related deaths than officially reported, and has said a special commission will review the death figures. Her office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the new report.

Thailand's travel ban impacts the country's elephants

Trump admin taps startup to build first stockpile of key drug ingredients

Seeking to secure the nation's supply of critical medications, the Trump administration has signed a $354 million contract that would create the nation's first strategic stockpile of key ingredients needed to make medicines.

The agreement was signed Monday with Phlow Corp., a generic drug maker based in Virginia. According to a news release to be made public Tuesday, the project will use federal funds from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority under the Department of Health and Human Services.

The goal is twofold: to enable the U.S. to manufacture essential drugs at risk of shortage and to create a reserve of active pharmaceutical ingredients to reduce the dependence on foreign suppliers.

Read the full story here

Essential workers balance low pay, COVID-19 worries while staying open for America