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:

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

This live coverage has now ended. Continue to May 20 coronavirus news.

New Jersey gym opens for second day in defiance of state order

A police officer issues Atilis Gym co-owners Ian Smith, left, and Frank Trumbetti summons outside their gym in Bellmawr, N.J., on May 19, 2020.Matt Rourke / AP

A gym in New Jersey opened for a second day Tuesday in defiance of the governor's stay-at-home order.

A crowd of supporters erupted into chants of "U.S.A." at Atilis Gym in Bellmawr when it first reopened shortly after 8 a.m. Monday, two months after Gov. Phil Murphy announced an order closing fitness centers, casinos, concert venues and movie theaters to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The police department in Bellmawr, about 10 miles southeast of Philadelphia in Camden County, said in a statement that gym owners Frank Trumbetti and Ian Smith were both charged on a summons with a disorderly person's offense, the statement said.

But despite the charges, the business opened again Tuesday.

Read the full story here.

Trump says he's not sure whether he'll wear face mask on factory tour despite company policy

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is not sure whether he will wear a face mask Thursday when he visits a Ford factory in Michigan, appearing to go against Ford's safety protocols.

"I don’t know, I haven’t even thought of it," Trump said during a cabinet meeting at the White House when asked by reporters if he planned to wear a mask. "It depends, I mean, you know, certain areas I would and certain areas I don’t, but I will certainly look at it."

Ford said that their policy "is that everyone wears PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

“We have shared our policies and recommendations. The White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination," Ford added. 

Trump said he would determine whether to wear a mask depending on the place he was visiting.

"Is something a hospital? Is it a ward? Is it, what is it exactly? I’m going to a plant, so we’ll see. Where it’s appropriate I would do it, certainly," he said. 

Trump has been criticized for not wearing a face mask to factory tours in Arizona and Pennsylvania. In private, Trump has worried that wearing a mask would send the wrong message and make him look ridiculous

Belmont Stakes will be held, with no one in grandstands, on June 20

Justify with jockey Mike Smith crosses the finish line to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race in Elmont, N.Y., on June 9, 2018.Julie Jacobson / AP file

The Belmont Stakes, traditionally the third jewel of thoroughbred horse racing's Triple Crown, will run on June 20 — in front of empty grandstands and as the leadoff of the annual series, officials said Tuesday.

The Belmont had originally been set for June 6 just outside of New York City, before the coronavirus pandemic brought virtually all pro sports in North America to an abrupt halt.

The New York Racing Association pushed back its most famous event, but by only two weeks, in stark contrast to the Triple Crown's other two races, the Kentucky Derby in Louisville and Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.

Read the full story here. 

Fact check: Trump falsely claims just 1 study found hydroxychloroquine harmful or ineffective

 

President Donald Trump claimed Tuesday that just one study counters his belief that hydroxychloroquine can help prevent or treat COVID-19, and that was because the patients who were given the drug were already very ill.

“If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape. They were very old, almost dead,” Trump said, referring to a study of veterans taking the drug that linked it to a higher risk of death.

This is not true. There have been several studies into the effect of hydroxychloroquine on patients sick with the disease caused by coronavirus that have found the drug to be ineffective or harmful to patients fighting coronavirus.

A study out of China found that patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who were given hydroxychloroquine and standard care for COVID-19 fared worse than those given standard care, while French researchers in another study found that treatment with hydroxychloroquine didn’t stop the progression of the disease. A study in New York that was funded by the National Institutes of Health found no adverse or beneficial effects of the administration of hydroxychloroquine on coronavirus patients. Another study in Brazil was stopped early after patients developed fatal, irregular heartbeats.

NYU still plans to have in-person courses in the fall

New York University announced Tuesday that it still plans to hold in-person classes for the fall semester, even as some universities are opting for virtual-only courses to prevent a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Those plans could change depending on guidelines issued by local and federal authorities, according to a message from NYU Provost Katherine Fleming. 

"We’ll be living with safety measures and will have to be highly flexible so we can respond to a changing landscape," Fleming's email said. "I can promise you, however, that our goal is to enable you to stay on track academically in a way that works best for you in the current context and that maximizes flexibility." 

The California State University System, which runs 23 campuses, took the opposite approach last week and announced it would hold most of its courses online in the fall. CSU is among one of the largest four-year-public university systems in the country, educating about 480,000 students a year.

Many universities have yet to announce a formal decision on a fall semester as health officials warn there could be new spikes in cases as states reopen.

Harvey Weinstein's transfer to Los Angeles delayed due to coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has delayed extradition for convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, who still faces sex crimes charges from three separate incidents that allegedly occurred in Los Angeles.

"The virus has delayed the processing of the extradition paperwork,” Greg Risling from the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said Tuesday. “There is no time estimate on when he will appear in a Los Angeles courtroom."

Weinstein has been in custody in New York since he was found guilty of third-degree rape and first degree criminal sexual act in a landmark #MeToo case in March. The disgraced movie mogul was transferred from Rikers Island to Wende Correctional Facility, a maximum-security state prison east of Buffalo, where he tested positive for COVID-19.

Read the full story here.

COVID-19 spread silently through a rural Arkansas church in March, CDC says

Two people infected with COVID-19 spread the virus to more than 30 people during church gatherings in Arkansas in early March, before the first case was ever diagnosed in that state, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Tuesday.

The cases illustrate how rapidly the virus can spread to others involved in faith-based organizations, and may have implications for places of worship as churches nationwide figure out how to reopen safely.

Read more. 

Qatar Airways cabin crew to wear protective suits over uniforms

Qatar Airways announced that cabin crew will begin wearing 'PPE suits' over their uniforms.Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways announced new measures to keep passengers and crew safe while flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cabin crew will begin wearing PPE suits over their uniforms in addition to safety goggles, gloves and masks, the airline said in a Monday news release.

Starting May 25, passengers will be required to wear face coverings during flights. Social areas on planes have also been closed, and bottles of hand sanitizer will be readily available for passengers and crew members.

“At Qatar Airways, we have  introduced these additional safety measures onboard our flights to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of our passengers and cabin crew, and to limit the spread of coronavirus,” Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker in the news release.

Unlike Trump, Pence says he's not taking hydroxychloroquine

Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, on April 23, 2020.Alex Brandon / AP file

Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday he's not taking hydroxychloroquine, an unproven treatment for COVID-19 that President Donald Trump has vigorously promoted and claims to be taking himself.

"My physician hasn’t recommended that but I wouldn’t hesitate to take the counsel of my doctor," Pence told Fox News in an interview from NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. "I would never begrudge any American taking the advice of their physician."

Trump announced Monday that he's been taking the drug for about 10 days, despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration that it can cause potential heart problems and initial studies that have shown the antimalarial drug is not an effective treatment for the coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

You're not the only one considering a new sofa: Why Wayfair is thriving amid the pandemic

Furniture and home accessories website Wayfair has seen a massive boom in sales as people are spending more time at home — and finding their space might need a new look. 

While some customers admit they would not normally buy furniture without trying it out in person, the pandemic has turned that approach on its head.

Amid a retail landscape that has already driven well-known brands into bankruptcy, Wayfair’s revenue is up by almost 20 percent, with deliveries up 21 percent.

The success lies in its business model, which is perfectly suited to a pandemic: Its website is designed for people with time to browse. It offers 18 million items, speedy delivery, easy returns, and free shipping on most orders.

Read the full story here.