Global COVID-19 cases reach 5 million

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE

Global cases of COVID-19 topped 5 million early Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

By Thursday night that number had passed 5.1 million, according to the university.

More than 332,900 people have died worldwide, according to that count. In the United States, more than 1.5 million cases have been reported and more than 95,000 deaths, according to NBC News' count.

President Donald Trump visited a Ford plant in Michigan on Thursday, and while he did wear a mask at one point, when he appeared before the media he did not. " I didn’t want to press to get the pleasure of seeing it,” Trump told reporters. The president also said he wasn't wearing one because he was making a speech.

Trump also tweeted that he will be ordering flags on federal buildings and monuments nationwide to fly at half-staff over the Memorial Day weekend to honor those who have died of COVID-19.

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 ended. Continue to May 22 coronavirus updates.

Americans rank South Korea, Germany above U.S. for coronavirus response

Americans believe South Korea and Germany stand apart from other countries — including the United States — in their responses to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Pew Research Center report.

Participants in the survey gave higher ratings to South Korea and Germany (66 percent good or excellent), mixed ratings for the United Kingdom (49 percent), United States (47 percent) and World Health Organization (46 percent), and lower ratings for Italy (34 percent) and China (33 percent).

In terms of the U.S. response, 84 percent of participants think the U.S. can learn from other countries about ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. Opinions about the United States' handling of the outbreak split largely along party lines, with 81 percent of liberals saying the U.S. has done a fair or poor job, and only 22 percent of conservatives.

The national survey by the Pew Research Center was conducted between April 29 and May 5 and involved 10,957 U.S. adults.

Feds charge Chinese national in $20 million PPP fraud scheme

Federal prosecutors charged a Chinese national Thursday with trying to fraudulently obtain $20 million in Paycheck Protection Program and other government-guaranteed loans intended for small businesses dealing with COVID-19.

Muge Ma, a 36-year-old known as "Hummer Mars" residing in Manhattan, allegedly presented applications to five banks saying he had two companies with hundreds of employees who needed help, according to the criminal complaint.

Ma represented himself and one of his companies as a test-kit manufacturer for COVID-19 and a medical supplier, neither of which were true, prosecutors said. The bulk of the loans which were approved before the fraud was found were frozen by investigators before Ma could receive them - approximately $800,000.

Ma faces bank fraud, wire fraud and multiple false statement charges.

As the Middle East prepares for Eid holiday, virus cases spike

A huge spike in coronavirus cases in the Middle East where many have been observing the Islamic month of Ramadan, has led countries to extend and reinforce lockdown measures, to prevent its spread during this weekend's Eid holiday.

The largest number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has been in Saudi Arabia, which normally sees millions of Muslims descend on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina during Ramadan.

This year, the kingdom took the decision to close off the religious sites, with stark images of empty mosques and sacred sites circulating online.

Read more here.

A girl, wearing a face mask due to the coronavirus pandemic in Dubai. Karim Sahib / AFP - Getty Images

NYC mayor says new hospitalizations down, positive cases increase slightly

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said new hospitalizations for the coronavirus are down in the city, although the percentage of people testing positive for the virus ticked up slightly.

At a news briefing on Thursday, the mayor said new hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients is down from 63 as of May 18 to 60, and the number of patients in intensive care units dropped from 483 to 477. 

However, among people tested for the virus, the number with positive results increased slightly to 9 percent from 8 percent. 

"It's a pretty good day," de Blasio said, adding, "I want us to get to great days."

Wuhan bans trade and consumption of wild animals, citing health concerns

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected, implemented a five-year ban Wednesday on the trade of illegal wildlife and the consumption of wild animals. 

While the precise source of COVID-19 remains a mystery, scientists have suggested that like many other coronaviruses, it was transmitted to humans from animals, sparking concern for the risks of live-animal markets. Genetic analysis of the virus by a group of Chinese scientists in February suggested it likely originated from pangolins — scaly, long-snouted anteaters that are poached for traditional medicinal purposes in both Asia and Africa

The ban — prohibiting the breeding, sale and consumption of wild animals including endangered species —  is intended to protect people's health and safety, according to a statement issued by the Wuhan government Wednesday. It will also be paired with public education around wildlife and improved supervision over wildlife protection and management. 

Another 2.4 million Americans filed for initial unemployment last week, bringing total to almost 40 million

Another 2.44 million Americans filed for initial unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of people who lost their job so far during the coronavirus pandemic to almost 40 million.

The weekly figures, released Thursday by the Department of Labor, come amid a slew of bankruptcies and as more companies announce layoffs.

While the month of May still represents a staggering total of job losses, the number of unemployment benefit claims has been in gradual decline after hitting a peak of 6.8 million for the week ending March 28.

America continues to face the worst labor market since the Great Depression, with the official unemployment figure already at over 20 million, representing a total loss of all jobs gained since the Great Recession. The current unemployment rate of 14.7 percent is the worst since the height of the Great Depression, when it hit 24.9 percent.

“I think the jobs numbers will be worse before they get better,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned on Tuesday, during a joint appearance before the Senate banking committee with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Powell, who has estimated that unemployment could reach 25 percent, has said the economy can only fully recover once there is a vaccine.

AstraZeneca receives $1 billion in U.S. funding for virus vaccine

A British-Swedish pharmaceutical company has received more than $1 billion in funding from the U.S. Health Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop a coronavirus vaccine in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

AstraZeneca has agreed to initially supply at least 400 million doses of the vaccine, according to a news release from the company on Thursday. In response to President Donald Trump’s call to develop 300 million doses of vaccine by January 2021 under Operation Warp Speed, the collaboration is working to deliver a vaccine called AZD1222 for as early as October 2020.

The agreement between AstraZeneca and BARDA will accelerate the development and manufacturing of the company’s vaccine to begin Phase 3 clinical studies this summer with approximately 30,000 volunteers in the United States, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Argentina to fly in rabbis to certify kosher meat

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina, which has enforced one of the world's toughest travel bans against the coronavirus, plans to help charter a private flight to bring in rabbis from Israel to certify meat at the country's packing plants for kosher markets around the world.

The trip is key to Argentina being able to maintain beef exports to key buyer Israel, which has become increasingly important with exports stalled to the European Union and sharply down to major buyer China.

Argentina is the world's fifth-largest beef exporter and Israel is the No. 3 buyer of its famed cuts, snapping up over $100 million each year, said Mario Ravettino, head of Argentina's ABC meat export consortium.

The rabbis normally make the trip twice a year and stay for a few months, as many as 15 rabbis in plants at a time. They ensure the cattle are slaughtered and the meat processed in accordance with Jewish law.

Grand Canyon announces 'limited recreation access' for Memorial Day weekend

Recent Baylor University graduates at the Grand Canyon on Friday.Matt York / AP

The Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim will be open to the public starting Friday to May 25 for “limited entry and recreational access,” following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local public health authorities. The South Rim section partially re-opened last weekend, then closed again from May 20-21 for public health concerns. 

The U.S. National Park Service said it is closely monitoring the pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis, according to a news release. The South entrance will be open again Friday from 4-10 a.m. for visitors to enter the park, but will close at 10 a.m. Park-goers on the Memorial Day weekend will be able to hike, cycle and visit museums.

This comes after the CDC quietly released detailed plan for reopening America on Wednesday, and nearly every state in the country has already reopened parts of their economies — including access to beaches, restaurants and hair salons.