Trump deems places of worship 'essential'

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Image: President Donald Trump holds a protective face mask with a presidential seal on it that he said he had been wearing earlier in his tour at the Ford Rawsonville Components Plant
President Donald Trump holds a protective face mask with a presidential seal on it that he said he had been wearing during his tour of a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on Thursday.Leah Millis / Reuters

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Ongoing stay-at-home orders prompted President Donald Trump on Friday to deem houses of worship essential. He threatened to override governors who have ordered churches, synagogues and mosques not to reopen in the coming days.

With the coronavirus threat looming, the long Memorial Day weekend won't look anything like years past.

Meanwhile, the nation's most populous county is getting ready to reopen by the next big summer holiday - July 4.

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 23 coronavirus news.

Massive testing for vaccines planned

A massive project that aims to compress what is typically 10 years of vaccine development and testing into a matter of months is being planned.

The U.S. effort involving more than 100,000 volunteers and a half dozen or so of the most promising vaccine candidates aims to deliver a safe and effective vaccine by the end of 2020, scientists leading the program said.

To get there, leading vaccine makers have agreed to share data and lend the use of their clinical trial networks to competitors if necessary, the scientists said.

Read the whole story here.

Arizona woman, 18, arrested in Hawaii after allegedly violating quarantine

Alyza Alder, of Gilbert, Ariz.Courtesy Dept. of Public Safety

An Arizona woman visiting Hawaii was arrested after allegedly violating the state's mandatory order that tourists and returning residents self-isolate for 14 days.

Alyza Alder, 18, of Gilbert, was taken into custody on Wednesday at a fast-food restaurant in Laie where she was working, according to a press release from the governor's office. She's being held on a $2,000 bail and faces charges of violating the order and for "unsworn falsification to authority," according to the release.

Alder arrived in O‘ahu on May 6 and days later began posting photos of herself at beaches in Laie and Hauula. Investigators said that during the time she should have been under quarantine, Alder got a job at a local restaurant.

Read the full story here.

Class of 2020 shares what it's like to graduate during a pandemic

Graduation season is full of traditions: caps and gowns, signs and advertisements, "Pomp and Circumstance."

However, this graduation season is unlike any other for both high school and college seniors as they prepare to celebrate their milestones amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NBC News’ Social Newsgathering team spoke with 10 high school and 10 college graduates about what it's like to graduate during the pandemic, and how their celebrations are different than they initially planned.

Students like Freja-Jane Kjeldseth of Yankton High School in South Dakota tried to remain positive despite changing plans and a cloud of uncertainty about the future. “Keep your head up, keep a positive mindset because it sucks, but it’s a unique experience," she said. "Nobody else has ever had this kind of thing...and it’s a story you can tell your kids and grandkids when you're old."

Read the full story here.

Trump announces new CDC guidelines for places of worship

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention planned to release guidelines Friday for reopening places of worship amid the coronavirus crisis that were to include recommendations for face coverings, basic hygiene and avoiding shared materials like hymnals, said a White House official.

“Our big push has been, don’t be overly prescriptive,” the official said. “And keep in mind, these are recommendations.”

The guidelines were being finalized and circulated around the White House ahead of President Donald Trump's announcement Friday.

Read more here.

Two cases of rare COVID-19-linked illness in Washington state

Two children in Washington State were diagnosed with a rare and potentially deadly COVID-19-linked condition.

The illness is known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C.

The children, one under the age of 10, are being treated at Seattle Children's Hospital, state officials announced Friday.

Those diagnosed with MIS-C are under 21 with a fever, laboratory evidence of inflammation, and severe illness, with no other plausible diagnoses, who've tested positive for COVID-19 or exposure to a confirmed case. Hundreds of children and young adults have been diagnosed with MIS-C in the United States.

Gay beach destinations plan for summer, with pandemic in mind

A jogger along an empty Commercial Street in Provincetown, Mass., on May 13, 2020.John Tlumacki / Boston Globe via Getty Images

From New York’s Fire Island to Massachusetts’ Provincetown, the Northeast’s LGBTQ beach destinations are planning for a new normal this summer.

Read more here.

Another large study finds no benefit to hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

Hydroxychloroquine does not help COVID-19 patients, and indeed may increase deaths, according to a large, international study published Friday in The Lancet.

The research is the latest to show the drug — which President Donald Trump this week said he was taking as a preventive strategy — can lead to potentially deadly heart problems.

Read more. 

This might be the best weekend ever to buy a new car

Memorial Day weekend is typically one of the busiest times of the year for car dealerships — and this year's deals are expected to be some of the best ever.

Automakers have been offering incentives averaging about $5,000 on the typical new vehicle, with the givebacks on full-size pickups running well above $7,000, whether in the form of rebates, zero-interest loans or other deals.

With consumers locked down at home and auto plants shuttered, sales of new cars plunged last month to barely half what they were last April. But with most states easing up on lockdowns, “Dealers in most of the country will be open again,” whether online or in their showrooms, “and we expect to see the (big sales) carried forward,” said Nick Woolard, director of analytics with online auto site

"We're seeing far more generous incentives and deals out there than we typically would for Memorial Day weekend, and since more consumers might be looking at vehicles for summer road trips instead of airline travel, things might look up a bit for the industry," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds' executive director of insights.

New York's hospitalizations, new cases and deaths are declining, governor says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the number of new hospitalizations in the state is down as well as the number of new cases and deaths. 

The governor said at a news briefing on Friday that the state had 109 deaths from the coronavirus, down from 105 on May 20. 

Cuomo said that if the number of deaths in the Long Island and mid-Hudson regions of the state continue to decline and if those areas get their contact tracing for the virus online, they could reopen next week.

The Week in Pictures: Tentative reopenings and a world behind masks

See more photos as all 50 states begin to reopen.