U.S. marks Memorial Day as deaths near 100,000

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Image: Visitors wear face masks at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on May 25, 2020.
Visitors wear face masks at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on Monday.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

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The United States marked Memorial Day with somber ceremonies and, in many places, reopened beaches, as the number of coronavirus deaths inched closer to 100,000, according to NBC news' count.

President Donald Trump, who participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, was also looking ahead to the Republican National Convention. Trump threatened on Twitter on Monday to move the event from Charlotte, North Carolina, if there is a chance the venue might not be filled there later this summer due to virus-related restrictions.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden appeared in public Monday for the first time in more than two months, laying a wreath to honor the fallen at a Delaware war memorial.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading May 26 coronavirus news.

Austrian hospital performs first COVID-19 lung transplant in Europe

Doctors in Austria completed a lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient, the first to be done in Europe, the Medical University of Vienna said in a news release on Monday. 

The procedure last week at Vienna General Hospital was performed on a 45-year-old woman from the southern state of Carinthia who had developed severe respiratory failure after contracting the virus approximately eight weeks ago. 

Dr. Walter Klepetko, head of the Department of Surgery and the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the Medical University of Vienna, said the patient was previously healthy. 

“We are very satisfied with the patient’s condition, given the extremely difficult initial circumstances,” Klepetko said in a statement released by the Medical University of Vienna. “Only a few days after the procedure, the patient is well on the way to recovery.”

Footage of packed pool party at Houston club draws criticism

A Houston club is under fire after footage surfaced of it hosting busy pool parties over Memorial Day weekend, despite state social distancing guidelines.

Video of a pool party on Saturday at Clé Houston, a club in the city’s Midtown, shows a crowded outdoor gathering with no masks in sight.

Read the full story here. 

Trump threatens Republican convention move if NC limits attendance over coronavirus

As states struggle to contain the novel coronavirus that’s killed nearly 100,000 Americans, President Donald Trump threatened to move the Republican National Committee from Charlotte, North Carolina, if there is a chance the venue might not be filled there later this summer due to virus-related restrictions.

“Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, [Roy Cooper] is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena,” Trump said in a string of tweets, adding that a decision must be made now because the preparations cost millions and supporters needed to be able to make their travel plans now.

“If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site," he said.

Read the full story here. 

Professional baseball slated for June 19 return in Japan

Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks coaches wear face masks during an intrasquad game in Japan on May 25, 2020.Kyodo / via Reuters

Japan’s professional baseball season, stalled because of the coronavirus pandemic, will deliver its first pitch on June 19 with no fans in attendance, league officials said Monday.

The 12-team league, considered the world's top pro competition outside of North America's Major League Baseball, will start with preseason games from June 2 to 14, Nippon Professional Baseball commissioner Atsushi Saito announced.

Once play resumes on June 19, Japan will join Korea and Taiwan in resumption of pro baseball. Korea's games are being played in empty stadiums, while Taiwan now allows up to 2,000 fans to attend.

MLB is and its players union are currently in talks, with hopes of play beginning in early July. 

Vehicle theft spikes across the U.S. amid COVID-19 pandemic

A smashed window after a car was broken into on a street in Los Angeles on May 21, 2020.Damian Dovarganes / AP

The coronavirus hasn’t been kind to car owners.

With more people than ever staying home to lessen the spread of COVID-19, their sedans, pickup trucks and SUVs are parked unattended on the streets, making them easy targets for opportunistic thieves.

Despite silent streets and nearly non-existent traffic, vehicle larcenies shot up 63 percent in New York and nearly 17 percent in Los Angeles from Jan. 1 through mid-May, compared with the same period last year.

And many other law enforcement agencies around the U.S. are reporting an increase in stolen cars and vehicle burglaries, even as violent crime has dropped dramatically nationwide in the coronavirus pandemic. It's a low-risk crime with a potentially high reward, police say, especially when many drivers leave their doors unlocked or their keys inside.

“You might as well put a sticker on the window that says ‘come take my stuff,’" said an exasperated Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles County sheriff.

Read the full story here.

South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing

An employee stands next to a robot barista that takes orders, makes coffee and brings drinks to customers in Daejeon, South Korea, on May 25. Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

The new robot barista at the cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, is courteous and swift as it seamlessly makes its way towards customers.

"Here is your Rooibos almonds tea latte, please enjoy. It's even better if you stir it," it says, as a customer reaches for her drink on a tray installed within the large, gleaming white capsule-shaped computer.

After managing to contain an outbreak of the new coronavirus which infected more than 11,000 people and killed 267, South Korea is slowly transitioning from intensive social distancing rules towards what the government calls "distancing in daily life." 

Robots could help people observe social distancing in public, said Lee Dong-bae, director of research at Vision Semicon, a smart factory solution provider which developed the barista robot together with a state-run science institute.

2 Chicago police officers injured after breaking up block party

Two Chicago police officers were taken to the hospital on Sunday with minor injuries after breaking up a Memorial Day weekend block party.

The party, which took place in the city's Englewood neighborhood, ended in violence when officers tried to disperse the crowd, police said. Police took two men into custody after officers spotted them with handguns; in one case, shots were fired, Chicago police said in a statement. Three other people were taken into custody for disorderly conduct, the statement said. 

Chicago remains under a mandatory stay-at-home order until May 31.

Photo: A long awaited hug on Long Island

Michelle Grant, right, hugs her mother, Mary Grace Sileo, through a plastic drop cloth hung up on a clothesline in Wantagh, N.Y., on Sunday. It was the first time the mother and daughter had physical contact since lockdown measures began in late February.Al Bello / Getty Images

Spain to lift quarantine for foreign tourists beginning July 1

Spain will lift a requirement for foreign tourists to undergo a two-week quarantine beginning July 1, the government said on Monday in a statement.

Under current restrictions, visitors from abroad must isolate themselves for two weeks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya had previously said the measure would be relaxed in July, without specifying the date.

Italy calls for volunteers to help authorities enforce social distancing

Around 60,000 volunteers in Italy will be tasked with ensuring people follow the government’s social distancing guidelines under a new plan unveiled by the country's Civil Protection Agency.

Volunteers, or "civilian assistants" as they'll be called, won’t have the authority to impose fines, but will patrol public spaces like parks and beaches and remind people to practice social distancing.

They will be allowed to work a maximum of three days a week, for no more than 16 hours per week. The Italian Civil Protection Agency called on the unemployed, retirees and people signed on to the government’s basic income scheme to volunteer, and will announce further details later in the week.