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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100-year-old World War II veteran released from hospital after recovering from COVID-19

A World War II veteran was discharged after spending 58 days in the hospital fighting COVID-19.

Lloyd Falk, 100, was admitted to Henrico Doctors’ Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, on March 24 as one of the hospital’s first COVID-19 patients. He had also lost his wife of 74 years to the virus. Despite all odds, he was released from the hospital on May 20 after making a full recovery.

In a video posted on the hospital’s Facebook page, health care workers can be seen lining the hallways and cheering as he is wheeled out of the hospital to begin his rehabilitation. 

“We salute you, Mr. Falk,” the hospital wrote on Facebook. “Your courage and resilience inspires us all.”

New York's daily deaths back under 100

New York state coronavirus deaths were back under 100 on Sunday after a slight rise the previous day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Memorial Day news conference. 

Ninety-six New Yorkers died from from COVID-19 on Sunday, 75 in hospitals and 21 in nursing homes, the governor said Monday. On Friday, the state’s 84 recorded deaths marked the first time New York saw under 100 deaths since late March, but the number had risen on Saturday to 109.

Trump says he's no longer taking hydroxychloroquine

President Donald Trump said he had "just finished" taking a two-week course of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, the medication he has vigorously promoted as a preventative or curative treatment for coronavirus, even as evidence piles up that the drug may cause more harm than good.

“Finished, just finished,” he said in an interview that aired on Sinclair Broadcasting Sunday“And by the way, I’m still here.”

The president again defended his decision to take, and talk about, the unproven treatment in the interview, amid Food and Drug Administration warnings against using the drug for COVID-19 outside of hospital settings because of a risk of serious heart problems.

Read the full story here. 

Bars and gyms reopen in Iceland

Iceland eased its national alert against the coronavirus on Monday, allowing for public gatherings of up to 200 people and night clubs and gyms to reopen as the country nears complete recovery from the outbreak.

The North Atlantic nation, which limited the virus spread through a meticulous test and trace strategy and a full lockdown, has confirmed 1,804 infections and 10 deaths. But there have been only five reported new cases in May, and more than 99 percent of infected people have recovered.

Iceland's alert level was lowered from "emergency phase" to "alert phase," the second of three stages, the government said in a statement on Monday.

Gyms can now reopen, though only at half capacity, while bars and restaurants can serve customers until 11 p.m., it said.

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.