U.S. death toll nears 100,000

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: A man wears a protective mask as he walks on Wall Street during the coronavirus outbreak in New York
A man wears a protective mask as he walks on Wall Street during the coronavirus outbreak in New York on March 13, 2020.Lucas Jackson / Reuters file

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The number of U.S. coronavirus deaths approached 100,000, with more than 99,600 deaths recorded as of early Wednesday, according to NBC News' count. The U.S. leads the world in both deaths and confirmed cases, with 1.69 million infections.

The National Hockey League on Tuesday announced a plan to resume its suspended season by moving directly into playoffs, but details, including which "hub cities" would host the contests, remained up in the air.

Former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called President Donald Trump "an absolute fool to talk that way" after Trump criticized Biden for wearing a mask during a Memorial Day remembrance.

"Every leading doc in the world is saying we should wear a mask when you're in a crowd," Biden said in a CNN interview.

Trump, who did not wear a mask during Memorial Day services, retweeted Fox News commentator Brit Hume's Monday night tweet criticizing Biden. Trump denied mocking Biden at a Tuesday news conference.

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

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Pentagon watchdog ousted from coronavirus response resigns

The principal deputy in the Defense Department’s office of inspector general, Glenn Fine, resigned Tuesday, more than a month after he was sidelined as the top watchdog overseeing coronavirus relief funds.

Fine had served as the principal deputy and acting inspector general for more than four years in the office. He also previously worked as the inspector general of the Department of Justice.

Trump in April removed Fine from his role after Fine was named to lead the committee that was tasked with overseeing the implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. The president said that Sean O'Donnell, the current EPA inspector general, would step in and handle both roles simultaneously.

"The role of Inspectors General is a strength of our system of government," he said. "After many years in the DoJ and DoD OIGs, I believe the time has come for me to step down and allow others to perform this vital role. I wish the men and women of the DoD OIG and the Inspector General Community continued success in these important responsibilities."

Fine’s resignation comes after other inspectors general within the Trump administration have been recently fired from their watchdog roles.

States are trying to lure the Republican National Convention away from North Carolina

After President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte, North Carolina because of potential coronavirus health restrictions, other states are offering themselves as alternatives.

"With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention. We hope you will consider the Peach State, @realdonaldtrump !" Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted on Tuesday.

The Florida Republican Party was quicker on the draw, tweeting a statement Monday from state party chair Joe Gruters offering Trump's new home state as an alternative to North Carolina.

Read the full story here.

German Muslims gather in mall parking lot to celebrate Eid safely

German Muslims gathered in a mall parking lot to celebrate Eid while social distancing on Sunday. Videos and photos posted on social media showed dozens of men and women wearing masks and praying together at an IKEA parking lot near Frankfurt. 

Men and women wearing masks were seen entering the parking lot, a Facebook video showed, and praying together while keeping at a distance. Colorful prayer rugs could be spotted from the distance.

Photo: Drive-in theater at a New York diner

Patrons watch The Greatest Showman at the Bel Aire diner parking lot Monday night in Queens, N.Y. The Bel Aire diner in Astoria has created a drive-in movie theater in the parking lot behind the restaurant with room for 45 socially distanced cars. Patrons pay $32 a vehicle and can order diner food to their car. Timothy Fadek

Feds charge used car salesman and "the Mask Man" in COVID-19 schemes

New York federal prosecutors have charged two men, a used car salesman and a pharmacist who dubbed himself “the Mask Man,” in separate schemes to inflate the prices of personal protective equipment used to guard against COVID-19.

The pharmacist, Richard Schirripa, 66, is accused of selling $200,000 worth of N-95 respirator masks at a 50% markup. “I feel like a drug dealer standing out here,” Schirripa told an undercover officer as he sold masks from his car, according to federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

The licensed pharmacist from Fort Salonga had already been on law enforcement’s radar after he allegedly made false statements to the DEA about destroying and selling opioids from the recent closure of his pharmacy in January and February.

Read the full story here.

Pence's press secretary Katie Miller returns to work after recovering from coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary Katie Miller returned to work Tuesday after three negative coronavirus tests, Miller announced on Twitter.

Miller was the second White House staff member known to have tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month. 

"Thank you to all my amazing doctors and everyone who reached out with support," Miller said. "I couldn't have done it without my amazing husband who took great care of his pregnant wife."

New Jersey authorizes professional sports teams to resume practice and competition

Professional sports teams in New Jersey are allowed to practice and play in games or matches, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday.

Teams will only be allowed to use athletic facilities where team personnel are on location, according to an executive order that Murphy signed last Friday.

“While leagues make their own decisions about operations, I am confident that teams are equipped to practice and eventually play in a responsible manner, protecting the health and safety of players, coaches, and team personnel,” Murphy said.

Coronavirus cases and deaths in New York state continue to drop, Gov. says

New York continues to move in a good direction, the state's governor said at his daily news briefing on Tuesday. 

Hospitalizations in the state are down as well as the number of new coronavirus cases, which is about 200. On Monday, 73 people died from COVID-19. The day before that number was 96. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number of deaths is still tragic "but relative to where we've been, we're on the other side of the curve." 

"It's the lowest number that we've had so we thank all the healthcare staff once again," he said. The governor said his focus is now on continuing to reopen but doing it smartly. 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to allow graduation ceremonies

The class of 2020 will have the chance to celebrate graduating, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday. 

"Beginning July 6th, schools WILL have the opportunity to hold outdoor graduation ceremonies that comply with social distancing – ensuring the health and safety of all in attendance," the governor said in a tweet

The Department of Education and the Secretary of Higher Education will release guidance on Wednesday. For graduating classes that are too large to accommodate the governor's rule that no more than 25 people can gather outdoor, schools may have to hold multiple ceremonies. 

"We want them to celebrate and to be celebrated by their family, friends and educators who helped get them there," Murphy said. 

Memorial Day weekend draws large crowds across the country

As states around the country ease up on coronavirus lockdowns, Memorial Day weekend festivities seemed to attract large crowds with many people flocking to beaches, bars and other public spaces while forgoing social distancing and face mask rules.

Crowds were spotted at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, beaches in Maryland, New Jersey and Florida, as well as a packed pool party in Houston. 

Read the full story here.