U.S. death toll tops 100,000

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Medical workers walk outside a special coronavirus area at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York on May 26, 2020.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

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The United States surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths as of Wednesday afternoon, according to NBC News' count, becoming the first country to reach the grim milestone.

The U.S. leads the world in both deaths and confirmed cases, with 1.69 million infections. Among the infected are more than 62,000 doctors, nurses and other health care providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. At least 291 have died.

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 now ended. Continue reading May 28 coronavirus news here.

Robot waiters, video doctors: SKorea moves to less personal contact

SEOUL, South Korea — When you approach the sleek silver counter of Lounge X, a cafe in one of southern Seoul's corporate hubs, a masked and aproned barista takes your order. Motioning toward the chip reader, he completes the order and walks over to pick out a glass cup. He presses a few buttons, then hands it off to Baris, the robot barista.

The robotics cafe, founded almost a year ago, finds itself in the middle of South Korea's "untact" paradigm, the word being a portmanteau of the negative prefix "un" and "contact" that alludes to what a contactless society in the post-coronavirus era will look like.

Schools are back in session and hordes of masked commuters squeeze into cars. Daily life has resumed — but with the tacit acknowledgment that human interaction may never be the same.

Read the full story here.

New Zealand discharges its last coronavirus patient from hospital

New Zealand has reached another milestone in its fight against coronavirus, discharging its final hospitalized patient on Wednesday. 

"Currently there is nobody in hospital with COVID-19, following the discharge of one person," Ashley Bloomfield, the country's director general of health, told reporters.

New Zealand has been praised for its handling of the virus where only 21 people have died so far and much of the country has slowly begun to re-open. The country credits its success with enforcing a strict and early one-month lockdown.

Coronavirus pandemic leaves Iditarod winner stranded in Alaska

After winning this year’s 975-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska in March, Thomas Waerner found himself  —and his 16 dogs — unable to return home to Norway due to travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It was only after he crossed the finish line that he realized how difficult flying home would be. 

“Its not easy to (travel) with that many dogs,” said Waerner, who plans to fly home in early June with his dogs and a few of his friend's dogs too. “I knew when airlines were shutting down that (it was) going to be hard."

Waerner, who arrived in Alaska three months ago, said he's looking forward to being reunited with his wife, five children and 35 other sled dogs. “When you’re sitting in a situation where you can’t go home, you’re not missing the big things, you’re missing the small things,” he said.

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Amtrak asks Congress for an additional nearly $1.5B

Amtrak sent a letter to Congress seeking an additional $1.475 billion in supplemental funding in the next fiscal year, citing the coronavirus pandemic and associated economic effects. The money sought is in addition to its annual $2 billion grant request made earlier this year.

"Amtrak, like all other modes, has seen a dramatic decline in demand for service since the pandemic, and is expecting ridership to only return to approximately 50% in FY 2021," Amtrak said in a statement.

The letter from Amtrak President and CEO William J. Flynn says it is seeking the money through either a supplemental appropriations bill dealing with the COVID-19 crisis or through an annual appropriations bill.

The letter says that in 2019 Amtrak and its state partners carried more than 32 million passengers and had been on pace for what it called another record-breaking year, but the pandemic changed that.

"Today, many of our routes are struggling to reach ten percent of the ridership levels we had only months ago," Flynn said in the letter.

Amtrak said it is working to shave $500 million from its operating costs, which includes reducing some service and restructuring its workforce. 

Chile says it's nearly out of ICU space

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chilean authorities say intensive care units in the country’s hospitals are nearly at capacity amid a flood of coronavirus patients, and some doctors report they are having to make wrenching choices over which patients should get available beds.

Health officials said Tuesday that 95 percent of the country’s 2,400 ICU beds are occupied, even after a doubling of capacity from the levels in March. They announced plans to add 400 more critical care beds in the coming days.

The nation of 18 million people has the third most coronavirus cases in the region, after Brazil and Peru. An average of 4,000 new infections are being reported daily. About 15 percent of the cases require hospitalization.

Sweden steadfast in strategy as toll continues climbing

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s government defended its response to the COVID-19 global pandemic Tuesday despite the Scandinavian country now reporting one of the highest mortality rates in the world with 4,125 fatalities, or about 40 deaths per 100,000 people.

“Transmission is slowing down, the treatment of COVID-19 patients in intensive care is decreasing significantly, and the rising death toll curve has been flattened,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde told foreign correspondents at a briefing in Stockholm. “There is no full lockdown of Sweden, but many parts of the Swedish society have shut down.”

More than 76,000 people have been made redundant since the outbreak of the disease and unemployment, which now stands at 7.9 percent, is expected to climb higher.

Sweden took a relatively soft approach to fighting the coronavirus, one that attracted international attention. Large gatherings were banned, but restaurants and schools for younger children have stayed open. The government has urged social distancing, and Swedes have largely complied.

Los Angeles allows all retail businesses, houses of worship to reopen

After weeks of public health restrictions over the coronavirus epidemic, all retail business in Los Angeles will be allowed to welcome customers back inside, and houses of worship can resume in-person services, the mayor announced Tuesday.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said some restrictions will remain for retail and churches, like limiting the number of people inside.

"We're not moving beyond COVID-19, but we're learning to live with it," Garcetti said.

Places like barbershops and hair salons remain closed, and in-restaurant dining is not yet allowed. 

The news that retail businesses and houses of worship could reopen or resume in-person services comes a day after the state announced they could resume under certain restrictions if county health officials approved. The restrictions on places like churches include having less than 25 percent capacity or 100 people inside, whichever is less.