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.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide; confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally
- Reopening America: See what states across the U.S. have already reopened.
- The coronavirus has destroyed the job market in every state. See the per-state jobless numbers and how they’ve changed.
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Iconic Berlin theater looks very different with seats removed for social distancing
When the famous Berliner Ensemble theater company in Berlin reopens in September, the auditorium will look much different than before the coronavirus pandemic. In order to follow social distancing rules, the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, the historic building where the theater company performs, will have only 200 of its usual 700 seats.
Berliner Ensemble artistic director Oliver Reese called the temporary seating arrangement a “creative solution” to allow theatergoers to access their seats while also keeping a safe distance from others. “It is not only our primary mission and obligation as a public theatre but also our heartfelt wish to get back on stage,” wrote Reese in an email. “We are all longing for normality. But I am absolutely sure that our ensemble will perform with at least the same energy for 200 than for 700 people.”
The theater has suffered a massive financial hardship as a result of canceling tours and shows, and this new seating plan allows them to resume performances as well as renovate the theater’s seats. The theater was built in 1892 and has housed Bertolt Brecht’s famous theater company since 1954.
“I am positive that this will allow actors and audience to connect in a different way with the perspective of creating a new intimacy between the auditorium and the stage,” wrote Reese.
Asymptomatic COVID-19 cases may be more common than suspected
New estimates of the number of asymptomatic people with the coronavirus suggest that "silent" COVID-19 is much more prevalent than once thought — but these individuals may not spread the virus for as long as symptomatic patients do, a study from China suggests.
The report, based on 78 people in Wuhan, China, was published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Network Open. All of the patients were confirmed to have COVID-19; a little more than half of the patients (58 percent) had symptoms, while 42 percent did not.
Louisiana cop fired for saying 'unfortunate' more black people didn't die of coronavirus
A Louisiana police officer was fired over a Facebook comment that said it was "unfortunate" more black people did not die of the coronavirus.
The chief of police in Kaplan, about 87 miles southwest of Baton Rouge, said Officer Steven Aucoin commented under a local news station's live feed of the governor's coronavirus news conference on May 15. Aucoin was fired later that day.
CBS affiliate KLFY in Lafayette, Louisiana, reported that Aucoin's post was made on its Facebook page in response to another commenter who wrote,"virus that was created to kill all the BLACKS is death."
"Well it didn't work," Aucoin wrote, "how unfortunate," according to screenshots shown by KLFY.
Animated map: See the U.S. coronavirus death toll hit 100,000 across the U.S.
From the first reported COVID-19 fatality March 1 to the 100,000th death, every U.S. state and territory, except American Samoa, has lost a resident to the coronavirus pandemic. Watch the day-by-day rise in reported deaths in this animated map:
Disney announces plans to reopen in mid-July
The Walt Disney Company announced plans Wednesday to begin a phased reopening of some of its Orlando, Florida, parks later this summer.
The plans have been approved by the Orange County Recovery Taskforce and endorsed by the mayor of Orange County, but still need to be approved by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are planning to open July 11. Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios are set to open July 15. That's more than one month after other Orlando-based parks such as SeaWorld, which is planning to open for staff on June 10 and June 11 for the public.
The parks will have "substantially lower numbers of guests" when they first open, Disney CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC in an interview Wednesday morning. While he did not give a specific number for capacity, he said "the number of people we put in the park" will be a "function of the six-foot social distancing guidance that we have from the CDC."
There will be temperature checks for guests and employees, and masks will be required throughout the park for everyone over the age of three.
Some Disney attractions that draw large group gatherings, such as parades and nighttime events, won't return when the parks first reopen. High-touch experiences such as playgrounds and character meet-and-greets will also be temporarily unavailable.
Half of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine, AP-NORC poll finds
Only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if the scientists working furiously to create one succeed, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
That’s surprisingly low considering the effort going into the global race for a vaccine against the coronavirus that has sparked a pandemic since first emerging from China late last year. But more people might eventually roll up their sleeves: The poll, released Wednesday, found 31 percent simply weren’t sure if they’d get vaccinated. Another 1 in 5 said they’d refuse.
Federal remdesivir trial enters second phase. Here's what's next.
A large federal trial of remdesivir has entered its next phase, in which researchers will test the effects of combining the antiviral drug with a pill to bring down inflammation.
The pill, called baricitinib, was approved in 2018 to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Remdesivir, manufactured by Gilead Sciences, is the only treatment that's been shown in a clinical trial to have an effect on COVID-19 so far. Preliminary results from that trial, which included sites worldwide, published Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that the drug reduced patients' length of hospital stay by about four days, from 15 days, on average, to 11 days. More than 1,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 received either remdesivir or a placebo.
Boeing to lay off almost 7,000 workers this week
Boeing announced plans to lay off 6,770 workers this week, as the coronavirus crisis continues to hammer the aircraft manufacturer.
"We have come to the unfortunate moment of having to start involuntary layoffs. We’re notifying the first 6,770 of our U.S. team members this week that they will be affected," Boeing CEO David Calhoun wrote Wednesday in a letter to employees he called an "update on workforce actions."
Citing the "whipsawing" of the global pandemic, Calhoun said "it will take some years" for the airline industry to "return to what it was just two months ago."
Air travel has seen a 95 percent decline in traffic since the coronavirus hit, with major airlines canceling flights, pulling out of airports, and laying off large swaths of their staff.
In March, Chicago-based Boeing saw a near-record number of order cancellations for its passenger jets, and zero new orders in April, exacerbating the company's financial woes. The troubled 737 Max aircraft has been grounded worldwide since last March, following two fatal crashes.
Feds' response to Native Americans is another 'broken promise,' Warren, Haaland say
Two Democratic lawmakers, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, are asking the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to update its 2018 report on how the federal government has failed to sufficiently fund Native American communities in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The report, "Broken Promises: Continuing Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans," described vast health care, housing and educational disparities and stated that "the efforts undertaken by the federal government in the past 15 years have resulted in only minor improvements, at best, for the Native population as a whole."
"The Administration's failure to uphold the trust responsibility to provide adequate relief, health services, and public safety resources to tribal communities has exacerbated the pandemic's impact. This failure requires the Commission's voice," Warren and Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico wrote in their request to the commission, which makes recommendations to the administration.
The lawmakers noted that promised federal funding to tribal nations and urban Indian organizations was significantly delayed from the onset of the pandemic. The issue of funding disbursement remains an ongoing problem, tribal leaders have said.
NYC hopes to do 50K coronavirus tests per day by Aug. 1
New York City, now doing about 20,000 coronavirus per day, hopes to have that rate up to 50,000 a day by Aug. 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
The country's largest city has the capacity to conduct 27,000 tests a day at more than 180 sites that are open now or will be operating shortly, according to the mayor.
"It's getting easier and easier for more and more New Yorkers to get testing," the mayor told reporters during his daily briefly on the city's efforts to fight the global pandemic. "And that's going to help us move forward."
New York City has been the nation's epicenter for the coronavirus, with over 21,300 deaths.
Charts: COVID-19 cases in Alabama, California and Virginia are surging
As the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S. inches toward 1.7 million, certain states are seeing case numbers surge.
California's had 15,000 new cases since last Thursday and will likely count its 100,000th confirmed COVID-19 case Wednesday.
Alabama, where no more than 500 new cases had been reported in a day, has now reported 500-plus cases four of the previous five days according to an analysis of NBC News COVID-19 case data.
Virginia, which has close to 40,000 cases, set new one-day highs for confirmed cases Monday and then again Tuesday, with 1,615.
See NBC News’ coverage of the coronavirus, read a timeline of the spread of the coronavirus, see a map of U.S. coronavirus cases, a map of U.S. deaths, and a map of coronavirus cases around the world.
Egypt's doctors union warns health care system could collapse due to lack of PPE
Egypt’s main doctors union has warned that the country’s health system could “completely collapse” if the government continues to provide inadequate personal protective equipment to health care workers.
In a statement posted on their website, the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, which has more than 200,000 members, said the government had failed to provide enough PPE, had not made early detection tests available to workers and had not properly trained hospital staff who were working closely with COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Mohamed Abdel Hamid, treasurer of the organization, told NBC News that 19 doctors had died since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. The Egyptian minister of health and population, Dr. Hala Zayed, disputed this figure and said 11 doctors had died and 291 had been infected. She defended the government’s management of the pandemic and said the ministry had taken “all precautions and procedures to protect its medical staff.”
Students return to school in South Korea
More than two million students returned to school in South Korea on Wednesday, as the country recorded the highest number of new infections in more than a month.
Kindergarten students, the two lowest grades of elementary school, middle school seniors and second-year high school students were among those to return. It followed the reopening of high schools for seniors on May 20.
Some 450 schools chose to delay reopening their doors, however, after a kindergarten student and teacher in Seoul tested positive for coronavirus. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education told NBC News at least 19 of those schools will aim to reopen classrooms from June 1. The country reported 40 new cases as of midnight Tuesday, nearly double the 19 recorded the day before.
Prince Charles curates classical music playlist for Britons
"I have no doubt when we are finally allowed to enjoy concerts and theatrical performances once again, our brilliant orchestral players...will be ready to thrill us all," he said, adding that they will be "all the brighter because of their enforced silence and absence."
The curated playlist, including both of Frédéric Chopin’s piano concertos and the Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss also included a specially commissioned piece in memory of his grandmother, the queen's mother. Charles, 71, was among the high-profile British figures to contract coronavirus in March but made a swift recovery and remains in his Scottish home during the lockdown.
The Americas now the 'epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic,' WHO says
The Americas have emerged as the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization said in a briefing.
"Our region has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic," Carissa Etienne, WHO director for the Americas and head of the Pan American Health Organization, said via videoconference on Tuesday. Also of concern to WHO officials are accelerating outbreaks in Peru, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
The Americas have registered more than 2.4 million cases of the new coronavirus and more than 143,000 deaths from the resulting COVID-19 respiratory disease. Latin America has passed Europe and the United States in daily infections, she said.
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.
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.
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.