The House on Thursday afternoon held a moment of silence to honor those who have died during the pandemic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called for the moment around 1:15 p.m. "in remembrance of the over 100,000 Americans who have passed away from the COVID-19 virus."
COVID-19 has killed more Americans than the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam combined.
While the pandemic is confusing to adults, it's especially so for children who have suddenly lost their school, their connections with friends and grandparents, and even their ability to play freely outside. To them, coronavirus is like an unseen monster under the bed. What no one knows yet is just how sharp its fangs are.
- 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.
Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.
This live coverage has ended. Continue reading May 29 coronavirus news here.
Grand Canyon to fully open South Rim entrance in June
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — The Grand Canyon is expanding access to its more popular South Rim entrance and planning to let visitors in around the clock next month after it shuttered temporarily over coronavirus concerns.
The entrance station will be open from 4 a.m. until 2 p.m., starting Friday until June 5 when the national park will drop restrictions on the hours. The canyon’s North Rim also will reopen June 5, though the campground will be closed until July 1 because of construction.
Park concessionaires will start reopening lodging in June, the park said Thursday.
New outbreak as South Korea reopens, cases surge in Brazil
San Francisco sets strict new mask policy with 30-foot requirement
San Francisco will begin requiring nearly everyone to wear a mask when they're not at home — including runners, people on bicycles and in general anyone who is within 30 feet of another person not in their household.
Mayor London Breed said the order would take effect Friday night, and that as the city begins to relax certain restrictions, a stricter mask policy is a necessary step to prevent transmissions of the coronavirus. "We've all had to adjust to our new way of life," she said on Twitter.
There will be exceptions, including for people sitting stationary in a park or on a beach, but the new order is more expansive than policies in most of the rest of the country. San Francisco's previous order had generally exempted people exercising from wearing masks.
"The 30 feet (10 yard) distance is used here to give people adequate time to put on a Face Covering before the distance closes and the people are within six feet of each other," the order says.
Oklahoma signs off on Saturday classes for schools in case of 2nd surge
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Department Department of Education on Thursday approved Saturday classes in case of another surge of coronavirus cases.
The board approved a plan starting in the fall in which Saturday classes will be counted toward minimum attendance requirements, which is currently prohibited by state law.
Health officials have warned of a possible second surge of coronavirus cases and state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has said she wants schools to prepare multiple calendars for the fall, in case of another outbreak.
Oklahoma schools canceled in-person classes and moved to distance learning in mid-March as the virus spread in the state.
Missouri governor delays rolling out phase two of reopening
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delayed rolling out the second of phase of the state’s reopening plan on Thursday, saying the extension would give some communities “more time to prepare.”
Parson partially ended a stay-at-home order May 4, allowing businesses to reopen with social distancing rules in place. Parson extended the plan’s first phase to June 15.
Widely circulated images of a crowded Memorial Day pool party that local health officials called “reckless” didn’t play a role in Thursday’s decision, he said. “The thing at the Lake of the Ozarks is a very, very small sample of what's going on in the state, and for the most part, people were doing their part and I think they're going to continue to do that,” he said.
The number of confirmed cases in the state has continued to rise, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. As of Wednesday, data showed the state had recorded roughly 12,800 cases and 689 deaths.
44 deaths among meatpacking workers in U.S., union says
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — At least 44 meatpacking workers in the U.S. have died from the new coronavirus and another 3,000 have tested positive, according to an estimate released Thursday by the largest union representing workers.
Meat processing plants have become hot spots for infections in communities across the country, but most have stayed open since President Donald Trump's executive order a month ago declaring them critical infrastructure. The United Food and Commercial Workers union said 30 meatpacking plants have closed at some point since March, resulting in an estimated 40% reduction in pork production and a 25% reduction in beef.
The actual number of employees with the coronavirus is likely higher than the estimate, said Mark Lauritsen, director of the food processing and meatpacking division for the United Food and Commercial Workers International. The union compiled the figures from local union members who either received data from the meatpacking plant or verified infections with employees.
RNC signals convention to stay in North Carolina after Trump threats
The top officials from the Republican National Committee and the Republican National Convention signaled in a letter Thursday that its presidential convention will remain in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This comes as President Donald Trump in recent days has threatened to move the convention elsewhere unless Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper loosens some of his COVID-19 restrictions.
NBC News obtained a letter from top Republican officials to Cooper’s office about proceeding with the RNC in Charlotte as planned but asked North Carolina officials for “clear guidelines” given the time crunch.
Ronna McDaniels, the RNC chairwoman, and Marcia Lee Kelly, the president of the Republican National Convention, have asked the Democratic governor to sign off on “safety protocols,” including pre-travel health surveys and thermal scans of all mandatory attendees. They are also requesting an “aggressive sanitizing protocol for all public areas."
Trump has said stated he wants to view proposals by next week to make a decision.
How private jet owners got a subsidy from coronavirus relief funds
A California aviation management company to the elite is sharing the benefits of a taxpayer-financed loan with its private jet-owning clients after it won the loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to three clients and a copy of a letter announcing the plan.
Congress and President Donald Trump enacted the loan program, known as PPP, to prevent workers at small businesses from being laid off during the coronavirus crisis. The company, Clay Lacy Aviation of Van Nuys in Los Angeles, will be able to keep pilots and flight attendants employed with the money it received.
But the company also decided to provide a benefit for clients who own the jets it manages, a rich set who weren't the target of federal coronavirus relief funds.
People are accidentally throwing out their stimulus check — because it looks like junk mail
Some Americans may be unwittingly throwing their long-awaited stimulus check in the trash. That's because, starting last week, the Treasury Department and the IRS started sending out economic impact payments in regular white envelopes that could be confused for junk mail.
Almost 4 million people — including those for whom the agency does not have a bank account on file — will be getting their stimulus check in the form of a prepaid debit card. The only problem is that the debit cards come in an envelope that says “Money Network Cardholder Services” and does not bear any federal markings.
That has prompted some recipients to complain they look too similar to an unwanted credit card offer, leading some to accidentally throw the card — which could contain as much as $3,400 for a family of four — in the trash.
To help taxpayers identify the card, the IRS said in an FAQ that the cards will bear the Visa logo and are issued by MetaBank. A letter included with the card explains that the card is the Economic Impact Payment Card. More information is available at eipcard.com.
Cancer, coronavirus are a dangerous mix, new studies find
New research shows how dangerous the coronavirus is for current and former cancer patients. Those who developed COVID-19 were much more likely to die within a month than people without cancer who got it, two studies found.
They are the largest reports on people with both diseases in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and Canada. In one study, half of 928 current and former cancer patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized and 13 percent died. That’s far more than the various rates that have been reported in the general population.
EMTs, paramedics return home after helping NYC battle COVID-19 pandemic
The FDNY thanked volunteer emergency medical technicians and paramedics who came to New York City to aid in the fight against COVID-19 with a parade near their EMS academy at Fort Totten.
In videos posted on social media, members of the FDNY carrying American flags can be seen clapping and waving as the last of the volunteers leave New York to return to their hometowns. Sirens blare as members of the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums join in on the celebration. The volunteers responded to more than 31,000 medical emergencies during their time in New York City, the FDNY said.
“We could not be more thankful for all the hard work that these brave men and women put into their service to this city,” FDNY Chief of EMS Operations Lillian Bonsignore said. “They saved many, many lives along the way.”
Coronavirus crisis puts hog farmers in uncharted territory: Kill their healthy livestock
Meat processing plants have shut down across the United States as the coronavirus has spread among workers, creating enormous bottlenecks in an inelastic supply chain. The result has been empty shelves in grocery stores and millions of pigs that are all fattened up with nowhere to go.
Facing rising costs and increasingly cramped conditions for their herds, some hog farmers across the Midwest have taken drastic action: killing their perfectly healthy pigs.
“This goes against everything we do,” Mike Patterson, a hog farmer from Kenyon, Minnesota, told NBC News. “We realize these animals are going to be killed, but we take great pride in knowing we are putting food on Americans’ tables and trying to give the animals the best care we can to ensure they are healthy and thriving every day. To see that go to waste is difficult.”
7-year-old boy throws 'mini-prom' for nanny
A 7-year-old boy in North Carolina felt bad after he found out his nanny’s prom was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic so he decided to throw her a prom of her own.
Curtis Rogers, who just finished first grade, decided to put together a prom in his backyard for his nanny Rachel Chapman, a senior at Sanderson High School in Raleigh. Rogers decided to ask Chapman to the prom with a “promposal” by using a sign that said “mini prom is not today, but will you join me on Monday?"
At the backyard prom Rogers even thought to order Chapman’s favorite foods: Chick-fil-A and smoothies from Tropical Smoothie.
“I was so surprised. It was really fun. It made me feel special because it showed he really cared and wanted to do something nice for me,” Chapman told NBC News.
The two enjoyed the evening together and were able to share a dance, complete with a pool noodle between them, in order to allow for social distancing.
FEMA faces concerns over ability to respond to disasters during COVID-19 pandemic
Democratic House members raised concerns about FEMA's ability to respond to multiple disasters during the coronavirus pandemic and asked for a briefing on the agency's preparation efforts.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and the other Democratic members of the committee sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins on monday, June 1, has already seen two named storms this month.
“Given these projections, we are concerned about FEMA’s capacity to manage natural disaster preparedness and response efforts during the ongoing pandemic,” the committee members said.
“FEMA needs to take a proactive role in procuring the staffing and resources necessary to respond, keeping in mind that conventional disaster response strategies, such as communal shelters and volunteer recovery and supply distribution efforts, could pose increased health and safety risks during the pandemic.”
Georgia man charged in attempted $317 million N-95 mask fraud
The federal government has charged Paul Penn, a Georgia man, with trying to sell 50 million nonexistent N-95 masks to a foreign government at a price 500 percent higher than the masks' normal market value.
Penn and his associates, through his company Spectrum Global Holdings, LLC, acted as a middle man to negotiate a cut of the $317 million sale price. But the group did not actually possess the masks, according to prosecutors.
The unnamed foreign government agreed to the price and wired funds to complete the purchase. The money transfer was disrupted by the U.S. Secret Service "just before the transaction could be competed," according to the Justice Department.
“Using a worldwide pandemic as an opportunity to take advantage of those searching for badly needed personal protective equipment is reprehensible,” said Bobby Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
Boston Marathon will be held as a virtual event due to coronavirus
The Boston Marathon will be held as a virtual event this year due to the coronavirus pandemic after Mayor Marty Walsh announced that hosting a traditional race would not be feasible.
Runners who are participating will have to complete the 26.2 mile distance within 6 hours and provide proof of their timing, the Boston Athletic Association announced.
Everyone who finishes the virtual race will receive an official Boston Marathon program, a T-shirt for participating, a medal and a runner's bib.
"While our goal and our hope was to make progress in containing the virus and recovering our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14 or any time this year," Walsh said during a news briefing.
Coronavirus relief payments are taking a new form — here's what to look for
Still waiting for your coronavirus relief check? It may be coming to you in an unusual form.
According to the IRS statement, the debit cards will arrive in a plain envelope from "Money Network Cardholder Services." Cards will be preloaded with your payment and feature the same protections against loss, theft and fraud as a traditional bank account would.
Chicago to begin reopening next week, mayor says
Chicago will begin reopening on Wednesday, June 3, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Twitter.
Child care centers, libraries, hotels, hair salons and barber shops, dentist offices and other health care centers and non-essential retail businesses will be among those allowed to open as long as safety guidelines are followed.
People will be able to visit restaurants and coffee shops but for outdoor dining only and gyms will reopen with restrictions.
Lightfoot said she wants to reopen the city "in a way that protects the health & safety of our residents." The full list of businesses that will reopen can be viewed here.
Pattern of uneven social distancing enforcement coming into view, civil rights experts say
What’s happening with social distancing enforcement mirrors broader patterns in policing, who is most agressively monitored, handled when coming in contact with police and then penalized, according to multiple police accountability, civil rights and civil liberties advocates.
Data provided to NBC News by the New York Police Department show that from mid-March to mid-May, about 81 percent of all citations for social distancing violations were issued to black or Latino individuals, although only about half the city’s population are black or Latino.
But in the spaces in New York and other cities around the country where mostly white people gather, they appear free to sunbathe and picnic, with the occasional police offer of a mask, or even crowd together in small pools. And Americans have watched overwhelmingly white anti-social distancing protesters shove, scream and arm themselves at rallies in state capitals. There, they’ve faced-off with police who were not wearing riot gear, and yelled about alleged tyranny.
“We’ve just started seeing more and more incidents happen,” said Lynda Garcia, director of the policing campaign at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “We recognize this is unprecedented. We don’t necessarily have the answers, and law enforcement doesn’t have the answers. But we do think we need to put our heads together to reduce the disparities we’ve already seen in the arrests and stops because this is not a public health response to this epidemic. Arresting someone and putting them in jail is the opposite of social distancing.”
Maine shifts to virtual emergency operations center after 7 workers exhibit COVID-19 symptoms
Maine's emergency operations center moved to virtual operations after seven employees at the Augusta facility exhibited COVID-19 symptoms, the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) announced on Thursday.
The employees, who began exhibiting symptoms overnight, are being tested for COVID-19 and did not go to work Thursday.
Maine CDC is testing, contact tracing and closely monitoring the employees who experienced COVID-19 symptoms. In the meantime, Maine CDC planned to conduct its daily media briefing over Zoom.
House holds moment of silence to honor the 100,000 dead from coronavirus
The House on Thursday afternoon held a moment of silence to honor the 100,000 Americans who have died during the pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called for the moment around 1:15 p.m. "in remembrance of the over 100,000 Americans who have passed away from the COVID-19 virus."
Boris Johnson announces plan to further relax England's coronavirus restrictions
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Thursday a plan to further relax England’s coronavirus restrictions, allowing some outdoor vendors to reopen and increasing the number of people those in England can meet in parks or private gardens.
Starting Monday, groups of up to six people can meet in outdoors provided those from different households continue to stick to social distancing rules by staying two meters (about six feet) apart.
Next week, outdoor retail and car show rooms will also be able to open and the government intends to open other non-essential retail on June 15, Johnson said.
The prime minister had already announced that some children will be able to return to school starting June 1. High schools will begin to provide “some face-to-face contact time” for some students on June 15, he said.
Coronavirus through kids' eyes
If the coronavirus pandemic seems confusing to adults — and it is, even at the highest levels of government — imagine how it might seem to children who have suddenly lost their school, their connections with friends and grandparents, and even their ability to play freely outside.
To them, coronavirus is like an unseen monster under the bed. What no one knows yet is just how sharp its fangs are.
Interviews with dozens of parents and children across the country show the extent of the strain and difficulty for children. Some worry about the potential for lasting trauma. But they also point to promising signs of resilience. Sibling relationships strengthened. New traditions embraced. Family bonds, cemented.
“There will definitely be change, and we’re all kind of holding our breath to see what it is,” says Dr. Tovah Klein, author of “How Toddlers Thrive.” “It’s clearly going to be part of their narrative and their life story and where they started out, but the question of whether it becomes part of the story and springboards them in strong ways or hurts them, that hasn’t been written yet.”
Wisconsin reports record number of new coronavirus cases, deaths
Wisconsin saw a record number of new coronavirus cases and deaths reported in a single day on Wednesday, two weeks after the state’s Supreme Court struck down its statewide stay-at-home order.
The state reported 599 new known COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with 22 known deaths, according to Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, the highest recorded daily rise since the pandemic began there. As of Wednesday, the state had more than 16,460 known cases and 539 known deaths, according to the department.
The previous record in new coronavirus cases was 528 the week prior.
Wisconsin also issued a record number of test results Wednesday, with more than 10,300 tests conducted, according to the department.
Premier League to restart on June 17 after 100-day hiatus
The 2019-20 Premier League season will resume on June 17 after a 100-day hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced.
League shareholders agreed to the provisional restart date "provided that all safety requirements are in place," according to a statement.
The league is slated to resume with a doubleheader, with Manchester City playing Arsenal and Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United, the league added. These first two games will ensure that every club will have played 29 PL games for a full match round beginning June 19.
"Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches," Richard Masters, Premier League's Chief Executive, said. "We will continue to work step-by-step and in consultation with all our stakeholders as we move towards resuming the 2019/20 season."
New York governor will allow businesses to deny entry to people not wearing face covering
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that he is signing an executive order authorizing businesses to deny entry to people who do not wear a mask or face covering.
"That store owner has a right to protect himself," the governor said at his daily coronavirus briefing. "That store owner has a right to protect the other patrons in that store."
“You don’t want to wear a mask, fine, but you don’t have a right to go into that store if that store owner doesn’t want you to," Cuomo said.
Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said in a statement Thursday that he and his wife, Anne Holton, recently tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies
"I tested positive for the flu earlier this year and was given standard medication to treat it," Kaine said. "The symptoms lingered and I continued to receive treatment from my physician for the flu through mid-March. At the end of March, I experienced new symptoms that I initially thought were flu remnants and a reaction to an unusually high spring pollen count. Then Anne experienced a short bout of fever and chills, followed by congestion and eventually a cough."
Kaine said doctors told him and his wife in early April that it was possible they had "mild cases of coronavirus." They were not tested immediately, he said, because of "the national testing shortage." By mid-April, the couple was symptom-free. This month, the Kaines both tested positive for the antibodies.
Researchers in Denmark develop robot that can test for COVID-19
Robotics researchers in Denmark have developed a machine that can test patients for COVID-19, which they say could help limit the need for health care workers to come into contact with people carrying the virus.
The robot, which was designed by the Industry 4.0 Lab at the University of Southern Denmark, is able to swab a patient's throat using a disposable tool, place the swab into a glass bottle and screw on the lid, according to a press released published on the university's website on Wednesday.
"I was surprised at how softly the robot managed to land the swab at the spot in the throat where it was supposed to hit, so it was a huge success," said Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu, who runs the Industry 4.0 Lab.
The lab says it is working with Danish startup Lifeline Robotics to manufacture a prototype that can begin testing patients by the end of June, with the end goal of selling the machines by fall.
Photo: Romanian port city marks Easter late due to coronavirus
NYC hopes to get up to 400,000 people back to work in early June
New York City, a focal point for America's coronavirus pandemic, hopes to reopen a wide swath of businesses and get 200,000 to 400,000 people back to work in early June, officials said Thursday.
The Phase 1 of reopening businesses would include construction, manufacturing, wholesale and nonessential retail in the first two weeks of next month, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Work sites would need to keep employees 6 feet apart, be at no more than 50 percent capacity, offer personal protective equipment and keep confined space to one person, such as in an elevator or behind a cash register. Retail locations would be limited to pickup only.
“We’ve come a long way, we're not going to blow it now," said de Blasio, who declined to set an exact date for the partial reopening. “We don’t get a memo from the disease telling us when it plans on a resurgence.”
Trump eager for July Fourth celebration in D.C. despite coronavirus pandemic
President Donald Trump is again eager for the nation's capital to host a Fourth of July celebration, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“As President Trump has said, there will be an Independence Day celebration this year and it will have a different look than 2019 to ensure the health and safety of those attending,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
Americans have “shown tremendous courage and spirit in the fight against this global pandemic just as our forefathers did in the fight to secure our independence, and both deserve celebration on America’s birthday this year,” Deere said.
The president last commented on the event on April 22, saying, “on July 4, we'll be doing what we had at the Mall, as you know. We're going to be doing it. Last year was a tremendous success, and I would imagine we'll do it — hopefully, I can use the term 'forever.'”
Anxiety and depression rates up in Americans during pandemic
More Americans are reporting signs of clinical anxiety or depression during the coronavirus pandemic than they were at the same time last year, according to data from both the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The most recent results from the Census Bureau's weekly Household Pulse survey, which asks adults about mental health symptoms they were experiencing over the past week, showed that more than 28 percent reported symptoms of an anxiety disorder, and 24 percent reported symptoms of depression.
That's up significantly compared with last year: Thursday, the CDC released preliminary data from another survey, the National Health Interview Survey, which found that this time last year, 8 percent of adults reported symptoms of an anxiety disorder, and 6.5 percent reported symptoms of depression.
Trump says the U.S. reaching 100,000 coronavirus deaths is 'a very sad milestone'
President Donald Trump acknowledged Thursday that the U.S. death toll in the coronavirus pandemic had reached 100,000, calling it "a very sad milestone."
"To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love for everything that these great people stood for & represent. God be with you!" Trump tweeted.
The U.S. has become the first country to top 100,000 reported coronavirus deaths. The U.S. leads the world in both deaths and confirmed cases, with nearly 1.7 million infections.
Boris Johnson's top adviser may have broken lockdown rules, police say
British police said Thursday that a top political adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have broken lockdown rules, when he drove 30 miles to a nearby town.
Johnson has faced mounting public pressure to fire Dominic Cummings, who drove from London to Durham, in the north of England, at the height of the lockdown despite his wife suffering coronavirus symptoms.
Durham police force said in a statement that the 260-mile cross-country trip did not break the law.
However, a second trip he made while he was there — to the nearby historical Barnard Castle — "might have been a minor breach of the regulations that would have warranted police intervention," police said.
Cummings said he made that trip to test his eyesight before attempting a longer drive back to London.
The police force said it will take no further action.
U.K. royal gives reading of Roald Dahl book for virus relief
The Duchess of Cornwall, the wife of Prince Charles, joined a star-studded cast in performing the beloved Roald Dahl children's classic "James and the Giant Peach" on Wednesday to raise money for organizations fighting the coronavirus.
Camilla — playing a ship's captain who spots a giant flying peach — reads in the video: "Holy cats! Send a message to the Queen at once! The country must be warned!"
She is accompanied by the actors Lupita Nyong'o and Josh Gad. Celebrities from previous weeks of the book’s reading include Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett.
Camilla is not the first British royal to be involved in coronavirus campaigns. Last week, Prince William and Kate joined seniors confined by lockdown restrictions in a game of virtual bingo.
Google launches awareness campaign around coronavirus scams
Google has helped launch a public awareness campaign to keep people from falling for online scams that capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign, Scam Spotter, aims to spread the basics of online awareness, like how to recognize a phony IRS call, or to be wary of a stranger insisting on being quickly paid in gift cards.
The COVID-19 scare has inspired an enormous boom in cybercrime. It's particularly hit older Americans: those 50 and older have reported a combined nearly $10 million in money lost to coronavirus-themed fraud, according to FTC complaints.
Weekly initial jobless claims in U.S. hit 2.1 million
More than 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, the 10th straight week that jobless claims have been in the millions as the coronavirus continues to cripple the economy.
The total number of people who have sought unemployment assistance now stands at more than 40 million since the crisis began in mid-March.
Continuing claims, or the number of people who have filed for ongoing benefits, is now at 21 million, according to weekly data released Thursday by the Department of Labor.
England launches virus contact tracing system
A contact tracing system started in England on Thursday, as a step toward allowing the loosening of lockdown measures, the U.K. government said.
The tracing service will have a task force of 40,000 people locating and testing those who have been in contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, and requiring them to self-isolate for 14 days.
The service will initially rely on what the government described as people doing their "civic duty," rather than a mobile app or data collection. Britain has one of the highest death tolls from the virus in Europe and the government has faced criticism for its approach to virus testing.
Lack of COVID-19 immunity no reason to vote by mail, Texas court rules. Trump cheers.
WASHINGTON — The Texas Supreme Court has blocked an effort by Democrats in the state to expand voting by mail, ruling that lack of immunity to COVID-19 does not qualify a person to apply for a mail-in ballot.
"We agree with the State that a voter's lack of immunity to COVID-19, without more, is not a 'disability' as defined by the Election Code," the court, made up of Republicans, said in a ruling Wednesday.
Russian deaths pass 4,000 as Moscow lockdown set to ease
The coronavirus death toll in Russia passed 4,000 people on Thursday, as the country grapples with the ongoing health crisis.
Despite the increasing number of deaths and infections, from June 1 Moscow will begin "Phase 1" of easing its lockdown, with some non-food stores and businesses re-opening. However, electronic passes will remain in place to enforce stay at home rules introduced in April.
The Mayor of Moscow also said he would allow some outdoor exercise to resume during scheduled times, so long as people wear protective face masks.
Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would go ahead with a delayed military parade on June 24, as he declared the pandemic had peaked. Many other Russian provinces have already eased lockdowns.
Africa faring well but should not be complacent, says WHO
South Africa and Nigeria were among the countries with the highest number of cases, the WHO said during an online briefing. But added it had trained more than 10,000 health workers across the continent, in skills such as psychological support and infection prevention.
"With strong country leadership ... cases in Africa remain lower than in some other parts of the world," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director for Africa. "However, we cannot let our guard down and we cannot be complacent."
Iraq virus cases pass 5,000 mostly in Baghdad
A statement by the ministry on Wednesday said that 287 new cases were recorded nationwide during the past 24 hours — the vast majority in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
"The cases of coronavirus pandemic are all over Baghdad, and there is no specific area in the city that is far from the risk of the disease," Provincial Governor Mohammed Jaber al-Atta, said in a statement.
More than 200,000 tests have been carried out in the conflict-ridden country, the Health Ministry said, which had helped to identify new outbreaks.
Australian archbishop calls for equality between churches and pubs
A Catholic archbishop has accused an Australian state government of unfair pandemic rules, which allow up to 50 people into pubs while limiting church congregations to just 10.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher, in Sydney, encouraged Catholics on Thursday to sign a petition calling on the New South Wales government to treat churches equally with pubs and restaurants when it brings in new rules on June 1.
"Contrary to what has been said throughout this pandemic, we do not consider church attendance to be non-essential — indeed, nothing is more essential than the practice of our faith," the petition said.
Siberian zoo sees lockdown baby boom
A Siberian zoo that closed its doors to visitors for over two months due to the coronavirus, says the lockdown has encouraged a baby boom among its animals.
Among the zoo's new arrivals are rare Egyptian goslings, reindeer calves, llama crias and a baby brown weeper capuchin monkey.
"Judging by the baby boom, the lockdown has clearly been good for us because there are a lot of interesting and beautiful baby animals now," said Andrei Gorban, the director of Krasnoyarsk's Royev Ruchey Zoo.
Gorban said that while the absence of onlookers had encouraged mating among some residents, it had confused others, with the zoo's herd of camels among those particularly missing visitors, he said.
WHO creates foundation to increase funding in virus fight
The World Health Organization announced the creation of a foundation for new sources of funding, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, aiming to broaden its contributor base.
Calling it a "historic step," WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus announced the creation of the WHO Foundation on Wednesday at a virtual briefing.
He said it would ease a potential financial shortage and that it had been in the works for years. The funds will go towards all the WHO projects including vaccine research and preparing for future pandemics, not just the current coronavirus.
President Donald Trump recently threatened to permanently halt funding from the U.S. — the WHO's biggest financial contributor — after criticizing its handling of the pandemic.
South Korea reports worrying new spike in cases
Thursday’s resurgent spike of 79 new cases is linked to workers at a massive logistics warehouse in Seoul, operated by a local e-commerce giant.
Health minister Park Neung Hoo said the government would reimpose some "enhanced quarantine measures in the Seoul metropolitan area" for the next two weeks, to quell the flare-up.
Recently, hundreds of other infections have been linked to nightclubs in the country’s capital, which saw huge crowds pour into them in early May after officials relaxed social distancing rules.
Singaporean gets jail time for Facebook post
A taxi driver in Singapore has been sentenced to four months in jail, after posting a message to a private Facebook group claiming food outlets would close and urged people to stock up during the coronavirus pandemic.
The public prosecutor called for a sentence that would deter others from spreading "hysteria."
Singapore has imposed tough punishments on those who breach COVID-19 rules or spread misinformation. This is not the first example. Last month, a man who broke a curfew by 30 minutes, to buy a flatbread, was fined $1,000. While another, breached a stay-home order to go out and eat pork rib soup and was jailed for six weeks.
U.K.'s Boris Johnson faces schools rebellion over plans to send kids back
LONDON — In the early days of the lockdown, it almost felt like a novelty for parents like Claire Collins as she and her friends swapped home schooling tips on WhatsApp.
"There was an influx of people passing around, quite excitedly, things you could do with your kids at home: links on Pinterest, that sort of thing," said Collins, 37, who has children ages 2 and 5 and lives in the town of Abergavenny in Wales.
"Now I think that enthusiasm has died. It's fizzled out," she said, struggling to speak over her children, Amber and Romy, who were vying for her attention in the background. "It sounds fun, but it's actually been quite taxing and draining."
India has record daily jump in cases
India sees no respite from the coronavirus, reporting another record single day jump of over 6,500 cases, bringing the total to 158,333 on Thursday, as the two-month lockdown is due to ease on Sunday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is preparing a new set of guidelines to be issued this weekend, possibly extending the lockdown in worst-hit areas, as it promotes economic activity.
The Indian Health Ministry reported 4,531 deaths so far. Mumbai — India’s financial and entertainment capital — is the worst hit city with nearly 1,200 deaths.
An increase in cases has also been reported in some of India’s poorest eastern states, as migrant workers returning to native villages from large cities have begun arriving home on special trains.
Pandemic worsens periods for women, says charity
Millions of women worldwide are facing shortages of sanitary products, price hikes, and worsened stigma while managing periods during lockdowns, due to the coronavirus pandemic, a charity warned on Thursday.
About three-quarters of health professionals in 30 countries surveyed by Plan International, from Kenya to Australia, reported supply shortages of sanitary products. Around half cited reduced access to clean water to help manage periods.
"Periods don’t stop during a pandemic, but managing them safely and with dignity has become a whole lot harder," Susanne Legena of Plan International Australia, said in a statement to mark Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Dem lawmaker goes on epic rant after GOP colleague admits hiding positive coronavirus test
A Pennsylvania Democratic lawmaker joined colleagues on his side of the aisle in lambasting a Republican lawmaker for keeping them in the dark about testing positive for the coronavirus.
Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, delivered an epic Facebook Live rant on Wednesday about the exclusion, saying state House Republicans called for in-person committee meetings to argue that business sectors were safe to reopen even as they knew they had been exposed to the virus.
"Every single day of this crisis this State Government Committee in Pennsylvania has met so that their members could line up one after one after one and explain that it was safe to go back to work," he said. "During that time period they were testing positive. They were notifying one another. And they didn’t notify us."
"I never ever, ever knew that the Republican leadership of this state would put so many of us at risk for partisanship to cover up a lie," he said during the nearly 12-minute tirade. "And that lie is that we're all safe from COVID."
Rep. Andrew Lewis, R-Dauphin, said in a Facebook Live address Wednesday night, hours after he publicly announced he had tested positive, that he informed as few people as possible about contracting the coronavirus because he wanted to protect the privacy of those around him and because he was only in close quarters with a handful of house colleagues.
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Texas bar bans masks
14 million could go hungry in Latin America because of virus
BOGOTA, Colombia — The U.N. World Food Program is warning that upward of at least 14 million people could go hungry in Latin America as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, shuttering people in their homes, drying up work and crippling the economy.
New projections released late Wednesday estimate a startling increase: Whereas 3.4 million experienced severe food insecurity in 2019, that number could more than quadruple this year in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions.
Signs of mounting hunger are already being felt around the region, where desperate citizens are violating quarantines to go out in search of money and food and hanging red and white flags from their homes in a cry for aid. Many of the hungry are informal workers who make up a sizable portion of Latin America’s workforce, while others are newly poor who have lost jobs amidst an historic economic downturn.
Boeing to lay off 7,000 workers this week
Boeing announced plans to lay off almost 7,000 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.
The Chicago-based airplane manufacturer — the biggest exporter in the U.S. — already announced it would trim its workforce by around 10 percent. Boeing said Wednesday that 5,520 employees had been approved for voluntary layoff. Calhoun also said Wednesday that international locations would see "workforce reductions."