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Cuomo backs businesses over face masks, children grapple with the virus

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: TOPSHOT-BRAZIL-HEALTH-VIRUS
Alexandre Schleier speaks with his 81-year-old grandmother Olivia Schleier, as his mother Eunice Schleier watches, through a window at the Premier Hospital, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 28, 2020.Nelson Almeida / AFP - Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has emerged as a national leader in the fight against the coronavirus, has thrown his weight behind businesses by issuing an executive order authorizing them to deny entry to any customers who don't wear masks.

Also on Thursday, the U.S. House held a moment of silence in honor of the more than 100,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus so far.

And while the pandemic is confusing to adults, it's especially so for children who have suddenly lost their school, family connections and ability to play freely outside. To them, the coronavirus is like an unseen monster under the bed.

Here's what you need 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 finished. Click here for the latest updates on May 30.

Troll farms from Macedonia, Philippines pushed disinformation

and

766d ago / 7:31 PM UTC

One of the largest publishers of coronavirus disinformation on Facebook has been banned from the platform for using content farms from Macedonia and the Philippines, Facebook said on Friday.

The publisher, Natural News, was one of the most prolific pushers of the viral “Plandemic” conspiracy video, which falsely claimed that the coronavirus is part of an elaborate government plot to control the populace through vaccines, and erroneously claimed that wearing a mask increases the risk of catching the coronavirus.

Facebook said that it had found foreign trolls repeatedly posted content from Natural News, an anti-vaccination news site that frequently posts false coronavirus conspiracy theories about 5G towers and Bill Gates. They also posted content from Natural News' sister websites, NewsTarget and Brighteon, in an effort to artificially inflate their reach.

Read the full story.

766d ago / 7:19 PM UTC

Whistleblower says Hungary discharged critically ill patients to clear space for potential coronavirus patients

766d ago / 7:12 PM UTC

In April, Hungary’s government cleared out its hospitals in preparation for an intake of COVID-19 patients. The government said they had eight days to clear out 60 percent of their beds. In the end, Hungary only had around 3,800 infections and 600 deaths, leaving hospitals empty and sick patients forced to return home. 

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Viktor Orban told NBC News that hospitals were issued guidance to ensure that they didn’t send anyone home who could not be cared for there. But a whistleblower says that many of those discharged from the hospital were desperately unwell, and many have now died. 

The whistleblower, Athina Nemeth, an ambulance officer in Budapest, says that of 10 patients she cared for, nine died after being sent home. One of her patients was sent home with an open stomach wound, another with a stoma bag. Patients were discharged without medical supplies, to families who did not know how to care for them.  

Lilla Szeleczki’s mother is one of the dead. Szeleczki was given less than a day’s notice that her 80-year-old mother was coming home from hospital. She had dementia, chronic pneumonia and a kidney tumor. Szeleczi didn’t receive any medical support, and had to Google how to administer her mother’s injections. She told NBC that she felt abandoned. It was, she said, “like a horror movie.” Her mother died less than a week after returning home.

Hungary’s secretary of state for International Communication and Relations, Zoltan Kovacs, says that the decision to clear beds was based on sound medical and scientific advice. He said that freeing up beds was necessary, and that although it meant patients were discharged, “this problem could not be solved any other way."

The Hungarian Medical Chamber did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The former director of the National Institute of Medical Rehabilitation has been prevented from responding by a law that prohibits medical staff from speaking to reporters.

Dems ask ICE to expand testing for COVID-19 and stop transferring detainees

766d ago / 7:01 PM UTC

Seventeen Democratic senators sent a letter to Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf on Friday demanding that ICE halt the transfer of detainees in its custody and expand testing to stem the spread of coronavirus among detainees.

“Testing and outbreak patterns make clear that … inter-facility transfers result in virus outbreak in previously unaffected jails,” the senators wrote. “Yet, ICE has initiated transfers from facilities with high concentrations of COVID-19 positive cases to facilities with no known cases.”

The lawmakers, led by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D.-N.M., are asking ICE to suspend detainee transfers into the ICE system from federal prisons and state and local law enforcement agencies, and to test detainees at “all ICE facilities, including processing centers, privately run facilities, and local jails contracting with ICE.”

According to ICE, there are currently about 26,000 detainees in custody, and there have been at least 1,327 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among detainees in 54 locations across the U.S.

New Jersey governor allows child care centers, non-contact sports, and summer camps to resume in the upcoming weeks

766d ago / 6:14 PM UTC

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Friday that he will be signing an executive order allowing child care services, non-contact organized sports, and youth day camps to resume over the next several weeks.

As long as they follow public health guidelines, child care centers can reopen on June 15, non-contact sport activities can restart on June 22, and summer programs can begin on July 6, the governor said.

Horse racing is also expected to resume as early as next weekend. Health and safety standards are expected to be released Friday afternoon.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says NYC is set to begin reopening on June 8

766d ago / 5:47 PM UTC

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that the city is on track to begin Phase I reopening on June 8, a week from Monday, as long as it meets the outstanding criteria related to hospital capacity remaining low and bringing contact tracing up to speed.

A number of regions that opened when statewide shutdown orders were lifted — Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, North Country and Central New York — will move onto Phase II, reopening office-based jobs, hair salons and retail services, Cuomo said during his daily briefing.

“We are reopening to a new normal, a safer normal. People will be wearing masks, people will be social distancing," Cuomo said. "It will just be a new way of interacting.”

Coronavirus started spreading in the U.S. in January, CDC says

766d ago / 5:41 PM UTC

The coronavirus began quietly spreading in the U.S. as early as late January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday — before President Trump blocked air travel from China and a full month before community spread was first detected in the country.

More than four months into the pandemic that has killed at least 102,000 Americans, the new data is the first comprehensive federal analysis of when COVID-19 took hold in the U.S.

It was also the first media briefing from the CDC in more than two months.

"As America begins to reopen, looking back at how COVID-19 made its way to the United States will contribute to a better understanding to prepare for the future," Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said Friday during a call with reporters.

Read the full story here.

Connecticut state colleges and universities to reopen in the fall

766d ago / 5:01 PM UTC

Connecticut state colleges and universities will reopen their campuses this fall, President Mark Ojakian announced Friday.

The system's four universities and 12 community colleges will open its doors to students on August 24, according to a press release. Each campus will be required to write a plan to meet the state's health and safety standards for reopening.

"I am excited to announce that we are planning to return to our campuses in fall 2020 with significant measures in place to make our institutions as safe as possible," Ojakian said. "We still have a lot of planning to do and more questions need to be addressed in the coming weeks and months."

Trump wants 'crowd-like setting,' no face masks on last day of RNC, letter says

766d ago / 4:55 PM UTC

President Donald Trump wants "a crowd-like setting" on the final day of the Republican National Convention when he gives his acceptance speech, with attendees neither observing social distancing nor wearing face masks, according to a letter from North Carolina's top health official to the Republican National Committee's leadership.  

"During our phone conversation on Tuesday, May 26, you indicated a desire from President Trump to hold Thursday’s nomination event with ‘people together in a crowd-like setting’ and without social distancing or face coverings for attendees," wrote Mandy Cohen, the secretary of the state's Department of Health and Human Services, in reference to conversations the state has had with GOP officials to ensure a safe convention.

“We know that it is possible to have a large-scale event during these trying times," Cohen said, citing a recently submitted NASCAR plan. She added, "The state continues to support hosting of the Republican National Convention in Charlotte if it can be done safely.” 

Despite concerns about holding nominating conventions amid the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has been insistent on continuing as planned with the Republican convention in late August.  

 

Sen. Casey tests positive for coronavirus antibodies

766d ago / 4:04 PM UTC

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said Friday that he has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies after experiencing "low-grade fever and some mild flu-like symptoms" earlier this spring, adding that he would be donating plasma to help others fight the virus.

The senator said in statement that after consulting with his doctor, he self-quarantined at his home in Scranton for two weeks and did not seek medical care because his symptoms were "relatively mild and manageable."

"My fever went away on its own by mid-April, and it was never recommended that I be tested for the virus," he wrote. "I was able to work during my illness, remotely engaging with constituents and staff and keeping a full schedule."

Casey's statement comes a day after Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said he and his wife, Anne Holton, also recently tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies after learning in April that they might have had mild cases of the disease caused by the virus.

Iowa pushes to reopen despite 'substantial spread' of COVID19

766d ago / 3:20 PM UTC

DES MOINES, Iowa — Despite acknowledging there is still “substantial spread” of COVID-19 in the state, Gov. Kim Reynolds continues to push forward on reopening the economy.

Bars and distilleries were given the go-ahead to reopen this week and casinos, amusement parks and sporting events can all resume Monday.

While the CDC recommends that states wait to reopen their economies after seeing a two-week decline in cases, the longest streak of declining COVID-19 cases that Iowa has seen is just three days. And on Thursday, another meatpacking plant reported an outbreak: The Tyson plant in Storm Lake is shutting down temporarily after 555 workers tested positive.

Reynolds also said businesses are not required to report positive cases if they don’t want to, and her administration won’t be disclosing outbreaks at meatpacking plants or other places were people congregate unless members of the media ask directly.

Mayor de Blasio discusses plan to give tablets to seniors to promote telemedicine

766d ago / 2:40 PM UTC

Philippines begins easing lockdown despite virus case spike

766d ago / 2:19 PM UTC

The Philippines saw its highest daily spike in coronavirus cases on Thursday, but that didn't stop President Rodrigo Duterte from easing one of the world's toughest and longest lockdowns.

Under the relaxed rules in place for the next two weeks, workplaces and shops will reopen and movement in and out of the capital Manila will be permitted, provided that people wear masks and observe social distancing.

Though taxis, buses and ride-hailing services are allowed to reopen, the country's iconic jeepneys - the crowded and colorful budget passenger trucks - will remain off the road.

"I'm still nervous because the virus is still out there but glad that the taxi drivers and I can go back to work," said taxi dispatcher Meliza Venal, after being stuck at home for 11 weeks.

The easing could help restore much-needed economic activity in a country facing its deepest contraction in 34 years.

As Trump rages, state officials quietly press forward with vote by mail

766d ago / 2:16 PM UTC

Judging solely by President Donald Trump's recent diatribes, mail-in voting would seem to have become one of the nation's most partisan flashpoints.

But at the state level — where elections are actually administered — there's little disagreement.

Instead, most state officials are ignoring partisanship and amid the coronavirus pandemic quietly laying the groundwork for an effective, mail-heavy election, including in those states led by Republicans.

Read the full story here. 

Election workers count ballots while collecting them from a drop box in Windsor Mill.
Election workers count ballots while collecting them from a drop box in Windsor Mill.Julio Cortez / AP file

Nepali Sherpas grounded by virus on anniversary of Mount Everest's first ascent

766d ago / 2:13 PM UTC

Had it not been for the coronavirus, Nepali climbing guide Tashi Lakpa Sherpa would have been on Mount Everest by now, guiding clients and trying to add another feather to his cap - a ninth ascent.

But the 34 year old is sitting in a Kathmandu apartment, worried about his future as a guide if climbing expeditions, a key source of employment for the Sherpa guides, remain closed.

Friday is the anniversary of the day Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa, and New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary became the first people to climb the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) Mount Everest in 1953.

Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 highest mountains including Everest, suspended climbing and trekking activities in March because of the pandemic. Its 30 million citizens have been under lockdown for two months.

Monkey business? Animals steal coronavirus blood samples in India

766d ago / 1:53 PM UTC

A troop of monkeys in India have attacked a medical official and snatched away blood samples of patients who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, authorities said on Friday.

The bizarre attack occurred when a laboratory technician was walking on the campus of a state-run medical college in Meerut, 460 km (285 miles) north of Lucknow.

"Monkeys grabbed and fled with the blood samples of four COVID-19 patients who are undergoing treatment ... we had to take their blood samples again," said Dr S. K. Garg, a top official at the college.

Authorities said they were not clear if the monkeys had spilled the blood samples or if they could themselves contract the virus.

Environmentalists say the destruction of natural habitats is the main reason animals stray into urban areas.

Pakistan to resume international flights

766d ago / 1:32 PM UTC

Pakistan will allow international flights to resume Saturday, after largely closing its airspace to commercial flights in March to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

“Both national and foreign airlines shall be allowed to operate from all international airports of Pakistan with exception of Gwadar and Turbat,” the Civil Aviation Authority said in a news release Friday. All planes  will be disinfected and crowding will not be allowed in airports.

Pakistan has largely rolled back its lockdown measures and resumed domestic flights this month despite a rise in the rate of infections.

The announcement Friday comes just a week after a domestic flight crashed into a residential area of Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, killing nearly 100 people on board. 

Global coronavirus cases edge closer to 6 million

766d ago / 1:24 PM UTC

The number of global coronavirus cases edged closer to 6 million on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and will likely surpass that figure over the weekend.

Globally 5.84 million people now have the potentially deadly respiratory disease known as COVID-19. The United States has the highest number of reported cases in the world followed by Brazil and Russia, according to the data. 

The grim global death toll stands at 361,066 people as of Friday — over 100,000 of those in the United States. 

See the NBC coronavirus global map here.

Prince William fears mental impact of virus on health workers

766d ago / 12:53 PM UTC

Britain’s Prince William spoke out on the importance of safeguarding mental health during the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, as he warned of the negative consequences on health care workers.

Speaking on a British talk show, Prince William said that while health care workers were "superstars," he feared many could experience alienation as "once they have this hero tag, they can no longer shake that, and therefore they can't ask for support," he said.

His comments came on the evening of the U.K.’s 10th weekly "Clap For Carers" initiative, which sees people across the country show their support for health care professionals by clapping on their doorsteps with neighbors each week. 

Prince William and his wife, Kate, have long been advocates for mental health and their foundation supports "Our Frontline," a program that provides mental health and bereavement support for health workers.

 

Image: The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Host A Reception To Mark The UK-Africa Investment Summit
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend a reception in London.Yui Mok / WPA Pool via Getty Images

766d ago / 12:37 PM UTC

Nigeria's nightlife dwindles amid coronavirus restrictions

766d ago / 12:19 PM UTC

Sensei Uche has earned a living for the last three years as a "hype man" in Nigeria's entertainment capital Lagos, standing alongside the DJ in clubs and whipping up dancers' enthusiasm.

But the coronavirus pandemic cut off his livelihood when the government shut bars, nightclubs and restaurants late March, to curb the spread of the virus.

He is now plying his skills online. Wielding a microphone, he works alongside a DJ playing music for "isolation parties" at weekends. But while the online parties keep his brand alive, he is unable to monetize them. 

"I just hope we can find a vaccine in time, so we don't make this the new normal," he said.

Image: Sensei Uche anchors an online virtual night party alongside DJ Jimmy Jatt, as nightclubs remain closed to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lagos, Nigeria
Sensei Uche anchors an online virtual night party alongside DJ Jimmy Jatt in Lagos, Nigeria.Seun Sanni / Reuters

France to cautiously lift most lockdown measures

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766d ago / 11:58 AM UTC

France will allow most restaurants, parks and schools to progressively reopen from June 2, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Thursday, as it works to restart its economy after nearly two months in lockdown. 

Paris, and its surrounding region, is no longer considered a "red zone" as the hard-hit capital's risk level was lowered, due to a significant drop in the number of COVID-19 cases, the health ministry said. 

But unlike other parts of the country, Parisian restaurants will only be authorized to serve customers on outdoor terraces, while elsewhere in France, a maximum of ten people can be served inside.

"Restaurants are ... capital to our art of living," Philippe said in his announcement.

Beaches and museums will also be allowed to re-open starting next week, while the voluntary contact-tracing app "Stop Covid" will also be rolled-out.

Pope Francis to lead world in rosary prayer for the pandemic

766d ago / 11:33 AM UTC

Pope Francis will lead the world in a rosary prayer for the pandemic this weekend, the Vatican said Friday. The prayer will implore the Virgin Mary's intercession and protection amid the coronavirus crisis.

The prayer will take place in the Vatican Gardens at 5:30 p.m. Rome time on Saturday and be broadcast live to the world online. While Catholic shrines from the United States to Guadalupe will also connect to the event and take part in the communal prayer.

"At the feet of Mary, the Holy Father will place the many troubles and sorrows of humanity, further worsened by the spread of COVID-19," a statement released by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization said.

Dozens of rosary beads have also been sent to families and medical staff affected by the virus, the Vatican said, as a sign of hope and solidarity.

 

Image: Pope Francis celebrating a private morning mass at the Santa Marta chapel in The Vatican
Pope Francis celebrating a private morning mass at the Santa Marta chapel in The Vatican.Vatican Media / AFP - Getty Images

In Moab, Utah, businesses welcome tourists back with caution

766d ago / 11:32 AM UTC

Tracy Bentley had already stocked up her bike shop in Moab, Utah, and hired seasonal staff when businesses shut down in mid-March to prevent the coronavirus from spreading there.

The town of just over 5,000 has a small hospital but no intensive care unit, and local officials were worried that their healthcare system would be overrun as adventure sports enthusiasts flocked to the town.

Moab closed businesses, hotels, and banned camping on nearby public lands. The measures worked: As of Monday, Grand County, where Moab is located, had just four confirmed cases.

Read the full story here.

Image: Hikers on the Park Avenue trail in the Arches National Park near Moab, Utah on April 21, 2018.
Hikers in the Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images file

German retailers suffer worst losses since 2007 due to virus

766d ago / 11:08 AM UTC

In April, German retailers suffered their worst month-on-month losses since 2007 due to coronavirus lockdown measures, Germany’s statistics office Destatis reported on Friday.

Provisional data showed that the turnover in retail trade in April was 6.5 percent lower than in April 2019, Destatis said in a statement. Although there were some winners in the crisis, notably online and mail order services.

Although Germany has fared relatively well compared to its European neighbors and is beginning to ease measures, the managing director of the German Retailers Association, Stefan Genth, warned those in the industry: "the crisis is by no means over." 

766d ago / 10:49 AM UTC

New Zealand celebrates a week without a new coronavirus case

766d ago / 10:31 AM UTC

New Zealand, on Friday, celebrated one week without a new coronavirus case in the country.

The Ministry of Health for New Zealand confirmed seven days in a row without a new case, as well as no one currently receiving hospital-level care for COVID-19. Although there remains one active case in the country.

New Zealand's success is thought to be due to early lockdown measures and an extensive testing campaign, so far over 275,000 people have been tested, the ministry said.

Among the relatively small population, the country has reported 1,154 cases since the pandemic began and 22 deaths, according to health officials. 

Tokyo to further relax virus restrictions

766d ago / 10:14 AM UTC

Japan’s capital will continue to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions on June 1, Tokyo’s Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters on Friday. 

Movie theaters, sport clubs, public baths, and department stores are among the facilities that will be allowed to re-open in a phased relaxation process, she said.

Koike warned, however, that people should continue to wash their hands, wear a face mask and "avoid the 'three C's' — closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings — as our new normal in our everyday life."

Japan has recorded more than 16,000 infections and nearly 900 deaths from the virus as of Friday, the Ministry of Health said.

Japan's air-force salutes medical workers in Tokyo

766d ago / 9:51 AM UTC
Image: The Japan Air Self-Defense Force flies over medical workers in Tokyo.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force flies over medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic in Tokyo.Kyodo / AP

U.N. climate summit delayed to 2021

766d ago / 9:14 AM UTC

The United Nations has confirmed that its annual climate summit will be pushed back to November 2021, delayed by one year, due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The COP 26 summit will attract world leaders and climate experts in an effort to hash out plans to curb global warming and set goals to lower carbon emissions.

The meeting will continue to be hosted in Glasgow, Scotland, as planned, although a short "warm up" summit will also take place in Italy beforehand, the U.N. said.

 

Fans cheer as English Premier League soccer set to return

766d ago / 8:48 AM UTC

The English Premier League — soccer's richest and most watched competition — is set to return on June 17, as Britain continues to ease its coronavirus lockdown measures.

The league has been suspended since March and was paused at a cliff-hanger moment as Liverpool F.C. were on the verge of being crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years.

Britain's national sport has been greatly missed by sports-fans during lockdown and will pick up where it left off, but without fans present in stadiums although matches will be screened live on television, the league said in a statement.

A number of players have expressed concerns that a return to the field could put their health and the health of their families at risk. But the Premier League stressed the plan was still "provisional" and matches would only start "provided that all safety requirements are in place."

Grand Canyon to fully open South Rim entrance in June

766d ago / 6:16 AM UTC

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

766d ago / 4:24 AM UTC

San Francisco sets strict new mask policy with 30-foot requirement

766d ago / 2:44 AM UTC

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. 

44 deaths among meatpacking workers in U.S., union says

766d ago / 1:12 AM UTC

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.