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Pandemic adds to global mistrust in governments

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Gamblers celebrate a win while playing roulette during the reopening of The D hotel-casino, closed by the state since March 18, 2020 as part of steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in downtown Las Vegas
Gamblers play roulette at the reopened D Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas on Thursday.Steve Marcus / Reuters

People across the world's leading economies are becoming increasingly frustrated with how their governments are handling the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey shows.

The British polling firm Kantar found that 48 percent of the more than 7,000 people it surveyed across the G7 nations approved of how their government had responded, down from 50 percent in April and 54 percent in March.

There have been confirmed 1.83 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. and more than 106,000 deaths.

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.

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Minnesota Gov. Walz: 'Anyone who demonstrated should receive a test for COVID-19'

758d ago / 10:37 PM UTC

New York governor to protesters: Get tested

759d ago / 9:15 PM UTC

In New York, which once had the highest coronavirus infection rate in the U.S., the total number of hospitalizations are down and the state is seeing a continued decline in deaths, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a briefing Thursday. At the same time, protests against the murder of George Floyd have continued in New York’s largest cities, worrying officials about a resurgence in infections. An estimated 30,000 people have marched across the state, with 20,000 protesters in New York City.

“With the protesters, they could actually compound the situation,” Cuomo said. The state plans to open testing facilities for all protesters to avoid a super-spreader event, he said. 

 “As fast as the numbers come down is as fast as the numbers can go up,” Cuomo warned. 

USDA issues $545 million in COVID-19 assistance for food producers

759d ago / 9:02 PM UTC

The United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) has issued its first payments to farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), the agency announced Thursday.

The agency began taking applications on May 26 and has already made payments to more than 35,000 producers, totaling more than $545 million, the USDA said in a news release. The states that have received the most CFAP payments include Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska and South Dakota. 

“The coronavirus has hurt America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers, and these payments directed by President Trump will help this critical industry weather the current pandemic so they can continue to plant and harvest a safe, nutritious, and affordable crop for the American people,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said.

The FSA is accepting applications for up to $16 billion in aid to farmers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through Aug. 28.

The Lancet retracts large study on hydroxychloroquine

759d ago / 8:45 PM UTC

The medical journal The Lancet on Thursday retracted a large study on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 because of potential flaws in the research data. The study, published two weeks ago, found no benefit to the drug — and suggested its use may even increase the risk of death.

Thursday's retraction doesn't mean that the drug is helpful — or harmful — with respect to the coronavirus. Rather, the study authors were unable to confirm that the data set was accurate.

Read more. 

NBA owners approve tentative July 31 restart to season with just 22 teams playing

759d ago / 8:18 PM UTC

The NBA approved a plan to restart the season with abbreviated competition of just 22 teams — tentatively set to begin July 31 with all games played near Orlando, Florida.

The NBA Board of Governors voted to approve the plan on Thursday, according to a statement from the NBA, with the plan contingent on sealing an agreement with The Walt Disney Company to use Walt Disney World Resort.

The plan calls for the top 22 teams of the 30 teams to play eight games to finish off their regular season.

“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement on Thursday. “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts."

Read the full story here.

Gap Inc. faces lawsuit for skipping out on millions of dollars in rent during coronavirus crisis

759d ago / 7:00 PM UTC

Mall owner Simon Property Group is suing Gap Inc. for allegedly failing to pay more than $65.9 million in rent and other charges, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

San Francisco-based Gap, whose brands include Old Navy and Banana Republic, said in an April filing that it would not pay rent on stores closed because of the pandemic.

But in the lawsuit, Simon Property Group accuses the company of being in contractual default for failing to pay rent for April, May and June. 

“The amounts due will continue to accrue each month, with interest,” according to the lawsuit.

Gap Inc. told NBC News that it has made progress with many landlords as it reopens stores across the country.

In its quarterly earnings report, released Thursday, the company reported a 100 percent increase in e-commerce sales during the month of May. 

Still, only about 1,600 of its stores have reopened, which is about 55 percent of its total fleet. The company also reported while “many peaceful protests have taken place across the country in some cities, our stores have been taken advantage of.” It reported 20 stores sustained extensive damage.

Dr. Leana Wen: 5 safety measures to keep in mind if you're protesting during COVID-19

759d ago / 5:24 PM UTC

Americans are taking to the streets to protest the police killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and more. And while any time people gather in groups, there’s an increased risk of getting or spreading COVID-19, there are ways to reduce your risk and stay safer, said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore.

Dr. Wen, who has been a leading voice in public health and a frequent commentator about coronavirus, recently spoke to Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, about safety measures protesters should keep in mind as they make their voices heard.

Read the full story here.

'Helpy Hour' launched in Belgium, as restaurants and bars prepare to reopen

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759d ago / 4:38 PM UTC

Belgian beer lovers are being encouraged to support their favorite locals by buying one drink for the price of two, as bars and restaurants prepare to reopen next week after more than two months of lockdown.

The initiative has been dubbed ‘Helpy Hour’ and was designed to help the country’s struggling hospitality industry recover economically following the forced closure of businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"I don't think the Belgians will be happy to see their beloved cafes disappear," President of the Federation of Belgian cafes Diane Delen said. "It's a temporary measure that will help avoid an avalanche of bankruptcies.”

When restaurants and bars reopen on Monday, tables will be spaced at least 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) apart, with a maximum of 10 people allowed per table and waiters will have to wear face masks. Ordering and drinking at the bar will not be possible.

CDC's Dr. Nancy Messonnier involved with 'Operation Warp Speed'

759d ago / 4:32 PM UTC

One of the first voices of public health in the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is leading the agency's team involved with "Operation Warp Speed" to find a coronavirus vaccine.

CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield told a Congressional subcommittee about Messonnier's role during a hearing Thursday about the federal COVID-19 response.

Messonnier regularly provided updates early in the pandemic, but has not been heard from publicly since early March, when she warned Americans their lives would be disrupted because of the looming viral spread. 

"Dr. Messonnier remains one of our outstanding leaders," Redfield told the subcommittee panel. "She has not been sidelined."

Outdoor seating at NYC restaurants could be back in July

759d ago / 3:45 PM UTC

Outdoor seating at New York City restaurants could be back in July,  2 1/2 months months after the coronavirus pandemic brought most businesses to a halt, officials said Thursday.

Phase 2 of the city's reopening is on track for early July, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters, with the most notable change being restaurants serving patrons al fresco.

In coming weeks, de Blaio said City Hall will announce plans that'll offer more street space to restaurateurs so they can welcome back customers for outdoor dining: "This is going to be another important step -- but again health and safety first."

Restaurants now can serve food for pickup. 

COVID-19 cases appear to rise in some Southern U.S. states

759d ago / 3:37 PM UTC

Alabama's health department reported 915 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as several U.S. states across the South appear to be grappling with upticks in infections.

Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia saw new cases climb 35 percent or more in the week that ended May 31 compared with the previous week, according to a Reuters analysis published Monday.

“If people don’t follow current recommendations for social distancing and avoiding crowds of any kind, we can anticipate seeing increased numbers,” the South Carolina health department said in a statement to Reuters.

Florida announced 1,419 new cases Thursday, bringing the statewide total to more than 60,000.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledges $1.6B to vaccine organization

759d ago / 3:33 PM UTC

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Thursday it would contribute $1.6 billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, an organization that helps provide vaccines to developing countries.

The five-year commitment was announced at the Global Vaccine Summit 2020, hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“Not many people outside the global health sector have heard about Gavi, but over the past twenty years, it has transformed the way the world invests in and protects the health of its children,” Melinda Gates said in a statement. “If the current pandemic has reminded us of anything, it’s the importance of vaccinating against deadly diseases. The pledges that leaders are making today will help Gavi save even more lives.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation previously announced it would contribute $100 million to research for a COVID-19 vaccine.

From extremism to coronavirus: How a nonprofit pivoted to confront Arabic-language misinformation

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759d ago / 3:25 PM UTC

Faisal Al Mutar was at his home in New York City when he saw the first hints of what would become a tidal wave of Arabic-language coronavirus conspiracy content spreading online.

It was mid-February and while the virus was starting to appear in Iran, there was yet to be a serious outbreak in an Arab country — the rampant misinformation had arrived in the Arab world before the virus.

Al Mutar, 28, watched videos suggesting the pandemic was part of a biological war between the United States and China. Homespun articles claimed that eating garlic was enough to ward off the virus. Religious authorities argued the disease was a punishment for China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims.

“The most dangerous misinformation I saw is the claim that because we are Muslims, the virus is not going to affect us,” he said.

Read the full story here.

American Airlines adding more flights and doubling air miles as passengers slowly return

759d ago / 3:05 PM UTC

American Airlines said it will operate more flights and offer double air miles, as the number of passengers ticked up significantly in the last week of May and Florida’s theme parks start to open their gates. 

The airline is planning to increase its domestic capacity to a level that is just over half the number of flights it typically flew during the same period in 2019, it said in a press statement on Thursday

The airline said it will notify customers if planes are fuller so they can easily change flights, and customers can receive double air miles if flights booked in June are completed by September. 

“We’re seeing a slow but steady rise in domestic demand. After a careful review of data we’ve built a July schedule to match,” said Vasu Raja, American’s senior vice president of network strategy. 

American also restored flights to a number of international destinations, including Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, and Antigua.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida can host Republican National Convention

759d ago / 2:41 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — Two days after President Donald Trump said he was seeking another state to host the Republican National Convention in August, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is raising his hand.

DeSantis, a Republican, was asked in a Fox News interview Thursday why he thinks Florida can hold the convention and whether he would allow a full stadium of people, as Trump has been calling for.

“The shape of the epidemic is just simply going to be different, and hopefully it's a lot better, but I think we'll be able to make those decisions about what precautions need to be taken as you get closer," DeSantis said. "But to just rule out a convention at this stage, I think, is a mistake so we've said we want to get to 'yes' on it and I think we'll be able to do it.”

DeSantis' comments come after Trump said Tuesday that he would seek another state for the convention because North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, has refused to guarantee that restrictions related to the coronavirus wouldn't affect the event. A Republican National Committee official later confirmed that the nominating part of the convention "will be held in another city."

Read the full story here.

Military families face housing limbo during Covid-19 crisis

759d ago / 2:33 PM UTC

As states reopen across the nation, the Defense Department will immediately begin to lift “stop-movement” orders at some military bases in the U.S. and abroad. Service members will now be allowed to follow orders to move to a new location — a permanent change of station — in stages, depending on local conditions, according to a May 22 memo from the Secretary of Defense.

Yet the department’s travel restrictions, which were first set in March and extended until June 30, have already caused significant financial hardship for tens of thousands in the military. Some service members and their families are getting double-billed for what’s often their biggest expense: housing.

“We’re seeing a lot of people have lost earnest money because they put money down on a house ... or they’re going to be paying two rents or two mortgages within 60 days,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families, a non-profit organization that conducts research and provides programs and resources for more than 1.5 million military family members. “We have a lot of people who have all of their household goods in storage.

“They have to buy clothes or rent furniture to make up for that,” she added.

Read the full story here.

759d ago / 1:34 PM UTC

759d ago / 1:33 PM UTC

Over 3,000 new infections per day in Iran for first time since March

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759d ago / 12:55 PM UTC

Iran reported over 3,000 new cases of coronavirus Tuesday and Wednesday raising fears about a second spike.

3,117 new infections were reported Tuesday and 3,134 Wednesday, official figures show. The last time Iran reported over 3,000 infections a day was on March 30 during the peak week of infections. 

Iranian officials will be concerned about the virus making a comeback after suffering an outbreak that has killed 8,000 people to date, according to official figures. 

Around 1.8 million people filed for first-time jobless benefits last week, continuing downward trend

759d ago / 12:38 PM UTC

Around 1.8 million Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits last week, hinting that the worst could be over for the labor market.

While still a staggering figure, it continues a downward trend for the unemployment claims that have illustrated week by week the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The jobless claims data, released Thursday by the Department of Labor, was in line with economist expectations of 1.8 million for the week ended May 30.

Attention now turns to Friday's closely watched monthly employment report, which is expected to show that a total of 8 million Americans were out of work in May. That number is markedly lower than April's record tally of 20.5 million.

The current unemployment rate of 14.7 percent, the highest since the Great Depression, is expected to soar to around 20 percent.

In Brazil, a 1-year-old boy tests positive

759d ago / 12:24 PM UTC
Image: Brazil coronavirus child test
A health worker tests 1-year-old Nicolas for COVID-19 at his home after a family member fell ill in Manacapuru, Amazonas state, Brazil, on Wednesday 2020. Nicolas didn't show any symptoms of the new coronavirus but tested positive on the quick test.Felipe Dana / AP

Citing coronavirus restrictions, rallies in Norway are a no-go

759d ago / 11:45 AM UTC

Authorities in Norway have turned down applications to hold rallies in the country’s three largest cities in support of protesters in the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, citing the coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.

Rallies were planned in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim but local authorities said that without a dispensation from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, not more than 50 people can gather in one place, Mohamed Awil, president of the African Student Association at the University of Oslo, said.

The association is co-organizing the rally in Oslo where more than 15,000 people had said they planned to take part in Thursday’s demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy. Awil said they were considering an alternative demonstration but details were not immediately available.

Similar events took place in the in the capitals of Sweden and Finland Wednesday. They attracted thousands of people even though the limit in Sweden is currently 50 and in Finland is 500.

U.K.'s Prince Charles warns of link between biodiversity loss and pandemics

759d ago / 11:18 AM UTC

Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, has warned that humanity needs to protect the planet and biodiversity to protect ourselves against future pandemics. We are now "paying the price" for inaction, he argued. 

"The more we erode the natural world, the more we destroy what's called biodiversity, which is the immense diversity of life, plant life, tree life, everything else," he told Sky News in an interview over video-link from his home in Scotland. "We've had these other disasters with SARS and Ebola and goodness knows what else, all of these things are related to the loss of biodiversity," he added.

The 71-year-old Royal also spoke about how his own recovery after catching coronavirus made him "more determined to push and shout and prod" for action on climate change and biodiversity. 

Israeli Parliament suspended after lawmaker tests positive

759d ago / 10:59 AM UTC

Israel's Parliament, the Knesset, was suspended Thursday after a lawmaker confirmed he had tested positive for Coronavirus. All 120 lawmakers and Knesset staff have been told to stay at home.

Sami Abou Shahadeh, a member of the Joint List, an alliance of Arab-majority parties, said on Twitter on Wednesday night that had just received his test result and appealed "to anyone who was in my immediate area to go in isolation and do a test."

A statement on the Knesset's website said: "In order to limit the harm caused to the Knesset’s core parliamentary activity due to the spread of the coronavirus, the Knesset’s Director General has decided that there will be no visits to the parliament building until further notice. This includes all scheduled tours of the Knesset, gatherings and meetings. Thank you for your cooperation."

Spain to open land borders with France and Portugal on June 22

759d ago / 10:42 AM UTC

Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto announced Thursday that the country's land borders with neighbors France and Portugal will be reopened June 22.

The authorities closed the borders to everybody but Spaniards, cross-border workers and truck drivers from mid-March when the country went into lockdown to curb the coronavirus contagion.

Reopening borders is a key issue in Europe's usually border-free Schengen area. Countries are keen to kickstart their economies and facilitate travel for tourism and other purposes. 

759d ago / 10:39 AM UTC

U.K. minister tested for coronavirus days after Parliament returns

759d ago / 10:10 AM UTC
Image: Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma wiping his brow as he makes a statement in the House of Commons in London on June 3, 2020, as lockdown measures ease during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma wiping his brow as he makes a statement in the House of Commons in London on Wednesday as lockdown measures ease during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.Parliamentary Recording Unit / AFP - Getty Images

A U.K. government minister has been tested for coronavirus after appearing unwell during a speech in Parliament Wednesday. Alok Sharma, the business secretary, was seen mopping his brow several times. 

The virus scare comes just days after many lawmakers returned to parliament following the end of arrangements — in place since April — that had allowed them to debate and vote online.

MPs were highly critical of plans, with the opposition Labour Party condemning plans to force MPs with "shielding responsibilities" to vote in person. Opposition lawmaker Tulip Siddiq claimed the situation in parliament was "chaos."

Under the U.K.'s new track and trace system, should Sharma test positive, individuals who had come into close contact with him will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks. 

759d ago / 9:55 AM UTC

U.K. leads fall in global trust in government COVID-19 responses

759d ago / 9:29 AM UTC

LONDON — People across almost all the world's leading rich economies have turned more skeptical about their governments' handling of the coronavirus pandemic with confidence slumping the most in Britain, a survey showed on Thursday.

In May, in the Group of Seven nations as a whole, 48 percent of respondents approved of how authorities had handled the pandemic, down from 50 percent in April and 54 percent in March, the survey published by polling firm Kantar showed.

Britain saw the biggest drop — a sharp fall of 18 points from April to 51 percent — while in the United States, Canada, Germany, France and Italy, the declines ranged between two and six points. Japan was the only country to show an increase.

Britain's COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 50,000, according to a Reuters tally, making the country one of the worst hit in the world by the pandemic.

Senate passes bill to fix PPP loan program, sends to Trump for signature

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759d ago / 1:35 AM UTC

The GOP-controlled Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that seeks to fix the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides direct relief to small businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asked for a unanimous consent vote Wednesday evening and received no objection hours after Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., objected to its passage because he wanted assurances of changes to be made at a later time to the program. 

It now awaits President Donald Trump's signature.

The bill, called the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, eases restrictions on the popular program and comes after the program was scrutinized for providing aid to unintended recipients, such as large publicly-traded companies and many businesses around the country complained they either could not tap into loans or did not receive adequate funds to keep their business afloat and employees on the payroll.

Click here for the full story. 

George Floyd had coronavirus, autopsy says

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759d ago / 12:38 AM UTC

George Floyd, who died during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25, had coronavirus.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s full autopsy report released Wednesday said Floyd first tested positive for the virus April 3, nearly two months prior to his death. A prior release of the county autopsy attributed Floyd's cause of death as a "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression."

It also listed other "significant" conditions, including hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use. 

Hydroxychloroquine fails to prevent COVID-19, large study finds

760d ago / 9:33 PM UTC
FILE PHOTO: Researchers set up new labs to help fight coronavirus at the University of Minnesota
Researchers at the Microbiology Research Facility at the University of Minnesota work with coronavirus samples as a trial begins to see whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of COVID-19 on March 19, 2020.Craig Lassig / Reuters file

Hydroxychloroquine was no better than a placebo at preventing symptoms of COVID-19 among people exposed to the virus, according to research from the University of Minnesota Medical School.

The findings, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, are the first from a major clinical trial looking at whether the medication might be useful as a prophylactic.

The study included 821 people who had been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, putting them at an elevated risk of developing the illness themselves.

Read the full story here. 

CES annual technology trade show will go ahead in January

760d ago / 7:34 PM UTC

The country’s largest annual technology trade show, CES, is still on track to be held in Las Vegas in January, organizers said in a post on the event's website. 

“We all face new considerations around attending conferences, conducting business and traveling to meetings,” said the Consumer Technology Association, the group behind the event. “Just as your companies are innovating to overcome the challenges this pandemic presents, we are adapting to the evolving situation.”

The hands-on event typically draws around 175,000 people and features innovative products and devices for attendees to try out.

The group said it will expand its selection of livestreamed CES content and roll out new cleaning and social distancing practices. It will expand aisles in many exhibit areas and add more space between seats in conference programs.

For 2021, attendees will be encouraged to wear masks and avoid shaking hands. 

The event will have cashless purchase systems to limit touch points and provide enhanced on-site access to health services and medical aid.

Georgia sets up test sites for demonstrators to get screened for coronavirus

760d ago / 7:30 PM UTC

After more than a week of widespread protests in Georgia, the state's public health department announced plans to set up test sites for demonstrators to screen for cases of the COVID-19, officials said Tuesday. 

Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the public health department, said her agency is also working with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office and other state agencies to test first-responders and National Guard members who may have been exposed.

“We want to ensure that the pandemic doesn’t spread because of this,” Toomey said.

Gov. Brian Kemp encouraged all enforcement present at the demonstrations to also get tested immediately. Toomey, who was the only speaker who wore a mask at the press conference, said pop-up COVID-19 testing sites could be deployed as soon as next week.