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

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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.

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Outdoor seating at NYC restaurants could be back in July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.