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As global cases pass 7 million, WHO warns the pandemic is 'far from over'

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image:
A woman is sprayed with disinfectant before entering a shopping mall in Jakarta on Tuesday. Dita Alangkara / AP

Despite encouraging signs in east Asia and Europe, where economies are slowly reopening after months of lockdown, the World Health Organization has warned that the pandemic is "far from over" as the number of cases globally hit 7 million.

"More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday.

More than 135,000 cases were reported Sunday, he said, making it the worst day for new confirmed infections since the pandemic began. Some three quarters of the new cases were from 10 countries, including the U.S, which is approaching the 2 million cases mark.

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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848d ago / 9:24 PM UTC

Fauci: HIV is "really simple" compared to COVID-19

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and long-time HIV researcher, said Tuesday that COVID-19 appears to be more complicated than HIV.

"I thought HIV was a complicated disease," Fauci said during a presentation at the BIO International Convention, which included members of biotechnology companies. "It’s really simple compared to what’s going on with COVID-19."

Fauci was referring to the range of illness COVID-19 can cause, in which some people can be infected but never develop any symptoms, some can have fevers, cough and debilitating fatigue for weeks, and still others wind up fighting for their lives on a ventilator. 

"When is it going to end?" Fauci asked, adding that scientists are at the very beginning of understanding how COVID-19 works. 

"What are the long-term negative effects of infection? We don’t have enough experience because we’ve only been involved for four months," he said. "We don’t know the extent of full recovery or partial recovery. So, there’s a lot we need to learn."

848d ago / 9:08 PM UTC

Best Buy to reopen most locations for in-store shoppers by June 15

More than 800 Best Buy store locations will reopen to shoppers beginning June 15 under strict social distancing guidelines that will limit the number of people in stores, the company announced on Tuesday.

The country's biggest consumer electronics retail company has been operating on an appointment-only model during the coronavirus crisis. 

It will also bring back more than 9,000 furloughed full- and part-time employees.

"Throughout the pandemic, nothing has been more important to us than the safety of our customers and employees,” said Ray Sliva, Best Buy’s president of retail. “We’re now confident we can provide a safe experience for shoppers who want to visit our stores.”

Best Buy, which is based in the Minneapolis area, plans to reopen stores at 25 percent capacity to allow for social distancing. Stores will also be outfitted with floor signage to guide customers and enforce the six feet of distance at all times.

All employees will be required to undergo self-health assessments and temperature checks through Best Buy’s app. Employees and shoppers will be required to wear masks while shopping. The company is also enhancing its sanitation procedures and has installed sneeze guards at checkout counters.

848d ago / 8:57 PM UTC

Washington, D.C. National Guardsmen test positive for COVID-19

The D.C. National Guard says that some of its members have tested positive for COVID-19 since it was mobilized to respond to the protests over George Floyd’s death in Washington, but would not disclose how many had tested positive because of what a Guard official called "operational security."

As of Monday, June 1, the entire D.C. National Guard, which has 3,400 members, had been activated to assist in the response to protests. Members of the National Guard from other states were brought into the capital as well, including South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Utah and Indiana.

"National Guard personnel are social distancing and use of PPE measures remained in place where practical throughout the entire National Guard support to assist local and federal law enforcement responding to the civil unrest in the District of Columbia," the branch said in a statement. "All Guardsmen who are suspected to be at high risk of infection or have tested positive for COVID-19 during demobilization will not be released...until risk of infection or illness has passed."

848d ago / 8:48 PM UTC

World Health Organization confirms asymptomatic spread of coronavirus

"I am absolutely convinced that that is occurring. The question is how much," said WHO Executive Director Dr. Michael Ryan.

848d ago / 6:41 PM UTC

New Jersey governor lifts state's stay-at-home order

The governor of New Jersey lifted his stay-at-home order as the state continues to make progress in its fight against the coronavirus. 

At his daily news briefing on Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that he was ending the order, but still encouraged the use of masks and other safety measures. 

"Please continue to be responsible and safe. Wear face coverings and keep a social distance from others when out in public," the governor said in a tweet. 

New Jersey had been under a stay-at-home order since March 21. Murphy on Tuesday also signed an executive order raising the limit on outdoor gatherings to 100 people and indoor gatherings to either 25 percent capacity or 50 people. 

848d ago / 6:08 PM UTC

Amid confusion, WHO clarifies that COVID-19 can be spread without symptoms

A World Health Organization expert sparked widespread confusion Monday when she said that asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is "very rare."

The comment prompted massive pushback from scientists around the world, leading to an unusual backtracking from the organization the following day, clarifying that so-called asymptomatic transmission of the virus does occur.

Read more. 

848d ago / 5:50 PM UTC

New Jersey relaxes ban on gatherings

848d ago / 5:23 PM UTC

Chicago announces new events to replace the city's summer traditions

Chicago will host a slate of new summer events, including at-home dance parties, drive-in movies, virtual concerts and community meals for frontline workers, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot said in a news release Tuesday.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Event will produce more than 150 events this summer to replace many of the city's annual events that were cancelled due to the pandemic, Lightfoot said.

“We must provide ways for people to enjoy the spirit of a Chicago summer while prioritizing health and safety,” she said in a statement. “As difficult as it is to remove these in-person events from our calendar, we are pulling out all the stops for an inventive, engaging and fun festival season this summer.”

848d ago / 5:17 PM UTC

For first time, only 1 percent of New Yorkers test positive for coronavirus

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, only 1 percent of people in New York City tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a news briefing Tuesday.

De Blasio called it "an extraordinary day for New York City." He said more and more tests are being conducted every day, making the number even more impressive. 

"It doesn’t mean we don't need to keep fighting, because we do. But I am so proud of New Yorkers — you have earned this one," de Blasio said. "Every time you keep that face mask on, every time you stay home when you can, every time you practice social distancing, you’re beating back this disease." 

848d ago / 4:44 PM UTC

Paris's Eiffel Tower to reopen on June 25

Paris's Eiffel Tower, one of the most iconic landmarks on the planet, will reopen to the public on June 25.

"At first, only visits by stairs will be available and masks will be mandatory for all our visitors from 11 years old," officials said in a news release Tuesday.

"As the situation evolves, the lifts taking our visitors to the second floor can be quickly put back into service under appropriate conditions, with a very limited number of persons on-board," officials added.

"The top level remains closed for now to avoid promiscuity situations, since the lifts taking visitors from second to top floor are small. It might re-open during the summer."

848d ago / 4:08 PM UTC

GOP senator introduces plan to combat future pandemics

WASHINGTON – Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on Tuesday introduced a plan that he said will help make sure the U.S., is better prepared for future pandemics as COVID-19 continues to devastate communities across the nation.

With over 100,000 deaths and two million cases over the course of three months in the United States alone, leading health experts and officials have acknowledged they were not prepared to handle the scope of the coronavirus pandemic.

"In the midst of responding to COVID-19, the United States Congress should take stock now of what parts of the local, state, and federal response worked, what could work better and how, and be prepared to pass legislation this year to better prepare for the next pandemic, which will surely come," said Alexander, who is the chairman of the Senate Health Committee.

The plan states that Congress should work with federal agencies as well as the private sector to address "specific issues and newly identified gaps" to get ready for future pandemics, including improving tests, treatments, vaccine development, disease surveillance and stockpiles. The plan also stresses the need to improve coordination between federal agencies, which is something Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer routinely criticized the Trump administration on in the last few months. 

"Even with an event as significant as COVID19, memories fade and attention moves quickly to the next crisis," Alexander said. "That makes it imperative that Congress act on needed changes this year in order to better prepare for the next pandemic."

848d ago / 4:02 PM UTC

'We are still in a pandemic': In some states, summer months may not provide a hoped-for lull

Businesses are slowly reopening. "Six feet apart" seems to be shrinking in distance. Face coverings are optional in most places.

Some may believe the COVID-19 pandemic is ending in the United States, but in truth, "we are still in a pandemic," according to Dr. Jay Butler, head of the COVID-19 response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many people in the U.S. remain vulnerable to the disease, and the pandemic will continue as long as there's a readily transmissible virus and a population with little or no immunity to it, Butler told NBC News.

While the nation's cases overall have flattened, they are not yet declining — 10,000 to 20,000 new cases of the coronavirus are reported every day in states and U.S. territories. In some states, new daily cases are rising.

Read more here.

848d ago / 2:44 PM UTC

Photos: Drive-in graduation

Image: High school graduation is held at a drive-in theater due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hinsdale
Senior McKayla Glazier is joined by friends and family. Brian Snyder / Reuters

A drive-In theater was the venue for a socially-distanced high school graduation in New Hampshire on Monday. 

Image: High school graduation is held at a drive-in theater due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hinsdale
Senior Jennie Fuller. Brian Snyder / Reuters
Image: High school graduation is held at a drive-in theater due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hinsdale
Fireworks explode at the conclusion of the ceremony. Brian Snyder / Reuters
848d ago / 2:42 PM UTC

Maryland reports 500 new cases of COVID-19, 35 additional deaths

Maryland health officials announced 500 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 58,904.

The state also said another 35 people had died of COVID-19; in all, 2,811 people have died of the virus there.

848d ago / 2:29 PM UTC

France to open preliminary investigation into handling of coronavirus

The Paris prosecutor's office said Tuesday it would open an official preliminary investigation into the management of the coronavirus pandemic in France.

Rémy Heitz, the district attorney, said the investigation was prompted by 62 complaints filed by individuals and professional groups. The charges varied from endangering the lives of others to unintentional homicide.

There is no single defendant in the country as investigating judges will have to determine whether charges should be brought against a person, agency or government body.

The purpose of the judicial inquiry will be to examine the decision-making process implemented during the health crisis in order to uncover any criminal offences that may have been committed, Heitz said.

 

848d ago / 2:23 PM UTC

848d ago / 12:30 PM UTC

Olympic hopeful trains in girlfriend's pool to beat coronavirus restrictions

848d ago / 12:12 PM UTC

The last cruise ship passengers of the pandemic finally come home

and

What is thought to be the last cruise ship still carrying passengers has finally docked six months after it set off.

The eight passengers on board the MV Artania disembarked at the German port of Bremerhaven on Monday, according to the ship's owner, Phoenix Reisen. On its epic voyage, a total of 36 passengers tested positive for coronavirus when it docked in Fremantle, Western Australia. Three passengers later died.

The remaining passengers, mostly Germany nationals, chose to fly back from Australia to Frankfurt but a hardy group of eight decided to stay on board the 1,200-capacity ship since it left Australia on April 18 until now. The journey home was even extended by two weeks, as the ship stopped off at various ports to repatriate crew members.

848d ago / 11:59 AM UTC

Moscow lifts lockdown measures despite high daily case count

On Monday night Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin unexpectedly announced that from Tuesday various lockdown measures will be cancelled. A QR-code pass system, walking schedule and a self-isolation regime are all now stopped.

However, masks and gloves outside of the home remain technically mandatory — though it is clear that fewer and fewer people are following this rule.

Over the next two weeks, normal life will return to the city and economy in three phases, the first of which sees things like hairdressers, photo shops, veterinary clinics, and employment agencies reopened.

The move comes despite Moscow’s daily new case count remaining consistent at around 2,000 a day for the past month, and repeated warnings that strict measures would remain in place until daily new cases had fallen into the dozens or hundreds.

848d ago / 11:43 AM UTC

WHO says asymptomatic spread of coronavirus is rare, contradicting CDC

848d ago / 11:07 AM UTC

German imports and exports record biggest ever drop in April

German exports and imports slumped in April, posting their biggest declines since records began in 1990 as demand dried up in the coronavirus lockdown, adding to a gloomy outlook for Europe’s biggest economy, data showed on Tuesday.

Facing its deepest recession since World War Two, the big question is how quickly Germany’s export-oriented economy can recover now a shutdown that halted production and stunted retail has eased.

Desperate to speed up recovery, the government last week announced a 130 billion euro ($146.35 billion) stimulus package to help boost domestic demand. That comes on top of 750 billion euros worth of measures announced in March.

848d ago / 10:50 AM UTC

How a Texas couple claimed their baby from Ukraine despite coronavirus lockdown

Image: Darlene Straub, 45, the new mother of a newborn baby Sophia, born via surrogacy, holds her in a rented apartment in Kyiv, Ukraine
Darlene Straub, 45, the mother of baby Sophia, born via surrogacy, holds the newborn for the first time in a rented apartment in Kyiv, Ukraine.Oksana Parafeniuk / for NBC News

KYIV, Ukraine — It took the Straubs more than three days to travel from Dallas to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. But, arduous as it was, to them the trip was worth it.

A baby was waiting for them in Kyiv. Their baby. Waiting to come home.

Whether the Straubs would be able to enter Ukraine — or would be stopped by travel restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus — they did not know. Already, reports had emerged of parents traveling to Ukraine to pick up babies born to surrogate mothers, as the Straubs were doing, but being turned away at the border, leaving as many as 100 infants in legal limbo.

Read the whole story here.

848d ago / 10:04 AM UTC

New Zealand celebrates end of most coronavirus restrictions

848d ago / 9:58 AM UTC

U.S. death toll could reach 145,000 by August, researchers predict

The U.S. could have a death toll of over 145,000 people from COVID-19 by August, according to researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle. 

If true, it would mean a further 30,000 deaths occurring in the country in the next two months. The U.S. has reported 113,000 deaths to date. 

Almost half of U.S. states have reported an uptick of cases in recent days and weeks following widespread reopening of economies raising fears of a second peak. 

848d ago / 9:40 AM UTC

Harvard analysis suggests virus was circulating in China as early as Fall 2019

The coronavirus could have been circulating in Wuhan, China as early as late summer or fall 2019, according to researchers at Harvard University. The global pandemic had previously been linked to a jump from wildlife at a so-called 'wet market' in the city in November or December. 

The study came to that conclusion after analyzing search queries on the Chinese search engine Baidu and looking at satellite imagery of hospital parking lots from the time. They found that searches for "cough", which usually follow seasonal variations, and "diarrhea," which is not seasonal in the same way, both showed an increase that preceded the reported start of the epidemic. In addition, hospital activity appeared to increase at the same time. 

There have been complaints that China initially tried to cover up the outbreak, which it denies, as well as indications that the virus arrived on European shores much earlier than initially thought

848d ago / 9:12 AM UTC

Businesses in the city that never sleeps wake up to a new reality

The city that never sleeps emerged from its coronavirus-imposed stasis Monday morning with a handful of "phase one" businesses in New York City raising their roller shutters to a landscape altered by the virus and protests over systemic racism. While some small-business owners said they were eager to get back to work after three months, they expressed uncertainty about what's next.

Retail, construction, manufacturing and agriculture are the first nonessential enterprises to cautiously resume in New York, the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

About 25,000 businesses in the Big Apple had certified with the state as of Thursday that they could reopen while following safety regulations, a prerequisite for opening, said Jonnel Doris, commissioner of the city's Small Business Services Department. Each industry has had to significantly reduce operations and implement new safety measures.

Read the full article here

848d ago / 8:55 AM UTC

Grief turns to anger in Italy's epicenter

848d ago / 8:15 AM UTC

WHO says pandemic 'far from over' as daily cases hit record high

GENEVA — New coronavirus cases had their biggest daily increase ever as the pandemic worsens globally and has yet to peak in central America, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, urging countries to press on with efforts to contains the virus.

"More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online briefing.

More than 136,000 new cases were reported worldwide on Sunday, the most in a single day so far, he said. Nearly 75 percent of them were reported from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia.

848d ago / 12:12 AM UTC

New York City begins reopening

About 400,000 workers can now return to jobs in construction, manufacturing and retail with curbside pickup. Cases in New York continue to decline, while other states that reopened sooner are seeing an increase.

848d ago / 11:44 PM UTC

Trump could resume rallies this month despite coronavirus concerns

Image: Donald Trump Holds A Campaign Rally In Colorado Springs
President Donald Trump waves to supporters during a Keep America Great rally on Feb. 20, 2020 in Colorado Springs, Colo.Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images file

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign is preparing to present the president with options to resume rallies in June, according to two officials familiar with the plans.

There are no final decisions yet on where and how this could be done safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Over the last week, Trump has been asking advisers why he can’t be holding mass rallies when thousands are gathering in the streets to protest the death of George Floyd, these people said.

"Americans are ready to get back to action and so is President Trump. The Great American Comeback is real and the rallies will be tremendous. You’ll again see the kind of crowds and enthusiasm that Sleepy Joe Biden can only dream of," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told NBC News in a statement.

Read the full story here. 

848d ago / 11:20 PM UTC

Americans drove 112 billion fewer miles this April than April 2019

Americans drove 112 billion fewer miles in April than they did during the same month last year, according to data from the Department of Transportation.

Shelter-in-place orders led to a nearly 40 percent drop in the number of miles Americans drove, the DOT said Monday. With much of the country locked down due to the coronavirus, American motorists clocked 169.6 billion miles.

The response to the coronavirus pandemic, which began in March in many states, also saw travel for the first four months of this year decline 14.8 percent versus 2019, to around 858 billion miles. That was the lowest number since 2001, said the DOT.

All forms of travel were down, reported navigation service Inrix, including personal transportation and long- and short-haul trucking. Travel is just ramping back up as states begin relaxing restrictions, but May and June are expected to still see another year-over-year decline, according to transportation experts.

849d ago / 10:08 PM UTC

It's official: The U.S. entered a recession in February

Image: Daily Life In New York City Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
A closed discount store during the coronavirus pandemic on May 25, 2020 in the Queens, N.Y.Cindy Ord / Getty Images file

The U.S. is officially in a recession, bringing an end to a historic 128 months of economic growth, after the coronavirus pandemic swept the country and shut down the economy.

For more than a decade, the American economy seemed to contradict the adage, “What goes up, must come down.” That ended in February, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the agency that identifies periods of economic growth and contraction.

The economic expansion would have turned 11 years old this month — a span unmatched in the postwar economy.

Read the full story here. 

849d ago / 9:36 PM UTC

13 high school students test positive after unsanctioned prom

An unsanctioned prom and beach party has resulted in a group of Texas high school students getting diagnosed with coronavirus and spurred calls for those affected to be banned from attending graduation.

At least 13 students from Foster High School and George Ranch High School have tested positive for COVID-19 after reportedly attending a prom event in Katy on June 5. The event was not sanctioned by the schools, and the group then spent the weekend at a beach house in Galveston, according to the Fort Bend Herald.

Principals of both high schools did not immediately respond for comment. Officials at the Fort Bend County Health & Human Services Department also did not immediately respond.

Stories of the students testing positive have circulated among parents on email. The majority of the students are recent graduates or currently attend Foster High School in Richmond, the parents said.

To read the full story