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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.
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.

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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."

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.

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."

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.

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. 

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. 

New Jersey relaxes ban on gatherings

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.”

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." 

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."

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."