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Global COVID-19 cases top 5 million, Trump's factory tours and food delivery apps boycott

Top scientist warns not to bank on COVID-19 vaccine as global cases top 5 million.
Image: President Donald Trump listens during a meeting about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response during a meeting with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Kansas Governor Laura Kelly in the Cabinet Room at the White House
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting about the coronavirus pandemic response during in the Cabinet Room at the White House on Wednesday.Leah Millis / Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump is hitting the road again, this time heading to a Ford factory in the battleground state of Michigan. And as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world tops 5 million, a top U.S. scientist warns a vaccine may never be found.

Here's what we're watching this Thursday morning.


Global COVID-19 cases top 5 million

A top U.S. scientist behind groundbreaking research in cancer and HIV/AIDS is warning that a vaccine for the coronavirus may never be found, as the number of global COVID-19 infections surged past 5 million on Thursday.

William Haseltine, who has also worked on human genome projects, said that while a COVID-19 vaccine could be developed, "I wouldn’t count on it."

Instead, he told Reuters, countries beginning to reverse lockdown measures need to lean on careful tracing of infections and strict isolation measures to control the spread.

His comments come a day after the World Health Organization reported the most COVID-19 cases in one day.

"We still have a long way to go in this pandemic," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday. "In the last 24 hours, there have been 106,000 cases reported to WHO — the most in a single day since the outbreak began."

The reminder that the virus is still spreading across the globe came as all 50 American states reopened in some way as of Wednesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released guidelines for reopening Wednesday — weeks after many states had already done so.

The death toll in the U.S. from COVID-19 has surpassed 94,000, according to NBC News' tally.

All eyes will be on the latest unemployment numbers when they are released at 8:30 a.m. ET.

  • Check out our live blog for the latest updates.
  • See maps of where the virus has spread in the U.S. and worldwide.

Trump's factory tours could be putting workers, local areas at risk, say experts

President Trump will make his third coronavirus-themed trip to a battleground state in as many weeks when he visits a Ford factory in Michigan that is producing medical equipment later today.

But public health experts and aides in previous administrations warn that the president's coronavirus-themed trips to swing states could bring a higher risk of the virus to the communities he visits.

"Any Presidential visit outside of Washington, D.C. is a heavy lift in terms of personnel and resources," Greg Jenkins, who was deputy assistant to the president and director of White House advance operations during President George W. Bush's administration, said in an email.

"It's almost impossible to think through how to do this. You've got to consider every potential infringement of social distancing and mitigate that," he added.

Trump toured a Honeywell factory producing N95 masks in Phoenix on May 5. Public health officials and aides to previous presidents warn that it is nearly impossible to eliminate all risk of virus exposure during such trips. Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

Food delivery apps were primed for the pandemic. Now some restaurants are calling for a boycott.

When Pitas and Sticks, a Greek restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, gets an order from Grubhub, owner John Stamos gives each bag a personal touch, printing out a small note with a simple message: Grubhub orders are killing his business.

"Small businesses like us need your support in this time of crisis," Stamos writes in each note. "Online apps such as GRUBHUB ARE CHARGING US 30% of each order and $9 or more on orders made using phone numbers on their app or website … please help save the restaurant industry by ordering directly with us."

Restaurateurs like Stamos are mounting guerrilla campaigns to persuade customers to skip the delivery platforms they say are squeezing their businesses at a particularly difficult time.

Some are looking to use social media to get the word out or coming up with special offers. Others are ditching the apps altogether.

A sign on a Bareburger restaurant in Brooklyn asks people to skip delivery platforms.Jason Abbruzzese / NBC News

Former White House employee who served 11 presidents died of coronavirus at 91

A former White House butler who served 11 different presidents died at the age of 91 after contracting the coronavirus, his granddaughter said.

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman was one of the White House’s longest serving employees — he began working there in 1957 during the Eisenhower administration and retired after 55 years in 2012.

He was remembered fondly by former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush in a statement to NBC News on Wednesday.

"He was a lovely man," the Bushes said. "He was the first person we saw in the morning when we left the Residence and the last person we saw each night when we returned."

Wilson Roosevelt Jerman seen at the White House in 2004.Tina Hager / George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

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PLUS

  • The Supreme Court temporarily blocked grand jury material gathered by Robert Mueller's special counsel investigators from being turned over to a House committee.
  • Trump threatened to withhold federal funding for Michigan and Nevada over their pursuit of mass mail-in voting.
  • A "lifeline" in the pandemic, community news battles to survive.
  • With campuses shut down indefinitely, more students are questioning if tuition is worth the price.

THINK about it

Trump's pandemic response made headlines. But Congress is quietly failing us, too, former congressman and MSNBC political contributor David Jolly writes in an opinion piece.


BETTER TODAY

What will a socially distant summer be like? Here's what we know so far.


Shopping

Can't buy a bag of flour for love or money? Here are the best boxed cake mixes to help get you through.


One fun thing

After the coronavirus pandemic canceled traditional graduation ceremonies, Americans are coming together to celebrate the class of 2020 by giving gifts to total strangers.


Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra Cahill