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Trump falsely claims coronavirus numbers 'going down,' Elon Musk defies orders and a 46,000-year-old tooth

An unreleased White House report shows COVID-19 rates going up in parts of the country.
Image:  Members of the White House staff and Secret Service along the West Wing colonnade on May 11, 2020.
Members of the White House staff and Secret Service started adhering to a new rule that staffers working in the West Wing must wear masks on Monday. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

As the U.S. coronavirus-related deaths tick past 81,000, President Donald Trump claimed the number of cases in the country are declining. But data from an unreleased White House task force report tells a different tale.

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

Unreleased White House report shows coronavirus rates spiking in heartland

President Donald Trump said Monday that the number of coronavirus cases were going down "almost everywhere" — even though an unreleased White House report showed infection rates spiking in communities across the United States.

The data in a May 7 coronavirus task force report is at odds with Trump's declaration Monday that "all throughout the country, the numbers are coming down rapidly."

COVID-19 surges have been recorded in places such as Nashville, Tennessee and Des Moines, Iowa, according to a set of tables produced for the task force by its data and analytics unit just last week.

State data and projections also offer some indication of how the U.S. is doing — and they don't back Trump up, either.

Flanked by large posters in the Rose Garden proclaiming "America leads the world in testing," the president also claimed on Monday that any American who "wants" a coronavirus test can get one.

But, according to our fact check, there is no evidence that the U.S. is testing everyone who wants it.

Meantime, the White House on Monday began requiring that all staffers entering the West Wing wear a mask after two staffers tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Although, the new rules are not expected to apply to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence, who for weeks have downplayed the need for facial coverings.

Later this morning on Capitol Hill, Senators will question top health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and the CDC's Dr. Robert Redfield, about the federal government’s response to the pandemic.

Fauci, the country's leading infectious disease expert, is expected to issue a stark warning to the Senate that Americans will experience "needless suffering and death" if the country opens up too soon, according to a New York Times report on his prepared remarks.

Here are some other developments:

As COVID-19 looms, conditions for migrants stalled at U.S. border are a 'disaster in the making'

Thousands of immigrants, many from Cuba, Venezuela and Central America, have been waiting for months in border cities in Mexico trying to get into the U.S. for asylum hearings under the Trump administration's Remain in Mexico policy.

U.S. officials, immigration attorneys and health care workers fear that this population, many living in crowded shelters where families share beds, may be a new hot spot for COVID-19 infections.

Migrant health care workers operating in the border cities of Juarez, Matamoros and Tijuana say the conditions are right for a "public health disaster in the making."

A migrant child sleeps while waiting overnight at the Paso del Norte bridge between El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico.Taylor Levy

Secrecy of Trump's taxes, financial records on the line in Supreme Court arguments

President Donald Trump's lawyers will urge the Supreme Court later today to let him block access to his tax returns and other financial documents sought by three congressional committees and a New York prosecutor.

In one of the most closely watched disputes of the court's term, the cases will test the justices' independence and could yield major rulings on the power of Congress to demand documents from a sitting president — or the authority of a president to refuse.

Audio of the arguments will be streamed live and available at

DOJ to consider possible federal hate crime charges in Ahmaud Arbery shooting

The Department of Justice said Monday it will consider a request by Georgia's attorney general to review the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery and assess whether federal hate crime charges should be pursued in the high-profile case.

The federal government's further involvement would underscore a larger demand by Arbery's family and civil rights groups for another law enforcement agency to closely examine the handling of the case since Arbery was killed on Feb. 23.

Check out a timeline of events in the case.

And listen to the latest episode of our "Into America"podcast. Host Trymaine Lee digs Into the Movement for Ahmaud Arbery.

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  • Nearly 2,000 former Justice Department and FBI officials on Monday signed an open letter calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign over his decision to abandon the prosecution of Michael Flynn.
  • Deforestation of the Amazon has soared under cover of the coronavirus.
  • The pilot in Kobe Bryant's crash wasn't responsible for the deaths, his brother said in court papers filed Monday.

THINK about it

Trump's "Obamagate" comments and Barr's Flynn meddling suggest troubling new pivot, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence and NBC News/MSNBC analystFrank Figliuzzi writes in an opinion piece.


Tired of cooking all the time? These tips can help.


Subscribing to a clothing rental service? On top of convenience (or necessity), renting some of your clothes can help the planet. Here’s how.

Quote of the day

"It’s a gorgeous ghost town."

John U. Bacon, a lifelong resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a graduate of the University of Michigan. With students sent home by the coronavirus pandemic, many college towns across the country are grappling with how to stay afloat.

One fun thing

And now for something that has nothing to do with coronavirus...

A single tooth is changing how archaeologists think about the history of human evolution.

The tooth, a molar, is one of the last remnants of the earliest modern humans found in Europe, according to two papers published Monday by an international team of archaeologists.

"This is much older than anything else that we have found so far from modern humans in Europe," said Jean-Jacques Hublin, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology at Leipzig in Germany, who led the team.

The molar is the largest surviving bone fragment from a group of very early Homo sapiens that was dated to between 44,000 and 46,000 years ago.

As another editor pointed out, imagine the tooth fairy inflation on that one...

This lower molar tooth from the Bacho Kiro cave in Bulgaria, dated to between 44,000 and 46,000 years ago, is one of the oldest pieces of evidence of Homo sapiens found in Europe.Rosen Spasov

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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra Cahill