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Trump pushes country to reopen despite risks as coronavirus task force winds down

Vice President Mike Pence said the coronavirus task force winding down is "a reflection of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country."
Image: President Donald Trump tours face mask production facility in Phoenix, Arizona
President Donald Trump visited a Honeywell factory that is currently manufacturing N95 masks to help the fight against coronavirus in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday.Tom Brenner / Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump acknowledged that more American lives could be lost to the coronavirus pandemic as he pushes for the economy to reopen.

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

Trump says it's time to reopen the U.S. despite the risks

President Trump said Tuesday "there’ll be more death" related to the coronavirus pandemic, but insisted that the country needs to reopen the economy as a growing number of states move to slowly relax their stay-at-home mandates.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to a Honeywell mask factory in Arizona Tuesday, Trump said that while some people will be affected badly, "we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon."

He also confirmed that the White House coronavirus task force is going to be disbanding soon.

But the rates of coronavirus infections across the country do not appear to be abating; some states are seeing an uptick in infections. And public health experts have also warned that easing social distancing restrictions could lead to tens of thousands of additional lives lost.

The death toll in the U.S. from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, has surpassed 70,000 according to NBC News' count.

Still Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the task force, suggested to reporters on Tuesday that the wind-down is "a reflection of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country."

It all comes as a top Health and Human Services official filed a whistleblower complaint Tuesday alleging "gross mismanagement" of the coronavirus crisis.

In his 58-page complaint, Dr. Rick Bright, described a chaotic response to the virus at HHS and portrayed the agency as slow to react to the initial threat.

Here are some other developments:

  • A medical researcher said to be on the "verge of making very significant" coronavirus findings was found shot to death over the weekend, officials said.
  • Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and the U.K. are warning hospitals and research facilities on the coronavirus front lines to be on the lookout for cyberattacks.
  • Check out our live blog for the latest updates.
  • See maps of where the virus has spread in the U.S and worldwide.
  • Watch the latest "Nightly News: Kids Edition." Host Lester Holt and Dr. John Torres answer kids' questions about the pandemic.

Here's why some people are not wearing masks during the coronavirus crisis

There is widespread agreement that one of easiest ways to control the spread of the coronavirus is to wear a face mask, but there are all kinds of reasons why people don't take this basic step, experts said Tuesday.

"That's a simple question with a complex answer," said Jacqueline Gollan, a psychologist and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

After nearly two months of quarantine, Gollan said, many people are suffering from "mental fatigue."

It also doesn't help that they are getting mixed messages from the White House and other leaders.

For instance, Trump was not required to wear a mask during his tour of a mask factory and did not do so. (Some commentators did note the unusual soundtrack during the president's visit: Paul McCartney's song "Live and Let Die" blasted from the factory floor during Trump's tour).

And Rand Paul, the only senator known to have contracted COVID-19, defended his decision not to wear a mask on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, claiming his "immunity" to the illness.

But experts say not so fast. The extent of immunity in people who have had the virus isn't fully known yet.

Pfizer, NYU working on innovative coronavirus vaccine that could be ready by end of summer

Researchers at Pfizer and New York University are working on a never-before-tried coronavirus vaccine that the pharmaceutical company believes could be available by September.

The vaccine, which carries genetic code known as "messenger RNA," attempts to reprogram the deadly pathogen rather than manipulating the live virus.

"It is probably the fastest way of having a vaccine available to stem this pandemic, based on the data that I have seen," said Kathrin Jansen, who leads vaccine research for Pfizer.

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THINK about it

Trump's Twitter rant against the Lincoln Project's "Mourning in America" ad proved our point, political consultant Reed Galen writes in an opinion piece.


Here's why writing a letter may be the best thing you do today.


It’s not too late to shop for some of the last minute Mother’s Day gifts that promise to arrive on time. Or a wine delivery subscription might hit the mark.

One fun thing

Bleary eyed sports fans in the U.S. stayed up well past their bedtimes — or woke up before dawn — to catch a first glimpse of pandemic era competitive baseball on TV early Tuesday.

With virtually all pro sports on a coronavirus-forced timeout, competition-starved Americans welcomed the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions of South Korea on to their screens, via ESPN, in a potential preview of what MLB games could resemble if it returns in 2020.

Needless to say, it was a bit different...

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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra Cahill