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U.S. coronavirus cases top 3 million as Trump 'goes with his gut' to fan racism

The Trump administration gave the U.N. formal notice of the U.S. withdrawal from the WHO on Tuesday amid the pandemic.
Image: U.S. Struggles With Coronavirus Amid A Surge Of New Cases
A testing associate helps people waiting in line to check in at a COVID-19 testing center in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Mario Tama / Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

U.S. COVID-19 cases top 3 million, President Donald Trump is "going with his gut" as he focuses his re-election strategy on culture wars and Tom Hanks opens up about his battle with coronavirus.

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

U.S. to help states with 'surge' coronavirus testing sites

Amid a surge of new infections in many states, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States topped 3 million on Tuesday, according to an NBC News tally. More than 46,500 new cases were recorded across the country on Tuesday.

Though some Northeastern states have seen a slowdown, many Southern states are experiencing a spike. Florida, Texas and Arizona have been particularly hard hit, as hospital systems begin to feel the strain of thousands of new cases a day.

Federal health officials announced Tuesday that they are creating temporary "surge testing" spots to help control the spread of the coronavirus and ease hospitalizations in Florida, Louisiana and Texas.

The goal is to help perform 5,000 tests daily in each city at no cost for people who believe they may have been exposed, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

"We want the results as quickly as possible," Dr. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of health and human services who oversees U.S. coronavirus testing, said at a briefing Tuesday.

Amidst the growing case numbers, the Trump administration officially notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from the World Health Organization on Tuesday.

Lawmakers from both parties, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., swiftly criticized the move.

"Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus," Lamar said. "But the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it."

Here are some other developments:

A 'clown' with 'no principles': That's how Trump's sister described him, according to new book

A new book by President Donald Trump's niece — which his family sued to stop from being published — paints the president as an emotionally damaged narcissist who's cheated to get ahead and who is unable to "experience the entire spectrum of human emotion."

"Donald's pathologies are so complex and his behaviors so often inexplicable that coming up with an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis would require a full battery of psychological and neuropsychological tests that he'll never sit for," Mary Trump writes in her book, "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man."

NBC News obtained a copy of the book. The book's publication was pushed up by two weeks, it is now scheduled for release on July 14.

Check out some of the revelations and allegations in the book.

While there have been many tell-all books from inside the White House, the fact that this one comes from a member of Trump's own family — even though she has acknowledged a desire "to take Donald down" — carries a different weight.

Meantime, with the election just four months away and with polls favoring Vice President Joe Biden, Trump is "going with his gut" in fanning racism as part of his re-election strategy, two White House officials said.

But the move is frustrating some White House aides who wish he'd take a different tack.

China's crackdown in Hong Kong raises fears the great internet firewall could expand

It used to be relatively easy for U.S. tech companies to do business in Hong Kong: Its government was largely autonomous from mainland China, and its citizens were guaranteed certain freedoms.

But after China passed a national security law last week that restricts free speech in Hong Kong, tech companies are having to rethink how they can continue to operate in the region, if at all, without becoming complicit in the repression of dissidents.

The fear among app developers and human rights advocates is that the Chinese government could begin demanding account information or other online data about Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters in ways they haven't before.

Analysts say it would not only be a drastic change for the former British colony but also raise the specter that China’s so-called Great Firewall of strict internet controls is poised to expand.

'No exit strategy': Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest leaves Prince Andrew in the spotlight

As the lurid headlines swirl in the wake of the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein's longtime confidant Ghislaine Maxwell, questions again are surging over what comes next for Britain's Prince Andrew, who is caught up in the high-profile affair.

Maxwell, a British socialite, is behind bars at a detention center in Brooklyn, New York, and is expected to appear in court in New York next Tuesday, having been arrested in New Hampshire last week.

The scandal that for years has dogged Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II's 60-year-old son, does not appear to be going away.

"It's a bit of a nightmare at the moment," British public relations agent Mark Borkowski told NBC News. "He's inextricably linked with this story, there is no exit strategy."

Virginia Giuffre with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell at Prince Andrew's London home.
Britain's Prince Andrew should either stay silent or invite U.S. authorities "to come and meet him on home turf" in the U.K., one PR guru has advised.

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THINK about it

Trump is destroying the Republican party. It's up to conservatives to stop him, political commentator Ashley Pratte writes in an opinion piece.


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Quote of the day

"For Donald, lying was primarily a mode of self-aggrandizement meant to convince other people he was better than he actually was."

Mary L. Trump, the president's niece, writes in her book.

'There is a part that we can all play': Tom Hanks on the coronavirus pandemic

In an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt, Tom Hanks opens up about his experience battling the COVID-19, the divide over wearing masks in the U.S., and how his latest film about World War II reflects the state of the world today.

"I don't understand how something as simple as, doing as little as, wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands, enters into any kind of fray of whether or not its something we should all be doing in order to take care of our city, our community and each other," he said.

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Thanks, Petra