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Citing coronavirus concerns, President Trump on Sunday suspended entry for foreigners who have been in Brazil within 14 days prior to seeking U.S. admittance. The new rules, which will take effect Thursday night, come as Brazil reports more than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus. “The potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States from the Federative Republic of Brazil threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security,” the White House said in a statement.

Meanwhile, as the death toll in the United States climbed toward 100,000, the warm weather and holiday festivities drew large crowds to some of the country’s outdoor attractions. People flocked to beaches in Maryland and New Jersey, and video of vacationers flouting social distancing guidelines in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks was shared widely on social media.

Here are some significant developments:

  • White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx said on “Fox News Sunday” she was “very concerned” some people were neglecting to maintain a safe, six-foot distance during the Memorial Day weekend.
  • The governor of Arkansas said over the weekend that his state was facing a “second peak” in infections after a cluster emerged at a high school pool party.
  • Many local health officials told The Washington Post they have been left in the dark as clusters of cases have emerged in supermarkets coast to coast.
  • As the death toll nears 100,000, covid-19 has made a fundamental shift in who it touches and where it reaches in the United States.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson stood by an influential adviser accused of breaking Britain’s lockdown, despite widespread calls for the senior aide’s removal.
  • Italy’s Catholics, emerging from one of the most rigid lockdowns in the West — one that saw a historic halt to religious ceremonies — returned to Mass on Sunday.

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May 24, 2020 at 11:23 PM EDT

Armed protesters at ‘Freedom Rally’ hang Kentucky governor in effigy, drawing bipartisan condemnation

Armed protesters gathered at the Kentucky state capitol and governor’s mansion Sunday to decry Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic — and hang him in effigy, a macabre move that drew condemnations from liberals and conservatives alike.

“This is disgusting and I condemn it wholeheartedly,” tweeted Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, who is Republican. “The words of John Wilkes Booth have no place in the Party of Lincoln.”

“This type of behavior must be condemned,” a spokeswoman for Beshear told the Louisville Courier Journal.

Videos and pictures showed several dozen people participating in the “Freedom Rally,” which was organized by several conservative groups. Few appeared to be wearing masks. Speakers included Wesley Morgan, a former state representative who is running against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) in the Republican primary.

“I believe this entire pandemic was orchestrated to destroy President Trump’s economy and to keep people from voting these political tyrants out of office,” Morgan said, according to the Courier Journal. “I believe it’s all about the election.”

Similar protests have occurred in other states, including Michigan, Colorado and Washington.

Beshear has received high marks for his handling of the pandemic. A few weeks ago, a poll showed him at 81 percent approval.

On Friday, restaurants reopened across the state and residents were allowed to gather in groups of 10 or fewer people. Through Saturday, state health officials had reported about 8,600 covid-19 cases and 391 deaths.

By Steven Goff and Hannah Knowles
May 24, 2020 at 11:22 PM EDT

Trump tweets schools ‘should be opened ASAP,’ a stance that has put him at odds with Fauci

President Trump tweeted Sunday night that schools “should be opened ASAP,” reiterating a position that has put him publicly at odds with the country’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci.

“Much very good information now available,” Trump wrote while tweeting at Fox News Channel and one of its hosts, Steve Hilton, who earlier Sunday promoted a new series, “What’s Next for America.” “Part 1: Recovery- reopen schools now- end stupid shutdown rules- policies to bring back jobs, rebuild the economy,” Hilton tweeted.

Earlier this month, Trump rebuked the White House coronavirus task force adviser a day after Fauci drew the ire of prominent conservatives for urging a cautious approach to lifting restrictions and reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was surprised by his answer, actually,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “To me, it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.” He said that he “totally” disagrees with Fauci regarding schools.

“We have to get the schools open,” Trump said. “We have to open our country. Now, we want to do it safely, but we also want to do it as quickly as possible. We can’t keep going on like this. You’re having bedlam already in the streets. You can’t do this.”

As states reopen and parents increasingly head back to work, pressure is mounting to find solutions for strained families whose children would normally be looked after at school on weekdays.

By Hannah Knowles and Allyson Chiu
May 24, 2020 at 10:57 PM EDT

With no national mourning, death counts become the rhythm of the pandemic

Before dawn broke in Riverside, Calif., political scientist Kim Yi Dionne grabbed her iPhone from the bedside table to check the grim daily coronavirus toll. Deaths were a bit lower in the United States that morning. But like other hardened watchers of such tallies, Dionne was skeptical that the pandemic was easing. More likely it was just a quirk, she thought, a product of the natural rise and fall in the statistical flow, a bureaucratic rhythm in counting the dead.

This macabre ritual — searching for meaning in numbers that pulse up and down, day after day — is one that countless Americans have adopted. Johns Hopkins University, the source of data for many popular coronavirus tracking sites, is registering about 4 billion hits on its pandemic dashboard each day, presumably because many people are refreshing regularly.

Watchers of the daily death tolls are looking for different things: hints of the future, understanding of the past, a sense of scale, a sense of loss, a wisp of hope.

Read more here.

By Craig Timberg
May 24, 2020 at 10:35 PM EDT

Reopening too soon: Lessons from the deadly second wave of the 1918 flu pandemic

As coronavirus shutdowns loosen and Americans flock to restaurants, beaches and other outdoor spaces for Memorial Day weekend, the question of reopening too quickly is striking an eerily familiar echo.

The global flu pandemic of 1918 remains the deadliest on record. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it killed an estimated 50 million worldwide and more than half a million in the United States. J. Alexander Navarro, of the University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine, is one of the organizers of the Influenza Archive, a collection of information cataloguing and studying the effects of the 1918 pandemic in 43 major U.S. cities.

The research sought an answer to a key question: Was social distancing effective in 1918 as a way to slow the spread of the disease and save lives?

By Adriana Usero
May 24, 2020 at 10:11 PM EDT

Trump administration vows in new report to distribute 100 million swabs to states by year’s end

In a report to Congress, the Trump administration pledged to buy 100 million swabs by year’s end and distribute them to states to boost testing for the novel coronavirus.

But the report, delivered on the Sunday deadline Congress set for a national testing strategy, doubles down on the administration’s stance that individual states, not the federal government, should bear primary responsibility for carrying out diagnostic tests to help curb the pandemic.

The plan, sought by public health experts and congressional Democrats since the virus began circulating in the United States in late February, arrived as the nation’s coronavirus cases exceeded 1.6 million and deaths closed in on 100,000 — both the highest in the world.

Read more here.

By Amy Goldstein
May 24, 2020 at 9:46 PM EDT

Grocery workers left in the dark as cases emerge in supermarkets coast to coast

Amid the pandemic, the country’s nearly 40,000 grocery stores have been classified as essential businesses that must remain open, putting the stores on the front lines of the pandemic. Grocery stores, one place most consumers cannot avoid during the crisis, have reported double-digit growth in sales in recent months.

At least 100 grocery workers nationwide have died of covid-19 since late March, and at least 5,500 others have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a Washington Post review of data from the nation’s largest grocery workers union, other workers’ rights coalitions and media reports.

Many local health officials told The Post that they have been left in the dark as clusters of cases have emerged in supermarkets coast to coast.

By Nicole Dungca, Jenn Abelson, Abha Bhattarai and Meryl Kornfield
May 24, 2020 at 8:48 PM EDT

Woods and Manning edge Mickelson and Brady in match for covid-19 relief

On a day that featured a downpour, entertaining golf and trash talk from Charles Barkley, among others, Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning held off Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in the Match II: Champions for Charity, a made-for-TV match-play event to raise money for novel coronavirus relief.

With daylight fading at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla., the golfers went into what Manning compared to “a two-minute drill,” with Woods and Manning holding off Mickelson and Brady over the last four holes to win 1 up on Woods’s home course.

Read more here.

By Cindy Boren
May 24, 2020 at 8:26 PM EDT

Packed beaches and boardwalks renew concerns in Washington region, as Northam mingles without mask

As the total number of coronavirus infections in the District, Maryland and Virginia topped 90,000 on Sunday, viral images of a packed boardwalk in Ocean City, Md., and a mask-free Virginia governor mingling with crowds had many wondering whether safety guidelines meant to contain the disease were being taken seriously.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was slammed on social media over the weekend after he appeared without a mask and up close with visitors in Virginia Beach. Northam has encouraged Virginians to wear a mask in public and indicated Friday that he plans to issue a mask mandate this week, although it is not clear whether it will apply to outdoor public spaces.

Northam, a physician, has also urged social distancing.

Read more here.

By Joe Heim, Laura Vozzella, Rebecca Tan and Julie Zauzmer
May 24, 2020 at 8:02 PM EDT

Britain’s Boris Johnson stands by influential adviser who drove 260 miles to visit parents during lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday stood by an influential adviser accused of breaking Britain’s coronavirus lockdown, despite widespread calls for the senior aide’s removal.

Dominic Cummings had “no alternative” but to travel from his home in London to visit his parents at the end of March, Johnson said, as he and his wife needed to self-isolate because of her covid-19 symptoms and needed someone to care for their young son.

“I think he followed the instincts of every father and every parent, and I do not mark him down for that,” the prime minister added at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing.

Two British newspapers, the Guardian and the Daily Mirror, reported Friday that Cummings had traveled from London to Durham to stay at his parents’ property during the lockdown. Johnson said that some of the allegations in the reports were “palpably false” and that Cummings had acted with the overwhelming aim of “stopping the virus and saving lives.”

Britain imposed its lockdown on March 23, ordering people to remain at their primary residence except for grocery shopping and exercise.

Officials who have broken the lockdown have resigned for breaches of rules: Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, resigned in April after twice traveling from Edinburgh to her second home, while epidemiologist Neil Ferguson stepped down as a government scientific adviser after a newspaper revealed that his lover had visited his house during the lockdown.

In a now-deleted tweet posted shortly after Johnson’s news conference — “unauthorized,” a government spokesman told the Guardian — even the official account of the U.K. Civil Service was critical.

“Arrogant and offensive," read the tweet widely interpreted as a comment on Johnson’s defense of Cummings. "Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?”

Among the British public, Cummings is unusually controversial for an unelected political adviser, having played an important behind-the-scenes role in the 2016 referendum on Brexit.

By Adam Taylor and Hannah Knowles
May 24, 2020 at 7:26 PM EDT

New Zealand mulls over four-day workweek amid coronavirus

The world is watching New Zealand.

Decisive early action, along with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s empathetic style of leadership, quashed the country’s coronavirus outbreak in fewer than 50 days, earning it a place on the short list of nations the rest of the world is looking to for guidance — not just on how to fight the initial wave of the pandemic, but on what could come next.

So, when Ardern uploaded a video to Facebook last week floating the idea of a four-day workweek, an audience outside New Zealand took notice, judging by the headlines. Amid the flexibility companies have had to show in response to the novel coronavirus crisis, what once in many quarters would have come across as a fringe notion no longer seemed so unthinkable.

Ardern said she was seeking creative ways to stimulate domestic tourism, to help the industry recover as the country begins to reopen with strict border measures still in place. But she couched the idea in the context of broader changes to the workplace wrought by the pandemic.

Read more here.

By Miriam Berger
May 24, 2020 at 5:54 PM EDT

Citing virus concerns, Trump suspends entry for foreigners who have recently been in Brazil

President Trump on Sunday expanded sweeping travel restrictions on countries hit hard by the coronavirus, moving to suspend entry to the United States for foreigners who have been in Brazil within 14 days before seeking admittance.

The announcement comes as Brazil reports more than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus and becomes a raging hot spot still struggling to enact social distancing measures.

“The potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States from the Federative Republic of Brazil threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security,” the White House said in a statement. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the new rules a “decisive action to protect our country.”

The restrictions will go into effect May 28 at 11:59 p.m.

The Trump administration has also restricted travel from China, Iran and much of Europe, citing concerns that incoming travelers will bring the virus.

The Europe travel ban produced unfortunate side effects, The Post reported last week, with a policy intended to block the pathogen’s entry into the United States instead delivering one more viral infusion. As exposed travelers rushed home to clogged airports and then fanned out into U.S. cities and suburbs, they became part of an influx of cases from Europe.

Earlier Sunday, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien had said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that the United States could soon restrict travel from Brazil.

“We hope that’ll be temporary,” he said.

U.S. citizens, permanent U.S. residents and their family members — spouses, parents and guardians, siblings, wards or children — are among the groups exempted from the ban.

Chris Mooney contributed to this report.

By Hannah Knowles
May 24, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT

White House adviser compares China’s handling of virus to Soviet Union’s Chernobyl

The Trump administration Sunday continued to blame China for the global pandemic that has killed almost 100,000 Americans, with one adviser making comparisons to how the Soviet Union tried to cover up the Chernobyl disaster.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’s “Face the Nation,” national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien cited the 1986 nuclear crisis in Ukraine.

“This was a virus that was unleashed by China,” he said on CBS. “There was a coverup that someday they’re going to do an HBO show like they did with Chernobyl.”

On NBC, he accused China of a coverup and said it would go “down in history along with Chernobyl,” an accident that killed about 30 in the explosion but, studies showed, indirectly resulted in the deaths of thousands for years to come.

The comparisons come amid White House efforts to deflect blame for its response to the outbreak in the United States, which, since early March, has infected 1.6 million Americans and resulted in more than 96,000 deaths.

China has been widely criticized for initially concealing the dangers of the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan in the fall. However, as the world learned more about the virus, the Trump administration was slow to respond, critics contend.

In a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, 60 percent disapproved of President Trump’s handling of the crisis, while 39 percent approved. A Fox News poll found 55 percent disapproved.

By Steven Goff
May 24, 2020 at 5:38 PM EDT

Expert cautions first vaccines developed may not be the most effective

The first vaccines that are developed to combat the coronavirus may not be the most effective, according to Peter Hotez, the director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

“The first vaccines released out of the starting gate, in say a year from now or a year and a half from now, may not be the ones we wind up with,” Hotez said Sunday. “History tells us that they get replaced with new and improved vaccines. So this is a gradual process, it’s not like there’s going to be a magic bullet a year from now. It’ll take time. We’ll see new and improved vaccines and — but things will get better.”

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press," Hotez said that while he is “confident” there will be vaccine, it will take time to show whether the first vaccines created are “safe and effective.”

“What we’re seeing from some vaccines is that they’re partially protective, meaning they don’t protect 100 percent, but they may reduce hospitalization and death, which is still very important,” Hotez said.

Dan Barouch, a virologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston who also appeared on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” said it was theoretically possible for a vaccine to be developed in the 12- to 18-month time frame that has been widely discussed in the medical community, but it would be “truly unprecedented.”

“To be successful, multiple parameters would have to be successful, all at the same time,” Barouch said.

By Samantha Pell
May 24, 2020 at 5:19 PM EDT

A top Florida football coach is suspended for allegedly holding practice during pandemic

A Florida coach whose high school football teams have won three straight state championships was suspended pending an investigation into “an unauthorized athletic activity” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Max Edwards, the head coach at Miami Northwestern, allegedly held “an unsanctioned event” at a time when schools were closed and athletics across the state were suspended. Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, a Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokeswoman, said in a statement provided to the Miami Herald that the school’s investigation had begun “as soon as it learned about this unauthorized athletic activity.”

She added, “Further action may be taken against others who may have been involved in this unsanctioned event. The school is in the process of communicating with parents of students who may have participated.”

Read more here.

By Cindy Boren
May 24, 2020 at 5:00 PM EDT

Miami-Dade beaches may require masks to enter, according to draft guidelines obtained by newspaper

Beachgoers in Miami-Dade County may be required to wear masks to enter the shore but not when they’re in the water or keeping their distance from others, according to draft policies obtained by the Miami Herald.

If enacted early next week, the rules would be much stricter than guidelines set in other parts of the state. The county is also considering requiring masks only when people are using restrooms or concession areas, which would be similar to rules it has set for places such as restaurants, Patricia Abril, a spokeswoman for Miami Mayor Carlos A. Giménez told The Washington Post.

“Nothing is set in stone,” she said.

Masks have been a contentious topic, especially among those who say they shouldn’t be required in large outdoor spaces. Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry told CNN on Friday that he doesn’t believe he can expect people to wear masks on the beach.

“I don’t think it’s realistic or practical to ask people to go to the beach and wear a mask,” Henry said. “We really haven’t had a lot of problems. I would say, you know, close to zero, in terms of when you ask people to do something, they have done it. So we are not trying to arrest people if they do not remain separate. We just give them the information, and, by and large, they are compliant.”

Beaches have proved alluring to crowds of people feeling “quarantine fatigue” and seeking fresh air.

“Without a doubt, this is one of the busiest weekends I’ve seen in many years,” Andrew Ethridge, a Volusia County beach safety official, told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “We have 47 miles of beach in Volusia County, and every bit of it has crowds.”

Other guidelines proposed in the draft the Herald obtained would limit groups to 10 or fewer people, restrict common-area access and allow for sunbathing, walking and jogging. The county had 16,600 positive cases of the novel coronavirus and 631 related deaths as of Sunday.

By Meryl Kornfield
May 24, 2020 at 4:30 PM EDT

Ohio’s GOP governor to anti-mask crowd: ‘This is not about politics’

Ohio’s Mike DeWine has joined the small band of Republican governors who are actively encouraging residents to wear masks — and chastising those who refuse to — as states navigate reopening.

During an appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, DeWine told host Chuck Todd that the conversation about wearing masks in public has become unnecessarily partisan.

“This is not about politics, this is not about whether you are a liberal or conservative, left or right, Republican, Democrat,” DeWine said. “It has been very clear about what the studies have shown: You wear the mask not to protect yourself so much as to protect others. This is one time in which we truly are all in this together. What we do directly impacts others.”

DeWine cited comments made this week by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, another Republican, who called on the residents of his state to skip the ginned-up mask controversy altogether.

“This is a, I would say, senseless dividing line, and I would ask people to try to dial up your empathy and your understanding,” Burgum said, before growing emotional.

“If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,” Burgum said. “They might be doing it because they’ve got a 5-year-old child who’s been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life who currently have covid, and they’re fighting.”

In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) called restaurant patrons who refuse to wear masks “very selfish.” He said a manager at a restaurant recently told him that his staff had been heckled and cursed at for asking customers to don masks, reported KATV.

“This is really unacceptable, and it’s embarrassing,” Hutchinson said, according to the station.

By Katie Mettler
May 24, 2020 at 4:06 PM EDT

Boris Johnson wants to reopen Britain’s schools in a week. Parents, teachers and local officials are pushing back.

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s push to reopen schools in June, to get kids back in classrooms and free up their parents to jump-start Britain’s moribund economy, is running into surprisingly steep resistance.

Parents here are all jitters. Teachers fret it’s too soon. And the scientific advisers, charged with predicting what’s safe or not, are offering a muddle of conflicting models.

Johnson reaffirmed his plan that primary schools in England should open in a week at a news conference Sunday evening. It’s not going well.

Read more here.

By William Booth and Karla Adam
May 24, 2020 at 3:03 PM EDT

Birx says Americans must wear masks ‘out of respect for each other’

White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx said on “Fox News Sunday” she was “very concerned” some people were neglecting to maintain a safe, six-foot distance during the pandemic — including those celebrating Memorial Day weekend outside and in public.

“I’m very concerned when people go out and don’t maintain social distancing,” Birx said, emphasizing that she recognizes the importance of social interaction and outdoor activity but imploring Americans to do it safely.

She told host Chris Wallace that “super-spreader events” can be prevented if people avoid close contact and wear masks, citing “clear scientific evidence.”

“A mask does prevent droplets from reaching others, and out of respect for each other, as Americans that care for each other, we need to be wearing masks in public when we cannot social-distance,” Birx said. “It’s critically important. We have the scientific evidence of how important mask-wearing is, to prevent those droplets from reaching others.”

Birx said there are ways to play tennis or golf, hike or go to the beach that comply with safety protocol. “Let’s even in public make sure that we’re doing everything that we need to do to make it safe for others,” she said.

She addressed President Trump’s call to governors last week to open up all houses of worship across the country, saying it was critical for local officials and worship leaders to inform their communities about the risk based on the number of cases in different pockets of the country.

“Although it may be safe for some to go to churches and social-distance, it may not be safe for those with preexisting conditions,” Birx said.

When Wallace asked Birx whether she wished Trump would wear a mask in public, she hedged, saying she is not with the president at all times, and she believes he recently wore a mask when he was not able to maintain a distance of six feet.

“I’ve asked everybody independently to really make sure they’re wearing a mask if they can’t maintain social distancing,” Birx said.

By Katie Mettler
May 24, 2020 at 2:00 PM EDT

Man accused of kidnapping teen to get through a Florida Keys coronavirus checkpoint

A Florida man is accused of forcing a 17-year-old to drive him through a coronavirus checkpoint in the Florida Keys — one of several localities across the country to bar nonresidents as a precaution against the spread of the virus.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said Alexander Michael Sardinas, 37, threatened to hurt the teenager Thursday if she refused to drive him and a woman whom deputies didn’t identify through the checkpoint. Although Sardinas and the woman were residents, they were denied entrance earlier in the day because they didn’t have proper identification.

A state trooper gave the pair a ride to a neighborhood near the entrance to the Keys after they were initially turned away. That’s where they approached the teenager, whose vehicle had a sticker indicating she is a resident of the Keys, authorities said.

Sardinas allegedly threatened violence if the teen didn’t take them through the checkpoint or touched her phone. The scared teenager complied and got them past the checkpoint, authorities said. After dropping Sardinas off at a gas station and the woman off at a pharmacy, she called a family member, who then called police.

County records indicate Sardinas remains in jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.

The Florida Keys will reopen to visitors on June 1, after it was closed late March and checkpoints were installed on the only two roads leading to the island chain, Route 1 and County Route 905. Halfway through the first month of closures, more than 4,000 cars were turned away from the checkpoint, the sheriff’s office previously told The Washington Post.

The Keys are not the only place to block nonresidents, as the virus has disproportionately hit some parts of the country more than others. At the same time the Keys’s checkpoints were added, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) also ordered visitors from New York to quarantine for 14 days.

By Meryl Kornfield
May 24, 2020 at 1:02 PM EDT

Video shows crowds at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks ignoring social distancing

Large crowds of vacationers flocked to the Lake of the Ozarks over the holiday weekend, flouting social distancing guidelines as they packed into yacht clubs, outdoor bars and resort pools in the Missouri tourist hot spot.

Images of the revelry rippled across social media, showing people eating, drinking and swimming in close quarters. In one picture shared by the news station KSDK, dozens of people could be seen crammed on an outdoor patio underneath a sign reading, “Please practice social distancing.”

By Derek Hawkins and Meryl Kornfield
May 24, 2020 at 12:37 PM EDT

With masks and sanitized hands, Italian Catholics return to church

ROME — One person after the next filed into the church Sunday morning, walking past a sign at the entrance noting that masks were mandatory, and stopping at a hand sanitizer dispenser they were obligated to use. Then, they took their seats — two to a pew, instead of the usual four or five. By 10:30 a.m., the church was nearly filled to its new, reduced capacity of 98.

“Welcome back after so much time,” the Rev. Massimo Brogi said to the faithful at the Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina. “It’s a pleasure to see you again after so much distance.”

Italy’s Catholics, emerging from one of the most rigid lockdowns in the West — one that saw a historic halt to religious ceremonies — returned to Mass on Sunday, praying as they always have while also trying to understand a lengthy list of new rules.

By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli
May 24, 2020 at 12:08 PM EDT

High school pool party spurs cluster of positive cases amid ‘second peak,’ Arkansas governor says

A cluster of people who attended a high school pool party tested positive for the novel coronavirus as Arkansas faces a “second peak” of cases, the state’s governor said Saturday.

“A high school swim party that I’m sure everybody thought was harmless,” Asa Hutchinson (R) said during a briefing. “They’re young, they’re swimming, they’re just having activity, and positive cases resulted from that.”

Hutchinson didn’t specify the number of cases linked to the party, and the state’s health department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.

He also didn’t say how residents in his state should ensure they don’t spread the virus, but in a morning interview on Fox News Sunday, Hutchinson didn’t stress staying home.

“We have to manage the risk,” he said.” “We take the virus very seriously, it’s a risk, it causes death, but you can’t cloister yourself at home, that is just contrary to the American spirit.”

Hutchinson never issued a statewide stay-home directive, and at a White House meeting with President Trump on Wednesday, the governor emphasized Arkansas is “at work” and businesses are open.

But on Saturday, he warned people celebrating the holiday weekend to “be safe.”

“During this Memorial [Day] weekend, we want to be out and we want to enjoy ourselves, we want to remember this holiday and those that have served our country and given their lives in service of our country,” he continued, “but let’s be safe and let’s be disciplined at the same time.”

Earlier in the week, the state had logged its highest single-day count of new cases: 455. Then, on Saturday, Arkansas added 163 confirmed cases and two deaths. To date, 115 people in the state have died of covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.

“It’s clear and evident to me that we had one peak and then we had a deep dip and then we’re having a second peak right now,” Hutchinson said Saturday.

By Candace Buckner and Meryl Kornfield
May 24, 2020 at 12:06 PM EDT

Taking aim at Trump, Pelosi tweets New York Times front page listing 1,000 covid-19 deaths

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday shared the New York Times front page memorializing people who died of covid-19, faulting the Trump administration for the rising U.S. death toll.

“Instead of taking fact-based action, Trump blames others for his chaotic failures and erratic response; undermines scientists; and ignores Americans’ hardship,” she wrote. “Our lives are at stake in this election. Vote.”

The political foes have long traded barbs, with Pelosi saying Trump shouldn’t take hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug he has championed as a game-changing treatment for the coronavirus, as protection against the virus because he’s “morbidly obese.”

The president has said Pelosi and other Democrats are exaggerating the scale of the pandemic to score political points.

The Times’s front page on Sunday pays tribute to 1,000 people who died of the disease caused by the coronavirus, as the country’s toll nears 100,000. Other Democratic politicians also shared the front page, including governors of hard-hit states such as California and New Jersey.

“While there are no words we can offer equal to the magnitude of this loss, let us come together to honor their lives by ensuring no one else needlessly dies from this virus,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted.

While Pelosi named Trump explicitly, other Democrats were less direct, suggesting only that the deaths were a consequence of a lack of leadership.

“Elections have consequences,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted.

By Meryl Kornfield
May 24, 2020 at 11:55 AM EDT

White House may decide today to restrict Brazil travel, national security adviser says

The United States could move as soon as today to restrict entry from Brazil, a country with a rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases and deaths, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday.

“I think that we’ll have a 212(f) decision today with respect to Brazil and just like we did with the U.K. and — and Europe and China,” O’Brien said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” with Margaret Brennan. “And we hope that’ll be temporary. But because of the situation in Brazil, we’re going to take every step necessary to protect the American people.”

212(f) refers to a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that President Trump used in March to temporarily suspend travel from some countries in Europe because of the coronavirus pandemic

Brazil has recorded 347,398 coronavirus cases and 22,013 deaths. The numbers put Brazil second in the world for coronavirus case numbers, trailing only the United States. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has called the virus a “little cold.”

By Chris Mooney
May 24, 2020 at 11:45 AM EDT

Top Trump adviser says White House may support aid for state and local governments

Trump economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the White House may support some aid for state and local governments in an additional coronavirus relief bill being considered in Congress. But he accused House Democrats of pushing for aid that far outstrips the money that state and local governments actually need.

“I don’t think there’s ever going to be an analysis that supports the massive figures coming out of the House,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Hassert also warned the United States might still be looking at double-digit unemployment in November. But, he said, “I think that all the signs of economic recovery are going to be raging everywhere. And the only thing we’re going to really be debating, as economists, is, are we going to get back to where we were, or is it going to be kind of a long haul to get there?”

In the interview, Hassett also said he has consulted his doctor about taking hydroxychloroquine but was told the drug would interact badly with other medicines he takes. President Trump has said he’s taking the drug to protect against the coronavirus despite studies showing it may be unsafe.

“I think there’s a lot of evidence in the lab this could work,” Hassett said.

By Joseph Marks
May 24, 2020 at 11:38 AM EDT

Lawmakers spar over president’s call for churches to reopen

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) defended the president’s call for churches and other houses of worship to open during the Memorial Day holiday, saying he believes people will attend safely.

“I trust the American public. I think they’re going to make the right decision,” he said Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Scott declined to say whether President Trump could or should override governors who keep churches closed, saying he believes the Bill of Rights guarantees people the right to attend services.

“Do I believe the government can tell us not to worship? I don’t believe they can,” he said.

But New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) pushed back against the president’s urging to open houses of worship during the Memorial Day weekend, saying it’s not yet safe in his state for more than 25 people to gather indoors.

“We’ll get there on houses of worship,” he said.

Murphy also urged more federal aid for state and local governments. New Jersey may have to lay off state employees, including teachers, firefighters and health-care workers, if the state doesn’t get significant aid, he said, the result of billions of dollars in lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

By Joseph Marks
May 24, 2020 at 10:23 AM EDT

Evictions loom for many renters as state bans end

Tenants nationwide are facing the possibility of getting kicked out of their homes as officials lift bans on evictions intended to protect renters amid the mounting economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Even with tens of millions of people out of work and the United States recording job losses not seen since the Great Depression, major metropolitan areas are allowing eviction restrictions to expire, threatening tenants who have been unable to pay rent because of reduced income or job loss on account of the public health emergency.

In Houston, eviction hearings resumed last week after the Texas Supreme Court lifted the state’s moratorium, as Houston Public Media reported. Renters could start getting forced out of their homes and businesses as early as May 26.

Evictions are also looming over renters in Kansas City, Mo., where proceedings are set to resume at the beginning of June. Tenants are rallying to persuade officials to extend protections that were put in place along with the city’s stay-at-home order.

“After this pandemic hit, both of my main jobs ended. And to be honest, I’m quite scared,” Ashley Johnson of the organization KC Tenants told KMBC last week. “I’m scared for my children and I.”

In Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reported hundreds of eviction cases are awaiting action in Florida courts, having piled up during Gov. Ron DeSantis’s stay. It’s unclear what will happen to the pending cases when the order expires June 2.

Further complicating the process for renters and homeowners is the patchwork of policies that differ from county to county and state to state and include the eviction moratorium granted under the Cares Act, which prevents evictions of tenants in federal rental housing or those with federally backed mortgages for missing payments.

By Derek Hawkins and Katie Mettler
May 24, 2020 at 10:08 AM EDT

Director of Chinese lab calls virus leak theory ‘pure fabrication’

The director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab in the Chinese city where many of the first cases of the novel coronavirus were detected, said allegations that the virus leaked from her facility were “pure fabrication.”

In an interview with Chinese state broadcaster CGTN, Wang Yanyi said her laboratory did not have a sample of the virus, known technically as SARS-CoV-2, until Dec. 30 — after the outbreak had begun.

“We didn’t have any knowledge before that, nor had we ever encountered, researched or kept the virus,” Wang said. “In fact, like everyone else, we didn’t even know the virus existed. How could it have leaked from our lab when we never had it?”

The Wuhan Institute of Virology and another lab in the same city operated by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention have become the focal point of theories that a virus could have accidentally leaked out of a lab during scientific research.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month there was “enormous evidence” the Chinese government had covered up a leak at a lab, but he did not offer any publicly. Key U.S. allies such as Australia have balked at the theory, and Pompeo subsequently amended his language.

In her interview with CGTN, Wang acknowledged a colleague named Shi Zhengli had been studying bat coronaviruses in an attempt to understand a separate SARs outbreak in 2003, but she said these viruses were not genetically similar to SARS-CoV-2.

“Professor Shi and her team have isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats. Now we have three strains of live viruses,” Wang said. “One of them has the highest similarity, 96 percent, to the SARS virus. But their highest similarity to SARS-CoV-2 reaches only 79.8 percent.”

Wang said scientists around the world agreed the virus most probably came from a wild animal but they do not know exactly how that happened and whether it could happen again. “This is why the cooperation between scientists all over the world is needed to find the answers,” she said.

By Adam Taylor
May 24, 2020 at 9:43 AM EDT

How a couple turned their front lawn into a pandemic warning

New York may have the Empire State Building, lit up in festive hues to mark holidays big and small, but in Washington’s Petworth neighborhood, residents look to the front lawn of a blue rowhouse to celebrate the passage of time.

Hardly a holiday goes uncelebrated. Even the small ones.

So when the District announced its stay-at-home order, meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, it was no surprise to neighbors that homeowners Curtis Gilbert and Chris Rowland transformed their Easter Bunny display into a flashy pandemic warning sign.

Read more here.

By Marissa Lang
May 24, 2020 at 9:33 AM EDT

French government pushes green goals in coronavirus relief efforts

BRUSSELS — The French government has asked Air France for a “drastic reduction” in its domestic flights in exchange for a bailout, Ecological Transition Minister Élisabeth Borne said Sunday, as European countries attempt to use the pandemic-fueled economic crisis to further ambitious climate goals.

French leaders asked Air France to stop servicing routes that France’s high-speed rail network can cover in less than 2½ hours, Borne told France Inter radio, part of a goal to cut the carrier’s carbon emissions from domestic flights in half by 2024.

Air France and KLM, which operate jointly, have received about $7.3 billion in loan guarantees from the state to mitigate the disruptions caused by the pandemic, which has brought air travel to a near standstill in Europe. Even before the coronavirus struck Europe, airlines were coming under pressure to reduce their emissions, a major contributor to global warming.

President Emmanuel Macron is expected on Tuesday to outline a plan to rescue French car manufacturers that would place a heavy emphasis on green goals, France’s Le Parisien newspaper reported Saturday. The state would offer buyers a rebate of up to 8,000 euros, or $8,720, for the purchase of fully electric cars and a bit less for hybrids.

The European Commission on Wednesday will announce recovery proposals for the 27-nation European Union, for which leaders are also expected to prioritize green goals as they reboot economic growth.

By Michael Birnbaum
May 24, 2020 at 9:05 AM EDT

Analysis: America (President Trump) is ready to get back to normal (playing golf)

Of all of the times that White House coronavirus task force member Deborah Birx has said things clearly intended for President Trump’s benefit, few were as transparent as her comments on Friday afternoon. She was walking through the improvements in the rate of spread of the coronavirus, drawing attention to regions still at risk.

“I’m going to call your attention to the top three states, the top three states with the largest percent,” she said — “and this is so you can all make your decisions about going outside, and social distancing, potentially playing golf if you’re very careful and you don’t touch the flags and all of those issues."

Got that? You can play golf if you’d like. It’s okay to go play golf. Want to play golf? Go for it. All clear.

And lo, a report from the White House press pool on Saturday morning: “President Trump is returning to the golf course on this pleasant, sunny Saturday,” it read.

Read more here.

By Philip Bump
May 24, 2020 at 8:59 AM EDT

Quebec, Canada’s hardest-hit province, is also the most aggressive about reopening

Infections spreading among health-care workers. Nursing home staffers fleeing outbreaks. Public health officials stationed at the airport to screen arriving visitors.

Quebec, which borders New York and three other U.S. states, is the Canadian province hit hardest by the coronavirus. Home to roughly 22 percent of the country’s population, it has suffered more than 60 percent of its deaths.

It’s also the province moving most aggressively to reopen.

Read more here.

By Amanda Coletta
May 24, 2020 at 8:50 AM EDT

Browns to auction off play-calling duties to benefit coronavirus relief

Legend has it that, during his presidency, Richard Nixon passed along an idea for a play to George Allen, then coach of the Washington Redskins.

Now you don’t have to be the leader of the free world, or even an elected official, to have a say in calling plays in an NFL game.

As part of the All-In Challenge benefiting coronavirus relief, the Cleveland Browns are offering the chance for two people to assist in scripting the first 15 plays of a preseason game.

Read more here.

By Gene Wang
May 24, 2020 at 8:06 AM EDT

China tells U.S. to stop taking them ‘to the brink of a new Cold War’

The United States should abandon its “wishful thinking about changing China” and stop pushing the two countries “to the brink of a new Cold War,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday, trying to position Beijing as the grown-up in an increasingly fractious bilateral relationship.

With tensions between the world’s two largest economies mounting by the day, Wang used the opportunity of a news conference during the annual piece of political theater known as the National People’s Congress to send a direct message to Washington.

This year, the conflict has taken on a new dimension, with the emergence of the novel coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Reeling from more than 96,000 deaths in the United States, the Trump administration is trying to heap the blame for the pandemic entirely on China’s ruling Communist Party.

Read more here.

By Anna Fifield
May 24, 2020 at 7:55 AM EDT

Grieving families and veterans face an obstacle for observing Memorial Day — a pandemic

This was supposed to be the week Roman Baca finally brought his life’s work back home.

The former Marine Corps reservist trained as a ballet dancer before he shouldered a machine gun in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2005. He later merged his two worlds, creating a company that paints the experiences of war and trauma through dance. Memorial Day was going to be the moment he brought that vision to his hometown of Albuquerque.

But the coronavirus pandemic has transformed nearly every facet of daily life, including Memorial Day events, as social distancing, closures and restrictions disrupt the rituals of grief for those who have died in uniform.

Read more here.

By Alex Horton
May 24, 2020 at 7:20 AM EDT

Trump opts for a 2016 disruption strategy that Democrats say is ill-suited for a pandemic

Flush with record amounts of cash and a massive organization, President Trump and his allies had planned to spend the spring unleashing a torrent of withering attacks against Joe Biden in an attempt to define him in the eyes of voters before the former vice president could do so himself.

But the coronavirus pandemic upended those plans — delaying the campaign’s blitz of paid negative television ads until earlier this month, and forcing a reckoning over what kind of campaign can be effective during a time of historic unemployment and mass death.

Trump’s moves in recent days make clear the president has decided to revive the disruptive themes of his 2016 bid, aimed at branding his opponent as a corrupt member of the Washington establishment and himself as an insurgent problem-solver. It’s a message that often has seemed incongruent with the present reality.

Read more here.

By Toluse Olorunnipa and Ashley Parker
May 24, 2020 at 7:04 AM EDT

Earliest signs of vaccine effectiveness not until autumn, says head of global vaccine alliance

BRUSSELS — The first signs of the effectiveness of vaccines against the coronavirus will likely be seen only in the fall, and it could take a long time before a vaccine is broadly available, the head of a Geneva-based vaccine alliance said in an interview published Sunday, despite President Trump’s promises to have one ready by the end of the year.

“Unfortunately, we really don’t know which vaccine will work, and if there will be one at all. If we’re lucky, we’ll have a hint of effectiveness in the fall,” Seth Berkley, head of the Gavi vaccine alliance, told Zurich’s NZZ am Sonntag newspaper. “There is still a long way to go before an approved active ingredient is available in large quantities for the global population.”

In response to a question about the United States having sat out a European-led effort to pledge money toward developing a vaccine, Berkley urged as much global cooperation as possible in the race to produce a counter to the coronavirus, warning that individual countries’ efforts to prioritize their own citizens are likely to fail.

“If all politicians only look out for their country, then even countries with vaccines have a problem, because the virus will continue to rage in the rest of the world and no trade or exchange will be possible,” he said. He also said that it was possible that some countries’ efforts to develop a vaccine will fail and others will succeed, deepening the self-interested argument in favor of collaborating.

Trump has pushed an ambitious timeline to have a vaccine available — one that outstrips what his own scientific advisers say is likely or possible.

By Michael Birnbaum
May 24, 2020 at 6:58 AM EDT

California counties report new coronavirus clusters linked to churches amid debate over in-person worship

As California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) considers whether to ease restrictions on in-person religious gatherings, new clusters of coronavirus cases have emerged in northern California that appear connected to church services.

Health officials in Mendocino County confirmed over the weekend that the county’s six newest infections were linked to the Redwood Valley Assembly of God, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The county reported last week that the church’s pastor and two other people were infected after they participated in a live-streamed Mother’s Day service that featured singing.

“When we have an outbreak of such a large magnitude, it’s very concerning because we know that these individuals have had other contacts since contracting the disease,” County Health Officer Noemi Doohan said in a video update Friday. “We now have to do the very time consuming and difficult work of the case investigation contact tracing.”

In Butte County, at least two people have fallen ill with covid-19 after attending a Mother’s Day service held by a local church in violation of the state’s prohibitions on large gatherings, as the Chico Enterprise-Record reported last week. County health officials have told the more than 180 people who attended the service to self-quarantine.

“At this time, organizations that hold in-person services or gatherings are putting the health and safety of their congregations, the general public and our local ability to open up at great risk,” County Health Director Danette York said in a statement.

Facing mounting pressure from religious groups to loosen restrictions on churches, Newsom said last week he would issue new guidance on in-person worship by Monday. President Trump has called on the nation’s governors to allow churches to open amid the pandemic, threatening to take unspecified action against them if they refuse.

By Derek Hawkins
May 24, 2020 at 6:40 AM EDT

Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopens to visitors

Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the holiest sites in Christianity, reopened on Sunday, months after it closed for the first time since the 14th century, allowing a trickle of pilgrims into its winding halls under strict rules of social distancing.

The church, its crowded spaces typically crammed with thousands visitors from around the world, will now allow in 50 people at a time. They will have to wear masks and keep six feet from each other, according to the leaders of the three religious communities who together are the custodians of the site.

“From this Holy Place, in this Easter time, we continue our prayers, asking for the end of this pandemic,” the leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian Orthodox churches in Jerusalem said in a statement on Saturday. The churches share custody of the site.

They will take measures to “avoid the risk of a new spread of the COVID-19 infection,” they said, including asking worshipers not to touch or kiss the icons and stones with religious significance inside the church.

The basilica — built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, and also incorporating what is said to be his tomb — had been closed since March 25, ahead of the Easter holidays, to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in Israel. The keeper of the keys to the church said it was the first time it had been closed at length since the Black Death plague in 1349.

More than 16,700 coronavirus cases have been reported in Israel, with 279 deaths. Palestinian authorities have reported 368 cases in the occupied West Bank and two deaths.

Other religious sites in Jerusalem are slowly reopening as Israel loosens its lockdown measures, including the Western Wall, which is allowing a limited number of Jewish worshipers. Palestinian authorities have sought to impose a lockdown during this weekend’s Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of Ramadan to try to limit the spread of the virus.

By Michael Birnbaum
May 24, 2020 at 6:14 AM EDT

The pandemic has already altered how tens of millions of Americans can cast their ballots this year

The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly transforming this year’s elections, changing the way tens of millions of people cast ballots and putting thousands of election officials at the center of a pitched political fight as they rush to adapt with limited time and funding.

In a watershed moment for American voting, nearly 30 states have changed rules or practices for this year’s primaries or the general election in response to the public health threat posed by covid-19, according to a tally by The Washington Post. The new policies affect roughly 86.6 million registered voters — including more than 40 million people who now have the temporary right to cast an absentee ballot because of the virus.

Read more here.

By Elise Viebeck
May 24, 2020 at 6:14 AM EDT

Washington county’s move to next reopening phase halted after food processing outbreak

An outbreak of covid-19 at a Vancouver food processing plant led Washington state to halt a county’s progression through the phases of reopening, underscoring the difficulties communities face in keeping infections down on their way back toward normalcy.

Clark County, in the southwest corner of the state, had put in a request to move to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, which allows outdoor activities involving five or fewer people and lets restaurants, hair salons and nail salons operate at 50 percent capacity or less, among other changes.

Then Clark County Public Health reported that 38 employees of Firestone Pacific Foods in Vancouver tested positive for the coronavirus. At least two were Clark County residents, officials said, and one person was hospitalized.

Firestone was ordered to stop production on Tuesday in an effort to halt the virus’s spread. Testing of all employees began Friday, after 12 staffers had already tested positive, health officials said. Public Health is expected to update the infection numbers Tuesday.

Clark County will remain under Phase 1 restrictions until further notice. More than half of Washington state’s counties have now been approved to move to Phase 2, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.

“Public Health has gone above and beyond in its response to this outbreak,” said Clark County council chair Eileen Quiring in a statement on the county’s website. “As our community moves forward, whether next week or in the weeks that follow, we may unfortunately see more positive cases. Public Health’s efforts during this outbreak show they have the ability to effectively respond to outbreaks in order to keep our community healthy.”

By Kareem Copeland