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The number of reported coronavirus cases in the United States has surpassed 1.8 million, including more than 104,000 deaths. Officials emphasized the need for testing, physical distancing and face covering, a reflection of concern that the easing of stay-at-home restrictions, as well as large protests against police brutality across the nation, could lead to a spike in new cases.

Amid the turmoil, on Tuesday eight states and the District of Columbia held primary elections; four of them — in Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — were rescheduled from earlier dates because of the coronavirus outbreak. Voters encountered fewer voting locations, signs encouraging social distancing and poll workers in protective gear, though no serious issues were initially reported.

Here are some significant developments:

  • About 7 in 10 Americans say they would get a vaccine to protect against the novel coronavirus if immunizations were free and available to everyone, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. The nationwide survey finds that a majority of people of all political affiliations are interested in receiving such a vaccine, but the extent of that interest varies along partisan lines.
  • Experts are pushing back on recent reports claiming that the coronavirus is becoming less lethal, although many infectious-disease specialists say the virus will eventually mutate in ways that make it less deadly to humans.
  • In an interview Tuesday evening, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about Modern’a vaccine candidate. However, he is unsure of the durability of its protection.
  • The pandemic will haunt the U.S. economy for the next decade, costing nearly $8 trillion by 2030, according to a report released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office.
  • As Mexico City hits what officials say is the peak of its outbreak, it’s facing an onslaught of cases with an understaffed and undersupplied hospital system. There is concern the country’s death toll is far higher than the official figures.
  • Iran reported nearly 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the highest daily rise in two months, as the country’s health minister warned that Iranians are facing another wave.

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June 2, 2020 at 11:23 PM EDT

The strange new quiet in New York emergency rooms

When you walk into the emergency room now, there is silence.

It’s not just fewer patients. Fewer monitors. Fewer dying. There is an actual emptiness.

The space seems the same. So do the colleagues you see. And all the patients look like they did before this pandemic upended our lives.

But there’s an unshakable unease. Something isn’t right. Something is missing. We don’t talk about it much. Maybe we are all trying to forget?

There’s Plexiglas up now to keep us protected. We wander around in masks, goggles and gowns.

Even if the patients look the same, though, they aren’t. So many still sick, struggling with the long-term complications of covid-19.

And even if the people look the same, they aren’t. Because some of our colleagues and friends are missing. It’s only when the tidal wave recedes that we can get close enough to assess the damage

In the past few weeks, many colleagues around the city have tested positive for antibodies to the novel coronavirus. This means they had been infected, almost certainly on the covid-19 front lines. Many didn’t experience any symptoms. They were lucky.

Read more here.

By Craig Spencer
June 2, 2020 at 10:37 PM EDT

Canada’s Nunavut: A vast territory with few people — and no coronavirus

Michael Patterson was concerned — and then stumped.

A resident of Pond Inlet, a hamlet of about 1,600 people in the vast, mostly empty Arctic Canadian territory of Nunavut, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The individual hadn’t been outside the territory, which had sealed itself off to most outsiders and enacted strict travel restrictions for residents.

Within 24 hours, contact tracers isolated 20 people in the mostly Inuit community on the northeastern tip of Baffin Island who might have been exposed to the infected resident. Thirteen were swabbed for the virus. They tested negative.

“We were a little bit confused,” said Patterson, Nunavut’s top doctor. So he had the original swab retested. This time, it was negative.

The territory announced the false positive, the population of 39,000 scattered across an area slightly larger than Mexico breathed a sigh of relief, and Patterson revised the total number of confirmed covid-19 cases back down.

Read more here.

By Amanda Coletta
June 2, 2020 at 9:52 PM EDT

Amazon to offer subsidized family care to employees through Oct. 2

Amazon, which employs 650,000 full- and part-time workers in the United States, announced that it will provide funded emergency child-care or adult-care benefits for up to 10 days beginning Tuesday until Oct. 2. The company said it will cover more than 90 percent of the cost of services provided through Care.com.

The announcement comes as the company has faced increasing criticism from its own. In April, small groups of Amazon warehouse workers began protesting outside facilities to decry unsafe working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. At least eight warehouse employees have died of complications of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to reports.

Before the pandemic, a group of working mothers at Amazon started a campaign urging the company to provide relief for parents who have to take time off from work because of emergency sicknesses and school closures.

“With the closure of schools and summer camps, and the loss of some childcare and adult care options, we know it’s challenging to balance home and work,” Amazon’s statement read. “We listened to feedback from employees across the company, and they told us that helping them access affordable quality childcare was a top priority for families during this time.”

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.

By Candace Buckner
June 2, 2020 at 9:13 PM EDT

GOP looks beyond North Carolina for convention as relations deteriorate with state leaders

The Republican Party announced Tuesday that it is looking to shift the bulk of its nominating convention away from North Carolina, after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper refused to heed a party demand that he preauthorize an August gathering of at least 19,000 people.

“We hope to still conduct the business of our convention in Charlotte, but we have an obligation to our delegates and nominee to begin visiting the multiple cities and states who have reached out in recent days about hosting an historic event to show that America is open for business,” Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement.

The announcement, nearly two years after Republicans began planning the event in Charlotte, marks a new nadir in the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the Republican Party leaders and Democratic officials in the state, who have maintained that the scale of any convention gathering would depend on the health status of the state, where coronavirus-related hospitalizations reached a peak in late May.

Read more here.

By Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey
June 2, 2020 at 8:35 PM EDT

Fauci ‘cautiously optimistic’ on coronavirus vaccine efficacy but unsure of the durability of its protection

As Moderna’s vaccine candidate for the novel coronavirus enters its second phase of clinical trials, with a third phase expected at the beginning of July, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, shared muted optimism about forthcoming results. Fauci warned that a potential vaccine’s efficacy may not last long.

During a live-streamed interview Tuesday evening, Fauci joined Journal of the American Medical Association editor Howard Bauchner and provided an update on the progress of Moderna, the biotechnology company leading the race to find a vaccine. Beginning next month, Moderna will enter Phase 3 of trials with 30,000 individuals participating in a randomized placebo-control trial. Participants of the trial will consist largely of the 18-to-55 age group, as well as some elderly participants and individuals with underlying conditions. The trial will take place on national and international sites.

At least four other studies, including one from Europe-based AstraZeneca, will start around the end of summer.

When asked about his confidence in the acceleration of vaccine development for this pandemic, Fauci said he was “cautiously optimistic” that one should show a degree of effectiveness. Still, its duration remains in question.

When an individual recovers from one of the several benign coronaviruses that cause the common cold, protection has been measured to last a year or less. The novel coronavirus, which causes the disease covid-19, could have similar effects.

“There’s never a guarantee ever that you’re going to get an effective vaccine,” Fauci said. “I’m concerned a little bit more about … the durability of response than I am about whether you’re going to get a protected response.”

By Candace Buckner
June 2, 2020 at 8:02 PM EDT

Tyson Foods announces 591 employees at Storm Lake plant in Iowa test positive for coronavirus

Tyson Foods released the results of a facility-wide testing for the novel coronavirus at its pork facility in Storm Lake, Iowa, on Tuesday, stating that 591 employees tested positive and most were asymptomatic.

Limited production at the plant will resume June 3, following a temporary halt after an outbreak last month. All 2,303 employees were tested. More than 75 percent of those who tested positive did not show any symptoms and otherwise would have not been identified.

According to the Tyson Foods statement, employees who test positive for the coronavirus will receive paid leave. Additionally, as of Tuesday, 186 employees who previously tested positive have now returned to work.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, and we continue to take strong action to ensure they feel protected in their community and when they come to work,” said Tom Brower, senior vice president of health and safety for Tyson Foods.

The number of Tyson employees with the coronavirus exploded from less than 1,600 a month ago to more than 7,000 as of May 25, according to a Washington Post analysis of news reports and public records. Only a portion of the labor force has gone back to work.

The Storm Lake facility is among more than 40 production facilities in the country where Tyson is rolling out advanced testing capabilities and enhanced care options on-site to employees.

By Samantha Pell
June 2, 2020 at 7:13 PM EDT

Mexico’s hospitals strain to treat coronavirus as officials say cases are peaking

MEXICO CITY — Mexico hasn’t imposed a curfew or used police to keep people home. It’s not attempting mass testing for the novel coronavirus.

Early on, Mexican officials were optimistic their strategy was working — and by some measures, it appeared to be. Mexico City recorded its first coronavirus case a day before similarly sized New York City. While New York has suffered more than 16,000 confirmed deaths, Mexico’s capital has reported about 3,000.

But now, as Mexico City hits what officials say is the peak of its outbreak, it’s facing an onslaught of cases with an understaffed and undersupplied hospital system. There is concern that the country’s death toll is far higher than the official figures.

The government originally projected 6,000 to 15,000 deaths nationwide, with a small chance they could rise to double that upper limit. By Monday, authorities had confirmed 10,167 deaths. Hugo López-Gatell, the country’s lead epidemiologist during the pandemic, has acknowledged that the catastrophic scenario of 30,000 fatalities is no longer remote.

“We hope there aren’t that many deaths,” he told senators last week. But he noted that Mexico is afflicted by high rates of obesity, diabetes and other conditions. “These chronic illnesses have a stunning effect on the death toll.”

Mexico’s government maintains that it is trying to balance public health concerns and the economic needs of the large low-income population. Critics say authorities failed to communicate the gravity of the challenge early on, and took a huge risk in not testing more of the population. Many worry whether the fragile health-care system can hold up.

Read more here.

By Mary Beth Sheridan
June 2, 2020 at 6:30 PM EDT

College Board suspends plan for at-home SAT, urges colleges not to punish applicants who can’t submit scores

The College Board is halting plans to offer the SAT admissions test at home in coming months and is urging schools not to punish students who do not submit scores, further demonstrating how the coronavirus crisis has upended college admissions.

In backing away from at-home exams, the testing organization cited concerns that many students would not have access at home to the three hours of reliable Internet service that would be required to complete the multiple-choice exam.

The decision came after the College Board faced significant criticism in recent weeks from students who took its online Advanced Placement exams but were unable, because of technical glitches, to submit their answers through cellphones or computers. The online AP tests, shortened this spring to 45 minutes each, were offered after the coronavirus pandemic closed high schools across the country.

Read more here.

By Nick Anderson
June 2, 2020 at 5:56 PM EDT

Senate confirms new inspector general for coronavirus relief funds

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Brian Miller as the new Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, a position that will give him oversight of a $500 billion Treasury lending fund for the novel coronavirus.

The vote was 51 to 40, largely along party lines.

The new inspector general job was created in the Cares Act that Congress passed in March, as was the Treasury Department fund that Miller will oversee. Some Democrats, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), have criticized the $500 billion pot of money as a “slush fund” because the treasury secretary has wide discretion over its use, making oversight all the more important, Democrats say. The fund, which has lent little money so far, is being structured into a range of lending facilities for small and midsize businesses, corporations, municipalities and others.

Miller is coming from a job as a senior attorney in the Office of White House Counsel, a role that involved him in defending President Trump during the impeachment proceedings this year. That led Democrats to question whether Miller would be truly independent of the administration he will oversee, especially given Trump’s pattern of ousting inspectors general who produce findings he does not like.

Miller insisted during a confirmation hearing last month that he would operate independently, though he refused to weigh in on the president’s retaliatory actions against other inspectors general.

Miller previously served for about a decade as inspector general at the General Services Administration, where he was credited with pursuing corruption inside an agency with a budget of more than $20 billion that oversees thousands of federal properties.

By Erica Werner
June 2, 2020 at 5:34 PM EDT

Mississippi reports one of its highest single-day death totals amid reopening

As Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) lifts all restrictions on businesses, coronavirus cases within the state continue to climb.

On Monday night, the state health department reported 268 new cases and 28 additional deaths, although 10 were confirmed as related to covid-19 between May 6 through May 27 as identified on death certificates. The June 1 recorded death total was the highest in the state since early May when the count surpassed 30. Overall, Mississippi has had 16,020 confirmed and probable cases and 767 deaths.

While previous research has suggested warm climate may slow the spread of the virus, in Mississippi, with temperatures in the high 80s this week, that has not been the case.

“It’s not slowing down so far,” said Thomas Dobbs, the state’s top health official, according to the Sun Herald. “I would not anticipate significant help from the summer weather, but I would anticipate a significant worsening in fall and winter as it gets a little bit cooler.”

Despite the upward trend, Reeves allowed all businesses, including entertainment venues, to reopen on Monday. Also, as part of the “Safe Return” plan, schools can open for summer programs and up to 50 people can gather for indoor activities if they follow social distancing protocols.

“While we reopen our economy and get people back to work, this fight is not over,” Reeves tweeted. “We must all continue to do our part to combat #COVID19.”

By Candace Buckner
June 2, 2020 at 5:00 PM EDT

Wall Street rallies; S&P 500 now 40 percent above March lows

U.S. stocks Tuesday stood 40 percent above their March lows as investors emphasized a reawakened economy over civil unrest and China tensions.

The Dow Jones industrial average turned in a healthy 267-point, or 1 percent, gain to settle at 25,742.65. The broad Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index finished at 3,080.82, an 0.8 percent advance. The Nasdaq composite index jumped 0.6 percent to close at 9,608.38.

The S&P is 40 percent above its March 23 bottom but is still down 4.6 percent this year. All 11 S&P sectors registered gains Tuesday, led by energy, industrials and materials. Those sectors are highly sensitive to economic cycles and reflect investor sentiment that all boats will be lifted as the U.S. economy is revived. Dow and energy giants Chevron and ExxonMobil helped pace the blue chips as oil prices continue to rise.

Major European and Asian markets were up across the board. Oil prices rose as Russia and Saudi Arabia close in on a deal to extend their agreement on production cuts.

Despite widespread civil unrest following the death of a black man in police custody last week in Minneapolis, U.S. markets have notched steady gains.

“The U.S. riots, disturbing as they are, are also being discounted in the greater economic picture,” Jeffrey Halley, an analyst with OANDA, wrote in commentary Tuesday. “Rightly so, without sounding insensitive, as they are unlikely to derail the expected U.S. rebound. Whether the lack of social distancing by protesters, police and soldiers comes back to bite them, is a story for another day.”

Since the recent, March 23 market low, the Wilshire 5000 index is up 39.63 percent or approximately $9.3 trillion. The index is a measure of all U.S. publicly traded stocks.

By Thomas Heath
June 2, 2020 at 4:52 PM EDT

USDA announces first confirmed U.S. case of a dog testing positive for coronavirus

The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories announced the first confirmed case of a dog in the U.S. testing positive for the novel coronavirus. The pet dog was a German shepherd in New York State.

The USDA’s statement Tuesday said samples from the dog were taken after it showed signs of respiratory illness, and the dog is expected to make a full recovery. One of the dog’s owners had tested positive for the coronavirus and the other had developed symptoms. Antibodies were identified in the second dog in the household, suggesting exposure.

“We are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 in animals, but there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus,” the USDA statement said. “Based on the limited information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low. There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare."

The USDA also stated routine testing of animals is not recommended.

Other animals that have tested positive for coronavirus in the United States include two cats, a lion and a tiger — all in New York.

By Samantha Pell
June 2, 2020 at 4:20 PM EDT

In the rush to bring students to campus, professors ask: What about us?

Colleges and universities across the country have faced heavy financial losses this spring, with drops in revenue and a barrage of new costs related to the coronavirus pandemic. Now many are scrambling to reassure students and their parents that campuses can reopen safely in the fall. Some university presidents have even argued in recent op-eds that not opening would be a moral failing or a breach of responsibility.

But the turmoil has worried many faculty members — for what it might mean for their jobs, for their own health and for the public’s.“

They want to assure students, ‘We’ve got you covered, in case things go wrong,’” said Matthew Dean Hindman, an associate professor of political science at the University of Tulsa,. But, he said, “it almost feels like the faculty are an afterthought.”

Read more here.

By Susan Svrluga and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel
June 2, 2020 at 3:08 PM EDT

Study finds 3 out of 4 coronavirus patients hospitalized in New Orleans were black

Three out of 4 patients hospitalized in New Orleans’s largest medical system have been black, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings echo a growing body of research documenting the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the health and economy of African Americans and other minority and marginalized communities in the United States.

Researchers found that 77 percent of people hospitalized at Ochsner Health System hospitals in Louisiana with covid-19 and nearly 71 percent who died of it were black. The study considered 3,500 people who tested positive with the virus at one of the facilities between March 1 and April 11. On average, 31 percent of Ochsner’s patients are black, according to the study.

A different recent report by the Louisiana Department of Health found that while black people make up 33 percent of the state’s population, they accounted for 54 percent of covid-19 related deaths.

The NEJM study also found that being black “was not associated with higher in-hospital mortality than white race, after adjustment for differences in socio-demographic and clinical characteristics on admission.” Instead, the authors said, the causes are likely “multifactorial,” including “underlying racial differences in the types of jobs that may have an increased risk of community exposure,” as well as “differences in the prevalence of chronic conditions that appear to increase the risk of severe illness.”

As the local website nola.com reported, black Louisianans, especially those in New Orleans, are more likely to work in service jobs or other employment deemed essential during the pandemic, which left the community more exposed to the virus. Many also work in tourism and could have been exposed at higher rates in January and February, before European travel was cut off, according to nola.com.

In addition, as The Washington Post reported, “Communities of color may be more likely to live in densely populated areas in cities because of the history of racial segregation in the United States. And black and Latinx Americans are also two to three times more likely than white Americans to be uninsured, according to a report on covid-19 and race from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].”

By Miriam Berger
June 2, 2020 at 2:06 PM EDT

Black and Asian people in England more likely to die of coronavirus, report finds

LONDON — Black and Asian people in England are more likely to die of covid-19 than whites, according to an investigation, prompting calls for the government to outline firm policy recommendations to reduce the disparities.

In a highly anticipated report, published Tuesday by Public Health England, authorities investigated how factors including ethnicity, gender and occupation could affect people’s risk to covid-19. The investigation found people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had twice the risk of death as those of white ethnicity. The report also found those from Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Caribbean and black ethnicities were up to 50 percent more vulnerable to covid-19. At the daily Downing Street news briefing, Matt Hancock, Britain’s health secretary, was repeatedly grilled on why there were no recommendations alongside the analysis in the report.

“I get that yearning, we will put action in place as soon as we can,” said Hancock, who also praised the work that ethnic minority staff play in the health service — nearly all of the doctors who have died of the virus in Britain have been ethnic minorities.

The single biggest disparity in the death rates involved age: Those age 80 and older were 70 times as likely to die as those who were under age 40. The death rate was also higher in deprived areas, and it was higher in men than women. The government denied delaying the report.

Earlier on Tuesday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan retweeted a story from Sky News that claimed the report was being held up because of the “situation in America” and concerns that its findings could potentially spark unrest. Khan wrote that ethnic minorities “know we’re being disproportionately affected by #COVID19” and urged the government to publish the report “now.”

Read more here.

By Karla Adam
June 2, 2020 at 1:36 PM EDT

With no overarching coronavirus guidance, a Dallas family struggles with how much risk to take

Marisela Martinez, a 68-year-old cancer survivor, has barely left the house for months, terrified that she will contract the coronavirus. She agreed to help her daughter with child care after schools closed but is scared to see her grandchildren.

Her daughter Veronica Olivo needs the help. The 42-year-old works long hours at a grocery store and yearns for time alone. Her children, who are 7 and 9, are struggling with being cooped up and miss their friends. Olivo knows she has to be careful, but her mother’s worries gnaw at her. Fear, Olivo thinks, is a poor excuse to stop living life to its fullest.

In the absence of overarching national guidance, Martinez, her daughters and millions of others are grappling with their own calculations on how to live with the coronavirus. Faced with conflicting advice from federal, state and local authorities as stay-at-home orders end and the U.S. death toll passes 100,000, Americans must now decide individually which risks are acceptable or reckless as the virus persists, businesses open and people crave human interaction.

“I am absolutely confused,” said Carlee Gonzales, the youngest of Martinez’s three daughters. “We are getting so many mixed signals.”

Read more here.

By Arelis Hernández
June 2, 2020 at 1:17 PM EDT

At least 86 crew members on American seafood trawler test positive for virus

At least 86 of 126 crew members on board an American Seafoods Co. trawler in Washington state have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days, as concerns mount over infections in food industry workers. The vessel was locked down over the weekend in a Seattle port.

In a statement Sunday announcing the test results, the company said that “100% of crew members were screened and tested for COVID-19 antibodies and viral infection before they boarded the vessel” and that only those with negative results were allowed to board.

The Seattle Times reported that the virus was detected on the ship when a symptomatic crew member was hospitalized last week, prompting the mass retesting. The newspaper also reported that crew members who tested positive for the virus were taken to shore for observation or treatment.

Outbreaks in other U.S. food industries, particularly meat-processing plants, have surged in recent weeks. As of late May, at least 11,000 cases were linked to just three companies: Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS.

By Siobhán O'Grady
June 2, 2020 at 12:48 PM EDT

Minnesota health officials recommend protesters get tested for covid-19

As thousands of residents protesting Minneapolis police’s killing of George Floyd last week pack the streets of the Twin Cities and other parts of the state, health officials are telling those who venture out to get tested for covid-19.

“Concentrated gatherings and loud talking, singing, yelling, you know, all of those loud vocal expressions, exacerbate the risk of spread,” Jan Malcolm, Minnesota’s state health commissioner, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on Tuesday. Malcolm said the spread is somewhat “mitigated … by the fact that this is outdoors.”

A surge in infections is not a given, but the number of cases is unlikely to drop in light of the mass gatherings.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 310 new cases and 22 deaths from the previous day, though the reported totals were probably affected by the closure of testing clinics and health labs as protests escalated late last week.

On Friday, Malcolm acknowledged many residents would be gathering to protest but asked people to continue to take measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“This includes wearing masks when in public and maintaining social distancing as much as possible,” she said in a statement on Friday. She reminded residents that the Twin Cities remains a hot spot for the state’s outbreak.

Malcolm flagged the particular concern about people coming to the Twin Cities area from all over Minnesota and outside the state being unaware of the metro areas’ infection rate and noted the disproportionate impact of covid-19 on nonwhite Minnesotans.

By Kim Bellware
June 2, 2020 at 12:12 PM EDT

Over 11,000 refugees in Greece at risk of homelessness in coronavirus-related relocations

More than 11,200 registered refugees in mainland Greece are at risk of losing their temporary homes, after Greek authorities gave Monday as the deadline for them to vacate to make room for other asylum seekers from the Greek islands’ overcrowded refugee camps.

Greek authorities said those being moved out have the right to apply for Greek tax and social insurance numbers, enabling them to find employment and fund their own housing. Refugees used to receive public accommodation for six months after being granted protected status, but the government reduced it to one month in March.

However, refugee rights activists say that in practice, major language and bureaucratic hurdles make it nearly impossible for most refugees to apply for support, while the country’s deep economic crisis further restricts employment opportunities, Agence France-Presse reported. Some Greek landlords, moreover, often refuse to rent to refugees.

“UNHCR is seriously concerned about thousands of recognized refugees expected to leave Greece’s reception system from the end of May,” Boris Cheshirkov, spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency in Greece, told AFP. “Recognized refugees are expected to leave assistance, but they do not have effective access to social benefits and support.”

More than 32,000 asylum seekers live in overcrowded camps on the Greek islands. Refugee advocates have been calling on Greek authorities to close the camps, which were built to accommodate just a few thousand, as the dense and unsanitary conditions are perfect fodder for a coronavirus outbreak.

Greece has been relatively successful in containing its coronavirus outbreak compared with its European neighbors. It is preparing to reopen the country to international tourism from certain countries June 15. The standoff with refugees, however, underscores the multilayered effects the pandemic continues to have, hurting the most vulnerable in society even as pressure mounts to return to pre-virus social and economic ways of life.

By Miriam Berger
June 2, 2020 at 11:49 AM EDT

7 in 10 Americans would be likely to get a coronavirus vaccine, Post-ABC poll finds

About 7 in 10 Americans say they would get a vaccine to protect against the novel coronavirus if immunizations were free and available to everyone, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The nationwide survey finds that a majority of people of all political affiliations are interested in receiving such a vaccine. But the extent of that interest varies along partisan lines, with slightly more than 8 in 10 Democrats saying they would definitely or probably get vaccinated, compared with slightly fewer than 6 in 10 Republicans. Independents fall in between.

The Post-ABC poll also shows that Americans’ eagerness to get vaccinated is heavily tied to the depth of their fear of being infected with the potentially lethal virus. Overall, 63 percent say they are very or somewhat worried that they or a member of their immediate family might catch the virus that causes covid-19, while 35 percent say they are less worried. But among those who are worried, 81 percent say they are likely to get vaccinated, compared with 52 percent of those who are not as worried.

Read more here.

By Amy Goldstein and Scott Clement
June 2, 2020 at 11:18 AM EDT

Iran warns of another ‘dangerous peak’ over a month after easing lockdown

Iran reported nearly 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the highest daily rise in two months, as the country’s health minister warned that Iranians are facing another wave.

“The outbreak is not over yet, and at any moment it may come back stronger than before,” Health Minister Saeed Namaki said in a televised news conference, Reuters reported. “If our people fail to respect the health protocols … we must prepare ourselves for the worst situation.”

Iran was one of the countries worst-hit by the virus in the region, even amid allegations that the government was covering up the true extent of infections and deaths. Nonetheless, as official fatalities began to drop in April, authorities began easing lockdown measures. The country hit a near-two-month low in deaths on May 2, Agence France-Presse reported.

Now, over a month later, cases are surging again. Iranian authorities have attributed the increase in part to the government’s accelerated testing efforts.

But Namaki also criticized Iranians who have not been maintaining social distancing and other virus-related measures.

“There is still a long way ahead of us in our fight against this virus,” he said. “All the health protocols should be respected.”

He cited the provinces of Sistan and Baluchistan, Kermanshah and Hormozgan as areas with quickly increasing infection rates.

From Asia to Europe, countries have struggled in recent weeks to contain new virus flare-ups as they have lifted restrictions on movement and economic activities.

By Miriam Berger
June 2, 2020 at 11:12 AM EDT

Distance, masks and eye protection are highly effective in limiting spread of virus, review finds

A new review of coronavirus transmission studies funded by the World Health Organization determined that physical distancing and face coverings, including tightfitting masks and goggles, are effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

The review, published Monday in the Lancet medical journal, was based on evidence gathered in a wide array of studies focused on the transmission of coronaviruses that cause covid-19, SARS and MERS. People who maintained a distance of at least one meter, about three feet, from one another in “health-care and community settings” dramatically reduced their risk of contraction, and that protection increased if more distance was maintained, the review found.

“The risk for infection is highly dependent on distance to the individual infected and the type of face mask and eye protection worn,” the report said. “From a policy and public health perspective, current policies of at least [one meter] physical distancing seem to be strongly associated with a large protective effect, and distances of [two meters] could be more effective.”

The researchers also found that respirators are more effective than surgical masks but that surgical masks offer more protection than single-layer masks. Eye coverings “might also add substantial protection,” the researchers found. The report noted that more research is still needed, particularly on covid-19, but that the findings can inform official guidelines on protective gear, which remain inconsistent.

By Siobhán O'Grady
June 2, 2020 at 10:45 AM EDT

Dow jumps as investors keep focus on economy, not civil unrest

U.S. stocks climbed Tuesday as investors looked past widespread protests to focus on the economy’s gradual emergence from coronavirus restrictions. The Dow Jones industrial average opened up more than 100 points.

More than 40 U.S. cities have enacted curfews in the wake of demonstrations that broke out after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in police custody last week in Minneapolis. President Trump has urged governors to take an aggressive stand and threatened to deploy the military to quash protests.

Despite the unrest, U.S. markets have notched steady gains over the past week, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbing in five of the past six trading sessions. The broad index added 0.3 percent at the opening bell. The Dow jumped 0.5 percent, or 130 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite was nearly flat.

“The U.S. riots, disturbing as they are, are also being discounted in the greater economic picture,” Jeffrey Halley, an analyst with OANDA, wrote in a commentary Tuesday. “Rightly so, without sounding insensitive, as they are unlikely to derail the expected U.S. rebound. Whether the lack of social distancing by protesters, police and soldiers comes back to bite them, is a story for another day.”

Although investors have found reasons for optimism, the path to economic recovery will be much longer than most had hoped, according to a report Monday. The Congressional Budget Office projects the pandemic will shrink the U.S. economy by roughly $8 trillion over the next decade due to reduced consumer spending and business closures.

Oil markets climbed on reports that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was poised for another round of production cuts to guard against a global oil glut. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 2.1 percent to $39.14 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, climbed 1.6 percent to $39.12 a barrel.

By Taylor Telford
June 2, 2020 at 10:03 AM EDT

After mass testing in Wuhan, officials say they detected just 300 asymptomatic cases

Officials in the city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, found zero active coronavirus cases and only 300 asymptomatic ones after carrying out a mass testing initiative in recent weeks, Chinese media reported Tuesday.

Since mid-May, nearly 10 million people in the city of about 11 million were tested for the virus in a dramatic effort to weed out asymptomatic carriers and prevent a second wave of infections. The city, which reopened in April, spent about $126 million on the nucleic acid tests, which were examined in small batches to speed up the process.

Officials found asymptomatic carriers did not leave traces of the virus on items they touched, including doorknobs and elevator buttons, Reuters reported. The English-language edition of the Global Times, a Communist Party-controlled news outlet, said the results of the tests “served as an unquestionable milestone to China’s virus battle, and cemented the country’s phased victory over the horrifying virus.”

By Siobhán O'Grady
June 2, 2020 at 9:58 AM EDT

UAE capital shut down for coronavirus testing, creating traffic jam across the desert

DUBAI — The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, has been sealed off from the rest of the country for a week while intensive testing for the coronavirus is carried out, creating a miles-long traffic jam in the desert.

Aerial images show hundreds of cars stretching along four lanes of the desert highway connecting Abu Dhabi with neighboring Dubai. Entry and exit into the capital and its surroundings is only for workers in essential industries or those with medical emergencies carrying a permit that can be obtained online.

In contrast, beginning Wednesday, malls and businesses in Dubai, the UAE’s commercial hub, will be allowed to open at full capacity, authorities announced Tuesday.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the head of the Abu Dhabi Health Department, Abdulla al-Hamed, said the ban on movement was part of an intensive testing program being carried out in densely populated high-rises to root out asymptomatic individuals.

“To ensure the largest possible number of the emirate’s population are reached as quickly as possible, we had to ban the movement between cities and reduce contact as much as possible,” he said. A number of people tweeted, however, that they were unable to obtain permits through the online portal.

The ban was instituted even though restrictions have eased dramatically across the country, with beaches, malls and restaurants reopening under social distancing guidelines. Residents of Abu Dhabi can move around within the limits of the city as well; they just can’t leave.

On Tuesday, authorities reported another 596 cases of coronavirus in the Persian Gulf state, without specifying in which parts of the country they were from. The UAE has recorded a total of 35,192 cases but only 269 fatalities.

Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates making up the UAE and accounts for 90 percent of its land mass.

By Paul Schemm
June 2, 2020 at 9:50 AM EDT

First Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh dies of coronavirus

The first Rohingya refugee living in the dangerously dense and squalid camps around Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar died of coronavirus, a senior health official said Tuesday.

“He died on 31 May,” Toha Bhuiyan, a senior health official in the Cox’s Bazar district, told The Guardian. “But last night we got the confirmation that he died of Covid-19.”

The 71-year-old man passed away while in one of the isolation centers that the United Nations and aid agencies had set up to treat covid-19 patients. The facility is in Kutupalong, the largest of over three dozen camps, which houses around 600,000 people, Reuters reported.

There are at least 29 confirmed coronavirus cases among the about one million refugees. But experts warn that infections could already be far more widespread, while an outbreak could quickly spark in the crowded camps. The Rohingya Muslims fled from neighboring Myanmar, where they’ve been persecuted as an ethnic minority for decades amid an uptick in state-directed violence in recent years.

Last week, authorities put around 15,000 refugees on lockdown in an effort to contain rising cases. Many Rohingya, however, have very little information about the coronavirus. Bangladeshi authorities have kept Internet service cut off in the camps since September. Bangladesh has had over 52,440 confirmed cases and 709 deaths related to covid-19.

By Miriam Berger
June 2, 2020 at 9:09 AM EDT

The turbulent rise of Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan was already a presidential battleground. Now, it’s become central to the ongoing clash between public safety and individual freedom. Politics has infiltrated almost everything.

A year and a half after assuming office, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is a news magnet. She is one of three governors scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday on how states have handled the crisis. A day earlier, after Trump called governors “weak” for their handling of the protests after George Floyd’s death, she called his comments “dangerous.”

Before the coronavirus, besides those who saw her deliver the Democratic response to the State of the Union address, few people knew Whitmer’s name outside Michigan, where she spent 14 years in the legislature, every day of them in the minority. That changed in March. Whitmer attracted the president’s pique after criticizing the federal government’s pandemic response. Trump dubbed her “the woman from Michigan” and “Gretchen ‘Half’ Whitmer,” the sort of sobriquet he reserves for national rivals. Now, she is Governor Everywhere.

Read more here.

By Karen Heller
June 2, 2020 at 8:58 AM EDT

Mexico’s hospitals strain to treat coronavirus as officials say cases are peaking

MEXICO CITY — Every night at 7, Mexico tunes in to its coronavirus czar, a 51-year-old technocrat named Hugo López-Gatell. Confident and telegenic, he walks a fearful nation through the numbers: cases, deaths, hospital beds.

Early on, Mexican officials were optimistic that their strategy was working — and by some measures, it appeared to be. But now, as Mexico City hits what officials say is the peak of its outbreak, it is facing an onslaught of cases with an understaffed and undersupplied hospital system. There is concern that the country’s death toll is far higher than the official figures.

The government originally projected 6,000 to 15,000 deaths nationwide, with a small chance they could rise to double that upper limit. By Monday, authorities had confirmed 10,167 deaths. López-Gatell has acknowledged a catastrophic scenario of 30,000 fatalities is no longer remote.

Read more here.

By Mary Beth Sheridan
June 2, 2020 at 8:26 AM EDT

Amid reopening, Singapore plans new housing for 60,000 migrant workers

As Singapore took tentative steps to lift lockdown measures Tuesday, with some businesses opening their doors and some students back in the classroom, the country saw its first death among a migrant worker: a 51-year-old Chinese national, who was the 24th person confirmed to have died of covid-19 in Singapore since March.

Singapore has confirmed more than 35,000 cases in a population of less than 6 million, a toll driven higher by outbreaks in crowded migrant-worker dormitories. The government pledged Tuesday to create less-dense housing for some 60,000 migrant workers before the end of the year, with more changes to come after that, in an effort to drive down the risk of infection, Reuters reported Tuesday.

“The changes will be necessary to better protect the workers from widespread transmission, and to strengthen the resilience of the dormitories against pandemic risks,” Josephine Teo, the county’s manpower minister, told the South China Morning Post.

Singapore has come under criticism for its treatment of migrants workers, who often face unequal conditions, advocates say. At any given time, the country is a temporary home to more than 300,000 foreign workers who live in dormitories, frequently with small, shared rooms holding 12 to 20 inhabitants.

“[L]ow-wage migrant workers are the hidden backbone of our society,” Transient Workers Count Too, an advocacy group, wrote on its website.

By Benjamin Soloway
June 2, 2020 at 8:01 AM EDT

British Vogue celebrates front-line workers in its July issue

LONDON — Shopkeepers, nurses, cleaners, caregivers and transport workers are just some of the people featured in the July edition of British Vogue as part of a 20-page portfolio that celebrates “courage in the face of adversity.”

Selecting three of those key workers to feature on its front cover, the fashion magazine said its July issue was dedicated to the new front line for what it called a “moment of thanks” amid the global health crisis that has claimed more than 39,000 lives in the United Kingdom.

Photographer Jamie Hawkesworth spent 10 days capturing images of the workers from an “appropriate social distance,” a compilation of photos that many on social media have hailed as powerful.

The three different front covers of the issue feature train driver Narguis Horsford, midwife Rachel Millar and supermarket assistant Anisa Omar — three women who helped keep the country running as lockdown measures took effect, followed by widespread fear and uncertainty across the country.

“We have to be here, regardless of what’s happening in the world. It’s more than just a job now,” Omar told the magazine.

“I am no hero, but I’m proud of being a train driver and the essential role we are playing during the coronavirus crisis,” Horsford said as she was photographed in her Transport for London uniform. Edward Enninful, editor in chief of British Vogue, wrote that he could think of a “no more appropriate trio of women” to represent the British people who stepped up in the face of danger to help others.

By Jennifer Hassan
June 2, 2020 at 7:48 AM EDT

France’s restaurants reopen amid grim economic forecast

PARIS — Paris cafes and restaurants partially reopened Tuesday in the second stage of France’s “deconfinement” from the country’s strict coronavirus lockdown.

In the French capital, however, the reopening — after nearly three months of closures — of the restaurants and watering holes beloved by locals and tourists alike came with several caveats that could change the dining experience, at least for the time being.

First and foremost, Paris restaurants and cafes can only welcome diners and drinkers outside, on terraces they either already have or will claim from the sidewalk. To slow the potential further spread of the novel coronavirus, no dining establishment in the city is currently allowed to serve customers indoors.

Restaurant proprietors are also required to impose social distancing measures by installing at least one meter between tables, which marks a departure from the typical Parisian cafe terrace, bursting with people in proximity late into the night. Group sizes are also capped at 10 per table.

Servers and staff are likewise required to wear masks, and customers are required to wear them as they enter and move throughout restaurants.

In most of France, cafes and restaurants open fully on Tuesday; Paris is distinct because it has still tracked a comparatively high number of coronavirus cases, and authorities there have slowed the path to full deconfinement.

Still, the reopening was a collective relief for France’s famed food and beverage industry. But the coronavirus lockdown is still likely to have disastrous effects on the country’s economy for the rest of the year.

On Tuesday, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio that the French economy would likely shrink by 11 percent in 2020 as a result of the shutdown.

By James McAuley
June 2, 2020 at 7:29 AM EDT

Coronavirus pandemic could worsen the world’s antimicrobial resistance problem, WHO warns

The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned Monday that the coronavirus pandemic could worsen the world’s antimicrobial resistance problem.

Tedros cited bacterial resistance as one potential negative side effect of covid-19, following warnings from the WHO and other organizations that disrupted vaccination campaigns and coronavirus shutdown-related food shortages could put millions at greater risk in the coming years.

“The covid-19 pandemic has led to an increased use of antibiotics, which ultimately will lead to higher bacterial resistance rates that will impact the burden of disease and deaths during the pandemic and beyond,” Tedros said Monday, according to a transcript. He added that antimicrobial resistance remains “one of the most urgent challenges of our time."

In its most recent guidance for the treatment of co-infections in covid-19 patients, the WHO cautions “against the use of antibiotic therapy or prophylaxis” in “suspected or confirmed mild COVID-19” cases.

Patients suffering from a suspected or confirmed moderate form of the disease should not be prescribed antibiotics “unless there is clinical suspicion of a bacterial infection,” the WHO said.

By Rick Noack
June 2, 2020 at 7:09 AM EDT

Americans are delaying medical care, and it’s devastating health-care providers

As coronavirus infections spread and sickened more people in March, visits to hospitals around the country actually began to drop off.

By April, according to a Washington Post analysis of smartphone location data, that drop had turned into a crash.

As in many other industries, those lost visits represented a widespread financial crisis for hospitals and other health-care providers, even in places the novel coronavirus hardly touched.

Read more here.

By Ted Mellnik, Laris Karklis and Andrew Ba Tran
June 2, 2020 at 6:45 AM EDT

Spain creates more jobs than it loses for the first time since March lockdown

Spain’s job market showed an uptick in May, with the creation of new jobs outpacing unemployment growth for the first time since the country implemented one of Europe’s strictest nationwide lockdowns because of the novel coronavirus.

Following the easing of confinement restrictions in parts of Spain at the end of last month, 97,462 net jobs were created. A total of 26,573 newly unemployed were registered in May — up less than 1 percent from the previous month.

Some 3.9 million people were out of work in May, not including those furloughed at the beginning of the confinement two and a half months ago. Spain provided unemployment benefits to nearly 6 million people, for a total amount of $5.7 billion, including furloughed workers.

Agriculture, construction and services that were partly able to reactivate in May posted the most growth.

By Pamela Rolfe
June 2, 2020 at 6:24 AM EDT

Stuck abroad and without jobs, students face financial hardship from crisis impact

Students around the world are impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, as some remain stuck abroad with funds running low and others have lost jobs they depended on to pay tuition fees or accommodation costs.

Thousands of international students have applied for a food voucher program in the Australian city of Melbourne, with 17 times more people than anticipated seeking help.

International students have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia, told SBS.

“For these students to get support, there’s a patchwork quilt of options, and it can be incredibly difficult to navigate,” Honeywood said.

“What we find is that for many of these young people — who might not be speaking English as a first language — it’s incredibly difficult for them to navigate programs that would leave even an Australian student confused,” SBS quoted Honeywood as saying.

Students in other countries have been similarly affected. In Germany, a survey by a recruiting company suggested this week that about 40 percent of all students have so far lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, even though the unemployment rate across all ages only slightly increased from 5.3 percent in January to 5.8 percent in April.

Many students work in bars, restaurants or other industries that were among the hardest-hit during the crisis.

Almost one-fourth of German students said they have had to borrow money over the past few months to cover living expenses.

By Rick Noack
June 2, 2020 at 6:07 AM EDT

British government denies delay in report on black and minority coronavirus deaths due to ‘global events’

LONDON — The release of a review investigating why black, Asian and minority ethnic groups have been hit disproportionately hard by the coronavirus in Britain has been delayed, forcing the prime minister’s office to deny reports it was holding back findings because of intensifying protests in the United States after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.

"It is not true to say this has been delayed due to global events,” a spokesman for the Department of Health told the BBC on Tuesday, adding that the report would be published this week.

Sky News reported on Tuesday that the report’s delay was a result of the "situation in America,” citing an unnamed Whitehall source. Commissioned by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the review from Public Health England was expected to be released by the end of May.

Last month, Britain’s Office of National Statistics found that black people were more than four times as likely to die of the virus as white people in England and Wales. People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin were more than three times as vulnerable as their white counterparts.

Nearly all the doctors who have died of covid-19 in Britain have been ethnic minorities, The Washington Post reported last month.

By Jennifer Hassan
June 2, 2020 at 5:39 AM EDT

North Korea to reopen schools, trade with China as coronavirus threat recedes

TOKYO — North Korea is reopening schools and restarting cross-border trade with China as it eases measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak, according to state media, independent news reports and people familiar with the situation, signaling confidence about its efforts to defeat the virus.

Universities and final-year high school students had already resumed classes in April, but all other schools, kindergartens, day-care centers and nursing homes will reopen early this month, state radio reported late Monday.

“Thermometers and hand sanitizers have been installed at the main gates, classrooms and offices, while teachers and helpers are thoroughly observing the hygiene rules and parents are advised to educate their children,” the Korean Central Broadcasting Committee said.

Read more here.

By Simon Denyer and Min Joo Kim
June 2, 2020 at 5:36 AM EDT

Hotels turned their lobbies into a social hub. Then came the coronavirus.

For Rachel Moniz, the ideal hotel lobby has come to look a certain busy, buzzy way: a popular bar full of guests and locals, maybe featuring a fashion show, art exhibition or live music.

“That’s exciting, that’s an experience, and that’s something that people want to be a part of,” said Moniz, executive vice president of HEI Hotels and Resorts, which operates 83 independent and branded hotels around the country.

“All that became important to us as a company,” she said. “Up until March. Then it was like, ‘Oh yikes, get all that out of there.’ It definitely changed things for us.”

The pandemic has kept most travelers home, slashing hotel occupancy to about 35 percent the weekend before Memorial Day — a recent high, according to hospitality research firm STR. And the crisis took a buzz saw to one of the hotel industry’s most pervasive trends in recent years: the lobby as social hub.

Read more here.

By Hannah Sampson
June 2, 2020 at 5:08 AM EDT

British lawmaker admits government’s widely mocked sex ban is ‘ridiculous’

LONDON — The British government altered its coronavirus rules on Monday, making it illegal for two or more people from different households to meet up indoors or spend the night in private with one another, sparking widespread mockery on social media.

Appearing on “Good Morning Britain” the next day, Conservative Party lawmaker Tobias Ellwood came under pressure from anchor Piers Morgan to admit his true feelings about the lockdown sex ban.

“I’m happy to say it’s ridiculous,” he said, adding he did not want to spend time talking about a story he had not had the chance to read up on.

Those caught spending the night in another household can be prosecuted and fined up to $125 if found to be breaking the rules. Couples who do not live together are, however, allowed to spend time together outside — although intercourse outdoors is also illegal in Britain.

On Tuesday morning, the hashtag #SexBan was trending in Britain, as many mocked the government for its attempt at keeping people apart to prevent transmission of the virus.

Simon Clarke, a junior housing minister, told LBC radio the new measures are designed to make sure “we don’t have people staying away from home at night.”

The amendment to the rules prompted many Britons to recall the recent scandal of Neil Ferguson, a key science adviser to the British government, who was caught breaking lockdown rules by allowing a woman described as his “married lover” to visit him at his home. He had been a driving force behind the government’s strict lockdown rules.

By Jennifer Hassan
June 2, 2020 at 4:35 AM EDT

‘Avatar 2’ crew flies to New Zealand to begin filming, despite travel restrictions

The crew of “Avatar 2” has arrived in New Zealand, despite a nationwide ban on overseas visitors.

Work on the “Avatar” sequel was underway when New Zealand came under a strict lockdown and closed its borders in mid-March to control the spread of the coronavirus. Last month, television and movie sets were cleared to resume production so long as they adhere to health and safety protocols. But restrictions on travel and immigration have remained in place even as the government has started to ease other limitations.

The 56 crew members working on “Avatar 2” were granted permission to travel from Los Angeles to New Zealand by the country’s economic development minister, Phil Twyford, the Guardian reported. They were categorized as “other essential workers,” a designation indicating that their job couldn’t be done by a resident of New Zealand and is “urgently needed at this time.”

Only about 10 percent of people asking to enter New Zealand as “other essential workers” are granted permission to do so, Twyford told the Guardian. Meanwhile, the borders remain closed to most foreign workers, including those who work in other key segments of the economy like the dairy industry.

Film production is a major economic driver for New Zealand, and big-budget productions like the Lord of the Rings film series have led to an increase in tourism. But the decision to make an exception for Hollywood producers has led to criticism. June Ranson, chair of the New Zealand Association for Migration & Investment, told Radio New Zealand that there seemed to be a “double standard” at work.

“Avatar 2” is believed to be the first major Hollywood movie to resume production amid the coronavirus pandemic. The film’s crew will spend 14 days in government-supervised isolation before filming can begin, producer Jon Landau wrote in a Sunday Instagram post.

By Antonia Farzan
June 2, 2020 at 4:14 AM EDT

Social distancing isn’t the solution for air travel, Emirates chief says

DUBAI — Social distancing with empty middle seats is not practical for airlines on an economic or environmental level and the air industry probably will not go back to normal until next year, said the president of Emirates, one of the world’s largest long-haul carriers.

Speaking at a webinar organized by the Arabian Travel Market on Monday, Tim Clark said he didn’t see the air travel business really picking up again for another six to nine months in 2021 and Emirates not completely returning to normal until 2024 at the latest.

Until it grounded much of its fleet in March, the airline was flying to 157 destinations in 83 countries.

Leaving middle seats open to practice social distancing on flights, however, is just not an option economically, he said, especially since sneezes from seats behind can travel 20 feet down a cabin. In addition to not being affordable to fly planes half empty, there are environmental considerations.

“On the environmental side, it makes absolutely no sense to fly empty aircraft or half-empty aircraft, because we’re all very conscious of this,” he said according to Arabian Business.

In India, airlines have been ordered to keep middle seats open, unless they’re occupied by a family member. Alternatively the person in the middle can also wear a “wraparound gown” for added protection.

Emirates is operating flights to a handful of destinations and presents passengers with face masks, hand sanitizer and gloves. The Dubai airport, once one of the world’s busiest, now has vending machines offering personal protection equipment.

Cook expressed hope that tourism, a key part of the economy, will return to the United Arab Emirates by next month. At present, only citizens are allowed into the country. Even residents have to get special permission to enter.

Dubai’s Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammad visited the airport Monday and said there were plans to revive the tourism sector.

By Paul Schemm
June 2, 2020 at 3:47 AM EDT

She came to U.S. legally and tried to do everything right. Then came the pandemic.

On her last legal day in the United States, Tatiana Angulo awoke before sunrise in her attic bedroom and listened for a few moments to the sounds of what her life had become. Her boyfriend, Pablo Ruiz, was still sleeping next to her. He would be up soon, telling her what she already knew, that when midnight came, “things are going to be different for you,” but for now, what she heard was the unsettling sound of someone coughing in one of the bedrooms downstairs, and more coughing from the closet next to her room, where a man had recently begun living because he had nowhere else to go.

In all, there were eight people in the little house, eight people crammed together because of the coronavirus, including the man in the closet, the man coughing downstairs in the bedroom he shared with his nephew, and a husband and wife and baby running a fever in another bedroom.

By Hannah Dreier
June 2, 2020 at 3:18 AM EDT

Your most pressing personal finance questions on the economic fallout of covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has turned people’s financial lives upside down. Millions are unemployed or have seen their income significantly reduced. Account balances in IRAs and 401(k)s and similar workplace retirement accounts have fallen.

The Washington Post personal finance columnist Michelle Singletary as well as other Post reporters and financial experts are here to answer your money-related pandemic questions.

Read more here.

By Michelle Singletary
June 2, 2020 at 2:48 AM EDT

Connecticut tribal casinos reopen despite objections from governor

Two of the most heavily visited casinos in the northeastern United States reopened on Monday, despite objections from Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D).

Foxwoods Resort Casino and rival Mohegan Sun welcomed back gamblers with temperature checks and plastic shields between slot machines, while poker tables and buffets remained off limits. Meanwhile, Connecticut’s Department of Transportation placed temporary signs near the casinos’ entrances warning, “Avoid Large Crowds, Don’t Gamble With COVID.”

Lamont had repeatedly asked the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns Foxwoods, and the Mohegan Tribe, which owns Mohegan Sun, to push back their reopening dates by two weeks or refrain from serving alcohol. In May, he described a June 1 reopening as “incredibly risky,” but acknowledged that he had little power over the tribes because of their sovereign status. He floated the notion of revoking the casinos’ liquor licenses, but ultimately backed down from that threat after meeting with representatives from both tribes.

With no other casinos in the Northeast open, officials worry that people will begin traveling long distances to bet at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. Mohegan Sun, located in Uncasville, Conn., has said that it will only market itself to gamblers from Connecticut and neighboring Rhode Island, and not hard-hit areas like Massachusetts and New York. But the casino’s president told the Hartford Courant that visitors who come from other states than Connecticut and Rhode Island won’t be turned away.

Mohegan Sun’s parent company has unsuccessfully attempted to borrow $100 million to cover losses sustained during the coronavirus pandemic, the Courant noted. Representatives for the casino denied that the push to reopen had anything to do with getting rejected for the loan, but acknowledged that reopening would help demonstrate confidence to investors.

By Antonia Farzan
June 2, 2020 at 2:28 AM EDT

While Philippines went under lockdown, online sexual exploitation of children spread

MANILA — Philippine authorities rescued 40 victims of online sexual exploitation over the course of the 2½ months of lockdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, police said Tuesday.

The Philippines is a global hotspot for cybersex trafficking, where the exploitation of children is live-streamed remotely. It is often a family-based crime and largely economically motivated, in a country where a fifth of the population is below the poverty line.

Millions of Filipinos were projected to have lost their jobs since a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus began in mid-March. The accessibility of the Internet and the continued operation of remittance payment centers under quarantine are also contributing factors.

Experts say that families involved in the crime do not necessarily view online exploitation as abuse. Many cases still go unreported because of community dynamics, as neighbors may indirectly benefit through gifts and loans.

In one case uncovered this week, payment for the online abuse of a child went as low as $8 — one of the cheapest rates authorities have seen, said Sheila Portento, who heads the anti-trafficking division of the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center.

Seven suspects were arrested over 12 operations, conducted jointly by police and National Bureau of Investigation agents. Most of the clients hail from the United States, Portento added.

Last week, a Philippine court sentenced an American, David Timothy Deakin, to life imprisonment for sexually exploiting Filipino children online.

Police said the 12 operations are not out of the ordinary, but authorities and experts agree that children face more risk under quarantine.

Authorities were also monitoring three Philippines-based Facebook pages engaged in child pornography. Portento said the pages have since been taken down, and a request to disclose the computer data for their origin is pending.

By Regine Cabato
June 2, 2020 at 1:56 AM EDT

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern criticizes protesters for flouting coronavirus restrictions

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday that Black Lives Matter protesters were wrong to flout coronavirus restrictions.

Thousands of New Zealanders gathered in major cities such as Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington on Monday to express solidarity with demonstrators rallying against police brutality in the United States. Though the protests remained peaceful, they violated New Zealand’s coronavirus restrictions, which cap gatherings at 100 people.

Ardern said during an appearance on the morning talk show “The AM Show” that while anyone could appreciate the protesters’ sentiments, “it was a breach of the rules.” When pressed, she acknowledged that the protests could lead to a cluster of new infections, undoing all the work that New Zealand’s government has done to control the spread of the virus in recent months.

New Zealand has not seen any new coronavirus cases for 11 consecutive days, health officials said Tuesday. No covid-19 patients are being treated in hospitals, and only one person in the entire nation is known to be recovering from the virus.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ardern told reporters that “it was not right” for protesters to break the rules when other New Zealanders had postponed major life events like weddings and funerals to comply with government regulations.

“New Zealanders have given up a lot,” she said. “I understand the sentiment but I cannot condone the breaking of the rules.”

Ardern’s cabinet will meet on June 8, two weeks earlier than originally planned, to decide whether the remaining restrictions to limit the spread of the virus can be lifted.

By Antonia Farzan
June 2, 2020 at 1:31 AM EDT

Major League Baseball’s proposal for severely shortened season is a step toward deal with union

The latest concept for the potential structure of the pandemic-delayed Major League Baseball season — a regular season of around 50 to 60 games with prorated salaries for players, an idea floated by MLB on Monday — by itself had little chance of ending the stalemate between MLB and its players’ union over the economics of a shortened season.

But that concept, combined with the union’s formal proposal of a 114-game season, delivered via videoconference Sunday, represented the most optimistic signs in weeks that the sport could find a way back to the field this summer.

Read more here.

By Dave Sheinin
June 2, 2020 at 1:09 AM EDT

Brett Giroir, Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar, will step down

Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration official tasked with overseeing coronavirus testing, announced on Monday that he will step down from his position later this month.

Giroir, who was tapped for the job in March, said a Monday meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS that he would be “demobilized” in the coming weeks and returning to his previous role as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS could not immediately be reached for comment early Tuesday, but a spokesperson confirmed the move to NPR and said that the agency does not plan to appoint a new testing czar. Giroir will “remain engaged” with testing and other related efforts, the statement said.

Giroir was chosen by the White House to address massive shortfalls in coronavirus testing, a role which brought scrutiny on his ouster from Texas A&M University in 2015. Under his watch, the number of coronavirus tests being performed each day increased dramatically. But some, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), criticized Giroir for appearing to echo administration talking points — in particular, making the misleading claim that the United States had done double the per capita testing of South Korea.

By Antonia Farzan
June 2, 2020 at 12:45 AM EDT

Belgian prince apologizes after flouting restrictions to attend party in Spain

A Belgian prince who tested positive for the novel coronavirus after violating lockdown restrictions to attend a party in Spain apologized on Monday.

“I would like to apologize for travelling and not having respected the quarantine measures,” Prince Joachim said in a statement, according to CNN.

El Pais newspaper reported Saturday that the 28-year-old, a nephew of Belgium’s King Philippe, violated Spain’s strict coronavirus restrictions by flying to Madrid and taking a train to Córdoba to attend a party with 26 other people. The party violated Spain’s ban on gatherings of more than 15 people, which could be enforced with a fine of up to $11,000.

“I did not intend to offend or disrespect anyone in these very difficult times and deeply regret my actions and accept the consequences,” the prince said in the statement.

Two days after the party, Prince Joachim tested positive for the coronavirus, BBC News reported.

By Katie Shepherd
June 2, 2020 at 12:18 AM EDT

Women’s soccer sets Challenge Cup schedule, marking first return of U.S. team sports

The National Women’s Soccer League on Monday set the schedule for its summer tournament in Utah, which is slated to be the first return of a U.S. team sports league since the coronavirus shutdown.

On June 27, the first day of the Challenge Cup, the Orlando Pride will play the Chicago Red Stars, and the North Carolina Courage will face the Portland Thorns. The latter match, pitting the two-time defending champion Courage against the league’s most popular team, is likely to appear midday on CBS; it would be the first women’s pro soccer league game to be broadcast on one of the major over-the-air networks.

“It’s our chance to be front and center,” Commissioner Lisa Baird said, “and get America to fall in love with these incredibly gifted athletes.”

The Washington Spirit will play on the second matchday, June 30, against the host Utah Royals.

Read more here.

By Steven Goff
June 2, 2020 at 12:16 AM EDT

Coronavirus isolated them in their rooms. Now, old-age home residents reconnect by spinning Elvis on the radio.

They’re locked down, deprived of the simple joys they had found in life’s waning light. The tables in the dining room are empty. The bingo room is silent.

In nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and retirement communities from coast to coast, they’re confined to quarters, quarantined against a virus that has attacked the elderly harder than anyone else. At a stage when their big adversaries often are time and loneliness, they are by themselves, in their rooms, indefinitely.

But Elvis is there with them. And Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, Glenn Miller and Glen Campbell (and Kelly Clarkson, too). The Eagles keep them company, and the Stones, even Pink Floyd.

Read more here.

By Marc Fisher
June 2, 2020 at 12:15 AM EDT

In Pennsylvania, officials prepare for coronavirus, civil unrest to disrupt Tuesday primary

Election officials across Pennsylvania are bracing for a chaotic day of voting in Tuesday’s primary, as the convergence of the coronavirus pandemic and protests over the death of George Floyd threaten to close in-person polling locations, even as thousands of voters who requested mail-in ballots still have not received them.

In Philadelphia, city officials said they were working with police and other emergency personnel to prevent violence from disrupting voting. The city planned to open 190 polling places instead of the usual 831, but with a late surge of poll workers canceling their commitment out of fear of unrest, there was no guarantee even that number would open Tuesday morning.

“This was already a difficult task with the pandemic, and the current events have only made that difficult task harder,” said Nick Custodio, a deputy city commissioner. “We won’t know anything until first thing in the morning.”

Read more here.

By Amy Gardner