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The coronavirus has infected at least 450,000 heath-care workers worldwide, according to a report issued Wednesday by an international nursing federation, a new insight into the toll of the pandemic and against those fighting it. Overall, more than 6.4 million cases of covid-19 have been confirmed, including at least 381,000 deaths.

Meanwhile, a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that hydroxychloroquine did not prevent healthy people exposed to covid-19 from getting the disease caused by the coronavirus. The study is the first randomized clinical trial that tested the antimalarial drug, which President Trump touted, as a preventive measure.

In the United States, more than 1.8 million coronavirus cases have been reported, with recent increases seen in states such as Arizona, Florida and Mississippi. The return to economic and social activities, as well as widespread protests of police brutality, continue to raise concern among some health officials of further spread.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Wall Street wrapped up a remarkable 50-day run, posting a 40 percent advance that signals optimism against the downward pull of disease, civil unrest and economic deterioration.
  • George Floyd, whose death in police custody sparked widespread protests around the world, tested positive for the coronavirus in April, according to the full autopsy report released Wednesday by the Hennepin County (Minn.) Medical Examiner. The autopsy found Floyd likely had “asymptomatic but persistent … positivity” from that past infection, the report states.
  • Brazil reported a record 1,262 new coronavirus-related deaths to raise its total to at least 31,199, third-most in the world. It now has at least 550,000 confirmed cases, behind only the United States. “We lament all deaths, but it’s everyone’s destiny,” President Jair Bolsonaro told supporters.
  • U.S. companies shed 2.76 million jobs from April to May, according to management services company ADP’s private payroll report, a figure that came in well below analyst estimates but still exposed the devastation of the coronavirus recession. Large businesses, which employ 500 people or more, bore the brunt of those losses at 1.6 million.
  • The architect of Sweden’s unique anti-lockdown approach to fighting the coronavirus said that in light of the large numbers of dead, he should have advised more restrictions on society to protect lives. Sweden has reported upward of 38,000 coronavirus cases and 4,468 deaths, giving it a far higher per capita death rate than its Nordic neighbors, which all introduced mandatory lockdowns.

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3:26 a.m.
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Trump administration will ban flights by Chinese airlines

By Michael Laris and Lori Aratani

In a move likely to further inflame tensions between the United States and China, the Trump administration said Wednesday it will ban all commercial passenger flights by Chinese carriers beginning later this month.

The change, announced by the Department of Transportation and beginning June 16, is in response to China’s refusal to allow U.S. carriers to resume service to China.

The rule would impact operations of seven carriers, including Air China and China Eastern Airlines. The department noted in its rule filing that the ban could take effect sooner at President Trump’s discretion. Still, the June 16 date does give the two sides some time to iron out their differences and avert a ban.

Read more here.

2:54 a.m.
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MLB formally rejects union proposal, leaving 2020 season in doubt

By Dave Sheinin

Major League Baseball on Wednesday formally rejected the proposal of its players union for a 114-game regular season in 2020 and has no plans to offer a counterproposal, leaving the sport in a tenuous position as it attempts to salvage a season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Internally, MLB’s focus has been on building consensus among owners for implementing a season of roughly 50 games with players paid prorated shares of their salaries, according to a person with knowledge of the league’s deliberations — an idea the league floated Monday but did not formally propose.

That stance reflects MLB’s belief that the March agreement between the sides governing the terms of the sport’s shutdown gives Commissioner Rob Manfred the power to dictate the length of the 2020 season in the absence of a second agreement. The union, however, would almost certainly challenge such a unilateral move.

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2:22 a.m.
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George Floyd had coronavirus, full autopsy reveals, and died with numerous blunt-force injuries

By Hannah Knowles
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on June 3 said he's filing criminal charges against the four officers involved in the death of George Floyd. (Reuters)

George Floyd died with numerous blunt-force injuries and bruises that seemed to be from handcuffs, according to a full autopsy report released Wednesday by the Hennepin County (Minn.) medical examiner.

Floyd had also tested positive for the coronavirus in April, the report reveals. The autopsy found Floyd likely had “asymptomatic but persistent … positivity” from that past infection, the report states.

Officials had previously announced, in a shift from the initial finding, that their autopsy found Floyd’s death to be a homicide — agreeing in broad strokes with an independent autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family, who had said they did not trust authorities’ findings. But the reports disagree about whether Floyd died of asphyxia.

The Hennepin County medical examiner released a report Monday saying that Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” It noted that Floyd also suffered from heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.

In contrast, the independent autopsy — also released Monday, and conducted by former New York City medical examiner Michael Baden and the University of Michigan’s Allecia Wilson — determined that Floyd died of “asphyxiation from sustained pressure” after being pinned down by his neck and back.

The full autopsy released Wednesday by the county medical examiner found no hemorrhaging or leaking blood vessels beneath the skin in various parts of Floyd’s neck, his shoulders or his back, according to the report. The thyroid cartilage as well as the hyoid bone — a bone in the neck often damaged by strangulation — were “intact,” the report states.

The autopsy details “blunt force injuries” to Floyd’s forehead, face, upper lip, shoulders, hands, elbows and legs.

It describes “patterned contusions” on his wrists consistent with those left by the handcuffs he wore as then-Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Tarkor Zehn and Brady Dennis contributed to this report.

2:13 a.m.
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Senate passes bill to increase flexibility for small-business loan program

By Erica Werner

The Senate passed legislation Wednesday to provide more flexibility to small businesses that have received forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, giving them more time to use the money just ahead of a deadline to forgive the first round of payments.

The legislation passed by unanimous consent and now goes to President Trump’s desk, following House passage of the bill last week. The White House has not said whether Trump will sign the bill, but the president has indicated support for its goals.

The central aim of the legislation is to allow businesses 24 weeks — instead of eight — to spend money they receive under the Paycheck Protection Program and have the loans forgiven. The restaurant industry and other business groups had pushed for the change, saying that eight weeks was not enough time, given that the coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to stay shut longer than anticipated when the Paycheck Protection Program was created in late March as part of the $2 trillion Cares Act.

Read more here.

1:32 a.m.
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Columbus protester tests positive for covid-19

By Candace Buckner

Last Thursday, about 400 people took to the downtown Columbus, Ohio, streets to express collective anger over police brutality and the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Now, it has been revealed that one of those protesters was carrying the novel coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Columbus Public Health announced that an individual within the protest group had tested positive for the virus. Although the department did not reveal when testing took place, the individual had exhibited symptoms before attending the protest.

“If you attended the protests, please monitor for symptoms and get a free COVID-19 test if you become sick,” Columbus Public Health shared on its Twitter account.

According to several accounts of the May 28 protest near the Ohio Statehouse, protesters, in close contact with one another, had a standoff against police. Later in the evening, the scene grew violent, with reports of vandalism as some in the crowd shattered windows of the Capitol and breached the building. Columbus police released pepper spray to break up the crowd.

12:49 a.m.
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NBA’s return-to-play plan takes shape before Thursday vote

By Ben Golliver

The National Basketball Association’s Board of Governors is poised to vote Thursday on a plan to resume the 2019-2020 season and playoffs in July with 22 teams playing and living at a single-site campus near Orlando.

The plan, which has taken shape nearly three months after the novel coronavirus pandemic shut down play on March 11, would use the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World and take place without fans in attendance.

The 16 playoff teams, plus the Washington Wizards in the East and the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns in the West, would play eight regular-season games to determine seeding, with the possibility of play-in games for the final seeds, before proceeding to the playoffs, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Read more here.

12:00 a.m.
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Texas to enter third phase of reopening, despite rise in cases

By Candace Buckner

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) lifted another stage of restrictions and business closures on Wednesday, even as the state’s daily new cases of the novel coronavirus continued to spike.

Under Abbott’s Open Texas plan, the state enters its third phase, which provides the opportunity for businesses currently operating at 25 percent capacity to move to 50 percent, with certain protocols still in place. Similarly, bars can move to 50 percent capacity, as long as people are seated, and restaurants can now sit 10 people to a table. The third phase also allows amusement parks and carnivals in counties with fewer than a 1,000 confirmed cases of the virus to reopen at 50 percent capacity.

The third phase includes other target dates for more expansions. On June 12, restaurants can increase to 75 percent capacity, while on June 19 amusement parks and carnivals in counties with more than 1,000 confirmed cases are allowed to open at 50 percent capacity. Also, events like Fourth of July celebrations can be held if safe standards have been created.

“The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business while containing COVID-19 and keeping our state safe,” Abbott said in a statement. “As anticipated, the new positive cases that we are seeing are largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants.”

According to a news release, those three hot spots account for more than 45 percent of new cases from May 26 to June 2. On Wednesday, Texas remained in an upward trend as the state had more than 1,500 new confirmed cases.

Other states also showed a rise in confirmed infections, with Utah reporting 295 new cases Wednesday for a 31 percent increase over Tuesday’s numbers, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. Also, days after experiencing its highest number of cases (27) since the start of the pandemic, Alaska had 18 new cases on Wednesday.

11:23 p.m.
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The global race for a coronavirus vaccine could be this generation’s Sputnik moment

By Carolyn Y. Johnson and Eva Dou

The same day in mid-March that the United States launched human testing of its first experimental coronavirus vaccine, scientists in China announced their own trial would begin. Days after a company unveiled the partial data from the first human U.S. tests in May, a complete report of the Chinese trial was published in a medical journal. Both countries are also taking huge financial risks to scale up production of possible vaccines before they know any are safe and effective — a gambit to ensure their citizens won’t have to wait.

The nation that produces the first safe and effective vaccine will gain not only the bragging rights but also a fast track to put its people back to work, a powerful public health tool to protect its citizens and a precious resource to reward allies. In an election year in the United States, the prospect of a successful vaccine by year’s end could also be a potent campaign tool.

With 10 experimental vaccines in human tests — five in China, four in the United States and one in Britain — the science is moving forward with unprecedented speed and collaboration. But with the world increasingly jigsawed along nationalistic lines, the race has taken on political dimensions that echo the jockeying for technological dominance during the Cold War, including the space race after the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the early U.S. fears of a “missile gap” with the Soviet Union.

Read more here.

10:30 p.m.
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MLS and players reach deal on revised contract, clearing the way for return this summer

By Steven Goff

MLS players voted Wednesday to approve a revised collective bargaining agreement, providing economic relief to a league hit hard by the coronavirus shutdowns and clearing the way for a return to competition this summer.

All 26 teams will report to the Orlando area later this month and play in a tournament starting in July without spectators at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the same Disney-owned complex where the NBA is planning to resume its season.

The league will announce tournament details soon, but plans call for each team to play three preliminary-round matches that will count toward the regular season standings. Sixteen teams would advance to the knockout stage, which would not apply toward the regular season.

Read more here.

9:57 p.m.
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AMC expresses ‘substantial doubt’ about its future in light of the pandemic

By Candace Buckner

In filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. said it expects to lose more than $2 billion in revenue in the first quarter of the year.

AMC, a movie theater chain with more than 40,000 employees, has been closed in many parts of the country because of restrictions intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus. With stay-at-home orders in place, and movie studios sending new releases to streaming platforms, AMC disclosed in the public findings that it expects to see net losses between $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion for the three-month quarter that ended March 31.

The company said it has taken steps to preserve cash with several actions that include furloughs for all employees within the corporate office as well all domestic theater crew members and management. Though AMC anticipates reopening theaters this summer or later, the company cited reasons to justify grave concerns for its future.

“Due to these factors, substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time,” the company said in one of the several filings.

With the novel coronavirus still impacting businesses, the movie box office may not have a happy ending. In a best-case scenario, theaters returning at the end of June will still experience a 30 percent drop in receipts, according to Forbes.

9:37 p.m.
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Rebel threats, secret burials and shuttered hospitals mask spread of Yemen’s epidemic

By Sudarsan Raghavan

CAIRO — As the coronavirus epidemic sweeps through Yemen, rebels who control the north of the country have been threatening medical workers to remain silent, part of an effort to cover up the true toll of the outbreak, humanitarian officials say. In southern Yemen, ill-equipped hospitals are turning away patients with coronavirus symptoms, leaving them uncounted and often to die at home, say international aid workers, local health officials and postings on social media.

The result is an outbreak health experts say is dramatically larger than the 323 cases and 80 related deaths reported by official sources as of Monday.

Doctors and aid workers say they believe thousands of Yemenis are getting infected every week and hundreds are dying. Yemenis have been flooding Facebook and other social media with death condolences in recent weeks, filling their pages with “electronic obituaries,” said one United Nations worker.

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9:22 p.m.
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Poll finds 7 in 10 Texans think businesses will probably close again in another wave

By Miriam Berger

Close to 7 in 10 of Texans registered to vote think that another coronavirus wave is likely or somewhat likely to lead to the re-closure of businesses in the state, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

The public opinion polling center based in Connecticut conducted the survey between May 28 and June 1 and focused on people who said they were registered to vote in Texas. Many questions asked people their views on the presidential election in November, and the poll found it was “too tight to tell in Texas” between President Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said.

Nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) respondents said the state should allow vote by mail amid the pandemic, compared with 4 in 10 who disagreed. Respondents were largely divided along partisan lines on this issue: Ninety-one percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents and 31 percent of Republicans supported the idea of mail-in voting.

The poll found that while overall 60 percent of voters felt comfortable going in person to polls, compared with 38 percent who did not, that gap also grew when viewed through party identification: Eighty-four percent of Republicans reported feeling comfortable voting in person during the pandemic, compared with 60 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats.

Over a third, or 35 percent, of Texas voters surveyed said they personally knew someone who has had covid-19. That number rose to 47 percent for black voters.

Fifty-one percent of voters reported being very or somewhat worried that they would become seriously ill from the novel coronavirus. Again, partisan divides heightened contrasting views: Thirty-nine percent of Democrats who responded said they were very worried, compared with 16 percent of independents and 9 percent of Republicans.

Responses on this issue also differed among racial lines: While 13 percent of white voters reported such a fear, that rate rose to 28 percent for Hispanic voters and 31 percent for black voters.

8:53 p.m.
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Registered voters in California given three days to vote ahead of Nov. 3 election to limit spread of virus

By Candace Buckner

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed an executive order Wednesday allowing counties to provide three days of early voting ahead of the Nov. 3 general election, if they are to consolidate in-person sites to limit mass gatherings during the pandemic.

With the order, registered voters in California can begin casting ballots the Saturday before the general election. Drop-box locations will be accessible from Oct. 6 to Nov. 3.

“We are committed to protecting the hard-fought right for Californians to make their voices heard this November, even in the face of a pandemic,” Newsom said in a statement. “As the demonstrations across the country remind us, civic participation is critical to our democracy. If we are to address the racial inequities that exist in our institutions, policies and representation, we must ensure that all eligible Californians have an opportunity to safely cast their ballot.”

Last month, Newsom directed an executive order requiring county election officials to send vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters. The option to vote in person remained, but with the latest order, the state seeks to give officials more avenues to maintain social distancing to stop the potential spread of the novel coronavirus.

8:26 p.m.
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As Dow rises 500 points, U.S. stocks now up 40 percent off pandemic lows

By Thomas Heath and Taylor Telford

Wall Street just wrapped up one of the most remarkable 50-day runs in history, posting a 40 percent advance that telegraphs optimism against the three-pronged downward pull of disease, civil unrest and economic deterioration.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed Wednesday at 3,122.87, a 42-point or 1.4 percent gain. The broad market has roared back from its March 23 low for its best 50-day performance since 1933, according to Howard Silverblatt of S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The Dow Jones industrial average swelled more than 527 points, a 2 percent advance that places the blue chips at 26,269.89. The Nasdaq composite rose 75 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 9,682.91.

All three indexes are 40 percent above their pandemic lows after chalking up two straight months of gains despite Depression-era unemployment numbers, a stubbornly intense pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 Americans and a week of upheaval in American cities following the death of an unarmed black man in police custody.

Read more here.