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As mass demonstrations continue across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, multiple states and cities are starting to offer free coronavirus testing. Public health officials are warily eyeing caseloads and hospitalizations to see if there is a spike in infections resulting from the protests, while the total U.S. deaths from the virus near 108,000.

In San Francisco, city officials have set up free, pop-up mobile testing for those who are concerned about exposure. Illinois announced that the coronavirus test would be available for anyone without insurance, without a doctor’s note, and without a car, free of charge. And Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced on Thursday that the city would be offering free testing starting Friday.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said earlier Friday that he wants every New Yorker to get a free test for the novel coronavirus causing covid-19 — a recommendation he stressed for the tens of thousands of protesters marching shoulder to shoulder, or mask to mask, throughout the city this past week.

Here are some significant developments:

  • The Dow Jones industrial average rocketed more than 1,000 points Friday after the release of surprising May unemployment numbers, then cut its gains to 829 points. Wall Street is in the midst of a stunning three-month rally that is close to putting investors back where they were in January, before the coronavirus pandemic obliterated trillions in wealth.
  • The authors of a high-profile study that found the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine could have dangerous side effects for covid-19 patients retracted it on Thursday, saying that they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”
  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday that more of Michigan is ready to enter stage five of six in the state’s phased reopening plan. Under this fifth, “containing” stage of Whitmer’s guidelines, salons, gyms, and movie theaters can serve customers if they follow covid-19 preventive measures.
  • Police in Australia’s most populous state are appealing to the Supreme Court to block a Black Lives Matter rally scheduled for Saturday, saying that the event cannot take place safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter | Mapping the spread of the coronavirus: Across the U.S. | Worldwide | Which states are reopening | Has someone close to you died of covid-19? Share your story with The Washington Post.

June 5, 2020 at 11:53 PM EDT

Coronavirus infections haven’t spiked since Europe loosened lockdowns. There are many theories about why.

ROME — Virologists from Milan to Berlin have become much more optimistic about Europe’s ability to manage the coronavirus pandemic and say that, at least through the summer, the continent might have nothing more than localized and hopefully-containable hot spots.

Europe’s experience, at least so far, suggests that sending children back to school, reopening restaurants and even making way for large outdoor protests does not lead to an inevitable resurgence of the virus.

But scientists also readily admit there’s much they don’t know about the idiosyncrasies of this virus. They are still trying to make sense of why it is behaving as it has in Europe and whether those trends will hold — and what the answers might mean for the rest of the world.

By Chico Harlan, Loveday Morris, Michael Birnbaum and Stefano Pitrelli
June 5, 2020 at 11:37 PM EDT

How do masks change human behavior? An Italian scientist who has studied cow sociability decided to find out.

Massimo Marchiori, an Italian computer scientist, once used sensors to determine how the widths of shopping mall walkways shaped buying decisions. Another time he used GPS technology to track the movements of cows to see what behaviors led to the best milk.

So when the novel coronavirus consumed Italy in February, Marchiori decided it was time for a new experiment — this time, on social distancing.

The result suggested that masks help fight contagion in ways other than just filtering air — benefits rarely discussed in the fraught political conversation about whether mask-wearing in public spaces should be mandatory.

To measure how people respond to masks, Marchiori created the world’s first “social distancing belt”: a $30 contraption that looked like a gray handbag but included a data card, rechargeable battery and sensors capable of measuring the proximity of oncoming objects, or, in this case, people.

“Everyone talks about social distancing,” Marchiori said, “but no one had actually measured actual social distancing.”

His findings suggest that wearing masks has a profound effect on how we perceive others, and in particular how close we are willing to get to strangers.

Read more here.

By Craig Timberg
June 5, 2020 at 11:13 PM EDT

Coronavirus transmission remains high in much of the U.S.

The novel coronavirus continues to persist — and, in some places, spread aggressively — in parts of the South, Midwest and West, including in states that were among the last to impose shutdowns and the first to lift them.

Data compiled by The Washington Post shows that 23 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have seen an increase in the rolling 7-day average of coronavirus cases compared with the previous week. Most have registered an increase of 10 percent or more.

Now, public health officials across the nation are warily eyeing caseloads and hospitalizations to see if there is a spike in infections resulting from mass protests against racism and police violence.

“One person can infect hundreds. If you were at a protest, go get a test, please,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said in a briefing Thursday. “The protesters have a civic duty here also.”

By Chelsea Janes and Joel Achenbach
June 5, 2020 at 10:41 PM EDT

Universal Orlando Resort reopens despite Florida’s uptick in coronavirus cases

The Universal Orlando Resort in Florida reopened to the public Friday after closing in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is the first major Florida theme park to reopen amid the outbreak.

Limited crowd capacity and new safety measures and features are in effect. Some of the most important safety guidelines include that all guests age 2 and older must wear face masks. If a visitor forgets a mask, the park will have them for sale. All guests will also have to get their temperatures checked before entering the resort. All guests with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher aren’t welcomed.

Social distancing markers are also in place for rides and lines. The parks are also telling their guests to use hand sanitizer throughout the park. According to an industry report, Central Florida is home to seven of the world’s 10 busiest theme parks, which drew an estimated combined attendance of 82 million in 2018.

As of Friday morning, Florida had reported 61,488 positive coronavirus cases and 2,660 deaths. The state confirmed 1,305 new cases Friday. It was the third day this week that the state’s daily total of new cases surpassed 1,000. Thursday’s 1,413 additional cases was Florida’s highest daily count since the state began providing daily updates.

By Samantha Pell
June 5, 2020 at 10:11 PM EDT

Desperate Middle Eastern women resort to selling their gold as pandemic grinds on

BEIRUT — Sarah Itani took her 2-year-old daughter’s tiny bracelet, engraved with “Angie” in cursive, and handed it to the gold merchant. He weighed it, along with one of Itani’s wedding bangles and a few other pieces of her daughter’s jewelry, then offered her $84 for the modest collection.

She took the cash. Then she raced to the hospital to buy medicine for her young son. With her husband out of work, sent home because of the coronavirus lockdown in Lebanon, Itani said there was no other way to pay for the three doses of medicine their son so badly needed.

Across much of the Middle East, women pushed to desperation by the economic pressures of the pandemic have been selling off their gold.

Read more here.

By Sarah Dadouch
June 5, 2020 at 9:54 PM EDT

Dow soars more than 800 points as U.S. stocks close in on pre-pandemic levels

Wall Street is in the midst of a stunning three-month rally that is close to putting investors back where they were in January, before the coronavirus pandemic obliterated trillions in wealth.

A surprisingly positive jobs report on Friday helped stock markets extend an already strong week, pushing the Standard & Poor’s 500 index — which has soared 9 percent in three weeks — within 1 percent of turning positive for 2020, according to Howard Silverblatt of S&P Dow Jones Indices. The S&P was more than 30 percent in the hole less than three months ago. It jumped 81 points, or 2.6 percent, to close Friday at 3,193.93.

The Nasdaq — already ahead more than 9 percent this year — added 198 points, or nearly 2.1 percent, to settle at 9,814.08. The tech-centric index is within a hair of its all-time high. The Nasdaq 100, a collection of the largest nonfinancial Nasdaq companies, set a record high, led in part by recoveries in airline and hotel stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average rocketed more than 1,000 points after the release of May unemployment numbers, then cut its gains to 829 points, or 3.2 percent, to end at 27,110.98 — its first close above 27,000 in three months. The advance put the blue-chip index within 5 percentage points of turning positive for the year.

Read more here.

By Thomas Heath and Taylor Telford
June 5, 2020 at 9:18 PM EDT

Banner Health’s Arizona ICUs nearing capacity as coronavirus hospitalizations rapidly increase

Banner Health’s Arizona intensive care units are nearing capacity, Banner Health Chief Clinical Officer Marjorie Bessel acknowledged at a Friday news briefing.

Banner is one of the largest health-care systems in the country. A spokesperson confirmed via email that ICUs in Arizona are “very busy” but not at 100 percent capacity quite yet. If they continue to see a rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalized patients, they will move closer to reaching that capacity, which “is a concern.”

Arizona’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations are rapidly increasing. As of June 4, there was 1,234 hospitalizations and about 50 percent of those patients are hospitalized in Banner Health facilities.

As of Friday night, Arizona reported 24,332 positive cases and 1,012 fatalities.

Bessel said they have been load balancing between Banner hospitals, which means they are transferring patients and resources between facilities to meet the needs of the community, while not stressing any one hospital.

Bessel said if these trends continue, Banner will need to exercise surge planning and flex up to 125 percent bed capacity. The Banner Heath spokesperson said they are “hopeful the community will do its part to help us curb this trend.”

Officials are concerned about the steep incline of patients on ventilators, with 116 patients on ventilators in Banner hospitals as of June 4.

By Samantha Pell
June 5, 2020 at 8:40 PM EDT

Paris bans George Floyd demonstration at U.S. Embassy, citing coronavirus concerns

The Paris police department has decided to ban a Saturday protest that was set to be held in front of the U.S. Embassy in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, according to Reuters.

The department said Friday it is banning protests because of the health risks from large gatherings due to the coronavirus outbreak and also social disorder.

Police Prefect Didier Lallement said such protests “are not authorized” because virus safety measures “prohibit any gathering, in the public space, of more than 10 people,” according to Reuters.

Lallement said that “in addition to the disturbances to public order that these rallies can generate … the health risks they could cause remain significant.” On Friday, France’s coronavirus death toll rose by 46, to 29,111, which is the fifth-highest total in the world, according to Reuters.

Other foreign governments around the world are banning local protests for similar reasons, as the movement against racial injustice continues.

Also on Friday, an Australian court sided with police in a ruling that a Black Lives Matter protest planned in Sydney would bring too much public health risks. Thousands were expected to attend the demonstration.

By Samantha Pell
June 5, 2020 at 7:52 PM EDT

Minnesota says it’s too soon to tell if cases will seriously rise amid reopenings and protests

Minnesota is pushing ahead to roll back virus-related restrictions on the economy while grappling with ongoing protests over the killing of George Floyd. Because of both fronts, health officials have been concerned they could see a rise in cases as more people mix outside their homes.

And on Friday, Minnesota health officials did report an increase in people testing positive for the coronavirus: 712 cases confirmed in the last day, as well as 33 covid-19 related deaths. The day before, the state reported 404 new infections and 29 deaths.

People generally develop covid-19 symptoms within five to seven days of exposure to the novel coronavirus. But in a news conference Friday, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm cautioned that Friday’s spike was so far in keeping with a recent pattern of small rises and dips as the state ramps up testing.

Calling it “an encouragingly stable situation,” Malcolm added that it was too soon to tell if it would continue this way — or if cases, as some fear, will rise. “We won’t know the impact of recent events for another two to three weeks,” she said.

Minnesota authorities continue to recommend people wear nonmedical face masks in public. But they have intensified their messaging around testing amid the coinciding influx of people to salons and the streets.

Malcolm is recommending that protesters who are not showing symptoms take a test five to seven days after attending a demonstration (as sometimes the virus is not initially detected). To be extra careful, she’s urged those who test negative return for a follow-up test around 12 days after the possible exposure to make sure it wasn’t a false negative.

In total, Minnesota has had 26,980 known coronavirus cases, in addition to 1,148 confirmed deaths. Over 900 of the dead were residents of assisted living or nursing homes.

Black residents of Minnesota, like around the country, have been disproportionately hit by the virus: Though less than 7 percent of the state’s population, they account for more than 20 percent of people hospitalized with covid-19, according to the Star Tribune.

By Miriam Berger
June 5, 2020 at 7:18 PM EDT

A positive pandemic outcome: A shift in how we think about food

The novel coronavirus has had a jarring impact on society, but one positive outcome I’ve seen is a shift in how people think about food and nutrition. Long lines at food banks, combined with rising prices and supply chain issues, have raised the public’s awareness of how easily the average American can become food insecure.

But there’s also seen a surprising uptick in comments from dietitians saying that the pandemic has changed their clients’ lives for the better.

By Cara Rosenbloom
June 5, 2020 at 6:39 PM EDT

Trump touts U.S. testing during tour of medical swab factory in Maine

President Trump on Friday visited Puritan Medical Products, a company that manufactures swabs and other devices that have become critical in testing for the novel coronavirus. Trump said the factory will be ramping up production to 40 million swabs each month and ultimately 60 million swabs monthly.

During a speech, the president said that the country, “very shortly,” will have conducted “well over 20 million tests” and that the United States is doing a “great job” with testing.

He also complained that no matter how many tests are being conducted, the media continues to push him about why more aren’t being done: “Oy yoi yoi, what I have to put up with,” he said as the crowd applauded.

In an earlier roundtable discussion that included former Maine governor Paul LePage, Trump likened current Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) to a “dictator” for how she has handled the reopening of her state amid the pandemic.

Mills released a statement ahead of Trump’s Friday visit calling on him to “lead us with courage and compassion” and not division.

A notable figure who was not in Maine for Trump’s visit was Sen. Susan Collins (R). She instead remained in Washington for planned events, both on the official and campaign side of her portfolio. Aides to Collins noted that she visited Puritan Medical Products last month.

As of Friday, Maine had recorded 2,482 total coronavirus cases, both confirmed and probable. Of those, 1,797 had recovered, and the state had recorded 98 deaths.

By Samantha Pell
June 5, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT

Minnesota announces new loosening of coronavirus restrictions amid protests

With Minnesota’s rate of coronavirus cases on the decline, Gov. Tim Walz (D) on Friday announced an additional loosening of restrictions.

Starting Wednesday, dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, fitness clubs and other entertainment venues can reopen with reduced attendance, while places of worship and hair and nail salons can increase their capacity.

Earlier in the week, Walz permitted salons and outdoor dining service to begin welcoming a limited number of customers. The week before, he allowed places of worship to open their doors for services if they kept to 25 percent of capacity.

The state is reopening alongside anti-racism and anti-police-brutality protests prompted by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Officials have warned that there could be a rise in coronavirus cases, as more people mix at places of commerce and at the demonstrations.

By Miriam Berger
June 5, 2020 at 5:08 PM EDT

Trump-connected lobbyist ends coronavirus contract with D.C. because of Bowser, White House feud

A lobbyist with close ties to President Trump ended his relationship with the District of Columbia on Friday as tensions grew between the president and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser.

Brian Ballard, who was hired by the city last month to secure coronavirus funding, said Friday he was withdrawing from his contract with the D.C. government.

“We can’t be effective under the current situation,” Ballard said, about an hour after Trump lambasted Bowser on Twitter as part of a days-long feud over protests in the nation’s capital.

Trump and Bowser have battled in recent days over military presence in the city. On Friday, the city finished painting 16th Street to say “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in large yellow letters on a road outside the White House.

Bowser has called for the National Guard to leave D.C. streets and has mocked the president for being “alone/afraid” in the White House after he falsely accused her last week of keeping the D.C. police from protecting the White House during protests. D.C. police have been involved in the effort.

Read more here.

By Josh Dawsey and Fenit Nirappil
June 5, 2020 at 4:34 PM EDT

Free coronavirus testing sites pop up as protests continue

As mass demonstrations continue across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, multiple states and cities are starting to offer free coronavirus testing.

In San Francisco, city officials have set up a mobile testing test for those who are concerned about exposure to the coronavirus. It is a free, pop-up testing site and it opened on Friday to anyone who would like to get a test and participated in any recent protests, though it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear. No signs of infections are necessary to obtain the test. The city is urging people who want to be tested to sign up for one on a website online.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Friday he was making the coronavirus test free for all of New York City and he is recommending a test for all protesters who have marched this week.

In Illinois, the state announced that the coronavirus test would be available for anyone without insurance, without a doctor’s note, without a car and it would be free of charge. The free tests will now be offered to all at any drive-through or community-based site, according to a Thursday statement.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) also announced a new “ASAP Covid Testing” program, which encourages everyone individual in the state to come forward for testing to determine the full extent of asymptotic spread of coronavirus.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) also announced on Thursday that the city will be offering free testing starting on Friday. There will be two sites, and Durkan said city officials will also be setting up mobile testing sites for people who are participating in protests.

By Samantha Pell
June 5, 2020 at 4:04 PM EDT

Iran’s cases surge again, hitting record peak, as strategic province becomes new epicenter

ISTANBUL — A dramatic surge in coronavirus infections in Iran has rekindled the largest outbreak in the Middle East, just weeks after the country appeared to have tamed its epidemic.

While the epidemic was initially concentrated in the capital, Tehran, and the holy city of Qom, the new flare-up has largely been centered in strategic Khuzestan province, an oil-rich region in Iran’s southwest.

There, an ethnic Arab minority that has long complained of discrimination has at times balked at central government control. Doctors and residents say that widespread disregard for public health restrictions in Khuzestan has helped fuel the pathogen’s spread.

A relative lack of infrastructure has also undercut efforts to address the public health emergency in the province. Clinics and hospitals are overwhelmed, the local economy has ground to a halt, and a water shortage near the provincial capital, Ahvaz, has driven angry residents into the streets.

By Erin Cunningham
June 5, 2020 at 3:28 PM EDT

Reporters say White House put their health at risk at Rose Garden news conference

The White House Correspondents’ Association said Friday that the White House had “needlessly put reporters’ health at risk” during a Rose Garden news conference earlier in the day at which seating did not follow the federal government’s guidelines on social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The chairs were initially positioned in a way that was consistent with social distancing guidelines but were moved closer together by White House staff shortly before the event started,” WHCA president Jon Karl, ABC’s chief White House correspondent, said in a statement. “When we asked for an explanation, the White House press office told us the decision to move the chairs close together was made because ‘it looks better.’”

President Trump, who used the news conference to tout better-than-expected unemployment numbers, remarked that the reporters looked better than when seated further apart at recent events.

“The health of the press corps should not be put in jeopardy because the White House wants reporters to be a prop for a ‘news conference’ where the president refused to answer any questions,” Karl said.

By John Wagner
June 5, 2020 at 2:52 PM EDT

British study finds ‘no clinical benefit’ of hydroxychloroquine

Another trial testing the use of hydroxychlorine to treat covid-19 patients has concluded that there is “no clinical benefit,” though it also found no increase in deaths, according to results released Friday.

The randomized study was conducted on 11,000 people in the United Kingdom over 28 days.

“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have received a lot of attention and have been used very widely to treat covid patients despite the absence of any good evidence,” Peter Horby, the trial’s chief investigator, said in a news release. “The RECOVERY trial has shown that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment in patients hospitalised with covid-19. Although it is disappointing that this treatment has been shown to be ineffective, it does allow us to focus care and research on more promising drugs.”

Researchers found that 1-in-4 patients receiving the anti-malaria drug died, which is the same fatality rate as those under regular care in a separate randomized trial conducted by the U.K. National Health Service and Oxford University.

Hydroxychloroquine can be used to treat malaria, among other illnesses. But it became a matter of international controversy after President Trump touted it as a treatment for the novel coronavirus and said that he has taken it preventively, prompting some other world leaders to do the same despite a lack of evidence.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly warned people not to take untested or homemade drugs to treat the virus outside of clinical studies. WHO initially stopped its study of hydroxychloroquine in late May after research published in the leading British medical journal Lancet found it could be dangerous for hospitalized covid-19 patients.

But the medical debate over hydroxychloroquine took another turn earlier this week, when three of the authors of that study retracted it Thursday, saying they could “no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”

WHO had restarted its study after the retraction but now, following the new findings reported in Friday’s study, is considering stopping it again, Politico reported.

By Miriam Berger
June 5, 2020 at 2:18 PM EDT

Michigan Gov. Whitmer announces more phased reopenings around state

More of Michigan is ready to enter stage five of six in the state’s phased reopening plan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday, as she continues to roll back coronavirus restrictions that had become a national flash point between Whitmer and President Trump.

Two regions, Upper Peninsula and Traverse City, will be able to lift additional restrictions starting Wednesday, Whitmer said at a news briefing. Under this fifth, “containing” stage of Whitmer’s guidelines, salons, gyms and movie theaters can serve customers if they follow preventive measures. In addition, outdoor sporting and performance venues can host gatherings of up to 500, outdoor social gatherings and events can happen with up to 250 socially distanced people, and indoor events of up to 50 people will be permitted.

After Wednesday, all of northern Michigan will be just one more phase away from the state’s final, “post-pandemic” stage, according to local Detroit media.

Though the rest of the state remains at stage four, Whitmer lifted Michigan’s stay-at-home order Monday. That change permits dine-in service at restaurants and bars with 50 percent capacity, to begin on Monday, while hair and nail salons will be allowed to open June 15, among other changes.

“Today marks another milestone in the safe reopening of Michigan’s economy,” Whitmer said, according to the Click on Detroit news site. “As we continue to slowly reopen different parts of our state, it’s critical that we listen to the experts and follow the medical science to avoid a second wave of infections.”

By Miriam Berger
June 5, 2020 at 1:38 PM EDT

WHO revises mask guidelines in hard-hit areas, recommends for anyone over 60

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday once again revised its guidance on the use of face masks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus causing the disease covid-19.

The latest: In hard-hit areas, all people over 60 and all workers at health facilities should wear medical-grade masks.

In areas with widespread transmission, WHO advises medical masks for all people working in clinical areas of a health facility, not only workers dealing with patients with covid-19,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday during a news briefing. “Second, in areas with community transmission, we advise that people aged 60 years or over, or those with underlying conditions, should wear a medical mask in situations where physical distancing is not possible.”

Tedros additionally urged governments to encourage people to wear masks in places of widespread transmission, as well as where social-distancing is difficult, such as public transportation, shops and other crowded or confined spaces.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone in the United States wear a cloth mask.

Public health experts in some cases have been reluctant to recommend masks for public use, fearing shortages among medical-grade ones needed for front line workers. Experts have additionally worried that their use could give people a false sense of security from the virus and therefore lead them to be lax regarding other more effective measures. When worn or put on and off incorrectly, moreover, masks can become possible vectors for infection.

“Masks are not a replacement for physical distancing, hand hygiene and other public health measures,” Tedros added in his remarks. The cornerstone of the response in every country must be to find, isolate, test and care for every case, and to trace and quarantine every contact.”

Alongside the revisions, Tedros stressed what has not changed: That medical workers and those caring for covid-19 patients at home should still wear medical-grade masks. And if a covid-19 patient must leave their house, they should definitely wear one, too, she said.

By Miriam Berger
June 5, 2020 at 1:05 PM EDT

As countries reopen, hundreds of millions of students have returned to school

Well beyond a billion students were sent home from schools as the novel coronavirus spread around the world earlier this year. In recent weeks, hundreds of millions were cleared to return, as countries began to reopen in fits and starts.

By late March, less than two months after the confirmation of the first coronavirus cases outside China, more than 90 percent of the world’s students were already affected by school closures, according to estimates by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Stuck at home for months, they found themselves part of a global web of hastily implemented experiments in home schooling, remote learning and social distancing.

The students for whom school closures have lifted will be the subjects of a new, global experiment, as educators and policymakers try to determine what classrooms should look like during the pandemic.

By Adam Taylor
June 5, 2020 at 12:25 PM EDT

Locked in tough reelection bid, Collins will not join Trump at appearance in Maine

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the most endangered Republican incumbents, will not be in her state with President Trump as he does an event near her home in Bangor, and then tours a medical products company about 45 miles away.

According to aides, Collins remained in Washington on Friday for planned events, both on the official and campaign side of her portfolio. She started her day with an official event done with No Labels, a centrist group that promotes moderates in both parties, and later Friday she is holding a video conference fundraiser with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) as her guest to boost her campaign war chest.

Trying to run as a moderate in a state that Trump lost in 2016, Collins has sometimes distanced herself from the president, but Trump is visiting the part of the state that supported him four years ago. Aides to Collins noted that she visited Puritan Medical Products, where Trump is going today, last month. The company manufactures swabs and other devices that have become critical in testing for the novel coronavirus.

By Paul Kane
June 5, 2020 at 11:49 AM EDT

De Blasio calls on every New Yorker to get tested amid protests

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Friday that he wants every New Yorker to get a free test for the novel coronavirus — a recommendation he stressed for the tens of thousands of protesters marching shoulder to shoulder, or mask to mask, throughout the city this past week.

De Blasio’s comments echoed those of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), who on Thursday said that all protest attendees could, and should, get a free coronavirus test regardless of symptoms. De Blasio announced on Wednesday that he was also making the test free for all of New York City. He added Friday that there will be two new mobile covid-19 clinics offering testing in the neighborhoods of Soundview and Kew Gardens starting next week.

Both de Blasio and Cuomo have additionally warned that the demonstrations could become “super spreaders” of the virus in hard-hit New York. They have urged all attendees to act as if they have been exposed to the virus.

Earlier this week de Blasio told protesters that they should stay home to avoid catching or transmitting the coronavirus, and thereby contributing to another surge. Some, however, criticized his comments as trying to use the global pandemic to restrict anti-racism and anti-police free speech.

De Blasio is focused on gradually reopening New York City starting Monday. The city is the last part of New York state that has yet to officially pass the bar and begin a phased reopening.

Other governors and mayors across the country have similarly urged attendees at protests against racism and police brutality to seek out coronavirus testing. Illinois announced Thursday that it will begin to offer free testing, regardless of symptoms.

“If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a covid test this week,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) said earlier this week.

By Miriam Berger
June 5, 2020 at 11:13 AM EDT

London arborists thrive in job that’s ‘social distancing at its finest’

LONDON — They call themselves tree surgeons. But swinging from branch to branch and taking turns slicing through trails of dead wood at neck-craning heights, Adam Rendell and Sam Davis look more like urban avengers who have figured out how to vanquish the coronavirus lockdown and still get a paycheck.

“It’s social distancing at its finest,” Davis says after an hour amid the treetops of St. Pancras Gardens, his workspace for the moment in one of London’s greenest boroughs.

When Britain’s March 23 lockdown began, Davis, a 29-year-old former bartender, saw friends working in restaurants and in the film industry suddenly put on furlough. Rendell, a 27-year-old who walked away from an IT job three years ago, said co-workers at his former office endured pay cuts and were told to work from home.

The pair consider themselves lucky to practice a trade that, by its very nature, keeps them safe from crowds and contagion.

Read more here.

By Christine Spolar
June 5, 2020 at 10:39 AM EDT

Brazil overtakes Italy in deaths, now third highest behind U.S. and U.K.

Brazil is now No. 3 in the world for confirmed deaths related to covid-19, after it surpassed Italy on Thursday to trail only the United States and United Kingdom in the bleak official fatality number.

Brazil reported 1,437 deaths in the past 24 hours on Thursday, raising the country’s official toll to 34,021 people dead because of the novel coronavirus. Along with Brazil’s surging cases, nearby Mexico is also suffering a deadly spike: On Wednesday it hit a new grim high of over 1,000 people dead from the disease in just one day.

Public health workers worldwide agree that official death counts are only a snapshot of actual coronavirus-related fatalities due to limits in reporting and testing. But Brazil’s case has particularly alarmed experts because of President Jair Bolsonaro’s persistent belittling of the coronavirus and refusal to implement centralized shutdowns or other measures to curb its spread.

The World Health Organization has labeled Latin America as the global pandemic’s latest epicenter. As The Washington Post has reported, young people in Brazil are dying at far higher rates than in some other countries of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

By Miriam Berger
June 5, 2020 at 10:11 AM EDT

Schumer voices concern jobs report could hinder additional relief legislation

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) voiced concern Friday that a better-than-expected jobs report would make it more difficult to court Republican support for additional coronavirus-related relief measures, including aid to states and localities.

“If we don’t do more, we could slide right back, right back, and it could be even worse,” Schumer said during an appearance on MSNBC. “I hope, I pray that Trump and the Republicans don’t take this as a sign to be complacent. There are many more cliffs and problems coming up in the economy that we are aiming to fix, and so far they are sitting on their hands. I hope it doesn’t, but this may make it worse in terms of the ability to have them get something done.”

Schumer spoke after a Labor Department report found the federal unemployment rate declined to 13.3 percent in May from 14.7 percent in April, a sign that the economy is improving more quickly than economists had projected. The economy picked up 2.5 million jobs in May, as many states and counties began to reopen with the slowing of cases nationwide of the novel coronavirus.

In tweets, Trump congratulated himself for a “REALLY BIG” jobs report.

Republicans have urged caution in passing additional legislation until the impact of previous efforts becomes more clear.

By John Wagner
June 5, 2020 at 9:45 AM EDT

Dow skyrockets more than 700 points after surprise drop in U.S. jobless rate

Stock markets roared Friday, with the Dow skyrocketing more than 700 points at the opening bell, after a stunning decline in the U.S. unemployment rate put a V-shaped recovery back in play.

The Dow Jones industrial average spiked more than 2.7 percent after the Labor Department reported May unemployment fell to 13.3 percent — a far cry from the 19.5 percent analysts had forecast and a sharp improvement from the 14.7 percent set in April — as states incrementally reopened their economies after months of pandemic-fueled shutdowns and some Americans got back to work.

More than 2.5 million jobs were added to non-farm payrolls, data show. About half the gains were in restaurants and bars, a sector of the economy that has been among the hardest-hit as social distancing restrictions upended normal business.

“We may well have seen the worst of the historically horrific covid-19 related economic downturn,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at, said in an email to The Washington Post. “We still need to step back and remember that the unemployment rate remains higher than the peak during the financial crisis and great recession.”

Read more here.

By Taylor Telford and Thomas Heath
June 5, 2020 at 9:41 AM EDT

Camping becomes hot getaway in covid-19 world

Kristi Haight was getting very tired of staring at her four walls. So the Greensboro, N.C., blogger packed up her family, face masks, hand sanitizer and food — and went camping for the weekend at a beach in South Carolina, coronavirus-style.

The family brought their own food and drink for the trip, avoiding restaurants and gas station stores, Haight said. When they reached the beach, “we spent all of our time at the campground and at our campsite.

In the covid-19 world, camping might be the hottest getaway around. As of June 1, about 80 percent of campgrounds, RV parks and camping locations on Campendium — a Web app listing about 30,000 campsites throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico — were open, according to Leigh Wetzel, co-founder of Campendium.

Each state has its own guidelines and rules when it comes to camping mid-pandemic.

By Danielle Braff
June 5, 2020 at 9:09 AM EDT

An airline resumed flying with new virus rules. Now it’s shutting down again.

As airlines around the world attempt to restart travel in the wake of coronavirus slowdowns, not everything is going according to plan.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, Lion Air announced that all domestic and international flight operations would be suspended temporarily beginning June 5. The move was made, in part, because travelers were not following the requirements of the country’s covid-19 health protocols, according to the airline’s website.

In a statement, the airline said the “decision was based on considerations from an evaluation of previous flight operations, that many prospective passengers were unable to carry out air travel because they did not complete the required documents and conditions” necessary during the country’s pandemic alert period.

Read more here.

By Drew Jones
June 5, 2020 at 8:33 AM EDT

Rodeo set to reopen in Texas in preview of how coronavirus may change other pro sports seasons

Cowboys are set to get back in the saddle this weekend in Mesquite, Tex., as the city’s rodeo reopens for its summer season after fears it would be canceled due to the novel coronavirus.

Organizers behind the Mesquite Championship Rodeo, which was established in 1957, say their reopening marks the first professional sports event open to ticket holders in the United States since the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent shutdowns led to widespread cancellations, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Rodeo director Travis Wheat told the Morning News that his team had just about two weeks to accomplish two months of preparations to reopen this weekend.

“Our heads have been spinning, but it’s good,” Wheat said. “The goal is clear: Just put on a rodeo and keep fans safe.”

The rodeo is making adjustments to its traditional spectacle, limiting the audience to 25 percent capacity and preventing direct interaction between participants and spectators.

Seating and concession lines will be set up to abide by social distancing guidelines and hand sanitizer will be readily available, but masks will be required only among staff — not the cowboys or their audience.

And keeping cowboys isolated will be a bit more complicated than setting up barriers between people in the crowd.

“Obviously with rodeo you need to have a couple hands dealing with 1,200-pound animals, 1,500-pound animals, so some of those are going to be a little bit more lax,” Wheat said.

By Siobhán O'Grady
June 5, 2020 at 7:59 AM EDT

Trump set to visit Maine company that supplies swabs for covid-19 testing

President Trump is scheduled to head to Maine on Friday afternoon to tour a company that manufactures cotton swabs for coronavirus testing despite concerns voiced by the state’s Democratic governor that his visit could spark unrest as the nation continues to grapple with the death in police custody of Minneapolis man George Floyd.

Gov. Janet Mills (D) cautioned Trump earlier in the week against coming to her state, and in a statement Thursday she asked him “to check his inflammatory rhetoric at the door and abandon the divisive language that sows seeds of distrust among our people.”

“I hope he will heed this call and appeal to the best in all people and lead us with courage and compassion through this difficult time,” Mills said.

A local television reporter posted a photo on Twitter early Friday showing trailers with large logs that have been placed around the perimeter of the property of Puritan Medical Products in Guilford, Maine, as a security precaution.

The visit is the latest by Trump and Vice President Pence to highlight the administration’s response to the pandemic. Maine is also significantly politically. In the presidential election, it awards electoral college votes by congressional district. Despite losing statewide in 2016, Trump carried the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

While in Maine, Trump is also scheduled to hold a roundtable discussion with commercial fisherman in Bangor.

By John Wagner
June 5, 2020 at 7:25 AM EDT

Protesters call for justice in Mexico after death in police custody of a man allegedly detained for not wearing a face mask

Protests broke out Thursday in Guadalajara, Mexico, in response to a man’s death in police custody after he was allegedly detained for not wearing a face mask in public. A video circulated on social media this week that showed police detaining a man identified as Giovanni López, 30, near Guadalajara in May.

The Guardian reported that when López’s family tried to track him down in custody, they were redirected to a hospital where he had been pronounced dead. His autopsy said he suffered from a head injury and a bullet wound in his foot, the newspaper reported.

On Twitter, users shared footage from the protests, using the hashtag #JusticiaParaGiovanni, or “Justice for Giovanni.”

Some drew comparisons to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 in police custody in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck. Floyd’s death has ignited a wave of protests over police brutality in the United States.

Video footage and photos shared Thursday appear to show protesters in Guadalajara lighting police vehicles on fire and vandalizing buildings.

Enrique Alfaro, governor of Mexico’s Jalisco state where Guadalajara is located, said the narrative surrounding López’s death was tainted with “many lies” and that he was not arrested for not wearing a face mask, Reuters reported.

Regulations for the novel coronavirus vary across Mexico, where more than 105,000 cases have been confirmed. Face masks are mandatory in public in Jalisco state.

By Siobhán O'Grady
June 5, 2020 at 6:50 AM EDT

Grim milestone to be reached with U.S. unemployment rate expected to approach 20 percent

The unemployment rate was already in the double digits and had hit levels not seen since the Great Depression. It’s about to get worse.

The federal unemployment rate is expected to rise to close to 20 percent in May, up from 14.7 percent in April, according to new federal data to be released Friday.

Economists expect another 7 million to 8 million workers to have lost their jobs in May, a staggering figure, resulting from economic shutdowns intended to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

There are hopes that May’s unemployment rate will represent the nadir of the crisis — the rocky bottom below which the United States will sink no further. Yet, with some 30 million workers collecting unemployment benefits, the labor market has been upended. Economists agree that getting back to normal will take longer and be more challenging than in recessions of the past.

Read more here.

By Eli Rosenberg
June 5, 2020 at 6:20 AM EDT

One woman wanted to send support to her ‘backyard’ hospital. So her family built a sign.

From an upstairs window at her Maryland home, Tina Furnkranz has a clear view of the nearby Prince George’s Hospital Center. Back in March, when the tree branches were mostly bare and the novel coronavirus hadn’t yet changed everything, she would look and take note of the hospital windows. As the virus spread and erupted into a pandemic, she would notice more and more windows glowing each night.

She felt compelled to do something, to deliver some message for the medical workers fighting for their patients and to the patients fighting for their lives inside.

Read more here.

By Rick Maese
June 5, 2020 at 5:49 AM EDT

Justice Sotomayor places brief hold on order to move Ohio prisoners

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor put a temporary hold on a judge’s decision that said prison officials should begin moving hundreds of prisoners from a federal facility in Ohio with a high rate of the novel coronavirus infection.

The Trump administration had asked the court for a stay of the ruling and to take up the issue itself. Sotomayor’s brief order said only that the stay would be in place until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit had a chance to weigh in. Arguments are scheduled in that court for Friday.

The administration said it was going to have to transfer the first batch of 128 inmates on Friday without the Supreme Court’s intervention.

Read more here.

By Robert Barnes
June 5, 2020 at 5:12 AM EDT

Australian police appeal to Supreme Court to block anti-racism rally, claiming health concerns

Police in Australia’s most populous state are appealing to the Supreme Court to block a Black Lives Matter rally scheduled for Saturday, saying that the event cannot take place safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The court challenge came hours after Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that anyone planning to attend demonstrations over the weekend would be putting their own health and that of others at risk. “Let’s find a better way and another way to express these sentiments,” Morrison said, urging Australians to avoid large gatherings.

As civil unrest spreads across the United States, Australians have taken to the streets to peacefully protest racism and police brutality against black and Aboriginal people. A march in Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, drew 3,000 people on Tuesday.

Initially, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that she didn’t want to “take away the right of people to demonstrate their ability to protest,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported. But she changed her tune on Friday, saying that the state had never intended for thousands of people to be “flagrantly disregarding the health orders.”

New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said Friday that the rally organizers had been granted approval to hold an event with 50 attendees, but the number of people expected to join soon grew to more than 10,000. “The only options were for the protesters to cease their wish to protest, or for us to take the matter to the Supreme Court,” he said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Gatherings of more than 500 people are barred under New South Wales’s emergency coronavirus orders.

Raul Bassi, an activist with the Indigenous Social Justice Association, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the rally organizers had not been informed that there were concerns about crowd size before Friday morning.

By Antonia Farzan
June 5, 2020 at 5:09 AM EDT

England has a new face mask rule. Many are asking why it took so long.

LONDON — From June 15, it will be compulsory for people using public transportation in England to wear a face mask, the government announced Thursday after months of debate over the effectiveness of face coverings.

Within minutes, many took to social media to voice concerns that officials had taken too long to implement the rule. Others questioned why it would not take effect immediately.

On Friday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has previously called for people to wear masks while traveling, said he “welcomed the change of mind from the government,” but he expressed frustration that the measure was not implemented sooner.

Speaking to “BBC Breakfast,” Khan said that although evidence suggested that masks could help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, he did not want to “go at it alone” and enforce the rule on Transport for London services — for which he is responsible — when other regions would have had a different rule and mixed messaging.

“This delay has been good for nobody,” he said.

With almost 40,000 deaths, Britain is the worst-hit country in Europe and the second-worst overall after the United States. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic, including a decision not to implement a lockdown until March 23, far later than many other countries. His government has also drawn accusations that it was slow to ramp up testing and provide help for health workers.

“I first asked about mandatory face masks at the press conference on 10 April, when many other countries had already made them compulsory,” tweeted journalist Ben Kentish on Thursday. “Answer was that there was no evidence they were effective. Almost two months later, UK follows suit.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps expressed hope that travelers on London’s buses, trains and trams would comply but said British Transport Police would enforce the regulation if necessary.

The mask rule does not extend to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, which are each charting their own paths on face coverings.

By Jennifer Hassan
June 5, 2020 at 4:40 AM EDT

Russian labs race to find a coronavirus vaccine by fall, but concerns raised about fast-track methods

MOSCOW — In Russia’s push to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, researchers have tested formulas on themselves, members of the military have been selected for trials and some officials are claiming that a breakthrough could be just months away.

But Russia’s rush to be first — and claim the global bragging rights for President Vladimir Putin’s government — is prompting some in the country to raise warnings about possibly cutting corners with testing and keeping expectations in check.

“We all want it now, but I know we won’t get it by tomorrow,” Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s consumer health regulator, said while speaking on a panel Thursday. “We all want to get there as quickly as possible without violating the ethical rules.”

The contrasting approaches offer a sense of the internal tensions in Russia as the state-backed medical system is throwing resources at potential vaccines. That has led to highly unorthodox proposals that critics say cross ethical lines — such as researchers taking self-administered doses of test samples and a politician’s suggestion of using inmates in clinical trials.

Read more here.

By Isabelle Khurshudyan
June 5, 2020 at 3:52 AM EDT

‘Do not sit’: Virginia commuter trains designate social distance seating onboard

Your next ride on a Virginia commuter train will feel and look different.

Virginia Railway Express is restricting where passengers can sit and stand to maintain social distancing.

Decals on trains will direct riders to take a window seat in every other row to ensure proper distancing, the VRE said. Most seats will have a “Do not sit in marked seats” graphic on them, which will also include an illustration urging passengers to stay six feet from each other. That means only about a third of the seats on each train will be available.

Read more here.

By Luz Lazo
June 5, 2020 at 3:18 AM EDT

Pentagon’s coronavirus plan includes millions for missile tubes and body armor

The Pentagon is moving too slowly to spend money it’s been allocated to battle the coronavirus pandemic and is devoting millions of dollars to expenses that are not virus related, according to critics and a copy of the spending plans obtained by The Washington Post.

Ten weeks after President Trump invoked wartime production powers to address deep medical supply shortages, only 15 percent of that funding has been placed under contract. The department also received $10.5 billion in Cares Act funding to address the crisis and had spent about $2.65 billion as of Wednesday afternoon, a department spokesman said.

Although the Pentagon’s spending report was delivered a month ahead of its congressional deadline, there is a broader concern that the federal government is moving too slowly to address the crisis.

Read more here.

By Aaron Gregg and Erica Werner
June 5, 2020 at 2:54 AM EDT

Hundreds of nursing homes ran short on staff, protective gear as more than 30,000 residents died during pandemic

New federal data released Thursday reflect the rising death toll from covid-19 at the nation’s nursing homes and the desperate need at thousands of facilities for critical personnel and basic supplies.

More than three months after the novel coronavirus began sweeping through U.S. nursing homes, thousands of homes are still underequipped for the continuing onslaught, the data show.

Read more here.

By Peter Whoriskey, Debbie Cenziper, Will Englund and Joel Jacobs
June 5, 2020 at 2:29 AM EDT

Fiji is free of coronavirus, leader says, with no cases in 45 days

Fiji is officially free of the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama announced Friday.

The Pacific nation had its first coronavirus case when a flight attendant tested positive in March, leading to fears that the virus would quickly spread and turn into a much larger outbreak that would overwhelm Fiji’s health-care system. But the country reacted by quickly closing its borders and enacting a strict curfew.

As a result, Fiji has only reported 18 coronavirus cases to date, and no one on the island is known to have died of the virus. The last remaining patient has now recovered, Bainimarama said Friday, and no new cases have been recorded in the past 45 days, despite increased testing.

“Answered prayers, hard work, and affirmation of science!” he wrote on Twitter.

But Fiji’s success in containing a potentially catastrophic coronavirus outbreak has carried a steep economic toll. The country relies on tourism for nearly 40 percent of its gross domestic product, and by early May more than 40,000 people had lost their jobs as hotels shut down and flights ground to a halt.

Fiji has expressed interested in joining the “travel bubble” proposed by Australia and New Zealand, which would allow citizens to travel freely between nations that have successfully contained the spread of the coronavirus and eliminate the need for a 14-day quarantine period.

By Antonia Farzan
June 5, 2020 at 2:06 AM EDT

Japan minister says higher ‘cultural standard’ explains coronavirus success, provoking backlash

TOKYO — Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso has a record of insensitive remarks. On Thursday, he provoked fresh controversy by saying that Japan’s success in combating the coronavirus came down to a higher “cultural standard,” triggering a backlash.

“Other countries have called me up and asked me if we’re the only ones with some drug against the virus or something,” Aso said in response to a question from a lawmaker on Japan’s reputation of successfully containing the pandemic. “When I tell them, ‘Our country’s cultural standard levels are different to yours,’ they’re left speechless. That’s the simplest way to put an end to the questions.”

Aso, who is also the finance minister, has been here before. In 2017, he appeared to express admiration for Adolf Hitler by saying that he had “the right motives,” a remark he later retracted. He has criticized people who don’t have children for being a burden on social welfare, while also saying that the elderly are a drain on government finances and “should hurry up and die.”

In January, he was forced to apologize to the indigenous Ainu people after saying that Japan had been unified under a single language and ethnic identity for 2,000 years.

Many Japanese politicians and medical experts say the country’s widespread adoption of face masks, as well as habits such as bowing rather than shaking hands and removing shoes inside houses, have helped it contain the coronavirus. But Aso’s remarks were seen by many people as insensitive.

“This is exactly the Nazi way of thinking,” tweeted Ichiro Ozawa, a leading opposition politician.

Japan has succeeded in reducing new coronavirus infections to a few dozen a day, while the official death toll stands at just over 900, a fraction of that seen in the United States and Western Europe. But critics have pointed out that Japan has performed relatively poorly compared with many other Asian countries.

By Simon Denyer
June 5, 2020 at 2:00 AM EDT

Open borders by month’s end, European Commission urges E.U. member states

The European Union is calling for all member states to open their borders to one another by the end of June, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said Thursday.

The process of lifting coronavirus-related restrictions has varied considerably from country to country across Europe, leading to confusion and interfering with efforts to salvage the summer tourism season. Italy, for instance, has reopened its borders to visitors from within the E.U., while Austria will allow visitors from all neighboring countries except Italy.

While the European Commission does not have the authority to order member states to reopen their borders, Johansson told broadcaster Euronews that she plans to introduce a proposal on Friday that would encourage all member states to ease travel restrictions “as soon as possible,” and ideally by the end of June.

“We are coming very close to a situation where we should lift all the internal border restrictions and border checks,” Johansson said.

In addition to emphasizing the need for a consistent, unified approach toward reopening, Johansson pointed to a recent report from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control that suggested that keeping travel bans in place would be unproductive. The agency found that closing borders was an effective strategy to buy authorities some time at the start of an outbreak, or when deployed in isolated areas. Otherwise, though, the potential benefits were minimal and outweighed by the economic disruption.

By Antonia Farzan
June 5, 2020 at 1:34 AM EDT

The NBA’s return-to-play plan and playoff format explained

The NBA’s Board of Governors voted to approve Thursday the resumption of the 2019-20 season July 31 with 22 teams at a single-site campus in the Orlando area after a months-long shutdown caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

For a rundown of key details and questions regarding the return-to-play plan and its postseason format, read more here.

By Ben Golliver
June 5, 2020 at 12:48 AM EDT

EMT kept working in hard-hit Detroit suburb despite escalating coronavirus risks

Paul Novicki’s family has little doubt how he caught the novel coronavirus. As an emergency medical technician, Novicki pushed through lengthy shifts to aid sick and injured people. Even as the virus spread through his suburb of hard-hit Detroit, Novicki continued working, undeterred by the risks.

“To him, it’s just an occupational hazard. He would brush it off and go to work,” said his son, Zack Novicki.

Both Novicki and his EMT partner, Rob Nemeth, contracted the virus. Nemeth survived his bout. Novicki, 51, did not.

Read more here.

By Chelsea Janes
June 5, 2020 at 12:22 AM EDT

Australian biotech firm says 100 million vaccine doses could be available by end of 2021

An Australian biotech firm has pledged to help fund and manufacture a promising coronavirus vaccine candidate, hoping to have millions of doses available by next year.

The University of Queensland, which has been working on developing a coronavirus vaccine candidate, announced a partnership with Australian biotech giant CSL and the Norway-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations on Friday. Under the agreement, CSL and CEPI will fund clinical trials and, if successful, the initial phase of large-scale production.

CSL, which would produce the first batches of the drug, said in a statement that its technology “can be scaled to produce up to one hundred million doses towards the end of 2021.”

The vaccine candidate uses a unique “molecular clamp” technology developed by University of Queensland researchers. Early preclinical trials showed that it produced high levels of antibodies that can neutralize the virus, the scientists said.

Trials are expected to start next month.

By Antonia Farzan
June 5, 2020 at 12:20 AM EDT

Virginia moves to next phase of reopening. Here’s what that means.

Most of Virginia will move to the next phase of reopening Friday, allowing restaurants to have indoor dining at half capacity and gyms and fitness centers to open at 30 percent capacity.

But Northern Virginia and the city of Richmond, which have been hit harder by the novel coronavirus, will remain in Phase 1 of Gov. Ralph Northam’s “Forward Virginia” plan to return to normalcy.

Among other things, the looser restrictions in most parts of the state mean that the limit on groups expands to 50 or fewer people, instead of the 10 or fewer under Phase 1 — allowing some entertainment venues to reopen — while pools, museums and zoos can reopen with restrictions, officials said.

Read more here.

By Antonio Olivo
June 5, 2020 at 12:19 AM EDT

Hong Kong people defy covid-19 ban on Tiananmen vigil to honor massacre victims

HONG KONG — Thousands of people, candles in hand, gathered at a park and other locations across Hong Kong on Thursday to commemorate China’s massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 31 years ago, defying the city’s first ban on the vigil, ostensibly over the coronavirus pandemic.

Shouting pro-democracy slogans, protesters drowned out announcements warning that gatherings of more than eight are illegal in the park and ignored nearby police.

Read more here.

By Shibani Mahtani
June 5, 2020 at 12:18 AM EDT

The U.S. economic slide is likely bottoming out, but a recovery could take years

The U.S. economy’s steep slide appears to be leveling off amid signs that layoffs are easing, travel is modestly picking up and Americans are beginning to eat out again, but a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is still a long way off, with economic activity at deeply depressed levels.

On Thursday, the latest sign that the economic decline may be bottoming out came as the government reported that 1.9 million Americans had applied for unemployment insurance during the last week of May — a painfully high number but the lowest since the novel coronavirus started spreading widely in the country in March.

The unemployment rate for May, due out Friday, is expected to be close to 20 percent, a level not seen since the 1930s. The Congressional Budget Office released projections this week showing it doesn’t expect the U.S. economy to fully recover until 2030.

Read more here.

By Heather Long and Eli Rosenberg