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

By Chico Harlan, Loveday Morris, Michael Birnbaum and Stefano Pitrelli

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.

June 5, 2020 at 11:37 PM EDT
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How do masks change human behavior? An Italian scientist who has studied cow sociability decided to find out.

By Craig Timberg

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.

June 5, 2020 at 11:13 PM EDT
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Coronavirus transmission remains high in much of the U.S.

By Chelsea Janes and Joel Achenbach

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.”

June 5, 2020 at 10:41 PM EDT
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Universal Orlando Resort reopens despite Florida’s uptick in coronavirus cases

By Samantha Pell

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.

June 5, 2020 at 10:11 PM EDT
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Desperate Middle Eastern women resort to selling their gold as pandemic grinds on

By Sarah Dadouch

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.

June 5, 2020 at 9:54 PM EDT
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Dow soars more than 800 points as U.S. stocks close in on pre-pandemic levels

By Thomas Heath and Taylor Telford

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.

June 5, 2020 at 9:18 PM EDT
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Banner Health’s Arizona ICUs nearing capacity as coronavirus hospitalizations rapidly increase

By Samantha Pell

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.

June 5, 2020 at 8:40 PM EDT
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Paris bans George Floyd demonstration at U.S. Embassy, citing coronavirus concerns

By Samantha Pell

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.

June 5, 2020 at 7:52 PM EDT
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Minnesota says it’s too soon to tell if cases will seriously rise amid reopenings and protests

By Miriam Berger

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.

June 5, 2020 at 7:18 PM EDT
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A positive pandemic outcome: A shift in how we think about food

By Cara Rosenbloom

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.

June 5, 2020 at 6:39 PM EDT
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Trump touts U.S. testing during tour of medical swab factory in Maine

By Samantha Pell

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.

June 5, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT
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Minnesota announces new loosening of coronavirus restrictions amid protests

By Miriam Berger

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.

June 5, 2020 at 5:08 PM EDT
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Trump-connected lobbyist ends coronavirus contract with D.C. because of Bowser, White House feud

By Josh Dawsey and Fenit Nirappil

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.

June 5, 2020 at 4:34 PM EDT
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Free coronavirus testing sites pop up as protests continue

By Samantha Pell

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.