Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar talked about a timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine.
East Coast beaches were reopening, New Orleans’ famed restaurants were slowly reawakening, and social media was in tumult Sunday after President Donald Trump’s son, Eric, accused Democrats of “trying to milk” the coronavirus outbreak to deprive his father of campaign rallies.
“After Nov. 3, coronavirus will magically all of a sudden go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen,” Trump said. “They’re trying to deprive him of his greatest asset.”
In New Orleans, dining room service was permitted to resume this weekend at 25% capacity. In Virginia, sprawling Virginia Beach reopened for fishing and exercise. Many New Jersey beaches allowed sunbathing with appropriate social distancing. And a plethora of parks and hiking trails opened in California.
The U.S. has the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world by far. There are more than 88,000 deaths and almost 1.5 million confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the virus has killed more than 310,000 people and has infected more than 4.6 million.
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Here are some highlights to know Sunday:
What we’re talking about: Having classes and graduations canceled is tough on students. For college towns, it’s devastating.
Something to smile about: These blue bees are known for sticking their heads in pollen. They’ve been spotted in Florida for the first time in years.
Judge blocks governor’s virus-related orders on churches
Churches in North Carolina were free to hold indoor services Sunday without the severe restrictions imposed by Gov. Roy Cooper after a federal judge sided with conservative Christian leaders. Two Baptist churches, a minister and a Christian revival group filed a federal lawsuit claiming the restrictions violated their rights to worship freely and treated churches differently from retailers and other secular activities. The ordered had limited the services to 10 people while businesses were limited to 50% capacity and funeral services up to 50 people. Cooper said he would not appeal Saturday’s ruling but urged religious leaders to voluntarily follow the guidelines.
Eric Trump says Biden ‘thrilled’ outbreak is halting campaign rallies
President Trump’s son Eric says Democrats and their presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden are discouraging efforts to begin reopening the country because that would allow Trump to conduct campaign rallies. After Election Day, the political foes will determine that the coronavirus threat has “magically” gone away, the younger Trump said on Fox News.
“Biden loves this. Biden can’t go on stage without making some horrible blunder,” Trump said. “They think they’re taking away Donald Trump’s greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time.”
‘Wet markets’ threaten to fuel future pandemics
In the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese government moved quickly to ban wildlife consumption and crack down on certain “wet markets” where snakes, civets and other exotic animals are sold along with more traditional livestock.
Scientists applauded the move as long overdue, but some fear it won’t last – and they argue much more needs to be done to guard against future diseases that can make the animal-to-human leap.
“These wet markets are really perfectly conducive to spillover events,” said George Wittemyer, an associate professor of wildlife and conservation biology at Colorado State University. “You have so many different species coming in – you have wild species interacting with domestic species.
– Deirdre Shesgreen
Obama says crisis spotlights inequalities
Former President Barack Obama made several surprisingly political comments and touched on current events when he spoke on “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a two-hour livestreaming event for historically black colleges and universities.
As he congratulated graduates and commiserated over the difficult world they face, the former president noted the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was killed while jogging on a residential street in Georgia.
“Let’s be honest: A disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communicates have historically had to deal with in this country,” Obama said. “We see it in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning.”
Italy to open its borders in June
The Italian government announced Saturday that it will throw open its borders next month, effectively ending Europe’s longest and strictest coronavirus lockdown just as the summer tourism season gets under way.
Both regional and international borders will open June 3, and the government will eliminate a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving from abroad. Many hope the move will revive a decimated tourist industry, which is worth 13% of Italy’s gross domestic product.
More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY
5 sailors aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier test positive again
Five sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt that was sidelined in Guam by the COVID-19 outbreak have tested positive for the virus for the second time and have been taken off the ship, according to the Navy.
The resurgence of the virus in the five sailors underscores the baffling behavior of the highly contagious virus and raises questions about how troops that test positive can be reintegrated into the military, particularly on ships.
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Contributing: The Associated Press
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