By MORGAN WINSOR and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 322,000 people worldwide.
Over 4.8 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.5 million diagnosed cases and at least 91,872 deaths.
Here’s how the news developed Tuesday. All times Eastern:
8:36 p.m.: CVS returns $43 million in government funding
CVS, the largest pharmacy chain in the United States, said Tuesday it has returned $43.3 million in funding from the government.
“CVS Health recently received approximately $43.3 million through the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund,” CVS CEO Larry Merlo wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “As you know, CVS Health did not solicit these funds but received them as part of an automatic distribution by the Department of Health and Human Services. We have made the decision to return the funds and forgo participation in subsequent disbursements. In doing so, we hope to help HHS provide additional support to other providers who are facing significant financial challenges as a result of the pandemic.”
The $100 billion Provider Relief Fund, which is separate from the small business loans many companies have returned, was started to provide money to health care providers.
Merlo was one of a handful of company CEOs who appeared at the White House Rose Garden with President Donald Trump to discuss testing advances on April 27.
7:25 p.m.: DOJ warns California governor over not reopening religious services
The Justice Department has sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom warning that his state’s reopening plan could raise civil rights concerns over how it, in their words, imposes restrictions on gatherings of religious groups that are more burdensome than other secular activities.
“The Department of Justice does not seek to dictate how States such as California determine what degree of activity and personal interaction should be allowed to protect the safety of their citizens,” Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s civil rights division, writes in the letter. “However, we are charged with upholding the Constitution and federal statutory protections for civil rights. Whichever level of restrictions you adopt, these civil rights protections mandate equal treatment of persons and activities of a secular and religious nature.”
Dreiband argues in the letter that the phased reopening plan outlined by Newsom would allow restaurants, factories, malls and others to resume operations with social distancing at a quicker pace than in-person religious services.
“While it is true that social distancing requirements applied to places of worship may inevitably result in much smaller congregations than some faith groups would like, in our experience with other controversies around the country, many places of worship are quite content to operate at 15-25% of capacity in a way that allows for social distancing between family groups,” Dreiband says in the letter co-signed by California’s four U.S. attorneys.
In-person religious services are part of California’s third stage of reopening, along with hair and nail salons, gyms, movie theaters and sporting events without live audiences.
5:50 p.m.: Met Gala canceled, museum may open in August
The Met said that the museum is planning to reopen to the public in mid-August or in the weeks following.
“Initially, the days and hours The Met is open will likely be reduced, and, given the need to provide an environment that respects social distance requirements, the Museum will not have tours, talks, concerts, or events through calendar year 2020,” the museum said in a statement.
“The Met has endured much in its 150 years, and today continues as a beacon of hope for the future,” museum President Daniel H. Weiss said. “This museum is also a profound reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the power of art to offer comfort, inspiration, and community. As we endure these challenging and uncertain times, we are encouraged by looking forward to the day when we can once again welcome all to enjoy The Met’s collection and exhibitions.”
In an additional statement, the Met said that the 2020 Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, “originally scheduled for Monday, May 4, will not take place this year due to the global health crisis.”
4:15 p.m.: Virginia reports 1st case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children
A coronavirus-related illness in children, seen in many states, countries and in over 100 young people in New York City, has now reached Virginia.
Virginia on Tuesday reported its first case of the illness now known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed has a link to COVID-19.
“The child was hospitalized on May 5 and has since been discharged and is recovering at home,” Virginia officials said Tuesday.
The child’s age and gender were not released.
Symptoms of MIS-C include irritability or decreased activity, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, conjunctivitis, lack of appetite, red or cracked lips, red or bumpy tongue, swollen hands and feet.
“I urge all health care providers in Virginia to immediately report any patient who meets these criteria to the local health department by the most rapid means,” said Virginia Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver. “All Virginians should take steps to avoid exposure to COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing cloth face coverings if appropriate.”
2:45 p.m.: China says Trump’s letter to WHO is attempt to ‘shift the blame of U.S. incompetence’
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) that threatened to permanently freeze U.S. funding is an attempt to “shift the blame of U.S. incompetence.”
The spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said in a press conference that Trump’s Monday letter to the WHO director-general was full of ambiguous wording to mislead the public.
Zhao also said the U.S. administration violates its international obligation by suspending funding to the WHO.
Trump’s letter accused the WHO of repeatedly making misleading claims about COVID-19 and having an “alarming lack of independence from the People’s Republic of China.”
The letter said, “If the World Health Organization doesn’t commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”
Zhao said, “Picking on China while shirking and bargaining away its own international obligations to WHO, the U.S. has obviously miscalculated the situation and made a mistargeted move.”
2 p.m.: NJ says death toll from long-term care facilities now at 4,295
In New Jersey, over 149,000 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and at least 10,586 of those have lost their lives.
New Jersey’s long-term care facilities have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic.
Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday that the state is changing the way it records deaths in long-term care facilities.
Murphy on Monday reported over 5,000 deaths at long-term care facilities, but on Tuesday he said the state was now going to report totals by the number of lab-confirmed deaths — which currently stands at 4,295.
Murphy said the initial data was not an apples-to-apples comparison.
12:40 p.m.: Belmont Stakes set for June 20 without fans in the bleachers
New York’s Belmont Stakes will take place Saturday, June 20 as the opening leg of the Triple Crown — but spectators won’t be able to attend.
The Belmont Stakes will air at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports.
The Kentucky Derby was rescheduled from May 2 to Sept. 5. The Preakness Stakes was rescheduled from May 16 to Oct. 3.
12 p.m.: Maryland reports 1st pediatric death, highest 1-day rise in infections
A 15-year-old in Baltimore County, Maryland, has died from COVID-19 — the state’s first pediatric death, officials said Tuesday.
The teen had symptoms of the inflammatory syndrome associated with the coronavirus — the same illness reported in at least 147 young people in New York City.
Across Maryland, more than 41,000 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The state on Tuesday reported 1,784 new COVID-19 cases — Maryland’s highest one-day rise.
10:30 a.m.: ‘Too early to predict’ fall school plans in NYC
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s asking the state to authorize line-of-duty benefits for the 270 city employees who have lost their lives to the coronavirus.
The families of those employees who died “need to know their futures will be secure,” the mayor said.
De Blasio on Tuesday reported a “mixed bag” for the daily tracking progress indicators.
There were 57 people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19 on Sunday, up from 48 admissions on Saturday. And there were 492 patients in ICUs on Sunday, up from 475 patients on Saturday.
But of those tested citywide on Sunday, just 9% were positive for the coronavirus, down from 11% one day earlier, the mayor said.
De Blasio said Tuesday it’s “too early to predict” school plans for the fall but that safety will be the No. 1 factor — especially now that a coronavirus-related illness is impacting children.
Now known by the name Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that the illness does have a link to COVID-19.
The city has seen 147 cases of the illness using the initial definition — Pediatric Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome. Of those, 69 young people tested positive for the coronavirus and antibodies, and one young person died, the mayor said.
De Blasio said common symptoms include: persistent fever, irritability or sluggishness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, conjunctivitis, enlarged lymph node on one side of the neck, red cracked lips or red tongue, swollen hands and feet.
Parents should call their doctor immediately if their child has symptoms, the mayor said.
New York City officials plan to have an updated number of cases under the MIS-C definition this week, the mayor said.
9:06 a.m.: Seychelles bans cruise ships until 2022
The Seychelles has banned all cruise ship tourism through the end of 2021 as part of its efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The East African island nation’s tourism minister announced the two-year ban on all cruise ship calls at Port Victoria earlier this month, saying the measure takes effect immediately, according to the Seychelles Nation, the national newspaper.
The country’s international airport on the island of Mahe has also been shut down since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Seychelles appears to have been largely spared from the scourge of the pandemic. The archipelago has just 11 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and no reported deaths, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
However, the country’s economy relies heavily on tourism, which is its second main source of foreign exchange earnings after commercial fishing, according to the Geneva-based International Trade Center.
8:19 a.m.: Navajo Nation reports 69 new cases of COVID-19
The Navajo Nation reported 69 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total to 4,071, according to a joint press release from the Native American territory’s president and vice president.
There were no coronavirus-linked fatalities reported Monday, leaving the Navajo Nation’s death toll at 142.
As the largest American Indian reservation in the country, the Navajo Nation is home to more than 356,000 people and covers some 25,000 square miles in the United States, spanning across parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. The territory is approximately the size of the state of West Virginia.
The Navajo Department of Health has conducted more than 25,000 COVID-19 tests.
“The Navajo Nation is testing our citizens at a greater rate per capita than any state in the entire country and that’s a major reason why we have high numbers of positive cases,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement Monday night. “The Navajo Nation must continue to work together with local, state, and federal partners to stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying home, washing hands, staying at least six-feet apart from others, and by wearing proper personal protection, such as face masks when in public.”
7:31 a.m.: Russian prime minister officially returns to work after battling COVID-19
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin officially returned to work Tuesday after being hospitalized for several weeks with COVID-19, the Kremlin said.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin had appointed an acting-prime minister in the meantime, Mishustin still held video conferences with ministers from the hospital, sitting up in bed and wearing a suit.
Putin on Tuesday cancelled his order that appointed an acting-prime minister, allowing Mishutin to formally return to his role, according to the Kremlin. Russian news agencies reported that Mishustin was still in the hospital the previous day.
Putin’s longtime press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, revealed last week that he was also being treated for COVID-19.
6:13 a.m.: Russia nears 300,000 total cases of COVID-19
Russia on Tuesday reported 9,263 new cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 299,941, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters.
Russia has the second-largest national tally of COVID-19 cases in the world, behind the United States. The latest daily tally is down from a record 11,656 new infections on May 11. Last Thursday marked the end of a 12-day streak during which the country registered over 10,000 new cases per day.
Russia also has one of the world’s fastest rates of new infections in the coronavirus pandemic, second only to the U.S.
However, the nation’s death toll from COVID-19 remains relatively low with 115 new fatalities reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide total to 2,837, according to the coronavirus response headquarters.
5:34 a.m.: France’s top court bans drone surveillance in Paris for enforcing restrictions
France’s highest administrative court ruled on Monday that Paris police could no longer use drones to surveil public compliance with coronavirus-related restrictions.
Police have used unmanned aerial vehicles with surveillance cameras in the French capital since mid-March to ensure people were complying with containment measures imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, the Paris-based Council of State decided that it “constitutes a serious and manifestly unlawful infringement of privacy rights,” according to an order made public Monday in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by civil liberties groups.
Following Monday’s ruling, the Paris Police Prefecture announced in a statement that “drone monitoring of compliance with deconfinement measures has been suspended.”
France is one of the worst-affected nations in Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 179,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and at least 28,111 deaths, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Earlier this month, France began to gradually emerge from a nationwide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the virus. Some 1.5 million elementary and primary school students returned to classrooms across the country last week.
4:56 a.m.: Daily coronavirus deaths fall below 100 in Italy
Italy reported less than 100 new deaths from the novel coronavirus on Monday for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
The country’s Civil Protection Department registered 99 fatalities over a 24-hour period, bringing the nationwide death toll to 32,007. Monday’s daily rise was down from 145 the previous day.
The number of active cases also fell Monday to 66,553, down from 68,351 the previous day. Meanwhile, four regions — Basilicata, Calabria, Sardinia and Umbria — reported having zero infections.
Overall, more than 225,000 people in Italy have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Once the worst-hit country in Europe, Italy was the first nation in the world to put a nationwide lockdown in place due to the pandemic. The country began to slowly lift the strict lockdown earlier this month. Most businesses have since resumed activities but under social distancing rules, with shops, restaurants, hair salons and churches reopening Monday.
3:45 a.m.: Oregon Supreme Court temporarily reinstates governor’s coronavirus restrictions
The Oregon Supreme Court has halted a lower court’s order that had invalidated the statewide restrictions imposed by Gov. Kate Brown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A Baker County circuit judge ruled on Monday that the governor’s coronavirus-related restrictions were “null and void,” in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by 10 churches across Oregon that argued the state’s social-distancing rules were unconstitutional. Within hours, Brown filed an emergency motion seeking a hold on the judge’s preliminary injunction pending a review by the Oregon Supreme Court.
The state’s high court granted that motion late Monday night.
“Following swift action by the Oregon Supreme Court, my emergency orders to protect the health and safety of Oregonians will remain in effect statewide while the court hears arguments in this lawsuit,” Brown said in a statement after the court’s ruling. “From the beginning of this crisis, I have worked within my authority, using science and data as my guide, heeding the advice of medical experts. This strategy has saved lives and protected Oregonians from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Oregon Supreme Court is requiring both sides to submit their arguments in the case by Friday. The court did not set a timeframe for when it would decide the issue, according to Portland ABC affiliate KATU-TV.
Brown declared a statewide state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic in early March and has since issued multiple executive orders, including the closure of all schools and nonessential businesses as well as a ban on dine-in service at restaurants and bars.
Earlier this month, the governor extended the order another 60 days until July 6. However, most Oregon counties have gotten the state’s approval to begin relaxing those restrictions last Friday.
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