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Coronavirus updates: Some businesses reopen as states test effects of easing lockdowns

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More U.S. states are starting to ease lockdown measures imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19. Among them is Texas, which is allowing nonessential businesses to start reopening.

Other states, though, are holding firm. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced beach closures in Orange County over concerns about crowds, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has extended the state's emergency declaration. New York's governor announced schools in the state will stay closed for the rest of the school year.

More than 64,000 people have died of the virus in the U.S., and more than 238,000 have died across the globe. 

Latest major developments:

Detailed information from the CDC on coronavirus treatment and prevention.

 

Immigrants in ICE custody clash with Massachusetts jail officials in latest disturbance over coronavirus

A group of immigrants in U.S. government custody clashed with officials at a Massachusetts detention facility late Friday, according to advocates and local authorities, who reported the latest episode of growing dissent and frustration among detainees amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The disturbance at the Bristol County House of Corrections is at least the ninth instance since President Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus in which staff at detention facilities have used pepper spray on protesting ICE detainees, according to statements from the agency to CBS News. It is also at least the tenth incident since then in which detention center personnel have responded to disturbances by immigrants.

Read more here. 

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
 

New York nursing home reports 98 deaths of residents suspected to have had the coronavirus

A New York City nursing home on Friday reported the deaths of 98 residents believed to have had the coronavirus — a staggering death toll that shocked public officials.

"It's absolutely horrifying," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "It's inestimable loss, and it's just impossible to imagine so many people lost in one place."

It is hard to say whether the spate of deaths at the Isabella Geriatric Center, in Manhattan, is the worst nursing home outbreak yet in the U.S., because even within the city facilities have chosen to report fatalities in different ways. A state tally of nursing home deaths released Friday listed only 13 at the home.

But officials at the 705-bed center confirmed that through Wednesday 46 residents who tested positive for COVID-19 had died as well as an additional 52 people "suspected" to have the virus. Some died at the nursing home and some died after being treated at hospitals.

The number of bodies became so overwhelming the home ordered a refrigerator truck to store them because funeral homes have been taking days to pick up the deceased.

By Associated Press
 

Kroger limits shopper purchases of beef and pork in some stores

Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket chain, has started limiting how much ground beef and fresh pork customers may buy in some of its stores amid mounting concerns about meat supplies in the U.S.

In confirming the decision in an email to CBS MoneyWatch, Kroger cited the rash of closures at meat processing plants in multiple states due to outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers at the facilities. 

First reported by CNN, the grocery giant did not reveal how many of its locations would be curbing customer purchases of beef and pork. Kroger operates more than 2,700 stores under multiple banner names, including Fred Meyer and Harris Teeter. 

"At Kroger, we feel good about our ability to maintain a broad assortment of meat and seafood for our customers because we purchase protein from a diverse network of suppliers," a spokesperson said in an email. "There is plenty of protein in the supply chain; however, some processors are experiencing challenges." 

Read more here. 

By Kate Gibson
 

Senior intel official says evidence for "both" virus origin scenarios exists

A senior U.S. intelligence official said Friday that the two scenarios being examined by the intelligence community about the origins of the novel coronavirus – via human contact with infected animals or as the result of a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China – are "both" currently supported by "evidence" that the community is continuing to evaluate.

"Evidence of both scenarios exists," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the matter. The official declined to further characterize the evidence or its credibility, or to say whether either scenario was considered by the intelligence community to be more or less likely. The official did, however, say there was no indication of a "purposeful" release of the virus.

The official's comments go a small step further than yesterday's statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which oversees and coordinates activities among the 16 other agencies of the U.S. intelligence community. In a rare statement on an ongoing intelligence matter, ODNI said that U.S. intelligence agencies were continuing to "rigorously examine" information and intelligence while weighing both theories, and while conclusively ruling out that the virus was man-made. A number of news outlets, including CBS News, previously reported that such investigations were ongoing.

Read more here. 

By Olivia Gazis
 

'We can't telecommute to combat": Army defends decision to bring back 1,000 West Point cadets for graduation

As universities around the country postpone their graduation ceremonies or make plans to hold them digitally instead, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has come under some scrutiny for its decision to bring 1,000 cadets back to its New York campus for an in-person graduation ceremony, with President Trump as the commencement speaker.

New York has been the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, and critics argue that making 1,000 cadets from around the country to travel to the campus, about an hour's drive north of New York City, could put their health at risk for what some consider to be a political display by the president.

On Wednesday, Senator Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat who is both a combat veteran of the Iraq war and a member of West Point's Board of Visitors, released a statement saying, "Trump's reckless decision to gather 1,000 Cadets at West Point for a speech puts our future military leaders at increased risk — all to stroke his own ego. Our troops need stable, consistent leadership during volatile times like these, not a Commander-in-Chief who values his own photo ops and TV ratings over their health and safety."

On Thursday, however, the Army's top leaders defended their decision to hold an in-person graduation ceremony at West Point on the grounds that students would have had to return to campus anyway for medical and other tasks necessary to prepare for their next duty assignment.

"We can't telecommute to combat," General James McConville, the chief of staff of the Army, told reporters at the Pentagon when asked about the decision.

Read more here. 

By Christina Capatides
 

Nursing homes cited for poor infection control before pandemic

The nursing home industry is now pushing for legal immunity — but a CBS News investigation uncovered that many of America's facilities had pre-existing deficiencies that experts say made them vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Watch Jonathan Vigliotti's report below. 

Nursing homes cited for poor infection contro... 01:57
 

Inside the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels' mission to honor front-line workers

You've never seen this before: the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels flying in formation together on a joint cross-country mission. The elite pilots streaking low over New York and Philadelphia on Tuesday posed a striking thank you to front-line workers like Manhattan's Dr. Sarah Vossoughi, a clinical pathologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia.

"For them to show us that sign of respect and that sign of honor, for them to do that for us, that makes me feel really special, and it makes it worth it," Vossoughi said.

What you couldn't see overhead was the highly choreographed work that kept the fighters flying nonstop.

CBS News flew with pilots and airmen from the Air Force's 305th Air Mobility wing out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

The KC-10 Extender, an aerial refueler, one of four on this mission, took off with 300,000 pounds of fuel to help make it possible for the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels to fly Pensacola, Florida, to New York City and back without landing.

"It's a really huge opportunity for us to show our support for healthcare workers," Tech Sergeant Bryce Smith said between refueling F-16 fighters on the flight to New York. "And this flyover is hopefully going to mean a lot for everybody so it's really nice."

Read more here. 

Elite flying squadrons honor frontline worker... 02:04
By Kris Van Cleave
 

The states hit hardest by joblessness

There's no state left untouched by the current jobless crisis, but some have been hit much harder than others. A CBS MoneyWatch analysis of the number of people who've applied for jobless benefits since mid-March reveals some stark discrepancies.

In the best-case scenario — South Dakota — 7.3% of the workforce, or 33,000 people, have applied for jobless benefits. While the absolute number is on the low end, it's still a record for the state, which would normally see about 1,100 new jobless applications during this time period.

The hardest-hit state by that metric is Hawaii, where more than 29% of the workforce, or nearly 200,000 people, have applied for jobless aid since mid-March, demonstrating how hard the state's tourism-dependent economy was hit by the crisis.

The numbers are similar in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, where approximately 1 in 4 workers have applied for jobless aid.

By Irina Ivanova
 

Nearly 600 immigrants in U.S. custody test positive for coronavirus

Nearly 600 immigrant adults and children in U.S. government custody have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Friday.

At least 522 adult detainees in more than two dozen U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers across the country have tested positive for the highly contagious virus, according to the agency's latest tally. They make up more than 48% of the 1,073 immigrants in ICE custody who have received testing.

Meanwhile, at least 64 unaccompanied migrant children in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement have also tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the agency. Most, 52 of them, have recovered. The refugee agency currently has custody over approximately 1,800 migrant minors who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border alone, or in some limited circumstances, who were separated from their parents or other family members.

At least 123 staff members at the shelters and other facilities that house these minors have self-reported testing positive for coronavirus.

Coronavirus infections inside ICE's sprawling system of private prisons and county jails have increased dramatically in the past two weeks, with the agency reporting 398 new cases since April 17. At least seven detention centers now have more than 20 cases each.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
 

South Carolina stay-at-home order to end Monday

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says he will end the state's stay-at-home order on Monday. McMaster's announcement came Friday, the same day many hotels near the state beaches could reopen and state parks unlocked their gates for the first time in more than a month.

The Republican governor also said outdoor dining areas of restaurants can reopen Monday as long as they follow strict distancing requirements, restrict tables to no more than eight people and sanitize seats and tables after each customer.

Hotels in the state's most popular tourist destination, Myrtle Beach, can only honor reservations already made before the COVID-19 pandemic until May 15. Then they can take new reservations.

City officials are requiring hotels to restrict guest elevators to one person or family and all must wear masks. That could make it unappealing for some guests in the sprawling 15- or 20-story resorts that dot the area.

 

Michael Cohen will be released to home confinement at the end of May

President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, will be released to home confinement at the end of May, two sources familiar with the matter told CBS News. The release will now come about a month after Cohen was initially scheduled to return home.

Cohen was informed in April that after a 14-day quarantine, he would serve the remainder of his term at home due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen is currently incarcerated at Otisville Federal Correctional Institution, which is located about 70 miles outside of New York City.

In March, Cohen had sought to have his sentence reduced or to serve the balance of his sentence in home confinement because of the burgeoning threat posed by COVID-19. The court denied his application, expressing the view that his request was "just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle." The court also noted he was ineligible for compassionate release and had not exhausted his administrative remedies. 

Read more here.

By Paula Reid
 

FDA authorizes remdesivir for emergency use as coronavirus treatment

The FDA has authorized the antiviral drug remdesivir for emergency use in treating coronavirus cases, Stephen Hahn, the agency's commissioner, announced at the White House on Friday. Daniel O'Day, the CEO of Gilead Sciences, which produces the drug, also attended the meeting with administration officials.

O'Day said Gilead would continue to work with the administration and said the company is working to increase its supply of IV remdesivir, which does not cure the disease but may help shorten its duration. Hahn thanked O'Day for the company's collaboration with the administration and praised FDA officials for work in responding to the pandemic.

"This is an important clinical advance," Hahn said about remdesivir, calling it "the first authorized therapy for COVID-19."

Read more here.

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One vial of the drug Remdesivir, shown during a press conference about the start of a study in particularly severely ill patients at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, northern Germany on April 8, 2020. ULRICH PERREY / Getty


By Grace Segers
 

More than 1,800 federal inmates currently have coronavirus, BOP says

Over 1,800 federal inmates and more than 300 staff members are currently positive for the coronavirus, the Bureau of Prisons said Friday. Thirty-six inmates and zero staff members have died.

At California's Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island, 615 inmates - more than half the facility's inmate population - are currently positive for the virus, the BOP added. 

 

Growing number of Americans say: We're not paying the rent

Thousands of people around the U.S. are calling for politicians to cancel rent and mortgages, with temporary legal restrictions on evictions set to expire in many states in a matter of weeks. 

"Can't pay in May? Don't pay May," was the message sent out by an Oakland, California, tenants' group on 50,000 postcards. In New York state, 15,000 residents in apartments and other housing have pledged to not pay their rent on May 1, according to organizers of the protest. In Los Angeles, strikers are rallying near City Hall to demand that local officials suspend rent, mortgage and utility payments. 

"I've been practicing law for over 40 years and I've never seen something like this," said Andrew Scherer, a housing lawyer and the former head of Legal Services NYC, a non-profit group that offers legal aid to low-income people. "This is a very unusual occurrence — having a fairly large group of people saying, 'Something's got to give here.'"  

The pressure is even getting to landlords. "With the rhetoric that's going on with this potential rent strike, I am very concerned," a major New York real estate developer told Crain's New York Business this week.

Read more here. 

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Demonstrators pass the Los Angeles City Hall on May 1, 2020, as they call for a rent strike during the coronavirus pandemic.  FREDERIC J. BROWN / Getty


By Irina Ivanova
 

More than 1 million people have recovered from coronavirus

As of Friday, more than 1 million people around the world have recovered from coronavirus, according to John Hopkins University's tracker. There have been over 3 million confirmed cases worldwide since the outbreak began in December —  a milestone that was reached earlier this week. 

The United States, which now has the most confirmed cases worldwide, also has the most recoveries — around 153,000 — according to John Hopkins University data. Germany, Spain and China trail the U.S., respectively. The numbers come as some lockdowns and restrictions are being lifted across the globe. 

Read more here. 

By Christopher Brito
 

Some landlords sexually harassing tenants who can't pay rent, DOJ says

The U.S. Attorney's Office in the northern district of Georgia said Friday that some landlords have been sexually harassing tenants who can't afford to pay rent due to the coronavirus pandemic, demanding sexual favors in exchange for deferred payments. 

"Many landlords responded to these circumstances with understanding and care, trying to work with their tenants to weather the current crisis," U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak said in a press release. "However, there have been reports of landlords who have responded to requests to defer rent payments with demands for sexual favors and other acts of unwelcome sexual conduct. Such behavior is despicable, and illegal."

"Attorney General William Barr has directed the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and every U.S. Attorney's Office to devote all necessary resources to investigate reports of housing-related sexual harassment resulting from the current crisis," the release added. 

By Victoria Albert
 

Texas begins reopening as new virus deaths drop

Texas' reopening is underway with sparsely filled shopping malls and a man facing felony charges for pushing a park ranger into a lake. New virus deaths in Texas also dropped Friday, one day after a single-day record of 50 fatalities was set on the eve of Republican Governor Greg Abbott lifting stay-at-home orders. 

More than 120 people have died over the past three days in Texas, the worst stretch since the state's first coronavirus case in March. But Abbott, who isn't yet allowing hair salons or gyms to open, says hospitalizations remain steady and infection rates are down.

In Austin, police say a 25-year-old man was charged with attempted assault on a public service worker after a video posted on social media showed a city park ranger getting shoved into the water Thursday while asking a crowd to keep 6 feet of distance.

The video shows shirtless parkgoers, some in swimsuits, and laughter is heard after the park ranger is pushed into shallow water near the shore. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement it was "saddened" by the incident.

Texas Businesses Began To Reopen At Limited Capacity As Governor's Stay At Home Order Expired Thursday
An aerial drone photo of a near-empty parking lot as the North East Mall reopens on May 01, 2020 in Hurst, Texas.  / Getty Images
By Associated Press
 

New Mexico governor seals off roads in hard-hit city

The governor of New Mexico invoked the state's Riot Control Act on Friday as she sealed off all roads to nonessential traffic in the city of Gallup to help control a surging coronavirus outbreak in the former trading post city on the outskirts of the Navajo Nation.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also announced a ban on routine outings and required that businesses close from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. in the city of about 70,000 people.

COVID-19 infection rates in Gallup and surrounding McKinley County make it one of the worst U.S. hotspots for the pandemic as patients overwhelm intensive care facilities.

Lujan Grisham said the virus has run amok in McKinley County and physical distancing is not being maintained among residents. "A problem in one part of our state, with a virus this contagious, is a problem for our entire state," she said.

By Associated Press
 

Nearly 4 million homeowners are no longer paying their mortgages

A growing number of U.S. homeowners have stopped making their mortgage payments as layoffs around the country soar and more households face financial problems.

Nearly 4 million people, or just over 7% of mortgage holders, have sought relief on their home loans as of April 30, according to housing data provider Black Knight. That's up sharply from the beginning of March when fewer than 150,000 mortgages were in forbearance.

The number is only expected to grow, with May payments due soon and with the nation's unemployment rate expected to reach 15% to 20%.

"Over 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment over the last month, leading to nearly 7 percent of all mortgage borrowers asking to be put into forbearance plans," Mortgage Bankers Association Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni said in a statement earlier this week. "For Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs borrowers, the share of loans in forbearance is even higher, at 10 percent."

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act lets homeowners request reduced or suspended mortgage payments for up to 12 months without incurring late fees or penalties if their mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The provision applies to single-family or condominium mortgages. Some other government home loans, such as those backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, are also eligible for forbearance. 

Read more here.

By Khristopher J. Brooks
 

No phone or email for nearly 4,000 inmates at three federal prisons

As coronavirus cases surge inside three federal prisons in California, the Bureau of Prisons has instituted stringent measures in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

The three institutions - in Lompoc and Terminal Island - have cut off inmates' access to email and phone lines, drawing outrage from families who have not heard from loved ones in nearly two weeks. CBS News spoke to the friends and families of five inmates who have been impacted by what one person characterized as a "gag order."

The bureau confirmed the action in a statement to CBS News: "During this unprecedented response to a pandemic, we have temporarily suspended access to telephones and emails, solely to mitigate the spread of the virus from multiple people touching keyboards and handsets."

At Terminal Island, five inmates have died after testing positive for the virus, the bureau said Thursday. The low-security institution is home to 1,051 male inmates. More than half, 600, have tested positive - the most of any federal prison. Ten staffers have also contracted the virus.

The prison cut off phone and email for inmates on April 17, and its website said the action was taken to "prevent transmission of the virus by touching keyboards and phone handsets." Email and phone services should resume on May 18 at Terminal Island.

"You are strongly encouraged to continue corresponding by mailing letters through the U.S. Postal Service. The highest priority remains ensuring the safety of the inmates and staff while decreasing the spread of the COVID-19 virus," the website reads.

"Here is an unprecedented situation, in my knowledge, where neither is available and so it is almost a complete blackout of communication," said David Fathi, the director of the ACLU's National Prison Project, referring to the blocks on both visitation and communication.

Read more here.

Terminal Island Coronavirus Outbreak
This 2019 image shows the Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution in Los Angeles. Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP
By Clare Hymes
 

New Jersey to begin testing inmates and corrections workers

New Jersey will begin to test all its inmates and Department of Corrections staff for coronavirus, Governor Phil Murphy's office said Friday. 

The testing will be done along with Rutgers University's Correctional Healthcare and Accurate Diagnostics Lab and use the university's new saliva test. Current tests are done using invasive nose or throat swabs. The saliva test requires only spitting into a tube, Rutgers has said.

About 8,000 staff and 18,000 inmates will undergo testing, according to the governor. It's unclear when the testing will begin.

New Jersey has about 118,000 positive cases and has had 7,228 deaths.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death. 

By Associated Press
 

Are Paycheck Protection Program loans working? Business owners divided on answer

The federal Paycheck Protection Program has been a lifeline for some small business owners as the coronavirus ravages the American economy. But other business owners are harsh in their assessment, calling the emergency loans overly restrictive and prone to exploitation by larger companies

John Lettieri, co-founder of the Economic Innovation Group, an advocacy organization for entrepreneurs, underscored some of the program's shortcomings. The forgivable two-year loans charging just 1% interest emphasize the subsidizing of payrolls rather than the covering of rent, supplies and other major costs of doing business, he explained.

"By strictly linking relief to payroll expenses, PPP is by design of limited use to businesses struggling to meet a wider range of fixed costs," Lettieri said. "Even assuming a business can meet its other expenses, by limiting the total loan amount to roughly 10 weeks of average monthly payroll, it provides a short runway before a cliff of impending layoffs and permanent closure."

Read more here. 

By Megan Cerullo
 

N.J. governor says this weekend will be a "huge test" of social distancing

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says this weekend will be a "huge test" for New Jersey residents as parks and golf courses reopen.

"I know the overwhelming majority of you will head out, do the right things, and keep our parks therefore open going forward," he said. "But if we see what we saw, and this was extremely troubling, over the first weekend in April, where we had good weather and we closed the parks after that, we saw a lot of the so-called knucklehead behavior with people ignoring social distancing. And if we see that again, we will not hesitate - and I don't say this with any joy - to re-close the parks."

Murphy urged people to wear face masks and to remain six feet apart. He called the weekend "an experiment" to see how well people can do, which may pave the way for further reopenings.

Murphy reported more than 2,600 new coronavirus cases. 

 

New York domestic violence reports doubled in April, Cuomo says

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday that reports of domestic violence continued to increase as the state entered its second month under stay-at-home orders. According to Cuomo, domestic violence reports went up 15% in March, and doubled in April.

"That is a frightening rate and level of increase," he said. 

New Yorkers dealing with violence in their homes are encouraged to contact the state's helpline at 1-844-997-2121

"You can call, just discuss the issue, you don't have to give your identity, you don't have to say where you live, but people who need help should reach out," Cuomo said Friday. 

"There is no shame in reaching out and saying I need help," he said. "This is a national epidemic, it's a statewide epidemic."  

By Audrey McNamara
 

California county defies governor's shutdown order

A rural California county allowed nonessential businesses to reopen and diners to eat in restaurants on Friday, becoming the first to defy Gov. Gavin Newsom's statewide orders barring such moves during the coronavirus pandemic. Modoc County is "moving forward with our reopening plan," Modoc County Deputy Director of Emergency Services Heather Hadwick said in an email to The Associated Press.

She said the county of about 9,000 in the state's far northeast corner next to Oregon has had no COVID-19 cases.

Hadwick said the county had not heard back from the governor about its reopening plan, but asserted it aligns with Newsom's indicators for reopening. Schools were not opening Friday, but it was an option for districts that can accommodate preventative measures, she said

"We are utilizing his guidance of those plans and we have zero cases," she wrote. "Our residents were moving forward with or without us. We really needed to create guidelines for them so that they could do this in the safest way possible."

By Associated Press
 

New York schools to remain closed for rest of school year

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that all K-12 schools and colleges in the state will stay closed for the rest of the school year. Schools are expected to continue remote teaching. 

Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that schools in the city would be closed for the year. Cuomo contradicted that announcement, saying he wanted to consider the decision on a regional basis, CBS New York reported.

The governor said Friday that no decision has been made about the fall reopening of schools, but officials are discussing plans for kid's "summer activities" right now.

By Audrey McNamara
 

Texas Motor Speedway will host 2020 graduation ceremonies

Texas Motor Speedway will be hosting the Class of 2020 graduation ceremonies for all high schools in Denton County, Texas, officials announced on Friday. Officials said the ceremonies will be broadcast on the race track's 12-story, 218-foot-wide video board while friends and families remain in their vehicles in the track's infield, CBS DFW reports.

"We were glad to be able to provide some ideas to our area superintendents on how in-person graduation ceremonies can continue," Denton County Judge Andy Eads said. "We know this is an important rite of passage for our Denton County seniors and their families."

Officials said the diploma presentations will be hands-free in compliance with social distancing guidelines.

"A high school graduation ceremony is such an important achievement and lifelong memory for students as well as their families and friends. We are honored by the opportunity to support each and every Denton County high school graduate as best we can in these difficult times," said Eddie Gossage, president and general manager of Texas Motor Speedway.

Other districts like Dallas and Fort Worth are set to hold virtual ceremonies toward the end of May to honor the Class of 2020.

NASCAR Xfinity Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300
Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Rheem Toyota, Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Thompson Pipe Group Ford, and Tyler Reddick, driver of the #2 Alsco Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Xfinity Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 02, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. Getty
 

Mayor announces first 7 miles of open streets in NYC

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed the first seven miles of streets that will open in and around city parks to help New Yorkers maintain social distancing outdoors. It's part of a recently announced plan to open at least 40 — and up to 100 — miles of streets, CBS New York reports.

He said he expects New Yorkers to feel "spring fever" as warmer weather arrives amid the coronavirus pandemic. But he said: "The bottom line is we can not let up now."

The daily indicators — people admitted to hospitals, people in ICUs, and the percentage of people who test positive for COVID-19 — are guiding the city's policies, de Blasio said. More than 2,000 people tested positive for coronavirus yesterday and more than 200 people died, de Blasio said.

 

Nurses holding May Day protests nationwide demanding PPE, union says

Nurses with National Nurses United, a nationwide union of registered nurses, are planning to protest Friday at 139 hospitals across 13 states. They're demanding more personal protective equipment (PPE) as they treat patients with COVID-19, according to the union. 

More than 60 nurses across the country have died of COVID-19, according to NNU. The union says, however, that number is likely higher due to a lack of testing

"Nurses signed up to care for their patients. They did not sign up to sacrifice their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic," said NNU executive director Bonnie Castillo, RN, in a press release from the union.

Click here to read more.

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Nurses protest against the lack of personal protection equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 21, 2020.  Getty
By Audrey McNamara
 

Senior U.S. intelligence official says foreign cyber spies snooping on vaccine efforts

The United States has seen foreign intelligence agencies spy on research being conducted into a coronavirus vaccine, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, Bill Evanina, told BBC Radio.

"We have seen intelligence services around the globe doing their reconnaissance and their surveillance of research and development here in the U.S., as well as around the world," Evanina said, declining to comment on whether any information had been stolen.

Countries around the world are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, which killed more than 200,000 people around the globe. 

"There's really, in today's world, nothing more valuable or worth stealing than any kind of biomedical research that's going to help with the coronavirus vaccine," Evanina told BBC radio.

Trump pushes fast vaccine development 02:41

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center advises academic institutions, businesses, and the U.S. government on how to counter the work of foreign intelligence agencies.

"We've been in contact with every medical research organization that's doing the research to be very, very vigilant," Evanina said.

"We have been working with our industry and government folks here very closely to ensure they are protecting all the research and data as best they can."

By Haley Ott
 

World Health Organization wants invite to China's investigation into virus origins

The World Health Organization said Friday it hoped China would invite it to take part in its investigations into the animal origins of the novel coronavirus.

"WHO would be keen to work with international partners and at the invitation of the Chinese government to participate in investigation around the animal origins," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP in an email.

He said the U.N. health agency understood there were a number of investigations under way in China "to better understand the source of the outbreak," but added that "WHO is not currently involved in the studies in China."

Scientists believe the killer virus jumped from animals to humans, emerging in China late last year, possibly from a market in Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat.

But President Donald Trump has fuelled speculation and rumours - generally rejected by experts - that the virus may have emerged in a top-secret Chinese lab. 

U.S. intel on origin of COVID-19 outbreak 09:52

WHO has also faced scathing criticism from Mr. Trump, who earlier this month suspended Washington's funding after accusing the WHO of downplaying the seriousness of the outbreak and of kowtowing to China.

By AFP
 

Pandemic's front-line work falls disproportionately on women and minorities

As America tentatively emerges from weeks of lockdowns, the pandemic has taken its toll on workers who have been on the front lines all along.

They have been packing and delivering supplies, caring for the sick and elderly, and keeping streets and buildings clean.

They have also watched their co-workers fall ill. Thousands have gotten sick themselves. Many have died.

The burden has been borne unevenly across gender, racial and socioeconomic lines, according to an Associated Press analysis of census data in the country's 100 largest cities. They are mostly women, people of color and more likely to be immigrants.

Lifelines in the Lockdown 26:28

Workers deemed "essential" are also more likely to live below the federal poverty line or hover just above it. They are more likely to have children at home, and many live with others who also have front-line jobs.

By Associated Press
 

Orange County city councils vote to challenge California governor's order to close beaches

Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point city councils voted Thursday to challenge California Governor Gavin Newsom's order to close all beaches in Orange County. The governor announced the crackdown over concerns that crowds last weekend were jeopardizing public health.

Huntington Beach City Council now plans to file an injunction challenging the constitutionality of the governor's order, CBS Los Angeles reports.

"Huntington Beach has never been one to just roll over and take these mandates from the governor," said Huntington Beach city attorney Michael Gates. "We're going to be fighting the order on a constitutional basis. We're fighting for the city. We're fighting for our decision makers locally who have done a good job managing this crisis. We're also fighting for the citizens of Huntington Beach."

Newport Beach City Councilman Kevin Muldoon introduced a motion to join other Orange County cities in filing litigation. Dana Point City Council also voted to join the other cities and to seek a temporary restraining order to stop the state. Click here to read more.

California, Michigan tighten lockdowns 03:38
 

European Parliament building being used to shelter domestic abuse victims in Brussels

A European Parliament building in Brussels is sheltering 100 homeless women, many of whom are victims of domestic abuse, CBS partner network BBC News report Friday.

Offices in the Helmut Kohl building have been transformed into bedrooms for one or two women after social distancing in response to the coronavirus pandemic forced many local shelters to close. 

The women are receiving medical care and food.

"We've had many cases of women thrown on to the streets since the lockdown started, because of domestic violence, which is tending to increase," Sébastien Roy, the director of domestic abuse charity Samusocial, which has teamed up with the European Parliament to offer the support to homeless women, told the Belgian public broadcaster, RTBF.

European Parliament buildings are mostly empty at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic, with MEP's meeting and attending sessions mainly via video conference.  

Surge in domestic violence amid UK lockdown 02:06
By Haley Ott
 

Russian COVID-19 cases continue to spike, especially in hard-hit Moscow

For the second day in a row, Russia reported a record new number of coronavirus Friday, bringing the country's official total to 114,431. Officials said 7,933 new cases were registered in one day, and another 96 deaths were recorded.

The Mayor of Moscow, the worst-hit city in the country, said the situation in the capital appeared to have stabilized this week, but warned of more difficulties ahead.

"In my opinion, at the best, we have passed one quarter of this journey" through the pandemic, Mayor Sergei  Sobyanin, who also heads Russia's national coronavirus task force, told state television late Thursday.

He said authorities were looking for large facilities – like sports arenas and malls ­– that could be repurposed as temporary coronavirus hospitals, as the city could face a shortage of hospital beds in the coming weeks.

FILE PHOTO: A medical specialist wearing protective gear transports a man on a stretcher outside a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease on the outskirts of Moscow
A medical specialist wearing protective gear transports a man on a stretcher outside a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia, on April 29, 2020. Reuters

Anna Popova, head of Russia's consumer health watchdog, has said meanwhile that if the situation improves, the government will start to ease lockdown restrictions after May 11 by allowing jogging and walks outdoors.

By Alexandra Odynova
 

New Orleans archdiocese files for partially virus-linked bankruptcy

The Archdiocese of New Orleans has filed for bankruptcy. The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate, a media partner of CBS New Orleans affiliate WWL-TV, was first to report on the move.

Mounting costs from unresolved clergy-abuse lawsuits and the shutdown of church services due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to the Archdiocese's financial problems, according to the newspaper.

The archdiocese is expected to continue operating in a relatively normal manner. It intends to run masses and schools under "the new normal." Click here to read more.

By Tucker Reals
 

Australian leader says "nothing that we have" suggests virus came from Chinese lab

Asked Friday about President Trump's claim to have seen evidence that COVID-19 came from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had not seen anything to suggest that's the case, but he reiterated his government's backing for an international, independent investigation into the origin of the disease.

"What we have before us doesn't suggest that that [Wuhan lab] is the likely source. There's nothing that we have that would suggest that that is the likely source, but you can't rule anything out in this scenario," Morrison said.

Trump accuses Chinese lab of creating virus 01:35

Australia is one of five nations in an intelligence sharing alliance with the U.S. known as "The Five Eyes," along with the U.K., Canada and New Zealand. U.S. intelligence officials said Thursday that, while American agencies continue to look into the lab theory, they also haven't seen any concrete evidence to back it up.

Morrison reiterated the suspicions of many epidemiologists on Friday, saying "the most likely scenario" was that the virus jumped into humans from animals at wildlife "wet markets" in central China.

By Tucker Reals
 

Cal Ripken Jr. on bringing baseball back

Cal Ripken Jr., the baseball Hall of Famer and Baltimore Orioles icon, said he believes baseball can help America heal in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Ripken spoke to CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast.

USA Today reported that Major League Baseball officials are cautiously optimistic that the season could start in late June or early July.

"I think the big thing is, they just want to get back and provide people with the chance to escape, or look at something in an entertaining sort of way. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel comfortable," Ripken told Garrett.

Read the full story here.

By Stephen Smith
 

Trump says he's seen evidence virus started in Chinese lab, but U.S. intel disagrees

President Trump claimed Thursday he's seen evidence the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab and he threatened tariffs on Beijing over its role in the pandemic.

The president's assertion was undermined by his intelligence chief and his top diplomat, who said, "We don't know precisely where it began."

Scientists believe the virus jumped from animals to humans, emerging in China late last year, possibly from a market selling exotic animals for meat.

But speculation has swirled about a top-secret lab, reinforced by internet rumors and right-wing radio hosts -- and increasingly taken up by Mr. Trump.

Asked if he had seen anything giving him a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the outbreak, the president replied, "Yes, I have."

He refused to give details.

U.S. intel on origin of COVID-19 outbreak 09:52

However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated he hadn't seen definitive evidence. Click here to read more.

By AFP
 

British drugstores launch new program offering safe spaces to victims of domestic abuse

One of the largest drugstore chains in Britain, Boots, announced Friday that it was setting up a program in its pharmacies to provide safe spaces for victims and survivors fleeing domestic violence to find help.

From Friday, anyone who needs help will be able to ask a pharmacist to use a Boots consultation room, where they'll be able to access domestic abuse helplines as well as other resources, the domestic violence charity Hestia announced in a statement. 

Pharmacies are one of the services deemed essential under the U.K.'s coronavirus policy, so people are free to leave their homes to visit them without violating quarantine guidance.

"Whilst lockdown and social distancing measures continue, it is restricting victims of domestic abuse reaching out to their friends, family and co-workers for support. We know there is an increased level of uncertainty for people looking to escape an abusive relationship," Lyndsey Dearlove, head of Hestia's anti-domestic abuse program UK SAYS NO MORE said in a statement.

One survivor who fled an abusive home said the new program could make a big difference, according to the statement.

"Sometimes getting out of that bubble of abuse, that you are in at home, helps you to realise that help is out there… An abuser wouldn't really think that their victim could access help at the local pharmacy or be able to have a moment in a place like that. So being able to contact a domestic violence helpline in this way will be life changing for many," the survivor said.

Lockdowns could mean more domestic violence 03:42

If you are a survivor or victim in the U.S. and it is an emergency, dial 911. Other resources include: The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, or text LOVEIS to 22522. If it is an emergency in the U.K., call the police at 999, or for additional resources in Britain, you can dial the National Domestic Abuse hotline at 0808 2000 247.  

By Haley Ott
 

Trump hoping for lightning-fast vaccine via "Operation Warp Speed"

President Trump and top health officials say they're optimistic a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by the end of the year. Mr. Trump said he's in charge of "Operation Warp Speed" — the administration's ambitious effort to make 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available by that time.

"No, I'm not over-promising," Mr. Trump said Thursday. "We're going to fast-track it like you've never seen before."

Instead of waiting for one vaccine to emerge as a success, health officials will identify the most promising candidates and start manufacturing early.

But CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus warns, "There is risk here; That means choosing in advance which vaccine you think will work. Putting capital at risk. Manufacturing them with the hope that they work."

At least 120 projects around the world are working on a vaccine. So far, a research team at Oxford University has been most successful, and fastest.

Trump pushes fast vaccine development 02:41
By Weijia Jiang
 

China's famed Forbidden City, other Beijing parks and museums reopen

Beijing's parks and museums — including the ancient Forbidden City — reopened to the public Friday after being closed for months by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Forbidden City, past home to China's emperors, is allowing just 5,000 visitors daily, down from 80,000. And parks are permitting people to visit at 30% of the usual capacity.

Large-scale group activities remain on hold and visitors must book tickets in advance online, according to Gao Dawei, deputy director of the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau.

Beijing on Thursday downgraded its level of emergency response to the virus from first to second tier, but temperature checks and social distancing remain in force.

The change comes at the start of the five-day May 1 holiday and in advance of China's rescheduled gathering of the National People's Congress on May 22. The sessions were delayed from early March. 

By Associated Press
 

Dueling May Day coronavirus-fueled protests planned across the U.S.

Essential workers are planning strikes nationwide on Friday — May Day — to demand safer conditions during the coronavirus outbreak, while other groups plan rallies against tight stay-at-home orders they say are crippling the U.S. economy. 

Organizers say employees of Amazon, Whole Foods, Target and FedEx have become the unexpected frontline workers of the pandemic. Workers will walk off the job or call out sick to demand unpaid time off work, hazard pay, sick leave, protective gear and cleaning supplies. 

Meanwhile protesters will take to the streets in cities nationwide to demand states loosen shelter-in-place rules and "reopen." 

Poll: Most Americans back stay-at-home orders... 04:10
By Associated Press
 

Jobless claims spiral up and up, and millions still await first checks

It's been six weeks since recruiter Lynn Atwood of Lafayette, Indiana, was furloughed along with all her staffing company's employees. She's still waiting for her first unemployment check to arrive.

Atwood belongs to a Facebook group of more than 2,000 Hoosiers who've spent much of March and April expressing their frustration with hold-ups in collecting unemployment benefits. She initially applied on March 20 and says she hasn't a clue when the money will come. 

Atwood lives in one of five states with the worst backlogs of unemployment claims, according to a Century Foundation analysis. Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota and South Carolina each had about 98% of its new unemployment applicants from March still waiting for money when the month ended, the analysis found. Read more here.

By Khristopher J. Brooks
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