By: JON HAWORTH, MATT ZARRELL, MEREDITH DELISO and MARC NATHANSON, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 313,000 people worldwide.
More than 4.6 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.
The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 1.4 million diagnosed cases and at least 89,318 deaths.
Here’s how the news developed on Sunday. All times Eastern:
11:42 p.m.: University of South Carolina to temporarily resume classes
As colleges and universities assess whether to reopen for in-person classes in the fall, the University of South Carolina is taking a preemptive approach for the winter.
The university announced that it will resume in-person classes at the end of the summer — but only for three months.
In a letter to the university community, the school’s president said that in-person classes will begin on Aug. 20, proceed uninterrupted through the school’s traditional mid-October fall break, and run through Thanksgiving, at which point the university will return to distance learning due to concerns about a second spike of the virus.
“The recommendation to cancel Fall Break and essentially accelerate in-person instruction for the semester was developed with significant input from faculty, staff and student government leadership,” University President Robert Caslen said in the letter. “Our best current modelling predicts a spike in cases of COVID-19 at the beginning of December, which also will likely coincide with traditional flu season.”
8:22 p.m.: Member of Canadian aerobatic team killed in flyover crash
A member of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s flying aerobatic team was killed while training for a flyover to thank front-line COVID-19 workers.
An aircraft with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds crashed near the city of Kamloops, British Columbia, Royal Canadian Air Force officials said. One person in the plane was killed and the other sustained non-life-threatening injuries, said officials.
The aircraft crashed while “preparing to continue Operation Inspiration,” the flyovers performed to support front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, an official said.
One person on the ground was also injured in the crash, which occurred in a residential neighborhood, according to Canadian broadcaster CTV.
5:12 p.m.: NASCAR returns after 10-week hiatus
NASCAR started its first race in 10 weeks Sunday afternoon at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
Precautions due to the coronavirus pandemic meant no fans were allowed in the stands and team rosters were limited to 16 people, including the driver. The starting order for the 400-mile race was also drawn at random based on owner points.
The event was dedicated to health care workers fighting COVID-19.
NASCAR’s next race is Wednesday at Darlington Raceway.
3:46 p.m.: California’s infection rate continues to climb
The COVID-19 infection rate in California continues to increase.
California has 78,839 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,261 deaths, according to the latest data from the state.
New cases went up 2,046 in a day, while deaths increased by 57. The previous day saw only 1,857 new cases.
The state has been working to increase testing capacity, with more than 1.2 million tests conducted as of May 16 — up 56,117 from the day before.
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently started to loosen restrictions on his stay-at-home order.
Fewer than half of California’s 58 counties — 23 — are currently in Stage 2 of a four-stage reopening plan. That stage allows for lower-risk workplaces and child care facilities to reopen.
1:17 p.m.: UK to get Oxford COVID-19 vaccine 1st as part of pharmaceutical deal
The United Kingdom will have first access to Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine if it’s successful, a U.K. government official said Sunday.
Oxford has signed a global licensing agreement with U.K.-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to deliver 100 million doses of Oxford’s potential vaccine; the company will work to make up to 30 million of those doses available for the U.K. by September as part of the deal, according to Business Secretary Alok Sharma.
“This deal with AstraZeneca means that if the Oxford University vaccine works, people in the U.K. will get the first access to it, helping to protect thousands of lives,” Sharma said in a statement.
Researchers at Oxford and Imperial College of London will also receive 84 million pounds (about $101 million) in government funding toward developing a vaccine, Sharma announced.
Human clinical trials for Oxford’s coronavirus vaccine began last month. Imperial’s vaccine trial is set to begin in June.
The U.K. has the third-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the second-highest number of deaths in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, with more than 244,000 cases and 34,716 fatalities.
12:20 p.m.: Gov. Cuomo urges New Yorkers to get tested, demonstrates swab test during briefing
New York has more testing capacity than New Yorkers are using, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
Some drive-in sites that can do 50,000 COVID-19 tests daily are only doing about 5,000 a day, the governor said.
To urge those eligible to get the COVID-19 swab test — often described as unpleasant — the governor demonstrated getting one live during his daily coronavirus briefing.
“This test is not an invasive test. There’s no pain to this test,” Cuomo said before the test. “This is nothing about this test that should intimidate people from not taking this test. It’s fast and easy, and so fast and so easy that even the governor can take this test. That’s how fast and easy it is.”
A doctor wearing personal protective equipment then collected a sample from the governor using a deep nasal swab.
“That is the whole test. I’m not in pain and discomfort,” Cuomo said after the seconds-long test was administered. “There’s no reason why you should not get the test. You don’t even have to be New York tough to take that test.”
New York state has more than 700 testing sites and is performing up to 40,000 tests a day, Cuomo said. The state also has formed a partnership with CVS, the governor announced Sunday; more than 60 CVS pharmacies across the state will be able to do 50 or more tests a day.
New Yorkers eligible for the diagnostic test include anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, those who have had contact with someone with a confirmed case, a person in a precautionary or mandatory quarantine, health care workers, first responders, nursing home employees and essential workers. Additionally, those who are returning to work during Phase 1 of the state’s reopening, such as construction or manufacturing workers, are now also eligible, the governor announced.
The state also launched a new website Sunday to find testing sites.
11:15 a.m.: 137 cases of NYC children with syndrome associated with COVID-19
There are now 137 cases of children with Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome Associated with COVID-19 in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during his daily press briefing on Sunday.
Of those cases, 66 have tested positive for the coronavirus or antibodies were detected. There has been one death from the illness.
De Blasio implored parents that if they see their child exhibit any of the symptoms of the syndrome, including persistent fever, rash, abdominal pain and vomiting, to immediately call their health care provider.
“Early detection saves lives of children,” the mayor said.
Overall, the number of daily hospitalizations has remained flat since May 14, while ICU admissions and the percentage of people who tested positive for coronavirus were both down, de Blasio said. There were 469 ICU admissions, down from 506 on May 14; and 11% of people tested were positive, down from 13%.
Meanwhile, beaches will remain closed Memorial Day weekend but de Blasio did not rule out the possibility that they will be open later in the summer.
“It’s still not safe,” the mayor said, adding that walking on the beach is permitted but if officials start to see people congregating and are going against recommendations, they will take further measures.
De Blasio also implored New Yorkers to give blood as the supply in the city has gotten low due to a lack of blood drives because of coronavirus-related social distancing.
The New York Blood Center, which helps supply additional blood to area hospitals, is down to a two-day supply of blood.
“We need to make a comeback quickly,” de Blasio said.
Hospitals have their own emergency blood supplies but unless they receive additional blood, some surgeries cannot move forward, the mayor said.
10:30 a.m.: Spain daily death toll under 100 for 1st time in 2 months
For the first time since March 16, Spain’s one-day death toll from the novel coronavirus dropped below 100.
Spain reported 87 new deaths on Sunday, bringing the total deaths in the country from the pandemic to 27,650.
The country’s Health Ministry reported 652 new cases.
Spain has had 231,350 confirmed COVID-19 cases, which is the fifth most cases globally after the U.S., Russia, the U.K. and Brazil, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Fernando Simon, chief of emergency response, said the rate of transmission is low, “which makes us think that we are in a favorable situation,” but that a second wave is possible.
7:39 a.m.: Eric Trump implies Democrats, Biden using coronavirus as conspiracy to hurt President Trump by ‘taking away’ MAGA rallies
In an interview on Fox News Saturday night, Eric Trump baselessly accused Democrats and Joe Biden’s campaign of trying to use the coronavirus to hurt his father, President Donald Trump, politically by “taking away” his campaign rallies.
Speaking on “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” Eric Trump tossed a number of confusing and wild accusations about Democrats, Biden, and the coronavirus pandemic — appearing to claim that lockdowns around the country were part of a Democratic/Biden manufactured conspiracy to stop the president’s campaign rallies and hurt his political prospects, despite the virus death toll now approaching 90,000 in the United States.
The president’s son accused Democrats of wanting to “milk [the coronavirus] for everything they can” and seemed to imply that Democrats and the media were blowing the pandemic out of proportion to hurt the president, saying that after Election Day the “coronavirus will magically all of a sudden go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.”
Asked how the virus has impacted President Trump politically, Eric Trump blamed Democrats for rallies being put on hold, which he called “Donald Trump’s greatest tool”:
“Biden can’t go on stage without making some horrible blunder. I mean even from his basement he’s making awful gaffes every single day, so, his campaign is thrilled that he’s not going out there. And 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,” Eric Trump said. “So they will and you watch they’ll milk it every single day between now and November 3, and, guess what, after November 3rd, coronavirus will magically all of a sudden go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.”
“They’re trying to deprive him of his, his greatest asset, which is the fact that the American people love him. The fact that he’s relatable. The fact that he can go out there and draw massive crowds. Joe Biden can’t get 10 people in a room, my father’s getting 50,000 in a room and they want to do everything they can to stop it. So make no mistake, to a lot of them… a lot of them this is a very cognizant strategy that they’re trying to employ. It’s no different than again the nonsense that they’re trying to throw in the Hope Act,” he continued. “It’s no different than the mail-in voting that they want to do all these places. It is no different than wanting illegal immigrants to vote in our country. It is a cognizant strategy. And it’s sad and again it’s not going to be allowed to happen we’re going to win November.”
Eric Trump claimed using the coronavirus is a “cognizant strategy” by Democrats and/or Joe Biden and implied they played some role in “taking away Donald Trump’s greatest tool” — which is a confusing and baseless accusation given not only was the decision to stop rallies made by the president’s own campaign, it came as many experts said large gatherings like political rallies shouldn’t return until as recent as next year.
Also, he’s echoing comments President Trump made early on as the virus first spread when he called it a Democratic “hoax” given their response to the virus. But, months later, Eric Trump is now implying the response to the virus is some Democratic conspiracy while experts like Dr. Fauci are warning that reopening the country too soon could lead to “needless suffering and death.”
4:48 a.m.: Texas reports single highest daily rate increase of infections
The latest number of coronavirus cases in Texas jumped by 1,801 in a single day, the highest daily rate since the state started tracking data. The number of cases reported now stands at 46,999, according to the latest figures released by Johns Hopkins University.
There are currently 19,093 active cases statewide with 1,791 patients hospitalized — which is an increase of 75 from yesterday.
A total of 678,471 people have been tested out of a statewide population of around 29 million people.
The state of Texas has also reported 1,305 fatalities — an increase of 33 but down from the two day high of 58 and 56 the previous two days.
12:35 a.m.: Federal judge blocks North Carolina governor’s restrictions on religious services
A federal judge issued an order on Saturday that allows North Carolina religious leaders to reopen their doors to their congregations in spite of the governor’s warning that they risk spreading coronavirus.
Gov. Roy Cooper said he wouldn’t appeal the ruling blocking his restrictions on indoor religious services.
A hearing is scheduled May 29 on whether the order will become permanent.
The order prevents Cooper from taking enforcement actions against religious worshipers but also states they should observe recommendations for social distancing and reduce transmission of the virus when possible.
Governor Cooper’s spokesperson issued the following statement in response to the order.
“We don’t want indoor meetings to become hotspots for the virus and our health experts continue to warn that large groups sitting inside for long periods of time are much more likely to cause the spread of COVID-19. While our office disagrees with the decision, we will not appeal, but instead urge houses of worship and their leaders to voluntarily follow public health guidance to keep their members safe.”
7:45 p.m.: ‘Pharma Bro’ denied release from prison
Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive imprisoned for fraud and most infamous for hiking the price of a lifesaving drug, was rejected for release due to COVID-19.
Shkreli, 37, had argued for release in part because of his work in bio pharmaceuticals, which he said could benefit the public. If allowed to research coronavirus, Shkreli said he could bring a cure to market.
The judge flatly rejected the claim.
“The court does not find that releasing Mr. Shkreli will protect the public, even though Mr. Shkreli seeks to leverage his experience with pharmaceuticals to help develop a cure for COVID-19 that he would purportedly provide at no cost,” U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York Kiyo A. Matsumoto wrote.
ABC News’ Will Steakin, Alexandra Faul, Christine Theodorou and Ahmad Hemingway contributed to this report.
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