ABC - National News

iStock/koto_fejaBy: LAUREN EFFRON, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- One California city is grappling with COVID-19 outbreaks at nine of its industrial facilities, including one food processing plant that reported having at least 153 positive cases, according to health officials.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said the largest outbreak occurred at the Farmer John meatpacking plant in Vernon, California, which is owned by Smithfield Foods and produces Dodger Dogs, among other products.

Health officials said 153 employees of 1,837 who work at that facility tested positive for COVID-19 when testing was conducted between March through May, and of those 153 employees, 41 returned to work.

The other Vernon facilities with reported outbreaks include Cal Farms Meat Company, CLW (meat), F. Gavina & Sons Inc. (coffee), Golden West Trading (meat and other products), Overhill Farms (frozen food), Rose & Shore (deli meat and prepared foods), Takaokaya USA (tea, seaweed and other products) and Vie De France Yamazaki (baked goods).

Smithfield Foods, which owns Farmer John, is the largest pork supplier in the United States and employs 40,000 people across the country.

The company said it offers free COVID-19 testing to all of its employees, according to its website, where it also lists a series of measures it has taken to help contain the spread of COVID-19 at its facilities. These measures, according to the company, include increased social distancing, plexiglass barriers and temperature scanning.

COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the food industry in the United States. Dozens of food processing plants across the country have had to shut down for days or even weeks to slow or stop the spread of the virus since March.

Nearly 5,000 meat-packing workers at 115 facilities in 19 states have been infected with COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"We have seen disruption across the entire food supply chain, and of course, the meat supply chain is a subset of that," said Nick Vyas, the executive director of Center for Global Supply Chain Management at University of Southern California, told Good Morning America. "The disruption started in a meat supply chain, as was the food supply chain as a whole, partly because this assembly line processing lines and the facility itself did not really have the proper method in place to really protect the frontline workers, and we started to see one plant after the other really got exposed with the COVID-19."

Last week, Tyson Foods confirmed 570 workers at its Wilkesboro, North Carolina, poultry facilities tested positive for the virus, and 257 employees tested positive in its Temperanceville, Virginia, facility.

"At Tyson, our team members come first, and we are focused on ensuring they feel safe and secure when they come to work," Tom Brower, senior vice president of health and safety for Tyson Foods said in a statement. "We are working closely with local health departments and using the latest information and resources to protect our team members, their families and our communities."

Tyson said it, too, has implemented a number of safety measures at its facilities, including symptom screenings for all team members before every shift, providing mandatory protective face masks to all team members, as well as a range of social distancing measures, including physical barriers between workstations and in break rooms.

Another Smithfield-owned plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was shut down for three weeks after hundreds of employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

That Smithfield facility, which the company says is responsible for up to 5% of the U.S.'s total pork production, was reopened this month after Smithfield said it was given "positive confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that the company is in full compliance with all CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance."

With food supply disruptions, prices are going up at the grocery store. Overall, the U.S. Bureau of Labor's consumer price index report said grocery bills were up 2.6% in April, the biggest monthly increase in nearly 50 years. For meat, the price of fresh beef increased 11.9% during the week ending May 9, compared to the same period last year, and the price of fresh chicken increased 7.5%, according to Neilson.

"What we're seeing is the high prices, shortages in some commodities and this will continue," Vyas said. "This impact will likely outlast the virus itself."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/somboon kaeoboonsongBy: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) -- Democratic and Republican leaders denounced gun rights supporters for hanging an effigy of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear from tree outside the state capitol building during a Memorial Day weekend demonstration.

The symbolic lynching occurred on Sunday at a rally by gun rights groups that was initially organized to celebrate Second Amendment freedoms to bear arms. But as the rally in Frankfort went on, it turned into a protest against Beshear's coronavirus-prompted stay-at-home orders.

As country singer Lee Greenwood's hit song "God Bless the U.S.A." played in the background, a demonstrator wearing camouflage pants and what appeared to be holstered handgun strung a rope over a tree limb and with the help of another man hoisted the effigy bearing a picture of Beshear and a handwritten sign tacked to it reading, "Sec Semper Tyrannis," a Latin phrase meaning "Thus always to tyrants."

Video of the episode, taken by a reporter from the Courier-Journal newspaper of Louisville, showed at least one child standing next to a baby carriage as she watched the adults hang the Beshear effigy.

The event was organized online by a group calling itself "Take Back Kentucky," which in a Facebook announcement billed it as "a rally to celebrate freedom, and to fight back against the unconstitutional shutdown over the Coronavirus."

"We will have guest speakers to talk about the virus, and how this shutdown will not only wreak havoc with the economy over the next several years, but also threaten our fundamental freedoms and the character of America for generations," reads the group's Facebook announcement.

"Take Back Kentucky" organizers had no immediate comment on the incident.

The Courier-Journal reported that the effigy hanging took place outside the state capitol building after about 100 demonstrators marched to the Governor's Mansion yelling for Beshear to come out.

“Come out, Andy!” protesters chanted.

It was not clear if Beshear was home at the time. The governor, a Democrat, has yet to issue a response to the protest.

As images and video of the effigy being strung up went viral, political leaders from both sides of the aisle condemned the act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, issued statement calling the incident "unacceptable" and saying "there is no place for hate in Kentucky.”

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael G. Adams, a Republican, took to Twitter to denounce the incident.

"This is disgusting and I condemn it wholeheartedly," Adams wrote.

Adams noted that John Wilkes Booth shouted the phrase "Sec Semper Tyrannis" when he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. He said those words "have no place in the Party of Lincoln."

The Kentucky House Democrats issued a joint statement deploring the protesters and calling their actions "beyond reprehensible."

"Doing this in front of our Capitol, just a short walk from where the Governor, First Lady, and their two young children live, is an act that reeks of hate and intimidation and does nothing but undermine our leading work to battle this deadly disease and restore our economy safely," the Kentucky House Democrats' statement reads.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/MotortionBy: MATT FRIEDLANDER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Queen guitarist Brian May recently suffered "a small heart attack" and underwent an operation to have stents placed in three partially blocked coronary arteries.

The 72-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer revealed the news in a video message posted Sunday on his official website and social media accounts.

May explained that he had the heart attack while struggling with another health issue: excruciating leg pain that he initially thought was from a ripped gluteus muscle. It turned out to be caused by a compressed sciatic nerve.

"[I]t's not something that did me any harm," he said of the heart attack. "It was about 40 minutes of pain in the chest and tightness, and that feeling in the arms and sweating."

May says that after undergoing an angiogram, doctors discovered three congested arteries and gave him the choice: He could have open-heart surgery or have stents placed in the blood vessels.

"After a lot of thought and deliberation, I opted for the stents," he explained. "And the…same day, I went in there and they did it. And it wasn't that easy, but the only reason it wasn't easy for me was because of…the excruciating pain I had in my leg."

May continued, "I walked out with a heart that's very strong now, so I think I'm in good shape for some time to come. And if I'm not, we can have another angiogram."

May noted that his experience made him think that perhaps everyone over age 60 should consider having an angiogram, because he had no symptoms before having the heart attack. He added that his leg pain continues to be treated by "a fantastic physiotherapist."

For now, he says, "I'm good, I'm here, and I'm ready to rock.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(LEESPORT, Penn.) -- A surprise birthday parade for an 8-year-old boy had a massive, 651-vehicle turnout on Saturday.

Leesport, Pennsylvania resident Riley Rejniak, who is battling neuroblastoma a second time, waved as hundreds of cars, motorcycles and first responders arrived in waves.

Even exotic cars passed at a safe distance to celebrate Riley's fighting spirit and May 23 birthday.

"He waved to every single car and had the biggest smile face," mom Ashley Rejniak told Good Morning America. "For me, I got emotional multiple times. We know he's loved by our community but the amount of gifts, balloons ... it was amazing."

Riley was first diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma on April 25, 2017. The cancerous tumor was found in his stomach but was also present in his bone marrow, Riley's parents said.

Riley was treated at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. In 2019, Riley's cancer returned in his bone marrow.

"Riley had a total 16 rounds of chemotherapy, 12 rounds of radiation and five cycles of immunotherapy. He also had a stem cell transplant," dad Greg Rejniak told GMA. "He's had ups and downs but his attitude has been incredible. He just loves life."

When their son's cancer came back, the Rejniaks took it hard. Riley's response, however, was "I'm not worried about it," they said.

Riley's quote was printed on the back of T-shirts his family wore to the surprise birthday parade.

Ashley said Riley's cancer could return again but so far, doctors have found no evidence of disease. The Rejniaks were happy to celebrate Riley's birthday as well as this good news, they said.

Family friend Brittney Haddon, who photographed the event, said it was "extraordinary to witness."

"This will be a memory that will last a lifetime and couldn't have gone to a more deserving family than them," Haddon told GMA.

Greg Rejniak said, "[Riley] said it was the best birthday that he has ever had."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/ijoe84By: IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(EAST STROUDSBURG, Penn.) -- Police said the University of Connecticut senior who has been accused of killing two people was seen walking in the Poconos.

Pennsylvania state police released a new surveillance photo that they say shows suspect Peter Manfredonia walking on train tracks near East Stroudsburg, Monroe County, on Sunday. Manfredonia, 23, fled Connecticut after he allegedly killed two people over the weekend, invaded a home, stole guns and two cars and abducted a person, according to police.

"If seen, DO NOT APPROACH, ARMED & DANGEROUS," Pennsylvania State Trooper Anthony Petroski tweeted Monday.

Police say Manfredonia was seen wearing dark-colored shorts and a white T-shirt and was carrying a large duffel bag.

The FBI said it was assisting the investigation, which crossed three state lines.

On Friday, Manfredonia allegedly attacked two men in Willington, Connecticut, with an edged weapon, killing Theodore Demers, 62, and wounding the unidentified second suspect, according to police. On Sunday, officers responded to a 911 call of a home invasion in Willington where Manfredonia allegedly stole pistols and long guns and a truck, police said. The homeowner was not injured, according to police.

The suspect allegedly drove to Derby, Connecticut, where he allegedly killed an acquaintance, Nicholas J. Eisele, 23, inside his home, abducted another resident, stole a car and fled, according to police. The kidnapped victim was found later Sunday unharmed in Paterson, New Jersey, and identified Manfredonia as her captor, police said.

The car was found in New Jersey and it was unclear how the fugitive was able to cross into the Pennsylvania border, police said.

A UConn representative said Manfredonia was a student at the joint School of Engineering / School of Business MEM (Management and Engineering for Management), and he was not attending summer classes or living on campus.

"The university expresses its deepest, most heartfelt sympathies to the victims and their families in this horrible, incomprehensible tragedy. They are all in our thoughts," school spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said in a statement.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Myriam Borzee/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 345,000 people worldwide.

Over 5.4 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 1.6 million diagnosed cases and at least 97,724 deaths.

Here's how the news is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

12:50 p.m.: WHO suspends hydroxychloroquine study

The World Health Organization said it would pause its study on the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as part of its ongoing research into COVID-19 treatments.

The move comes after a study was published in medical journal The Lancet that found coronavirus patients who took the drug were more likely to die or develop irregular heart rhythms. WHO said its executive group of the Solidarity Trial is reviewing data on its research into the drug while the pause goes into effect.

"The other arms of the trial are continuing," Dr. Samba Sow, director general of the Center for Vaccine Development in Mali, said at a news conference. "This concern relates to the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloraquine in COVID-19."

12:05 p.m.: New York to provide death benefits to all public front-line workers

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will provide death benefits to all workers on the front line who have died during the pandemic.

That includes police officers, EMTs, firefighters, hospital workers and transit employees.

"They showed up because I asked them to show up," Cuomo said at his daily briefing. "I have such respect and esteem for what they did … and I want to make sure we repay that."

Cuomo called on the federal government to approve a similar move for front-line workers across the nation.

He said the state's efforts to curb the number of cases continues to show promise. There were 96 COVID-19 deaths in the state within the last 24 hours, according to the governor's office.

That's a drop of 13 deaths recorded the previous day. The total number of hospitalizations was 4,348 on Sunday, which represented a 45 drop from Saturday, Cuomo's office said.

11:33 a.m.: Putin's spokesman reportedly discharged from hospital after coronavirus bout

Russian President Vladimir Putin's longtime press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has been discharged from a hospital in Moscow after recovering from COVID-19, according to Russian media reports.

"Yes, that's true," Peskov told the independent Interfax news agency on Monday. He also confirmed that he must stay home for two weeks upon leaving the hospital.

On May 12, Peskov was quoted telling Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti that he was hospitalized after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

11:02 a.m.: Trump administration to buy 100 million swabs but leaves testing responsibility to states

The U.S. government plans to acquire 100 million swabs and distribute them to states to help expand the country's capacity to test for the novel coronavirus, according to a new report submitted to Congress and obtained by ABC News.

While the Trump administration was required to submit a national testing plan to Congress under a law passed last month, the 81-page report submitted Sunday doesn't appear to be a new strategy but rather a continuation of the White House's existing posture: that states should take the lead in expanding their own testing capacity. The Washington Post was first to report on the contents of the document.

"With support from the Federal government to ensure States are meeting goals, the State plans for testing will advance the safe reopening of America," the Trump administration wrote in the report's conclusion.

The U.S. government still projects the country will be able to produce 40 million to 50 million COVID-19 tests a month by September, and it recommends that every state should be able to test 2% of its population in May and June.

10:40 a.m.: Spain to end mandatory quarantine for international travelers in July

Spain will lift a two-week mandatory quarantine for all travelers arriving from abroad starting July 1, the government announced Monday.

"The worst is behind us," Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya wrote on Twitter, adding that next month officials will "gradually" open to international tourists, lift the quarantine measures and "ensure the highest standards of health safety."

Spain is one of the worst-affected countries in the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 235,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and at least 28,752 deaths, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

9:54 a.m.: Wuhan conducts over 6.5 million coronavirus tests in 10 days

The Chinese city of Wuhan, ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, has conducted more than 6.5 million nucleic acid tests for the novel coronavirus over a 10-day period, according to state media reports.

Earlier this month, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission launched a citywide campaign to test the entire population of 11 million residents for COVID-19 in an effort to search for asymptomatic carriers of the virus after a cluster of new cases emerged for the first time since the city had lifted its strict lockdown on April 8.

Although recommended, participation in the testing campaign is voluntary. Residents who were previously tested do not need to take part. It is not recommended to test children under the age of 6, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission's website.

No new symptomatic cases of COVID-19 have been reported since the campaign began; however, dozens of people without symptoms have tested positive for the virus, according to daily reports published by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. The local health authority is asking anyone who hasn’t been tested yet to come forward by the end of Tuesday.

Prior to the campaign, the city had completed over 3 million nucleic acid tests for COVID-19, according to the official state-run Xinhua News Agency.

9:06 a.m.: Austria completes first coronavirus lung transplant in Europe

A team of doctors in Austria's capital have successfully conducted a lung transplant on a coronavirus patient -- the first to be done in Europe.

The Medical University of Vienna announced the news in a statement Monday, saying its surgeons had carried out the procedure at Vienna General Hospital last week on a 45-year-old woman who had developed "severe respiratory failure" due to COVID-19. The team replaced the patient's lungs, "which had been damaged beyond repair," with those from a donor in what the university described as "an otherwise hopeless situation."

"We are very satisfied with the patient's condition, given the extremely difficult initial circumstances," Dr. Walter Klepetko, head of surgery at the clinic, said in a statement released by the university. "Only a few days after the procedure, the patient is well on the way to recovery."

The patient, from the southern state of Carinthia, had contracted the novel coronavirus about eight weeks ago. As her condition deteriorated, artificial ventilation was no longer possible and a circulation pump was the only thing keeping her alive, according to the university.

The woman was transported to Vienna General Hospital where she was admitted into the intensive care unit. A diagnostic test showed that particles of the novel coronavirus were still present in her system, but a negative viral culture subsequently confirmed she was no longer infectious. With no chance of the woman's lungs recovering but her other organs still functioning, the team of doctors decided to perform "an urgent and highly complex" transplant. The donor lungs were flown in from a neighboring country.

"The transplant itself took place under extremely difficult circumstances, since the patient did not have an adequate blood platelet count and, since antibodies were also present, these first had to be removed by means of immune aphaeresis to prevent her from rejecting the organ," Klepetko said. "Even transportation of the lungs and preparation for the operation took place under difficult conditions, especially because of the necessary COVID-19 logistics and the associated protective measures, which all had to be observed. In cases such of this, the key to success is smooth and effective collaboration between the various professional groups, such as anaesthesia, surgery, intensive care medicine, infectiology and many others."

8:38 a.m.: Montenegro declares itself virus-free

Montenegro has become the second country in Europe to declare itself free of the novel coronavirus.

Montenegro's Institute for Public Health announced via Twitter on Sunday that the tiny Balkan nation currently has no active cases of COVID-19. The news comes 68 days after Montenegro recorded its first case of the disease.

"As of yesterday, our laboratories have completed analysis of 140 respiratory samples, among which there were no new cases of infection," the institute tweeted. "At the same time, the last active case met the criteria for full recovery."

Montenegro, which is home to some 631,000 people, has reported 324 cases of COVID-19 with nine deaths, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Earlier this month, Slovenia became the first European nation declare itself coronavirus-free.

7:10 a.m.: South Korea to require masks on transit, flights

People must wear face masks when using public transportation and taxis in South Korea starting Tuesday, as part of efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus while public activities are increased.

South Korean health ministry official Yoon Taeho said masks will also be required on all domestic and international flights from Wednesday. Meanwhile, starting in June, owners of "high-risk" facilities such as bars, gyms and concert halls will be required to register customers at the door using smartphone QR codes to aid contact tracing when infections occur.

“Until treatments and vaccines are developed," we will never know when the COVID-19 crisis could end, and until then we will have to learn how to live with COVID-19," Yoon told reporters Monday.

South Korea once had the largest novel coronavirus outbreak outside China, where the virus first emerged, but appears to have brought it largely under control with an extensive "trace, test and treat" strategy. A total of 11,206 people in the country have been diagnosed with COVID-19, of which 10,226 have recovered and 267 have died, according to South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this month, South Korea returned to a sense of normalcy as the nation eased its strict social-distancing measures that were put in place to curb the spread of the virus. The number of new cases reported in the country has generally stayed low, but health authorities remain wary of cluster infections and imported cases. More than 200 cases were recently linked to reopened bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues in Seoul, the densely populated capital.

6:23 a.m.: Russia surpasses 350,000 coronavirus cases

Russia reported 8,946 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the country’s tally to 353,427.

Russia's coronavirus response headquarters also recorded 92 coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours, placing the nationwide toll at 3,633, which is considerably lower than many other countries hit hard by the pandemic.

The daily rise in deaths has declined by a third after a record high of 153 reported on Sunday. Meanwhile, the latest daily caseload is down from a peak of 11,656 new infections reported on May 11, during which Russia registered over 10,000 new cases per day over a 12-day period. Since then, the daily number of new infections has hovered around 9,000 per day.

Over the weekend, Brazil surpassed Russia as the country with the second-highest number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases in the world, behind the United States, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

5:31 a.m.: Japan lifts state of emergency in Tokyo and other remaining areas

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency in Tokyo and four other remaining areas on Monday, bringing an end to the restrictions nationwide.

A government-commissioned panel of experts approved the move in the prefectures of Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, Hokkaido and Chiba, all of which had remained under the emergency declaration after it was lifted for most of Japan earlier this month.

The prime minister first declared a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures on April 7, as Japan reported a surge in COVID-19 cases. He later expanded the declaration to cover the entire country and last until May 31. Under the order, prefectural governors asked residents to stay home and for some businesses to temporarily close, but public cooperation was voluntary. There were no penalties for failure to comply.

On May 13, Abe ended the state of emergency in 39 of the country's 47 prefectures. The decree remained in place for urban regions, including the capital, Tokyo, and the large port city of Osaka.

Abe lifted the state of emergency in Osaka as well as Kyoto and Hyogo on May 21, following a drop in the number of new cases reported each day. Chiba, Hokkaido, Kanagawa, Saitama and Tokyo all remained under restrictions until now.

The prime minister has credited the recent decline in new infections to the efforts of residents staying at home and practicing social distancing. He warned, however, that the state of emergency may have to be reimposed if infections increase.

More than 16,500 people in Japan have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and at least 820 have died, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

5:18 a.m.: US reports over 20,600 new coronavirus cases

More than 20,600 people in the United States were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sunday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The country also reported over 600 new deaths from the disease on the same day.

The United States is, by far, the hardest-hit country in the coronavirus pandemic.

3:45 a.m.: Houston receives hundreds of social distancing complaints over the weekend

Authorities in Houston said they have received hundreds of social distancing complaints over Memorial Day weekend amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order allows bars to reopen at 25% of their normal capacity and restaurants at 50%. However, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said via Twitter on Sunday afternoon that his department had addressed around 300 complaints of violation to the governor's rules since Friday, adding that "admittance beyond approved capacity will cause events to be stopped until condition is corrected."

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced 115 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 with one additional death in the city on Sunday, bringing the total to 6,640 cases with 126 deaths.

Turner also said he saw photos and videos of people flouting the social distancing rules at crowded bars and packed pool parties over the holiday weekend. The mayor pleaded with businesses and customers to "be responsible," noting that their behavior puts first responders at risk, too.

"We don't want to be heavy handed," Turner said at a press conference Sunday. "If you work with us, nobody gets closed down."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Volusia Sheriff's OfficeBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- In the face of rising cases of coronavirus throughout the U.S. and Canada, and calls from health officials to remain socially distant during the long weekend, crowds still flocked to Memorial Day hot spots. Some of the incidents spurred responses from elected leaders and police who issued warnings and dispersed the crowds.

Here are some of the most egregious examples reported this weekend:

Ozarks, Missouri

A video of a pool party featuring dozens of people without masks in the Lake of Ozarks went viral over the weekend.

A majority of the people were not wearing face coverings and hung out close to each other as seen in photos and videos.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services didn't have a comment on the pool party, but it issued a statement urging all residents and visitors to be cautious and remain socially distant.

"When they then carry the virus and transmit it to a more vulnerable person, this is when we tend to see the long-lasting and tragic impact of these decisions that are being made,” the agency said in a statement.

The state currently has 11,988 confirmed cases and saw a 6.2% jump in new cases over the last week, according to health data from the state.

Daytona Beach, Florida

Police said they had to break up several crowds in Daytona Beach Saturday night.

In one instance, roughly 200 people were packed on a street and appeared to have jumped onto a police car that was trying to clear the street, according to helicopter video released by Volusia Sherriff's Office.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri said he was "pissed off" by the number of people who weren't taking health precautions seriously; however, he said there were no arrests.

"We were trying to use our de-escalation techniques," he said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. "We were able to push everyone off the peninsula."

Volusia, Florida, which contains Daytona Beach, has 663 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Monday, according to data from the Florida Health Department and the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Clearwater Beach, Florida

Even though state leaders and the local police stressed social distancing as the area's beaches reopened, crowds still appeared to be in close-knit groups in beaches west of Tampa. Many didn't appear to wear face coverings in Clearwater Beach.

By 8:30 a.m. Saturday, several beach locations were closed to new entrants as they reached max capacity, according to the Pinellas Sheriff's Office. Jennifer Crockett, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, told ABC News there were 300 officers deployed to all of the county's beaches.

"As we closed those access points people were pointed to other beaches that were still open," she told ABC News.

As of Monday, Pinellas County, Florida, which includes Clearwater Beach, had 1,173 confirmed coronavirus cases and 75 deaths, according to data from the state's health department and Johns Hopkins University.

Toronto, Ontario

City officials said they were upset after they said thousands of people hit the greenspace at Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday.

In some images that went viral, many people were not seen wearing face coverings. Toronto's mayor's office said it sent additional officers to the park Sunday to ensure that it didn't get too crowded.

"Gatherings like today’s at Trinity Bellwoods Park has the potential to set Toronto back in its efforts to beat COVID-19," the mayor's office said in a statement released Saturday.

As of Monday, Toronto had 10,035 cases and 759 deaths, according to the city's health department.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Courtesy Vikki PierBy LAUREN LANTRY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- On this Memorial Day, despite the spread of the coronavirus across the country, much of the Pier family -- sons, daughters and even a few grandkids -- will gather in the front yard of Vikki and Mark Pier's home in North Carolina.

Each will take a red balloon, fill it with helium, and write a message on the outside with a marker. Some will say "we love you," others "we miss you."

"But mainly, 'I can't wait to see you again,'" Vikki Pier said she'll write on hers. Then, Noah Pier's family will let the balloons go and watch them float away.

Lance Cpl. Noah Pier was killed in action in Afghanistan on Feb. 16, 2010. It was the 25-year-old Marine's second deployment. Monday marks the 10th Memorial Day that his parents, Vikki and Mark Pier, have celebrated and honored their eldest son, and grieved his loss.

Some years, they make it to Arlington National Cemetery, to sit with their son, but this year they decided to stay home.

"There's no way we would not celebrate it -- (that) we would not honor him -- even with this COVID," Vikki Pier told ABC News.

While the whole family cannot gather as they have in previous years, they will all be taking time to remember.

Noah, she said, was a tall, loud young man, known for drinking coffee and learning to cook so he could always eat well -- pumpkin pie, cheese cake and lasagna were some of his favorites. He always rooted for the underdog, loved music and sang with all his heart.

"You could never catch him without a smile on his face," Mark Pier said. "He was a joy to raise."

He was, they said, a proud Marine.

"He did believe in the fight for freedom," Vikki Pier said of her son, who was awarded a posthumous Purple Heart. "And he believed that it was vital to keep those that would harm us off our soil. So even though he went to Afghanistan, he believed he was protecting us here at home."

For many, Memorial Day means a time for barbecues with family and friends, the end of a school year and the unofficial beginning of summer. According to some polls, only about half of Americans know the holiday's true meaning. Many mistakenly believe it commemorates all veterans.

But Memorial Day, of course, honors the men and women who sacrificed their lives.

More than 645,000 Americans have been killed in conflicts since WWI -- a sacrifice that "cost a lot of families everything," as Vikki Pier put it.

This year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, Memorial Day will be different.

"While we may not be able to gather together in the manner in which we are accustomed, we will still ensure those who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of our country are appropriately honored and remembered on Memorial Day," Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks, said in a statement.

Parades across the nation have been canceled, wreath-laying ceremonies at the war memorials on the National Mall will be streamed virtually and the National Memorial Day Concert will be live-streamed.

Arlington National Cemetery, where Vikki Pier says her "heart is," will be closed to the public but remains open for families with passes.

All 142 VA national cemeteries will be open for visitation throughout the weekend, but there will be no public events and no traditional placement and retrieval of gravesite flags.

There will be no Poppy Wall of Honor installation on the Mall. The United Services Automobile Association, which serves millions of military families, has created a website in its place, offering a digital tribute.

"What we find in this current environment is that Americans are heroic people," USAA senior vice president and retired Navy Vice Adm. John Bird told ABC News, saying Americans have a tradition of heroism. "They are willing to sacrifice. They are willing to step in harm's way. I am certainly inspired by the nurses, the doctors, the first responders. And I think the world of them. On the other hand, I know Memorial Day is dedicated to those who died in combat."

Krista Meinert was planning to visit Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to honor her son, Jacob, who also was killed in action in Afghanistan, on Jan. 10, 2010. For the last nine years, she has made the trip all the way from Wisconsin.

But now, because of the coronavirus, she decided to stay home.

"This year, being that it is his 10-year anniversary, I wanted it to be grand," Meinert told ABC News.

But the coronavirus dashed those hopes. Now, she's at home -- Jacob's childhood home -- along with all his belongings.

"I think that I was most afraid of was being stuck in these four walls with my own thoughts by myself," said Meinert. "And that was the scariest thing."

Because of the coronavirus, Meinert said she was finally forced to confront the boxes, bins and containers that came back from Afghanistan all those years ago, filled with his clothes and other personal items.

"There's no way I can put it into words -- to open these boxes again and feel like you can still smell the smells," she said.

This is where she needed to be, she said, for that 10th anniversary of his death: at home, remembering who he was when he was alive.

From a young age, she said Jacob knew he wanted to be in the military.

In grade school he played with small, plastic soldiers and by high school he had collected World War II and Vietnam books. He had even studied the strategy behind chess. He defended kids who were bullied on the playground. She said he was the kid who could be friends with anyone. He had a Ricky Ricardo-type of laugh, his smile was crooked and he always had a glow in his eyes any time he told a story.

"He had this vision for himself and he fulfilled it," Meinert said. "He even told me, 'Mom, I'm going to come home with a Purple Heart.' And he did."

Lance Cpl. Jacob "Slim" Meiner, killed at just 20 years old, was awarded his Purple Heart, posthumously.

He was the leader who brought his troops hot chocolate on cold nights in Afghanistan, she said, and the Marine whose grave is still visited 10 years later by those who served with him.

This year the country grieves the nearly 100,000 people who have died from the coronavirus -- President Donald Trump ordered flags to fly at half-staff to honor those victims through the holiday. The families of the military fallen know that feeling all too well.

"I would ask each and every one of us Americans to be thankful that we've had other Americans who could do this," Bird, the retired vice admiral, said. "Just take a moment, just a brief moment on Monday, Memorial Day, to remember those great Americans."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Phototreat/iStockBy OLIVIA EUBANKS, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many traditional Memorial Day ceremonies and events are being streamed online this year.

“Memorial Day is a time we normally gather at the memorials to lay a wreath in honor of the fallen, remember their heroic deeds, and draw inspiration from their sacrifice,” Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks said in a press release. “While we may not be able to gather together in the manner in which we are accustomed, we will still ensure those who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of our country are appropriately honored and remembered on Memorial Day.”

Here is how to watch some of this year's Memorial Day ceremonies online, with all times Eastern:

National Memorial Day Concert:
On Sunday night, Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna and Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise co-hosted this year's National Memorial Day Concert featuring a special message from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley and an appearance by Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.). The event included performances by The National Symphony Orchestra, The U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, The U.S Army Herald Trumpets, and others. Also participating were gospel legend CeCe Winans and Tony Award-winner Kelli O’Hara, among others. PBS aired the National Memorial Day Concert on Sunday 8 p.m. with an accompanying livestream, and you can watch the event on demand on their Facebook page.

Arlington National Cemetery Wreath Laying Ceremony: Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper will host a wreath ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 25, at 9 a.m. to honor the men and women in uniform who have died while serving their country. President Donald Trump, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, and other government officials are expected to make appearances. This year's wreath laying ceremony can be viewed virtually on the U.S. Department of Defense website. Arlington National Cemetery remains open only to family pass holders with both a face covering and a valid family pass during the Memorial Day weekend.

United States Navy Memorial: The United States Navy Memorial will hold a virtual wreath laying ceremony to honor the nation's Sea Service members on Monday, May 25, at 1 p.m. Speakers include the United States Navy president & CEO, Rear Adm. Frank Thorp IV, USN (Ret.) and Rear Adm. Carl A. Lahti, among others. The event can be viewed on the U.S Navy Memorial Facebook page.

Friends of the National World War II Memorial: The Friends of the National World War II Memorial will release a prerecorded video of their virtual Memorial Day observance on Monday, May 25, at 9 a.m. World War II orphan Roberta Nolan is expected to give remarks, along with a musical performance by Operation Song. Later, at 9:30 a.m., Friends and the National Park Service will livestream a private wreath-laying ceremony at the National World War II Memorial. Both events can be viewed on their Facebook page.

Parade of Heroes: HISTORY, the Wounded Warrior Project, The Greatest Generations Foundation, Heroes of the Second World War, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., and Combined Arms have partnered with Ancestry to host a virtual “Parade of Heroes” on Monday, May 25, at 11 a.m. on the Ancestry Facebook page. Emmy Award-winner Kathie Lee Gifford will host the 45-minute live production. Performers include Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Tori Kelly, among others.

The National WWI Museum and Memorial: While the National WWI Museum will be closed, three ceremonies will be streamed on their website. At 10 a.m. they will hold a Memorial Day ceremony featuring remarks from dignitaries including Missouri U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, and others. At noon they will hold a Memorial Day Bell Tolling Ceremony, followed by a Walk Of Honor Dedication Ceremony at 2 p.m. The grounds of the Museum and Memorial remain open to the public and feature a display of U.S. flags in recognition of veteran suicide.

Korean War Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The Korean War Veterans Memorial ceremony will be posted at 10 a.m. on the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation Facebook page and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be posted at 1 p.m. on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Facebook page. The ceremonies will include user-submitted videos, special tributes, and speeches.

National Park Service: Hosted by Vicksburg National Military Park and 24 national parks, the National Park Service will host a virtual commemoration on Monday, May 25, at 8 a.m. on the Vicksburg National Military Park Facebook page. The ceremony will feature newly naturalized American citizens discussing their love for the United States, as well as a recital of the Gettysburg Address and more.


For in-person participation, all outdoor memorials on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., including the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and World War II Memorial, are accessible, though with limited access and parking, according to the National Park Service.

The National Park Service is implementing one-way traffic patterns at the memorials in Washington, D.C., to prevent the spread of the virus. The National Park service states that all memorials are subject to temporary closure if crowds grow too large to effectively distance themselves. They encourage visitors to visit to research current park conditions in advance on

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Estradaanton/iStockBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(SPRINGFIELD, Mo.) -- Two hairstylists potentially exposed 140 customers to COVID-19 at a Great Clips in Missouri, according to alerts from a local health department.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department announced on Friday that a hairstylist who tested positive for COVID-19 had potentially exposed 84 clients at a Great Clips in Springfield. The case is believed to have been contracted through travel to a "high-intensity" area in Missouri, director of Health Clay Goddard said Friday.

Then on Saturday, the health department announced a second hairstylist who tested positive for the virus had potentially exposed 56 clients at the same salon, located in a strip mall.

Both employees were symptomatic and were wearing face coverings while working, health officials said.

The potential exposure from both cases took place over the course of nine days, between May 12 and May 20.

All 140 clients will be notified and offered testing, along with seven co-workers, health officials said. The clients were also wearing face coverings, which should help limit transmission, Goddard said.

The Great Clips location is temporarily closed. A voice recording advises callers to visit two other nearby locations of the franchise.

The co-owners of that Great Clips franchise, Brittany Hager and Jennifer Small, released a statement to KY3 after the first employee possibly exposed numerous clients.

"As Great Clips franchisees and co-owners of CM Clips, LLC, we recently learned that an employee in one of our salons in Springfield, Missouri has tested positive for COVID-19 and is following medical advice and taking appropriate actions. The well-being of Great Clips customers and stylists in the salon is our top priority and proper sanitization has always been an important cosmetology industry practice for Great Clips salons," Hager and Small said in the statement. "We’ve closed the salon where the employee works and it’s currently undergoing additional sanitizing and deep cleaning consistent with guidance from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and the CDC. We will reopen the salon based on guidance from the health department."

Hair salons were able to reopen in Missouri on May 4, when the state lifted many of its restrictions as part of its first phase of reopening.

On Saturday, Springfield entered phase two of its reopening plan, allowing bars, gyms and public pools to reopen, as well as gatherings of up to 50 people, following social distancing requirements.

Missouri has 11,988 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with cases up 6.2% over the last seven days, according to the state health department. There have been 681 deaths.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


kali9/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(UNION, S.C.) -- Two people were killed, including a teenager, when gunfire erupted at a rural South Carolina block party that drew up to 1,000 revelers in spite of government warnings against large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said.

The shooting broke out just before 8 p.m. on Saturday in an unincorporated area about nine miles outside Union, South Carolina, after the Union County Sheriff's Department responded to a complaint of vehicles blocking a roadway, Major Scott Coffer told ABC News on Sunday.

Coffer said a DJ was spinning tunes when a sheriff's deputy arrived at the party, which was on private property, and asked him to make an announcement for partygoers to move their cars.

He said the deputy was arranging for several cars that were not moved to be towed when he heard the first shots, prompting him to call for backup.

"They were still shooting when I got there and I had to come from my house," Coffer said.

He said two young men were discovered mortally wounded. One was pronounced dead at the scene and the other was taken to Union Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, the Union County Coroner's Office said in a statement to ABC News on Sunday. The victims were identified as 17-year-old Jabbrie Brandon of Union and 21-year-old Lamont Bomar of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Another five people were taken to hospitals with gunshot wounds and are expected to recover, Coffer said.

Coffer said 900 to 1,000 people were at the party when the gunfire began.

Two men were taken into custody, one on a charge of illegal possession of a firearm. But Coffer said it remains unclear if the men were involved in the fatal shootings.

"Those two are actually being interviewed by detectives now," he said.

The block party was apparently held against Gov. Henry McMaster's coronavirus stay-at-home guidelines issued in mid-March, advising against gatherings of more than 10 people.

On May 4, McMaster lifted the mandatory stay-at-home orders and made them voluntary.

"Being a private party on private property, we couldn't do anything about it anyway," Coffer said. "We've run into that before when this first started in March with the COVID-19. We can't tell people who can be at their house and who can't."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Monroe County Sheriff's OfficeBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A man was arrested last week after allegedly kidnapping a teenager and forcing her to drive him through a coronavirus checkpoint in the Florida Keys.

According to Monroe County Sheriff's Office officials, Alexander Michael Sardinas, 37, of Tavernier, and a 43-year-old woman from Islamorada tried to enter the Florida Keys in a taxi on Thursday morning, but were turned away at the highway checkpoint for not having proper identification. The Florida Keys are closed to non-residents, due to COVID-19 concerns, through the end of May, and proof of residency is required to get through the checkpoint.

After being denied entry, the two adults approached a 17-year-old girl in the parking lot of a Publix in Homestead, about 30 miles north of the Upper Keys. According to police, Sardinas allegedly threatened to harm the victim, a Florida Keys resident, if she didn't drive them to Tavernier.

The victim drove the man and woman to the highway checkpoint and provided her driver's license with proof of residence, police said. She did not say anything to checkpoint deputies because she was scared, they added.

The teen later dropped off Sardinas at a gas station and the woman at a pharmacy in Tavernier, according to police. She called a family member who then alerted law enforcement, police said.

Detectives found Sardinas near where the victim dropped him off and the woman in Islamorada, officials said. Both allegedly did not deny being in the car with the victim and gave conflicting accounts of how they met her, cops said.

The victim identified Sardinas in a photo lineup and he was charged with kidnapping/false imprisonment. The woman was not arrested, though police said more arrests and charges may be pending in the case. There were no reported injuries.

"I am relieved this suspect is currently sitting in jail and the young victim in this case was not seriously hurt," Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said in a statement.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 342,000 people worldwide.

More than 5.3 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 in the world, with more than 1.6 million diagnosed cases and at least 97,599 deaths.

Here's how the news developed Sunday. All times Eastern:

9:47 p.m.: Churches continue to reopen under new guidelines

Churches across the country are continuing to reopen as states relax their stay-at-home guidelines.

In New Hampshire, the Diocese of Manchester resumed holy communion at some churches this weekend, though mass continues to be livestreamed. At St. Joseph Cathedral, attendees followed social distancing rules and priests sanitized their hands in between delivering communion.

"We're doing everything we can to be as responsible and to be in union with the wisest decisions that are being made," Bishop Peter Libasci told Manchester ABC affiliate WMUR-TV.

Some Kentucky parishioners had to register to attend church this weekend, with clear-cut social distancing guidelines. Capacity at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Shively, Kentucky, was limited to 125 worshipers.

Churches are also set to reopen soon in Jefferson County, Alabama, but concerns about the virus remain.

"There have been a number of pastors that have died, a number of individuals who have come to church innocently just wanting to worship and contracting the virus, and so we are really airing in the side of safety," Bishop Van Moody told Birmingham ABC affiliate WBMA-TV. "The health and safety of our community and our spiritual family is the most important."

6:17 p.m.: Trump announces Brazil travel ban

As cases in Brazil continue to rise, President Donald Trump has announced a new ban on travel from Brazil to the United States.

"I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Federative Republic of Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States," Trump said in making the proclamation.

Earlier Sunday, Brazil surpassed Russia in the total number of COVID-19 cases. John Hopkins University reports that cases in Brazil have reached 347,398, topping Russia's total of 344,481.

The jump gives Brazil the second-highest number of confirmed cases globally, behind only the United States.

5:42 p.m.: Chinese foreign minister warns of 'political virus' in US

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday there was a "political virus" in the United States, and called on the two world powers to work together to fight the coronavirus.

Yi made the comments at a news conference during the National People's Congress in Beijing.

"This political virus is using every opportunity to attack and discredit China," Yi said, according to a transcript of the press briefing provided by CCTV. "Some politicians have ignored the most basic facts and made too many lies, while plotting too many conspiracies against China."

Yi said that the U.S. and China need to learn from each other and "help each other in the fight" against COVID-19.

Yi's comments come as tensions related to the pandemic continue to build between the two countries. Last week, Peter Navarro, one of President Donald Trump's top economic advisers, accused China of hiding the coronavirus from the world.

Trump also threatened to reconsider the U.S.'s membership in the World Health Organization last week over the organization's handling of the virus in China.

2:30 p.m.: 107 COVID-19 cases linked to Frankfurt church

At least 107 COVID-19 cases have been traced to a Frankfurt church, German officials said Sunday.

The cases are linked to the Baptist congregation and health authorities are looking to identity people who may be asked to quarantine to stop further transmission, the health minister for the German state of Hesse, Kai Klose, said in a statement.

Germany has more than 180,000 cases of COVID-19 and at least 8,283 deaths. The country started loosening restrictions about a month ago and churches in several states reopened in early May.

12:50 p.m.: New York sports teams can train again

New York professional sports leagues can begin spring training, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday.

That includes teams and athletes part of MLB, the NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL, U.S. Tennis Association and Major League Soccer.

The teams must follow appropriate health protocols, the governor said.

Last week, Cuomo encouraged major sports teams in the state to reopen without fans, a point he repeated at Sunday's daily press briefing.

"I believe sports can come back without having people in the stadium and in the arena," Cuomo said. "Work out the economics if you can. We want people to be able to watch sports, to the extent people are staying home. It gives people something to do and is a return to normalcy."

Most live sports have been shut down since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last Sunday, NASCAR held its first race since lockdown measures began in South Carolina.

New York continues to reopen its economy this week. Campgrounds can reopen on Monday, followed by veterinarian offices on Tuesday, Cuomo said.

The mid-Hudson region and Long Island are still on track to reopen Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, the governor said.

There were 109 daily deaths in the state from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, Cuomo said Sunday.

9:20 a.m.: Success of reopening will depend on following guidance, Birx says

Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the leaders of the government's response to the virus, pinned the success of reopening efforts on the public's ability to follow the direction of public health experts.

"I think it's our job as public health officials, every day to be informing the public that what puts them at risk," said Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, in an interview on ABC's "This Week" Sunday. "We've learned a lot about this virus, but we now need to translate that learning into real change behavior that stays with us so we can continue to drive down the number of cases."

"This only works if we all follow the guidelines and protect one another," Birx continued.

"You can go to the beaches if you stay 6 feet apart," she said. "But remember that is your space, and that is the space you need to protect to ensure you are socially distancing for others."

9:05 a.m.: Coronavirus 'is not yet contained,' FDA commissioner says

As states begin to open up during Memorial Day weekend, the FDA commissioner reminded the public to continue to protect themselves from exposure to the coronavirus.

"I again remind everyone that the coronavirus is not yet contained," Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a Twitter post on Sunday morning. "It is up to every individual to protect themselves and their community. Social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks protect us all."

6:15 a.m.: Scientist claims COVID-19 'disappearing' so fast, Oxford vaccine has 'only 50% chance of working'

The professor co-leading the vaccine development says the virus is disappearing so quickly in Britain, the vaccine trial being run by Oxford University only has a 50% chance of success.

The trial depends on having enough vaccinated people to essentially go out into the wild and catch the virus in order for the vaccine to be tested.

Earlier in the year when the infection rate was much higher, researchers expected an 80% chance of an effective vaccine. That’s now dropped to 50% according to Professor Adrian Hill.

"It's a race against the virus disappearing, and against time", Hill told the Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. "At the moment, there's a 50% chance that we get no result at all."

The experimental vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is one of the front-runners in the global race to provide protection against the new coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hill's team began early-stage human trials of the vaccine in April, making it one of only a handful to have reached that milestone.

6:00 a.m.: Brazil passes Russia, now has second most confirmed cases globally

Brazil has now surpassed Russia with a total number of confirmed cases standing at 347, 398. That's up 16,508 from the previous figure, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Russia on Sunday reported their updated figure at a total of 344,481.

Brazil now stands as having the second most confirmed cases globally, with the current number likely to rise even higher once newer figures are reported.

4:51 a.m.: Michigan and Missouri announce change in reporting of COVID-19 testing data

The state of Michigan announced that they would be changing the way they report COVID-19 testing data by separating the results of diagnostic tests and serology tests.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that "the change makes the data more accurate and relevant as the state continues to expand diagnostic testing to help slow and contain the spread of COVID-19. The update to the website separates out the results of two different types of tests – serology and diagnostic. Michigan – along with some other states – has not separated data for diagnostic and serology tests. Data on serology testing – also known as antibody testing – is separated from the other testing numbers. Currently, serology testing can be used to help determine whether someone has ever had COVID-19, while traditional viral diagnostic tests determine if someone has active disease."

"Diagnostic tests are most helpful in tracking the spread of COVID-19 since they can show the number of people who currently have the COVID-19 virus. Serology tests are still being studied regarding their utility. They are currently most helpful in understanding how much a community may have been exposed to the disease. However, it is unknown if the presence of an antibody truly means someone is immune to COVID-19, and if so, for how long. Results of antibody tests should not change decisions on whether an individual should return to work, or if they should quarantine based on exposure to someone with the disease. Approximately 12 percent of Michigan’s tests overall have been serology tests; about 60 percent of those have been from the past nine days," the statement read.

Meanwhile, Missouri also announced their own changes regarding their reporting of COVID-19 cases.

“The Governor calls on us as public servants to get better every day,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of Missouri's DHSS. “As we continue to learn more about this virus and new tests emerge, we will continue providing better data with greater clarity and transparency to help Missourians make the best decisions for their health care possible.”

According to a statement released by Missouri's DHSS, some key changes in the data will include:

•A change in the percent positivity rate. The percent positivity rate was previously calculated as the number of positive COVID-19 cases divided by the total number of tests completed. The new calculation is the number of positive cases divided by the number of people tested (not the number of tests done). These changes will increase the rate of positive cases as reported through the dashboard. This is because each positive individual may have multiple tests done, increasing the size of the denominator (the number of tests) but not the numerator (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases). The previously-reported rate cannot be compared to the current rate.

•The tests performed by day will include PCR tests only, which indicates only if a person has an active COVID-19 case. Numbers will have decreased from previous days’ reporting because DHSS is no longer including people who received only serology tests.

•Given the marked increase in serology testing, DHSS is now reporting separate information on serology which is collected through a blood test to determine if a person has previously been infected and has formed antibodies against the virus.

2:37 a.m.: Wuhan lab director calls virus leak claims ‘pure fabrication’

Claims that the global coronavirus pandemic originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the central Chinese city are a “pure fabrication,” the institute’s director said.

Wang Yanyi said the institute did not have any knowledge before that "nor had we ever encountered, researched or kept the virus. In fact, like everyone else, we didn't even know the virus existed. How could it have leaked from our lab when we never had it?"

Wang Yanyi continued: "Many people might misunderstand that since our institute reported the RaTG-13's genome similarity to SARS-CoV-2, we must have the RaTG-13 virus in our lab. In fact, that's not the case. When we were sequencing the genes of this bat virus sample, we got the genome sequence of the RaTG-13 but we didn't isolate nor obtain the live virus of RaTG-13. Thus, there is no possibility of us leaking RaTG-13."

8:58 p.m.: Minnesota's governor allows places of worship to open

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that starting Wednesday, he will allow places of worship to reopen at 25% capacity if they adhere to social distancing and other public health guidelines.

Walz also announced that COVID-19 cases are still climbing and may not reach the peak until summer.

The state's health commissioner said there was an increase of 847 positive coronavirus cases Friday -- the highest daily total. There have been 19,845 positive cases in the state thus far.

ABC News' Adam Kelsey and Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(LOS ANGELES) -- A federal appeals court has backed California Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order banning in-church services to blunt the spread of coronavirus, rejecting an argument from clerics that the governor is treading on their First Amendment right to free exercise of their religious beliefs.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a split 2-1 ruling denying the request for a temporary restraining order against Newsom's in-church service ban filed this month by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California.

The ruling was issued late on Friday, the same day President Donald Trump demanded governors nationwide allow churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship to reopen immediately.

"The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the governors," Trump said as his administration released detailed guidance on how religious institutions can safely reopen amid the virus that has killed nearly 100,000 people and infected more than 1.6 million in the United States. "In America we need more prayer, not less."

It is unclear what legal authority the president has to overrule a governor and the White House could not cite a specific provision that would give Trump that power.

In its ruling in the California case, the federal appellate judges who sided with Newsom found the state's action of shuttering houses of worship due to a health emergency does not "infringe upon or restrict practices because of their religious motivation" and does not "in a selective manner impose burdens only on conduct motivated by religious belief."

''We're dealing here with a highly contagious and often fatal disease for which there presently is no known cure," Judges Jacqueline Nguyen and Barry Silverman wrote in their ruling denying the restraining order.

In reaching its decision, the judges noted that late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson once wrote that if a court "does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact."

Newsom issued his stay-at-home orders on March 19, closing all nonessential businesses and barring large gatherings that health officials say could fuel the spread of the contagion.

On Wednesday, the second phase of Newsom's plan to restart the economy kicked in allowing the reopening of many of California's retail businesses, office buildings, restaurants and shopping centers.

Members of houses of worship are not allowed to congregate until the plan's third phase begins, which will also allow the reopening of hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, gyms, movie theaters and sporting events without live audiences.

Newsom has been vague on when phase 3 will begin, saying earlier this month that it "is not a year away. It's not 6 months away. It's not even three months away. It may not even be more than a month away."

On Friday, he announced that state officials are working with faith leaders and expect to release guidelines on Monday on how churches can reopen.

"We look forward to churches reopening in a safe manner," Newsom said.

Leaders of the South Bay United Pentecostal Church filed an emergency motion on Saturday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

"Gov. Newsom would apparently rather litigate this case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court than allow a single Californian to go to church," Charles LiMandri, a lawyer for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund who is representing the church and its bishop, Arthur Hodges III, said in a statement. "Under the governor's edicts, Bishop Hodges can bump shoulders with congregants at a shopping mall, but he can't minister to them in a safe and sanitary church sanctuary. That is blatant religious discrimination, and we hope the Supreme Court agrees."

The Supreme Court has yet to announce whether it will hear the case.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Daniel Collins, who was appointed to the 9th Circuit by Trump in May 2019, wrote that Newsom's executive order "illogically assumes that the very same people who cannot be trusted to follow the rules at their place of worship can be trusted to do so at their workplace."

Collins added that the state cannot "assume the worst when people go to worship but assume the best when people go to work or go about the rest of their daily lives in permitted social settings."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(LOS ANGELES) -- Storms will also begin to fire up during the early evening hours along the dry-line in south-central Texas. Not long after, storms will initiate in the Central Plains and continue to move eastward.

An estimated 16 million Americans are bracing for the threat of severe thunderstorms today. The primary threats include damaging wind and large hail with any storms that develop in the shaded region.

Heat alerts are already up across the Southwest in anticipation for dangerous heat threatening nearly 26 million people by mid-week. Potentially record breaking high temperatures will increase the potential for heat related illness, particularly for those without access to air conditioning or those participating in outdoor activities.

With temperatures in the triple digits, record high temperatures will be challenged on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before any relief is on the horizon.

Memorial Day is looking fine on both coasts with the exception of Florida and northwest Washington. Washington, D.C. will be enjoying temperatures in the upper 70s. However, passing showers and thunderstorms threaten areas west of the Rockies to the Ohio River Valley. Rain could be particularly heavy and pose a flash flood risk across central Texas on Monday.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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