Vice President Mike Pence announced the Trump administration plans to wind down the coronavirus task force as early as this month, even as the national death toll surpassed 70,000 on Tuesday.
While Pence told reporters that transition plans are already being discussed with FEMA, President Donald Trump traveled to Arizona where he toured a Honeywell International plant that is manufacturing personal protective equipment and announced a $600 million commitment to the Navajo Nation during a roundtable meeting with Native American leaders.
There were more than 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. early Wednesday, according to the John Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the virus has killed over 257,000 people and infected more than 3.6 million.
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Here are some of the most important developments to start Wednesday:Starbucks plans to reopen 85% of its stores in the U.S. this week while following new protocols.Coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 70,000 Tuesday, as the United Kingdom was nearing the 30,000 mark, surpassing Italy as the highest in Europe.As state leaders roll back a patchwork of social distancing restrictions, USA TODAY is tracking what’s happening in your state. Check out this map.
What we're talking about: The New York City health department says children have presented symptoms of the mysterious Kawasaki disease, raising concerns about a COVID-19 link. Here's what we know about the rare inflammatory condition.
Many Starbucks stores will reopen this week after closing amid coronavirus
As COVID-19 restrictions ease in more cities and states, Starbucks plans to reopen 85% of its U.S. coffee shops but with new protocols such as mobile ordering, contactless pickup and cashless payments to protect customers and employees from exposure to the deadly virus.
Locations will be open by the end of this week and 90% will be open by early June, chief executive Kevin Johnson told customers in a letter posted online.
Starbucks will offer options such as curbside pick-up. Johnson says he expects the Seattle-based coffee giant’s mobile app – already used by 20 million – will become the most common form of payment.
Before the pandemic struck, more than 80% of Starbucks’ U.S. orders were placed via drive-thrus or the mobile app. The pandemic has forced many of the nation’s retail outlets to close. Starbucks, which is among the first of the national chains to announce reopening plans, temporarily shuttered about half of its 8,000 U.S. stores.
– Jessica Guynn
Trump administration contemplates future of coronavirus task force
Trump's administration is considering plans to wind down its coronavirus task force as early as this month, a major shift in the White House response to the health crisis.
A senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed that Vice President Mike Pence told reporters in a briefing Tuesday that members of the taskforce were "having a conversation" about when and how to wind down the group.
"I think we’re having conversations about that and about what the proper time is for the task force to complete its work and for the ongoing efforts to take place on an agency-by-agency level," Pence told reporters, according to a transcript of his remarks reviewed by USA TODAY. "And we’ve already begun to talk about a transition plan with FEMA."
Trump announced the creation of the task force on Jan. 29, saying its goal was to "monitor, contain and mitigate the spread of the virus." The group, which Pence has led, has met virtually every day – bringing together not only White House officials but also top public health experts within the Trump administration.
– David Jackson and John Fritze
Nick Cordero is 'back to being stable' after a 'bit of a rocky night,' wife says
Amanda Kloots is offering another update about her husband Nick Cordero's harrowing recovery from coronavirus. On her Instagram story Tuesday, Kloots shared with her followers that the Broadway star "had a little bit of rocky night" and underwent a lung procedure to remove an infection.
"His oxygen levels went down, but (the doctors) got him right back," she said. "They did like a lung scraping to get rid of some more infection, and he's now back to some good numbers, so things tend to be going in the right direction."
Kloots added: "So far, I think he's back to being stable with some good-looking things. So, fingers crossed for a good day and the possibility, always, of waking up."
Cordero, 41, remains in a medically-induced coma following several serious coronavirus complications, including a leg amputation and the insertion of a temporary pacemaker.
He was admitted to the hospital for what was initially thought to be pneumonia, Kloots, a Broadway dancer-turned-celebrity fitness instructor, wrote on Instagram on April 1. Cordero's initial coronavirus test was negative, although a subsequent one turned up positive for COVID-19.
– Charles Trepany
More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY'Bad economies are as hurtful to health as viruses’:US lurches toward reopening despite ominous coronavirus models.Does COVID-19 have a mortality rate of 1-2%?We checked the facts, and that claim is partly false.The 'boogeyman' of pediatrics:What is Kawasaki disease and is it linked to the coronavirus?Life in the age of coronavirus: Here are 6 things you need to stay safe when leaving the house.The coronavirus is mutating. Is one strain more dangerous?
States reopening: Massachusetts mask order; Oregon reopens 8 state parks
Beginning Wednesday, Massachusetts will require everyone to wear a mask or facial covering while in public under an executive order signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, while Oregon will reopen eight state parks to launch a gradual effort to relax limits imposed on recreation.
Also Wednesday, Arkansas will permit barbershops, beauty salons, massage therapists and tattoo artists, among others, to open again and Delaware will allow some businesses to resume "limited operations" under social distancing rules. Here's the latest on all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
Trump pledges $600M for Navajo Nation to fight coronavirus
President Donald Trump ended his confinement at the White House amid the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, traveling to Arizona to kick off what he hopes is the reopening of state economies.
In addition to visiting a Honeywell International plant that is producing millions of N95 respirator masks for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Trump announced "the single largest investment in Indian country in our history" to fight COVID-19 during a roundtable meeting with Native American leaders.
The Navajo Nation, which includes land in northern Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, will soon receive more than $600 million and the Gila River Indian Community will receive $40 million in initial funds to protect citizens from "the scourge, this plague, from what we're all fighting in this country," Trump said.
Hours before Trump landed, the Treasury Department announced it was releasing $4.8 billion of aid to tribes, some of which includes the Navajo tribe, whose community is among the hardest-hit in the nation by the virus.
– Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Ronald J. Hansen, Stephanie Innes and Chelsea Curtis, The Arizona Republic
Trump doesn't wear face mask at Arizona PPE plant
As he toured a mask manufacturing facility in Arizona, President Donald Trump declined to wear a face mask himself. He wore eye goggles as he toured the Honeywell aerospace plant, even though he suggested earlier he would wear a mask. At least one sign posted in the facility read "face mask required in this area" and many of the workers in the facility were wearing masks.
– David Jackson, John Fritze and Michael Collins
Asian stocks mixed after Wall Street gains on post-coronavirus hopes
Asian stock markets were mixed Wednesday as hopes for a global economic recovery rose after more governments eased anti-coronavirus controls.
While benchmarks fell in Shanghai and Sydney, Hong Kong, Seoul and Southeast Asia followed Wall Street higher. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.
Investors are increasingly optimistic as European countries and some U.S. states allow businesses to reopen despite warnings that coronavirus infections are still rising in areas such as Brazil and that economic recovery could be some way off.
President Donald Trump, running for re-election in the midst of a slump that has thrown more than 20 million Americans out of work, said Tuesday he wants the U.S. economy to reopen but acknowledged some people will be "badly affected."
Asked in an interview with ABC News whether there might be fatalities as curbs are eased, Trump said, “It's possible there will be some.”
Hawaiian Airlines CEO is optimistic travelers will flock to the island
Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram doesn't know when Hawaii will be open to visitors again, but he sees signs vacationers are ready to return when government restrictions lift.
The airline said its late summer and early fall flights are currently booked about a quarter full. That's down from about 40% at this time in a normal year, but is an improvement over zero demand for flights after Hawaii instituted, and strictly enforced, a mandatory two-week quarantine for arriving passengers in late March to thwart the spread of coronavirus. The quarantine was recently extended through May 31.
When the quarantine lifts, Ingram said, people will be itching to travel again.
"I think people are tired of being cooped up,'' he said on the airline's earnings conference call Tuesday. "To the extent that they've got the flexibility and the economic wherewithal to do it, they're going to want to travel, and Hawaii is going to be an appealing place, like it always is.''
One thing in Hawaii's favor besides its beaches, hiking and other tourist attractions, Ingram said: a low number of coronavirus cases.
– Dawn Gilbertson
California Gov. Gavin Newsom to early openers: You're making a 'big mistake'
Gov. Gavin Newsom scolded two rural counties for allowing some businesses to reopen in defiance of his statewide coronavirus restrictions, calling it a “big mistake” and saying they are “putting their public at risk.”
Restaurants, hair salons and many other businesses opened Monday in Yuba and Sutter counties, about 40 miles north of Sacramento. The Yuba Sutter Mall plans to reopen Wednesday.
Newsom said bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting goods retailers and clothing stores could reopen as soon as Friday, but clarified during his Tuesday briefing shopping malls could not.
Yuba and Sutter together have had 44 confirmed coronavirus cases out of a combined population of just over 175,000 people, and no related hospitalizations.
Sutter County Supervisor Mike Ziegenmeyer said he was “irritated” by Newsom's comments, saying the two counties were following the directives of their shared public health officer. He said he will urge county officials to keep allowing businesses to open in defiance of Newsom's order.
– Arlene Martinez
Ex-Maryland football coach Roy Lester dies from coronavirus complications
Roy Lester, who sandwiched a disappointing three-year stint as Maryland's football coach between a highly successful career at the high school level, has died. He was 96.
Lester's daughter, Amy Lester Greco, said on a Facebook post that her father died Sunday in Rockville, Maryland, from complications of coronavirus. She had announced on April 25 that he had contracted COVID-19 and was in the hospital.
“How blessed I am to have been his only daughter," she wrote. “I am not a perfect person but everything good about me came from this beautiful man."
Lester made a name for himself in Maryland during a 10-year run at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville during which the Rockets went unbeaten six times and had an 86-10-1 record. That led to him being hired in 1968 to coach at Maryland, where he inherited a program that won only two of 19 games over the previous two years.
More coronavirus headlines from USA TODAYThe Georgia town of Albany, a coronavirus epicenter, isn't ready to reopen.There's still too much grief, uncertainty.The U.S. is reopening, sort of: Here's how the 50 states are working to roll back social distancing regulations. The race for a coronavirus vaccine: Can we ethically infect people with a disease with no cure?Mapping coronavirus: Tracking the U.S. outbreak, state by state.These 10 household items are back in stock.Here's where to buy them.
Contributing: The Associated Press