The World Health Organization will hold its annual convention via teleconference for the first time Monday as the group discusses the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. HHS Secretary Alex Azar insisted Sunday it was safe to reopen the economy in certain states, while a White House adviser said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's botched early coronavirus testing efforts "let the country down."
Meanwhile, the Vatican will reopen its doors Monday, and will check people's temperatures before entering. The Italian government announced Saturday that it will reopen its regional and international borders on July 3. The government will also eliminate a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving from abroad.
The U.S. has the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world by far. There are more than 89,000 deaths and almost 1.5 million confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the virus has killed more than 315,000 people and has infected more than 4.6 million.
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Here are some highlights to know Monday:The World Health Organization will hold its annual convention online for the first time Monday as it discusses how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.Elvis Presley's Graceland reopens this week after closing March 20. Tour capacity will be reduced to 25% and temperature checks will be given to guests.
What we're talking about: A Wyoming strip club reopened this weekend with a 'masks on, clothes off' party, as it became one of the first strip clubs in the country to reopen.
The World Health Organization will hold its convention online for first time
The 73rd World Health Assembly, where leaders worldwide usually convene in Geneva to discuss health topics, will take place online Monday. It will focus on the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 315,000 people, and infected over 4.7 million, across the globe. Among the key issues will be the potentail development of a vaccine and how to distribute it across the world.
The WHO's 194 member states generally meet every year to discuss things the organization's policies and budget, and to appoint the Director-General. In April, President Donald Trump halted funding to the WHO after criticizing its handling of the pandemic. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump is considering to cut off funding again after plans to restore its funds.
Immigration agency asks for emergency funds to stay afloat
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which processes citizenship applications and work visas, is requesting funds from Congress to stay afloat amid the coronavirus outbreak. On Friday, the agency asked for $1.2 billion in emergency funding and said it would reimburse taxpayers by adding a 10% surcharge to application fees.
The agency, which largely relies on the fees it charges people seeking to live or work in the country, said the number of applications have declined because of the pandemic. Its revenue could drop by 61% through the end of the year, reports the Associated Press.
The pandemic has affected the immigration system in the U.S., with visa processing being suspended and travel to America restricted. President Donald Trump also ordered a 60-day pause on issuing green cards in April to protect the jobs of American citizens during the pandemic.
Eric Trump says Biden 'thrilled' outbreak is halting campaign rallies
President Trump's son Eric says Democrats and their presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden are discouraging efforts to begin reopening the country because that would allow Trump to conduct campaign rallies. After Election Day, the political foes will determine that the coronavirus threat has "magically" gone away, the younger Trump said on Fox News.
"Biden loves this. Biden can't go on stage without making some horrible blunder," Trump said. "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."
Elvis Presley's Graceland reopens Thursday after coronavirus closure
Graceland, Elvis Presley's Memphis mansion, will reopen Thursday for the first time since March 20. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic that closed it will change the way visitors see the home of the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
Staff will be required to wear face coverings, and visitors will be encouraged to. Visitors and employees will have their temperature checked, and no one with a temperature of 100.4 degrees will be permitted to enter.
Employees will be required to take regular hand-washing breaks, and hand sanitizer will be available for employees and visitors. Commercial-grade cleaning will take place continuously, including with UV light sanitizer wands.
Trump adviser: CDC 'really let the country down with the testing'
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "really did set us back" in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak by keeping testing within the bureaucracy and providing a faulty test, White House adviser Peter Navarro said Sunday.
"The CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down," Navarro, the national Defense Production Act policy coordinator, told NBC's Meet the Press.
Navarro also defended President Trump for encouraging states to begin opening up, saying it's not about "lives vs. jobs." Unemployment-related depression and other issues, along with sick people unwilling to visit physicians, would cost more lives than would be lost by any additional COVID deaths, Navarro said.
HHS Secretary says it's safe to reopen, downplays need for vaccine
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar defended the push to reopen the U.S. economy by championing testing and said that “everything does not depend on a vaccine.”
Azar said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that “almost half of our reporting counties haven’t had a single death” and added that more than 60% of confirmed coronavirus cases are in only 2% of reporting counties.
But as several states have lifted stay-at-home restrictions, images of crowded bars, restaurants and public outdoor areas have led to concerns that there could be a resurgence of new cases.
“In any individual instance you're going to see people doing things that are irresponsible,” Azar said. “That's part of the freedom we have here in America.”
Azar lamented every death as tragic, but said “we have maintained our healthcare burden within the capacity” to treat the outbreak. When pressed further on the death toll, as the U.S. approaches 90,000, Azar pointed to “significant unhealthy comorbidities” that make minority communities “particularly at risk.”
Gov. Cuomo gets COVID-19 test during his press conference
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was tested for cornavirus during his press conference Sunday to show how quick and easy it is to receive the nasal swab screening. Cuomo interrupted his own news conference to have a physician stick a nasal swab deep into his nose, though the test result was not immediately available. Cuomo had previously expressed resistance to being tested for COVID, arguing that he had not displayed symptoms nor been directly exposed to anyone who has tested positive. But he urged state residents with symptoms to get tested, saying it's so easy that "even a governor can do it."
– Jon Campbell
NASCAR returns to track at Darlington Raceway
NASCAR became the latest professional sports league to resume competition, following in the footsteps of German Bundesliga soccer restarting its season with matches this weekend.
The Real Heroes 400 NASCAR Cup Series race was held Sunday at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Kevin Harvick won the race, which was his 50th career victory. Drivers received health checks upon arriving at the facility, and various crew members have been wearing face masks and other protective coverings. The race was held without fans and social distancing directives are required.
An aggressive schedule calls for four more races to be held in the next two weeks as the series attempts to get back on schedule after being stopped in March with just four of its 36 events held.
More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAYA potential second wave in the fall could cause major problems. Is the U.S. prepared to handle the challenge?A woman was in intensive care for 51 days. Now she's been released after winning her battle against the virus.College towns have been hit hard by the coronavirus as no students and no graduation causing "total devastation" for some.
Vaccine for millions by January? 'If everything goes in the right direction"
A vaccine for the novel coronavirus is possible by the end of the year "if everything goes in the right direction," the director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said Sunday. Dr. Tom Inglesby, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press," said the timeline is far from normal, but that these are not normal times. President Donald Trump said last week he hopes to have a vaccine widely available by January.
"There are many ways that it might not work,“ Inglesby said. "So, I don't think we should bank on it."
Judge blocks North Carolina governor's virus-related orders on churches
Churches in North Carolina were free to hold indoor services Sunday without the severe restrictions imposed by Gov. Roy Cooper after a federal judge sided with conservative Christian leaders. Two Baptist churches, a minister and a Christian revival group filed a federal lawsuit claiming the restrictions violated their rights to worship freely and treated churches differently from retailers and other secular activities. The ordered had limited the services to 10 people while businesses were limited to 50% capacity and funeral services up to 50 people. Cooper said he would not appeal Saturday's ruling but urged religious leaders to voluntarily follow the guidelines.
73-year-old woman survives coronavirus after 51 days in intensive care
When Paula Eaton was wheeled on a gurney out of Baptist Hospital East, more than a dozen nurses created a tunnel to clap and cheer for her as the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" played in the background.
Paula holds the record for the hospital's longest amount of time a COVID-19 patient has spent in the Intensive Care Unit before being discharged.
When she was admitted to Baptist East Hospital on March 27, there were only 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kentucky. She was within the first 20 people to test positive in the state.
After 51 days, several rounds of pneumonia, a blood infection, and weeks on a ventilator and tracheal tube, the 73 year old was released.
More headlines from USA TODAY'A loaded gun:' Wet markets, wildlife trafficking pose threat for the next pandemic.How to reenter society: Your questions and advice from experts on life post-quarantine.AP exams went online and had tech problems. College Board says it's investigating.
Contributing: The Associated Press