The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus outbreak is fast approaching 100,000. As lockdowns ease across the United States and other countries around the world, the World Health Organization is warning of a second peak of coronavirus cases. The WHO urged countries to step up testing and tracking. Across the globe, the pandemic has killed over 345,000, but that is believed to be an undercount. The New York Times marked the staggering U.S. death toll by dedicating its entire front page on Sunday to some of the names of Americans who died from the virus.
President Trump spent parts of the Memorial Day weekend playing golf and using his Twitter account to attack his political enemies, spread conspiracy theories and amplify the messages of some of his racist followers. He retweeted multiple personal attacks on House Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, attacking Pelosi’s physical appearance and Abrams’s weight. He also reposted a tweet referring to Hillary Clinton as a “skank.”
On Memorial Day, the president refused to wear a mask during events at Arlington Cemetery and Fort McHenry. Meanwhile, he shared a tweet mocking Joe Biden for wearing a mask while visiting a veterans memorial in Delaware. On Friday, North Dakota Republican Governor Doug Burgum made an emotional plea asking residents to avoid what he called “mask shaming.”
Gov. Doug Burgum: “If somebody wants to wear a mask, there should be no mask shaming. You should look at them and say that person is wearing a mask because, for them, there’s additional risk in their life.”
Trump is threatening to move August’s Republican convention from Charlotte, North Carolina, if the state’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper doesn’t guarantee he can have a packed arena. On Monday, Trump accused Cooper of being “still in Shutdown mood.” The Twitter attack came just two days after North Carolina registered its largest daily increase in coronavirus cases.
On Friday, Trump said all houses of worship are essential, and threatened to override governors who refused to lift restrictions on them if restrictions weren’t lifted by the weekend.
President Donald Trump: “Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”
Trump, however, does not have the authority to override state orders on places of worship.
In immigration news, a Guatemalan man has become the second known person to die of the coronavirus while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Thirty-four-year-old Santiago Baten-Oxlag was imprisoned at the privately run Stewart Detention Center in Georgia before being transferred to a hospital.
Earlier this month, another ICE prisoner — Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia of El Salvador — died in a San Diego hospital after becoming sick at the for-profit Otay Mesa Detention Center. On Sunday, immigrant rights activists drove by the Otay Mesa jail to demand the release of prisoners. This is protester Jennifer Frost Moreno.
Jennifer Frost Moreno: “No more needless or senseless deaths because of COVID-19 and ICE’s lack of action to protect the detainees and staff inside detention centers.”
At least 200 prisoners at Otay Mesa have reportedly contracted COVID-19. Nationwide, over 1,200 people at ICE jails have tested positive.
ICE is moving ahead with plans to deport more Haitian immigrants amid the pandemic, including people who have tested positive for COVID-19. At least nine people with the virus are set to be deported today, among 78 other Haitian nationals. One passenger on the deportation flight is death squad leader Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, who founded a paramilitary group that has been accused of rape, torture and the murder of thousands of supporters of the overthrown former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Haitian activists are calling on the Department of Homeland Security to halt his deportation.
President Trump has imposed new travel restrictions on Brazil as the World Health Organization has declared South America to be the new epicenter of the pandemic. Most foreign nationals who have been to Brazil in the past 14 days will not be allowed to enter the U.S. The order, which goes into effect just before midnight tonight, doesn’t apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents or their close relatives. On Monday, Brazil’s daily death toll topped 800, surpassing the U.S. daily total of 620. Brazil now has around 375,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — second only to the United States. Over 23,000 deaths have been reported. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly dismissed concerns over the pandemic and clashed with local leaders over their efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing resistance from some parents and teachers as he moves to reopen schools in a week. He also announced nonessential retail could resume business next month. Meanwhile, his top adviser, Dominic Cummings, has come under intense fire after he broke Britain’s lockdown to visit his parents — while Cummings and his wife had active cases of COVID-19.
Russia recorded its highest daily death toll Sunday with over 150 fatalities but says the number of new cases appears to be declining.
The World Health Organization has suspended testing of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 amid possible safety concerns. The antimalarial drug has been repeatedly touted by President Trump, who last week elicited shock and condemnation by claiming he has been taking hydroxychloroquine preventively. A new study in The Lancet that looked at over 96,000 hospitalized patients found those who were given hydroxychloroquine had a significantly higher death rate than those who were not.
In Pakistan, 97 people died Friday when a Pakistan International Airlines jet crashed into a crowded, poor neighborhood of Karachi while attempting to land at the city’s airport. Two people survived the crash. Dozens of residents who lived near the crash site were transported to the hospital, but no fatalities were reported on the ground. This is Salah Uddin, a resident of the Karachi neighborhood where the plane crashed.
Salah Uddin: “It is a very tragic incident that has occurred on the occasion of Eid. It is especially painful because people were coming home to celebrate Eid with their loved ones. In a way, we can say the poor people have become martyrs. It is very sad.”
The Washington Post is reporting the Trump administration recently discussed conducting the first U.S. nuclear test explosion since 1992. One official told the paper the test could help the U.S. in nuclear negotiations with Russia and China. But Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association warned the move “would be the starting gun to an unprecedented nuclear arms race.” Last week, the Trump administration announced it is withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty, a major international arms control deal. Last year, Trump also withdrew from the INF Treaty — the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.
In Hong Kong, thousands took to the streets Sunday to protest the new security laws proposed by China Friday, which they say will further tighten Beijing’s grip on the semi-autonomous territory by cracking down on “subversion of state power” and “secessionist activities.” Police deployed tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons against the pro-democracy protesters. Critics say the new law, which will bypass the Hong Kong Legislature, would mark an end to any independence held by the region.
The Department of Justice is reportedly investigating the killing of Ahmaud Arbery as a hate crime. The Arbery family attorney, Lee Merritt, shared the news Monday. Ahmaud Arbery’s case has drawn nationwide outrage after video emerged showing two white men chasing after the 25-year-old Black man as he was jogging, then shooting him to death. No arrests were made until the video came to light earlier this month, even though the murder took place in February. A third white man who filmed the killing has also been arrested.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has apologized after facing backlash for telling radio host Charlamagne tha God he “ain’t Black” if he was unsure about who to support in the upcoming election. Biden made the comment on the popular show “The Breakfast Club” on Friday.
Joe Biden: “You got more questions, but I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”
Charlamagne tha God: “It don’t have nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with the fact I want something for my community. I would love to see” —
Joe Biden: “Take a look at my record, man. I extended the voting rights 25 years. I have a record that is second to none. The NAACP has endorsed me every time I’ve run. I mean, come on, take a look at the record.”
Biden apologized during a conference call with the U.S. Black Chambers.
A federal judge in Florida has struck down a law requiring people with felony convictions to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle said the law amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax. Republicans passed the law after Floridians approved a ballot measure in 2018 restoring voting rights for people with felony convictions.