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Trump says vaccine to be ready by year end as US coronavirus death toll passes 67,000

Here is a look at some of the latest news on COVID-19 from the U.S. and around the world on Sunday.

WASHINGTON — This article contains ongoing U.S. and international updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Here are some key updates for Sunday, May 3, 2020. You can find more details by scrolling through the story.

Key updates

  • Trump: vaccine will be available by year's end
  • President Trump tweets response to President Bush's unity message
  • Northeastern states in the U.S. to form supply chain
  • Michigan’s governor says protesters “depicted some of the worst racism” in U.S. history
  • Pompeo says China has spread of disease in the past and must be held accountable for COVID-19
  • Italy's Health Ministry: number of deaths in 24-hour period ending Sunday was lowest day-to-day since March 10
  • Birx: Protesters not socially distancing is “devastatingly worrisome”
  • Swedish drug regulatory agency investigating on a rapid schedule if the drug remdesivir should be used to treat COVID-19
  • Small Oklahoma town amends rule requiring face masks in businesses after receiving reports of threats of violence against workers trying to enforce the rule

There were more than 1.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. by Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Over 67,000 people in the United States have died.

Worldwide, over 3.5 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. More than 247,000 people have died around the globe.

For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Trump: vaccine will be available by year's end

President Donald Trump says he believes a vaccine for COVID-19 will be available by the end of the year.

Trump also says the U.S. government is putting its “full power and might” behind remdesivir, a drug that has shown early promise as a treatment for the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Trump commented Sunday night during a televised town hall sponsored by Fox News Channel.

Trump sat inside the Lincoln Memorial and fielded questions from two Fox hosts, as well as from people who submitted questions over Fox’s social media platforms.

Trump responded to a Nebraska man who recovered from COVID-19 by saying: “We think we are going to have a vaccine by the end of this year.”

He also said his administration was pushing hard for remdesivir.

U.S. public health officials have said a vaccine is probably a year to 18 months away. But Dr. Anthony Fauci said in late April that it's conceivable, if a vaccine is developed soon, it could be in wide distribution as soon as January.

Credit: AP
President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington, co-moderated by FOX News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

RELATED: President Trump pushes for economic reopening during televised town hall

Northeastern states to form supply chain

After working with neighboring states on coronavirus-related closing and reopening plans, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that New York will join with states from Massachusetts to Delaware to create a regional supply chain for masks, gowns, ventilators, testing supplies and other equipment vital to fighting the disease.

The states are joining together after months of dealing separately with what Cuomo said was a “totally inefficient and ineffective” purchasing process that pitted all 50 states against each other, as well as the federal government and other entities, driving up prices as supplies dried up.

New York buys about $2 billion worth of medical equipment supplies per year, Cuomo said. The other states joining the consortium together spend about $5 billion per year. Working together, they’ll have stronger purchasing power and improve their clout with global suppliers, Cuomo said.

“It will make us more competitive in the international marketplace and I believe it will save taxpayers money,” Cuomo said. “I also believe it will actually help us get the equipment, because we have trouble still getting the equipment.”

The other states in the consortium are Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. One goal, the states’ governors said, is to find suppliers within the region, instead of relying on swamped manufacturers in China and other faraway places.

Michigan governor says protesters 'depicted some of the worst racism'

Michigan’s governor says gun-carrying protesters who demonstrated inside her state’s Capitol “depicted some of the worst racism” and “awful parts” of U.S. history.

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer tells CNN that the protests featured “Confederate Flags, and nooses,” as well as swastikas.

Members of the Michigan Liberty Militia protested the state’s stay-at-home orders this week, some with weapons and tactical gear and their faces partially covered. They went inside the Capitol, where being armed is allowed, then demanded access to the House floor, which is prohibited.

Some went to the Senate gallery, where a senator said armed men shouted at her.

Michigan’s Republican-controlled Legislature has questioned Whitmer’s authority to extend stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the governor used an executive order to extend a state of emergency declaration and has directed most businesses statewide to remain closed.

Mentioned as a possible running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Whitmer said Sunday, “This isn’t something we just negotiate ourselves out of and it’s a political matter.”

“This is a public health crisis,” she said.

RELATED: Whitmer says 'racism' fueled protests over virus response

Pompeo says China must be held accountable

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says China has been responsible for the spread of disease in the past and must be held accountable for the coronavirus pandemic that originated in the country.

In comments likely to spark protests from Beijing and elsewhere, Pompeo said “China has a history of infecting the world.” He cited poor safety and security at epidemiological laboratories, including in the city of Wuhan where the virus was first reported.

He stressed that he had no reason to believe that the virus was deliberately spread but he ramped up already harsh U.S. criticism of the Chinese for their response to the outbreak.

“Remember, China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories,” Pompeo said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” program.

“These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab. And so, while the intelligence community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that, and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

Pompeo appeared to be referring to previous outbreaks of respiratory viruses, like SARS, which started in China. But his remark may be seen as offensive in China given the history of U.S. discrimination against the Chinese and people of Chinese origin dating to the 19th century.

Italy receives encouraging report

On the eve of the start in Italy of partially eased restriction on citizens’ movements during COVID-19 lockdown, the nation received some encouraging news after weeks of grim daily tallies of caseload and deaths.

Health Ministry figures put the number of deaths in the 24-hour period ending Sunday evening at 174, the lowest day-to-day number since 168 on March 10, at the start of national lockdown.

The number of new cases, 1,389, was also the lowest the nation has seen in two months. Italy’s number of known COVID-19 infections total is 210,717, although authorities say the number is likely higher as many infections in people with no or almost no symptoms are believed to have gone undetected.

Italy’s death toll stands at 28,884, but that number, too, could be much higher, since many elderly persons in recent weeks died in nursing homes but weren’t tested to see if they had coronavirus infection.

Credit: AP
A young Nepalese girl is sprayed with disinfectants as she arrives to get free food distributed by social workers during lockdown to control the spread of the new coronavirus in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sunday, May 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Mexico turning Formula 1 course into temporary hospital

Mexico is turning its Formula 1 course into a temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients.

Zoe Robledo, director general of Mexico’s Social Security Institute, said Sunday that authorities in Mexico City expect cases to peak next week, and some hospitals have already reported they’re unable to take more coronavirus patients.

The paddocks and suites along the front straight at the Hermanos Rodriguez course are being fitted out with eight hospital modules with 24 beds in each. The pits will be used as offices for consultations with people reporting symptoms of the disease.

Lucila Olvera, who heads medical infrastructure for the agency, said the temporary hospital should be ready to receive patients by May 13.

The next Formula 1 event at the track isn’t until Nov. 1.

As of midday Sunday, Mexican authorities had reported 22,088 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,061 deaths, though they acknowledge that because of limited testing, the actual number of infections is a multiple of the confirmed figure.

Washington DC announces 219 new cases, 251 total deaths

Washington, D.C. health officials announced that 219 positive new COVID-19 infections had been identified, bringing the total up to 5,016 with 11 new deaths for a total of 251.

Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency on March 11 and issued a stay-home order on March 30 for Washington’s approximately 700,000 residents. Bowser has also announced plans to turn Washington's convention center into a 1,500-bed field hospital.

RELATED: 'Facing an unprecedented challenge' | New COVID-19 cases at DC Central Detention Facility reflect growing concerns

Dr. Birx says protesters not socially distancing is 'devastatingly worrisome'

White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx is calling it “devastatingly worrisome” to see protesters in Michigan and elsewhere not wear masks or practice social distancing as they demonstrate against stay-at-home orders.

Birx was responding to the hundreds of protesters who crowded the Michigan statehouse last week to push for a reopening of businesses.

She tells “Fox News Sunday” that people “will feel guilty for the rest of our lives” if they pick up the virus because they didn’t take precautions and then unwittingly spread it to family members who are especially vulnerable to severe illness due to preexisting conditions or older age.

Protests took place in several states over the weekend amid growing frustration over the economic impact from stay at home orders during the coronavirus outbreak.

Birx says: “We need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent.”

Credit: AP
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx listens as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Gov. John Bel Edwards, D-La., about the coronavirus response, in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, April 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Swedish regulatory agency: EU investigating remdesivir as COVID-19 treatment

The Swedish national drug and medicine supervision agency says the European Union is investigating on a rapid schedule whether the use of the drug remdesivir could be allowed for treating the coronavirus within the 27-nation bloc following a similar decision in the United States.

The Swedish Medical Products Agency's infection department director, Charlotta Bergqvist, told Swedish broadcaster TV4 that the introduction of remdesivir with is now being studied with a high priority within the EU and a decision may be reached “in a few days.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently authorized emergency use of remdesivir on people hospitalized with severe COVID-19. The drug was originally developed for treatment of Ebola and produced by the California-based Gilead Sciences Inc.

Clinical trials have showed the drug has helped to shorten the recovery time for people who were seriously ill.

Oklahoma town amends face coverings mandate after some reports of threats to workers

The town of Stillwater, Oklahoma issued an emergency proclamation May 1 to require the use of masks in essential businesses, stores and restaurants. That was amended the next day after workers reported threats of violence when trying to enforce the rule. 

Norman McNickle, the City Manager for the town of Stillwater said, "store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse" during the short time the proclamation was issued. McNickle said at least threat of violence using a firearm occurred related to the proclamation. 

The city has amended the order but is still asking residents to wear a face mask whenever possible. 

George W. Bush releases video calling for unity in the fight to contain the new coronavirus

Former President George W. Bush released a video Sunday, which was posted to Facebook, calling for unity and an end to partisanship in the fight against the new coronavirus.

In the video Bush comments on partisan politics during the fight saying, "we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful." 

The Call to Unite

If you have a little time to spare, please listen to the message below and visit https://unite.us/ to tune in and learn more. The Call to Unite Points of Light GiveDirectly #answerthecall

Posted by George W. Bush on Friday, May 1, 2020

President Trump responded to the release of the video with a tweet writing, "I appreciate the message from former President Bush, but where was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.” 

Credit: AP
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House after stepping off Marine One, Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington. Trump is returning from a trip to Camp David, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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