May 6 coronavirus news

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11:33 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Nearly 58,000 students are going back to school at coronavirus ground zero

From CNN's Alexandra Lin and Isaac Yee

Students arrive at a high school in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on May 6.
Students arrive at a high school in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on May 6. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of students are going back to school today in Wuhan -- the original epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The central Chinese city was placed under strict lockdown in January to arrest the spread of the virus, with nobody allowed in or out, and movement limited within the city. The restrictions began lifting in early April, with borders opening, domestic travel resuming, and some businesses allowed to reopen.

Students return: A total of 57,800 students will return to class in Wuhan today, according to a statement from Hubei province authorities. Some 121 schools in the city are reopening, including 83 high schools and 38 vocational schools.

High school seniors will be the first to return, as they need to prepare for the "gao kao," China’s university exam. It's typically held on June 7-8 each year, but was postponed this year to July 7-8 due to the coronavirus. Younger high school grades will slowly return in phases.

11:19 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

White House to disband coronavirus task force, even as models project higher US death toll

From CNN's Jake Tapper, Kristen Holmes, Jeremy Diamond, Caroline Kelly and Dana Bash

The White House coronavirus task force will start to wind down later this month, a senior White House official told CNN on Tuesday.

The official said the task force "will be phased down around Memorial Day. We will continue to have key medical experts advising (President Donald Trump) daily and accessible to press throughout the coming months ahead."

The New York Times first reported the White House's plan to wind down the task force.

The move would quash the most visible nerve center for the federal government's response to the virus. But a senior administration official told CNN to expect members of the task force to still be involved in conversations with governors and industry leaders because the White House is aware that leaders still want to hear from doctors as they reopen their states and businesses.

This comes just after the the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projected a doubling of US deaths -- to 134,000 by August 4 -- and an increased daily death toll.

Read the full story:

11:01 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

It's just past 8 p.m. in Washington and 11 a.m. in Hong Kong. Here's the latest on the pandemic

A nurse prepares to administer medication to a patient inside the coronavirus ward at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, on Thursday, April 30.
A nurse prepares to administer medication to a patient inside the coronavirus ward at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, on Thursday, April 30. Nathan Howard/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 3.6 million people globally and killed at least 257,000. If you're just joining us now, here are the latest developments:

  • Trump to disband task force: The White House coronavirus task force will start to wind down later this month, close to Memorial Day on May 25, according to a senior White House official. This comes just after new models show the US could see its death toll double, to reach 134,000 by August 4.
  • UK death toll: The UK has overtaken Italy as the country with the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, with more than 29,500 deaths. Only the US has reported more Covid-19 related fatalities.
  • New coronavirus study: A genetic analysis found that the virus has been circulating in people since late last year. Researchers concluded the virus' jump from animals to humans was "very recent," and ruled out the possibility that it had been infecting people long before it was identified.
  • Progress in Asia: Hong Kong appears to have largely contained its second wave, with no new locally transmitted cases in more than two weeks. South Korea reported only two cases yesterday -- both imported -- its lowest number in 78 days. And China only reported two confirmed symptomatic cases, neither of which were local transmissions.
  • Daily life resumes: Schools, restaurants and bars are reopening in mainland China and Hong Kong. US states are moving toward partial reopening, despite local mayors and health experts warning it may be too soon. Places in Europe, like Serbia, Poland, Hungary and Germany's Bavaria region, are also reopening.
10:45 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

University of Pittsburgh professor doing Covid-19 research killed in apparent murder-suicide

From CNN’s Carma Hassan and Rebekah Riess

A University of Pittsburgh research assistant professor, who was on the verge of making "very significant findings" toward Covid-19, was shot and killed in an apparent murder-suicide over the weekend, according to the university and police.

Dr. Bing Liu was found in his home, and had suffered gunshot wounds to the head, neck, torso, and extremities, according to the Ross Police Department.

Investigators believe an unidentified second man, who was found dead in his car, shot and killed Liu in the townhome before returning to his car and taking his own life.

Police believe the men knew each other, but say there is "zero indication that there was targeting due to his (Liu) being Chinese," according to Detective Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp.

The university issued a statement saying it is "deeply saddened by the tragic death of Bing Liu, a prolific researcher and admired colleague at Pitt. The University extends our deepest sympathies to Liu’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time."

Members of the university’s school of medicine describe their former colleague as an outstanding researcher and mentor, and have pledged to complete Liu's research "in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence."

He had been working to better understand the cellular mechanisms that underlie Covid-19.

10:24 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Parts of New York state could reopen in a week, governor says

From CNN's Leinz Vales

CNN's Chris Cuomo and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
CNN's Chris Cuomo and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Source: CNN

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he's preparing for the reopening of his state as early as mid-May.

"We have about another week before we could open some regions of the state," Cuomo said Wednesday on "Cuomo Prime Time," hosted by his brother, CNN's Chris Cuomo.
"We do see regional variations. So we're responding to those, because there are different facts upstate than downstate, so we're responding to those, but we're not going to be pressured into it."

Cuomo said reopening will be based on facts and data, but more coronavirus testing is needed.

"We do need more testing and that is an open issue," he said.

"They have to come up to scale. You then have to put tracing in place, which is an enormous undertaking that's never been done before. That has to be put in place to gauge the reopening."

10:10 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

South Korea sees no local transmissions and lowest case numbers in 78 days

From CNN's Sophie Jeong in Seoul

South Korea reported two new coronavirus cases yesterday -- both imported from abroad, meaning the country had no local transmissions.

This is the country's lowest number of new cases since February 18, when the number of new cases was as low as one.

The national total now stands at to 10,806 cases and 255 deaths, according to South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another 50 patients have been discharged from isolation, bringing the national total of recovered cases to 9,333 -- or 86.4% of the total infected.

9:57 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Houston could furlough all city employees except for the police and fire departments

A general view of city hall in downtown Houston, Texas is seen at night, illuminated in colors, in recognition for first responders and health care professionals amid the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, April 26.
A general view of city hall in downtown Houston, Texas is seen at night, illuminated in colors, in recognition for first responders and health care professionals amid the coronavirus outbreak on Sunday, April 26. Matt Paterson/AP

The city of Houston, Texas could furlough all of its employees except for police and firefighters, Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The furloughs are likely to take place to make up for a $200 million budget shortfall and would likely start on July 1, Turner said.

"All subject to the budget being approved by the city council. And then we will see whether or not between now and then, Congress provides us with any additional flexibility on the dollars that have already been provided through the federal CARES Act, which could help to minimize those furloughs," he added. 

Turner reiterated that the city is looking at the possibility of utilizing some of those dollars to prevent furlough in some categories. 

Some background: Late last month, Turner said Houston was facing a budgetary shortfall due to the coronavirus, and it was "the worst in the city's history."

He said both reopening the economy and extending the stay-at-home order is in the hands of Gov. Greg Abbott.

On Tuesday, Abbott announced that certain business sectors would be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks, albeit with restrictions.

9:43 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

Japan reports 123 new cases in drop from weekend spike

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

An employee helps set up a medical facility to accommodate coronavirus patients at the Nippon Foundation Para Arena in Tokyo on May 4.
An employee helps set up a medical facility to accommodate coronavirus patients at the Nippon Foundation Para Arena in Tokyo on May 4. Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Japan recorded 123 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 22 deaths on Tuesday, according to the country's health ministry.

That brings the national total to 16,066 cases and 556 deaths. Of that total, 712 cases and 13 deaths are linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was docked under quarantine for several weeks in February.

Tokyo, the hard-hit capital, made up 58 of the new cases on Tuesday.

Case numbers in Japan spiked last week and into the weekend, with new daily case numbers jumping past 100 and reaching 289 on Saturday.

That fell back to 218 on Sunday, and 174 on Monday. Tuesday's count of 123 continues the downward trend past the peak of the spike.

9:28 p.m. ET, May 5, 2020

China records 2 new imported coronavirus cases

A PCR test for the new coronavirus is carried out at a general hospital in Shanghai on April 28.
A PCR test for the new coronavirus is carried out at a general hospital in Shanghai on April 28. Kyodo News via Getty Images

China recorded two new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, both imported from overseas, according to the country's National Health Commission.

In addition, 20 new asymptomatic cases were recorded. A total of 903 asymptomatic patients are still under medical observation. 

The total number of cases officially recorded in mainland China now stands at 82,883, including 4,633 deaths.

The vast majority of patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital, the NHC said. Some 339 cases remain active.