North Carolina reports 'notable and concerning' coronavirus case increase

At least 97,087 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S.

May 23, 2020, 11:36 PM

A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 342,000 people worldwide.

Over 5.3 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

The United States is the worst-affected country in the world, with more than 1.6 million diagnosed cases and at least 97,087 deaths.

Today's biggest developments:

  • US nears 100,000 deaths
  • Symptomatic hair stylist 'potentially directly exposed' 84 clients
  • NBA discusses restarting season at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Here's how the news developed Saturday. All times Eastern.

    3:58 p.m.: Minnesota's governor allows places of worship to open

    Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that starting Wednesday, he will allow places of worship to reopen at 25% capacity if they adhere to social distancing and other public health guidelines.

    Walz also announced that COVID-19 cases are still climbing and may not reach the peak until summer.

    The state's health commissioner said there was an increase of 847 positive coronavirus cases Friday -- the highest daily total. There have been 19,845 positive cases in the state thus far.

    PHOTO: Roman Catholic churches, including the St. Paul Cathedral, shown Friday, May 22, 2020 in St. Paul, Minn., and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations across Minnesota, plan to resume worship services Sunday.
    Jim Mone/AP

    3:14 p.m.: Arkansas has 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections

    Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Saturday that the state is having a second peak of COVID-19 infections.

    "It's clear and evident to me that we have had one peak and we had a dip and now we are having a second peak right now and really they are 30 days apart," said Hutchinson, adding that it isn't "all that bad."

    Hutchinson said the state is doing more testing "that allows our contact tracing to be more effective, quicker, and more responsive to the cases we see."

    The rate of positive cases are around 5% -- the national average is 10%, said Hutchinson.

    "This data means that there are still positive people out there and we can't be casual in our interactions," the governor said.

    2:20 p.m.: NBA seeks to restart at Disney World

    The NBA is in talks with The Walt Disney Company to continue the 2019-2020 season in July at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

    "The Walt Disney Company has a great, long-standing relationship with the NBA. We are engaged in conversations with them about completing the 2019-2020 season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World Resort," according to a Disney spokesperson.

    The NBA suspended its season indefinitely on March 11, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    It remains unclear whether the NBA will play the remainder of its regular season or proceed directly to the playoffs. But the 220-acre ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, with its three arenas and ample hotel accommodations, would allow the league to restart play while limiting outside exposures.

    "Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place," said Mike Bass, a spokesman for the NBA.

    Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

    12:25 p.m.: Daily deaths in NY fall below 100

    Daily deaths in New York fell to 84, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, marking the first time since late March the number was below 100.

    Cuomo said that while the number was painful for those families, it is a sign the state is "making real progress."

    He recalled a conversation he had with a health care worker when New York deaths were in the hundreds each day. Cuomo asked what number he should be aiming for as a positive sign.

    "If you can get under 100, I think you can breathe a sigh of relief," Cuomo said the worker told him. "When he said this, we were in the hundreds and hundreds, and getting below 100 was almost impossible, but I made a little note. You need something in life to shoot for, you need something to aim for."

    People are seen practicing social distancing in white circles at the Madison Square Park during Covid-19 pandemic in Manhattan, New York City, United States on May 22, 2020.
    Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    With the metrics still down, Cuomo said that the mid-Hudson region could reopen beginning Tuesday and Long Island could start reopening on Wednesday.

    He also applauded those who went to the beaches Friday, saying they followed safety measures.

    11:51 a.m.: North Carolina sees highest 1-day increase in cases

    North Carolina reported its highest one-day increase of confirmed cases, with 1,107 cases, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Services.

    "This is a notable and concerning increase. As we head into a holiday weekend, please practice the three Ws -- wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands frequently. When it comes to our health, we need to work together to protect our families, friends and neighbors," NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said in a statement.

    The health department said epidemiologists were analyzing the data to determine if there were any significant contributing factors.

    In addition, 10% of total tests were positive among labs that report both negative and positive tests into the state electronic reporting system.

    There are 22,725 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 737 deaths in North Carolina as of Saturday, according to the health department.

    Circles designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging social distancing line San Francisco's Dolores Park, May 21, 2020.
    Noah Berger/AP Photo

    11:20 a.m.: Spain opening to tourism starting in July

    Spain will reopen to international tourism beginning in July, President of Spanish Government Pedro Sanchez announced.

    "As you know, Spain receives more than 80 million visitors per year. I do announce that starting from July, Spain will reopen foreign tourism with safety conditions. Foreign tourists can start planning their holidays in our country," Sanchez said.

    Sanchez added that the country needs tourism and "tourism needs safety from origin to destination."

    People in Barcelona visit the Guell Park on May 20, 2020.
    Jordi Boixareu/

    "We will guarantee that tourists will not take any risks, and will not bring any risk to our country," he said.

    Professional soccer will also reopen starting on June 8, but without fans in attendance.

    Spain was among the countries hardest hit by the virus. There were more than 234,000 confirmed cases and more than 28,000 deaths, the fourth-highest fatality rate in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There will be 10 days of national mourning for the victims of the pandemic, Sanchez said, beginning Tuesday.

    10:24 a.m.: Stay-at-home orders sparking some violence, DHS warns

    Stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements have sparked some violence in the United States, and it could continue under further restrictions, according to a new federal report obtained by ABC News from analysts at the Department of Homeland Security Counterterrorism Mission Center.

    "A variety of illicit actors are responding violently to stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures in place due to COVID-19, and we assess both public and private authority figures and essential workers are at highest risk of being targeted, particularly as the pandemic persists," the DHS reported in the notice issued to law enforcement and federal government leadership Thursday. "Even as parts of the country begin lifting some of these measures, some illicit actors probably will view any continued state-mandated ordersas government overreach, and anticipated safety guidelines and policies—specifically the use of face masks—probably also will serve as a driving factor behind continued violent incidents related to the pandemic."

    A person tries to help Angela Rigas as she gets a ticket for being a disorderly person as she cuts hair at the Michigan Conservative Coalition organized "Operation Haircut" outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on May 20, 2020.
    Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

    The DHS report was issued the same day President Trump told reporters in Michigan that he would oppose renewed stay-home rules even if a second-wave outbreak occurs this fall, as many public-health experts fear.

    The report does not offer any political or health judgments, but instead bluntly warns about possible future violent acts.

    "Public health officials are warning of a possible second-wave of COVID-19 in late 2020, which would likely result in at least some states re-implementing stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus, according to press reporting. Should this occur, we would expect a repeat of current responses, including additional incidents of hostility against these restrictions, some of which could result in violence targeting law enforcement or other individuals attempting to enforce the stay-at-home orders," according to the report.

    There has already been at least one incident early this month. Officials said a sheriff's private information was published online by white supremacists who were angry about an arrest.

    A Colorado man was arrested for encouraging people to illegally open-carry firearms at a planned "anti-shutdown protest," according to the report.

    "Upon his arrest, law enforcement officials discovered pipe bombs and additional bomb component materials, according to court documents and press reporting. In response to the arrest, members of an online white supremacist extremist group discussed targeting law enforcement and later doxed the sheriff's home address," the report stated.

    9:43 a.m.: Warden removed from virus hotspot after allegedly not removing sick inmates, BOP says

    The warden at a federal prison in Louisiana, which became a COVID-19 hotspot, has been removed, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

    Rodney Myers, who was the warden at FCC Oakdale, was put on temporary assignment after being reassigned. FCC Oakdale was the first major outbreak in the federal prison system, in which 227 inmates and 40 staff were infected with the virus and eight inmates have died, though union officials allege the number released by the BOP is not accurate.

    The BOP did not say specifically why he was removed.

    This week, a union that represents more than 30,000 federal corrections officers filed an Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaint about the way Myers handled the COVID-19 outbreak at the federal facility.

    The OSHA complaint alleged that he knowingly and willingly failed to isolate inmates who had tested positive for COVID-19.

    "These inmates have been allowed to continue normal daily activities for at least 4 days through the institution to include working in their inmate jobs…" the report says. "By allowing these inmates to 'roam free' across the institution and in these different areas, these inmates are spreading this known contagion to otherwise clean and sanitized areas and to inmates and staff who may not currently be infected."

    The OSHA complaint also alleged that the warden did not properly conduct a "fit test" for employees' N95 masks. Instead, according to the complaint, the facility gave staff cloth masks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that correctional officers wear N95 masks, gloves and a face shield.

    Myers was reassigned to the South Central Regional Office.

    8:40 a.m.: Most legal challenges to stay-at-home orders seeking religious exemptions denied

    In at least 22 cases, a judge has denied legal challenges seeking religious exemptions to stay-at-home orders that would allow houses of worship to host gatherings, according to research by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, a religious liberty watchdog group that promotes the separation of church and state.

    The group found six examples where judges granted a religious exemption -- four of them in Kentucky, one in Kansas and one in North Carolina. Two of these cases permitted drive-in services and four allowed in-person services. There are at least ten such cases that remain undecided.

    Mark Burgess, left, and David Rossini with Bostonian Cleaning and Restoration of Braintree cleans the aisle at St. Gregory's Church in Boston's Dorchester during the COVID-19 pandemic on May 18, 2020.
    David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    The data was provided in the wake of President Donald Trump deeming houses of worship "essential." Trump demanded on Friday governors allow them to reopen "this weekend," threatening to "override" the governors if they didn't. He did not explain what legal grounds he had to do so.

    Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the demand was "irresponsible and reckless -- and tragically, will lead to more deaths."

    "Decisions about how, when and if houses of worship can offer in-person services must be left to state and local public health officials who are familiar with the unique situations they face," Laser said in a statement. "President Trump has no power to override the nation's governors in this area."

    Worshipers wearing masks and practicing social distancing are seeing during service at Hopeful Baptist Church on Sunday, May 17, 2020, in Montpelier, VA.
    Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

    7:18 a.m.: Hertz files for bankruptcy

    Car rental company Hertz filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday amid the global economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The company cited the "sudden and dramatic" decline in demand and future bookings as millions across the U.S. stayed at home to help stop slow the spread of the coronavirus.

    Hertz said all of its stores, along with its subsidiaries like Dollar, Thrifty, will remain open after the filing. All reservations, promotions, vouchers, etc. are expected to continue as usual, the company said.

    "With the severity of the COVID-19 impact on our business, and the uncertainty of when travel and the economy will rebound, we need to take further steps to weather a potentially prolonged recovery," Hertz President and CEO Paul Stone said in a statement Friday. "Today's action will protect the value of our business, allow us to continue our operations and serve our customers, and provide the time to put in place a new, stronger financial foundation to move successfully through this pandemic and to better position us for the future."

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    While travel is nowhere near normal levels, there is slight momentum towards a rebound as many states begin reopening. TSA screened 318,449 people on Thursday, the highest number of passengers since March 23. Compared to the same day last year, it is still down around 88% when the agency screened 2,673,635 people.

    5 a.m.: Missouri hair stylist 'potentially directly exposed' 84 clients to COVID-19

    A symptomatic hair stylist in Springfield, Missouri, may have exposed 84 clients and seven coworkers to the novel coronavirus over the course of eight days this month.

    The hair stylist had recently traveled within the Show-Me and, after returning to Springfield, gave haircuts at a Great Clips from May 12-20, according to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

    "This scenario is well within our capacity for staff to contact trace and hopefully contain," Clay Goddard, director of health for Springfield-Greene County, said at a news conference Friday. "But I'm going to be honest with you, we can't have many more of these. We can't make this a regular habit or our capability as a community will be strained and we will have to reevaluate what things look like going forward."

    All potentially exposed individuals will be notified and offered testing, Goddard said. Officials are hoping for a minimal spread of COVID-19 from this incident because all parties concerned were wearing masks.

    He said as the state and local communities reopen, it's important for citizens to realize the social responsibility they have to others. Don't assume your slight cold or allergies are just that; make sure to get tested, Goddard said.

    If people don't do this, it will put a strain on the local health care system and could force officials to rethink their economic reopening plans.

    "We are moving out of a phase where we took enormous sacrifice as a community. There are economic hardships as a result of that," Goddard said Friday. "We're in a new phase of this disease where we're going to walk that tight rope between disease control and economic harm. If we are going to work sick and sharing this illness with others, that's not a good approach."

    Missouri Gov. Mike Parson lifted many of the state's restrictions and its stay-at-home order on May 4.

    The state has more than 11,844 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, with at least 677 deaths.

    What to know about coronavirus:

    PHOTO: A nurse holds the arm of a patient infected by COVID-19 at the Gilberto Novaes Municipal Field Hospital, on May 21 2020, in Manaus, Brazil.
    A nurse holds the arm of a patient infected by COVID-19 at the Gilberto Novaes Municipal Field Hospital, on May 21 2020, in Manaus, Brazil. The hospital, built exclusively for coronavirus patients, currently operates at full capacity with all 156 beds and 39 intensive treatment unit occupied. According to MInistry of Health, Brazil has 20,082 coronavirus deaths.
    Andre Coelho/Getty Images

    ABC News' Mina Kaji, Liz Alesse, Luke Barr, Josh Margolin, Aicha El Hammar and Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.

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