ABC News Corona Virus Government. Response

US intel believes China hid severity of coronavirus epidemic while stockpiling supplies

There are more than 1.1 million diagnosed cases in America.

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 243,000 people worldwide.

Over 3.4 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.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the hardest-hit country, with more than 1.1 million diagnosed cases and at least 66,369 deaths.

Today's biggest developments:

  • US surpasses 65,000 deaths
  • Mississippi extends stay-at-home order
  • USNS Mercy no longer accepting patients
  • Here's how the news developed on Saturday. All times Eastern.

    10:54 p.m.: City drops mask requirement over fears of violence

    The city of Stillwater, Oklahoma, has amended an emergency proclamation requiring people to wear face coverings in public after threats of violence.

    In a statement, Stillwater City Manager Norman McNickle said that in three hours on May 1, while face coverings were mandatory inside stores in the city, employees were "threatened with physical violence" by people who "cite the mistaken belief the requirement is unconstitutional." One person even threatened an employee with a gun for asking them to wear a mask, according to McNickle.

    "It is further distressing that these people, while exercising their believed rights, put others at risk," McNickle said in a statement. "As mentioned, there is clear medical evidence the face coverings prevent COVID-19 spread; they are recommended by both the CDC and the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The wearing of face coverings is little inconvenience to protect both the wearer and anyone with whom they have contact. And, an unprotected person who contracts the virus can infect their own loved ones and others."

    McNickle and Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce reversed the emergency proclamation late Friday. The city will still require store workers to wear masks, but with the amendment citizens are now just "strongly encouraged" to wear coverings, instead of requiring it.

    Stillwater has a population of about 50,000, and is the location of Oklahoma State University. The university sent students home in mid-March and conducted classes online the rest of the semester.

    Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.

    9 p.m.: Hotel group to give back loan money

    The Ashford Group will return the millions of dollars in coronavirus small business loans its real estate and hotel companies received under the Paycheck Protection Program, the company announced Saturday.

    Together, its publicly traded companies received more -- tens of millions of dollars -- from the small business relief program than any other applicant.

    As late as this week, they had resisted public pressure to return their funds. But on Saturday, said they would do so to comply with in new guidance from the Small Business Administration.

    The group defended taking the loan even as it returned the money, "Some media and members of Congress have falsely implied that Ashford accessed 'loopholes' in the CARES Act to qualify for the PPP funds. In fact, Congress designed the PPP to specifically allow companies that own multiple hotel properties to obtain separate loans for each property as a means to prevent the economic collapse of the hospitality industry that is now occurring."

    6:32 p.m.: US suffers deadliest days since outbreak began

    America just confronted its deadliest two days in deaths since the country's first known novel coronavirus death in February.

    April 30 and May 1 marked the deadliest 48 hours in the United States' fight against COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization.

    A total of 4,978 people died, according to the WHO's situation reports, which detail the number of new and total COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide.

    The reports, posted on May 1 and May 2, detail data reported to the Geneva-based organization by 4 a.m. ET Saturday.

    The death toll in the U.S. is more than 66,000.

    6:05 p.m.: Chicago mayor rails against house parties

    Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a fiery press conference Saturday asking people to immediately stop holding large house parties.

    "If you feel like having a dance party -- go on TikTok," she said. "You are risking your own health. ... You are bringing death to [your family's] doorstep."

    The Chicago Police Department vowed to shut down any large gatherings and arrest those in attendance.

    The CPD will "shut you down, we will cite you, and if we need to, we will arrest you and take you to jail, period. There should be nothing unambiguous about that."

    Lightfoot said she had to call today’s presser because CPD has already broke up 50- and 150-person house parties, and they know more are planned tonight.

    "For a silly party, you are risking first responders' lives," CPD Superintendent David Brown said, "all of our lives, including first responders."

    5:08 p.m.: USNS Mercy no longer accepting new patients: FEMA

    The USNS Mercy, which was docketed at the Port of Los Angeles to help assist medical professionals with treating COVID-19 patients, will not be accepting new patients, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    The Navy hospital ship has been stationed at the harbor since March 27 and has treated just over 70 non-coronavirus patients, according to The Associated Press. It currently has nine patients on board.

    Mercy's sister ship, the USNS Comfort, was deployed in New York Harbor since April 1 and left on Thursday. USNS Comfort treated 182 patients.

    5 p.m.: Number of Maryland COVID-19 patients continues to rapidly rise

    Maryland's confirmed coronavirus cases have climbed sharply this week, bringing its total to 24,473 cases.

    Since Monday, confirmed cases of the virus have risen by almost 5,000. From Monday to Tuesday, there were 626 new cases, but from Thursday to Friday 1,730 additional cases were confirmed.

    From Friday until midday Saturday 1,001 new cases were confirmed.

    As of Saturday, Maryland has 1,156 coronavirus-related deaths.

    3:03 p.m.: Tyson Foods plant set to reopen next week

    After almost half of the 1,900 workers at a Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Logansport, Indiana, tested positive for COVID-19, the pork plant is slated to reopen next week.

    The plant was temporarily shut down on April 25 after the cases were confirmed, according to a statement from the Indiana Joint Information Center.

    Team members were asked to self-isolate until their results returned. The company is working with local health officials on verification of test results and will communicate with team members prior to the restart date, while following CDC guidance on safely returning employees back to work.

    "While the facility was idled, we added more workstation barriers, installed more hand sanitizer dispensers, and did additional deep cleaning and sanitation," said Todd Neff, senior vice president pork. "We’re also now screening employees for additional symptoms and designating monitors to help enforce social distancing, while following the CDC and OSHA’s guidance for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers."

    Bonuses and health insurance coverage ha also increased for the workers.

    Tyson Fresh Meats also temporarily halted operations at its Dakota City, Nebraska, beef plant for additional deep cleaning and sanitation. The group voluntarily idled its locations in Waterloo and Perry, Iowa, and Pasco, Washington, while team members undergo testing and plants complete deep cleanings of the facilities.

    2:39 p.m.: Texas cases surpass 30,000

    Texas confirmed on Saturday that the state now has 30,522 cases, including 1,293 new cases.

    The majority, 6,551, are in Harris County, which includes Houston. While over 14,000 Texans have recovered from the virus, 847 have died and 1,725 patients were still hospitalized.

    2:36 p.m.: California's death toll increases

    California on Friday reported 98 more deaths, as cases increased about 3.5% to 52,197. The state has seen a total of 2,171 deaths.

    The number of patients in hospitals, about 3,400, and intensive care units, about 1,100, decreased slightly, officials said.

    1:38 p.m.: 20% of Florida deaths over last 5 days

    The total number of deaths in Florida rose to 1,364 on Saturday, the state's health department reported.

    Since Monday, there have been 276 new deaths, meaning 20% of all deaths in the state have occurred in the last five days.

    There were also an additional 735 new positive cases, putting the state's total at 35,463.

    12:19 p.m.: US intel believes China hid severity of epidemic while stockpiling supplies

    U.S. intelligence officials believe that the Chinese government misled the rest of the world about the contagiousness of COVID-19, all the while taking dramatic action to collect the medical supplies needed for its own battle against the virus, according to an analysis obtained by ABC News.

    The report from the Department of Homeland Security claims that "the Chinese government intentionally concealed the severity of COVID-19 from the international community in early January while it stockpiled medical supplies by both increasing imports and decreasing exports."

    "China likely cut its exports of medical supplies prior to its January WHO notification that COVID-19 is a contagion," according to the report, which was shared with law enforcement and government agencies on Friday.

    The analysis looked at official and media reporting of imports and exports, and it examined alternative theories that might explain the dramatic January shift in trade patterns connected with critical health care equipment. However, none of those alternatives seemed plausible to U.S. intelligence experts, who wrote in the report: "The Chinese government attempted to hide its actions by denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data."

    Global trade data from February showed "a significant decline" in worldwide imports from China, according to the report. For example, imports of surgical gowns declined by 71%, surgical face masks by 48%, medical ventilators by 45% and intubation kits by 56%.

    The February figures likely reflected a January reduction in exports from China because cargo typically takes at least 30 days to ship, according to the report.

    The Department of Homeland Security said in the report it has "moderate confidence" in its overall assessment, according to analysis of the trade data. The document also notes that "in its communications, China intentionally concealed its trade activity by publicly denying it has ever imposed an export ban on masks and other medical supplies."

    Analysts reported U.S. intel does not have enough global trade information to find early evidence of a contagion, but, did say that with China producing about 80% of the world's supply of maks a "stockpiling of face masks indicates a significant health concern."

    11:59 a.m.: Fewer New Yorkers testing positive for antibodies

    The rate of New Yorkers who tested positive for antibodies, meaning they had COVID-19 at some point, has decreased, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a briefing.

    The percentage of residents who had antibodies was 12.3% as of May 1, down from 13.9% on April 22 and 14.9% on April 27, Cuomo said.

    Around 15,000 people were tested in the survey, according to the governor, who touted it as the largest antibody survey in the country.

    While he admitted that it was not a major decrease, it was "better than seeing it go up."

    More men than women tested positive for antibodies, the results showed, and New York City continued to have the highest reported positive tests at 19.9%. In the city, the Bronx and Brooklyn had the two highest positive antibody results.

    Cuomo said health experts still are trying to determine where new cases are coming from and have asked hospitals to record from neighborhoods new patients arrive. He's also asked hospitals to help identify how many new cases are front-line workers or people with whom they live.

    Ahead of the subway's scheduled closure from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., starting May 6, officials discussed the logistics of the plan.

    Sarah Feinberg, interim president of the New York City Transit, said that around 10,000 to 11,000 thousand people ride the subway from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. She said transit officials know which subway stations those people use and they're going to ramp up bus services so fewer commuters see disruptions.

    10:53 a.m.: Tremendous' testing capacity for returning senators, Trump tweets

    President Donald Trump said there is "tremendous" testing capacity for senators returning to Washington, D.C., next week. His comments came after it was reported that Capitol physician Brian Monahan said earlier in the week that his office did not have the capacity to screen all 100 senators.

    "There is tremendous CoronaVirus testing capacity in Washington for the Senators returning to Capital Hill on Monday," Trump tweeted.

    He also said that was "likewise" for the House, which he said should return but is not because of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    The president said the five-minute Abbott test would be used. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced late Friday night on Twitter that the administration was sending Abbott tests to Congress.

    "Good news: as the Senate reconvenes to do important work for the American people during this public health crisis, we have now received an initial request and are sending 3 Abbott point of care testing machines and 1,000 tests for their use," Azar tweeted.

    10 a.m.: Fauci will testify before Senate

    Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci will testify before the GOP-led Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on May 12, a committee spokesperson said.

    "Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander looks forward to hearing from Dr. Fauci and other administration officials at the Senate health committee's second hearing back, which will be on Tuesday, May 12," the spokesperson said.

    The news comes after the White House's efforts to block Fauci from appearing before the Democratic-led House committee next week. The White House did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment.

    6:45 a.m.: NCAA releases 'core principles' for restarting college sports

    The NCAA released guidelines on Friday for how college sports will transition back campuses. Its plan closely follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Trump administration's Opening Up America Again strategy.

    Once COVID-19 infection rates decrease for at least two weeks, the NCAA said "resocialization of sport may be possible." In its plan, put together by the COVID-19 Advisory Panel, there are nine "core principles" that are a part of three phases for college sports to come back.

    "The core principles outlined below are offered as a premise for resuming practice and competition at the collegiate level," the NCAA said in a statement.

    Some of the principles include that colleges must have a plan in place for students to come back, that there are adequate personal protective equipment and access to testing, there must be a surveillance program to trace and isolate new cases and more.

    Phase one includes limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, keeping common areas like gyms and cafeterias closed and encouraging virtual-only meetings. Phase two includes a limit on gatherings of 50 people or more, but allows for nonessential travel to resume. After other safety benchmarks and coronavirus numbers are met, phase three allows vulnerable student-athlete to resume in-person activities, common areas open and most other restrictions are lifted.

    The NCAA guidelines are all subject to federal, state and local regulations.

    Since early March, all NCAA sports have been canceled, including the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournament.

    4:10 a.m.: Mississippi extends stay-at-home order after spike in deaths

    Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said he was prepared to unveil the easing of state restrictions Friday. He said he knows the economy needs to be reopened and that residents of his state are ready to get back to work and see a normal way of life again. However, as he was set to announce those plans Friday during the state's task force briefing, the latest coronavirus data forced him to stop in his tracks.

    Mississippi, he said, had just had its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases and its largest increase in deaths.

    "Every single day, I have come before you and been transparent. I was transparent when I made decisions that turned out to be right. And I believe I was transparent when I made decisions that turned out to be wrong," he said Friday.

    "This thing is not over, we are not out of the woods yet. Things can change quickly. We have to stay flexible," Reeves said during Friday's briefing. "This was a large enough change to make me take a step back… and I have come to the conclusion that I must hold on for now."

    Reeves said he hopes to announce more reopenings soon, but the timing is not right. Meanwhile, the governor is in a battle with the state legislature over federal COVID-19 stimulus funding.

    The legislature voted Friday to prevent Reeves' office from spending federal coronavirus money, saying the executive branch shouldn't be the sole decider on how to spend the CARES money in the state.

    Reeves said that decision only delays getting much-needed funds to residents.

    "Best case scenario, weeks from now, they start debating that budget. They over-estimate and we have to send a lot of your money back to the federal government when it goes unused," Reeves said in a statement Friday night. "Worst case scenario, they underestimate and people die because we can't get them what they need."

    Mississippi has more than 7,200 diagnosed coronavirus cases and at least 281 deaths.

    What to know about coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map
  • ABC News' Ben Siegel, Matt Foster, Ahmad Hemingway, Josh Hoyos, Greg Bradbury, Elizabeth Thomas and Scott Withers contributed to this report.