Coronavirus updates: White House limits task force appearances on Capitol Hill

Coronavirus outbreak: What you need to know

More than 3.5 million people worldwide – including nearly 1.2 million people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun shifting their focus to reopening their economies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here.

>> Coronavirus: Know the facts directly from the CDC

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Live updates for Monday, May 4, continue below:

White House limits task force appearances on Capitol Hill

Update 9:45 p.m. EDT May 4: A White House memo to congressional committees says no member of the administration’s coronavirus task force can agree to testify on Capitol Hill unless the invitation is expressly approved by the president’s chief of staff. Democrats bristled at the rule as a crimp on their ability to gather detailed information about the nation’s response to the pandemic.

The memo follows a recent White House move to block Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, from testifying before a House panel while allowing him to appear the following week at a Senate hearing. The Senate is held by Trump’s Republican allies while the House is controlled by Democrats.

The memo, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, also seeks to limit the number of coronavirus-related appearances on Capitol Hill for those at key departments responding to the pandemic. It states that “the demands on agencies’ staff and resources are extraordinary in this current crisis.”

A senior administration official said task force members had been working nonstop since the early days of the coronavirus outbreak and need to focus on the task at hand, “not on preparing for four-hour hearings several times a week.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the memo.

Democratic leaders of the House and Senate criticized the move.

Arizona governor allows restaurants to reopen next week

Update 7:55 p.m. EDT May 4: Restaurants can reopen next week in Arizona amid a downward trend in coronavirus cases and other measurements laid out by federal officials, Gov. Doug Ducey announced Monday.

Ducey said restaurants can open next Monday and salons and barber shops can open this Friday The businesses will need enhanced sanitation and social distancing to open their doors. Ducey is also considering allowing some food establishments that are licensed as bars to open as well.

The decisions came less than a week after the Republican governor extended his stay-home order until May 15. The order remains in place, although closed retail businesses were allowed to start curbside sales Monday and can resume full in-store sales Friday.

He said he considered a downward trajectory in the percentage of positive tests along with declines in hospital visits and use in making his decision on re-openings.

SC restaurants, parks reopen as virus restrictions loosened

Update 6:40 p.m. EDT May 4: South Carolina has officially begun loosening restrictions on travel, commerce and recreation implemented during the initial spread of the coronavirus, as the state tries to regain its economic footing ahead of the summertime tourist season.

Monday marked the end of Gov. Henry McMaster’s stay-at-home order, which placed a $100 fine on anyone outside their home for a reason other than work, visiting family, exercising alone or going to an essential business such as a grocery store.

Dine-in restaurants and close-contact businesses such as barbershops and gyms remain closed, along with playgrounds and nightclubs. But restaurants were being allowed to begin serving people in outdoor dining areas Monday, as long as tables were at least 8 feet apart, parties were limited to eight people and strict sanitation guidelines were followed.

Since beginning a stair-step economic shutdown as the coronavirus spread in March — the slow pace of which was met with criticism from some demanding quicker action — McMaster has repeatedly stressed his desire for a swift, yet safe, financial reopening, noting the severe toll the outbreak has had on individual workers and businesses. Opponents have said reopening too quickly could allow a second wave of virus infections and economic shutdowns that will make things worse for the economy.

Key model now predicts 134,000 deaths in US

Update 5:45 p.m. EDT May 4: An influential scientific model often cited by the White House regarding possible deaths from the Coronavirus dramatically increased its forecast on Monday, now estimating the virus outbreak will result in the deaths of over 134,000 Americans by early August, up from a prediction of 74,000 deaths at that point just a week ago.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington has often been held out by the White House Coronavirus task force as an important forecast, is now estimating another 47,000 Americans will die in the month of May from the virus.

While that’s less than the over 60,000 in April - such a figure would bring the death toll over 100,000, higher than President Donald Trump’s most recent public guess.

“I used to say 65,000,” the President told Fox News on Sunday. “And now I’m saying 80 or 90, and it goes up and it goes up rapidly.”

Virginia stay-at-home order extended

Update 4:45 p.m. EDT May 4: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans during a news conference Monday to extend the state’s stay-at-home order until May 14.

“We flattened the curve, and our hospitals have not been overwhelmed ... But at the same time, I want to make it very clear: This virus is still here. It has not gone away and it will not go away until we have a vaccination ... We must figure out a path forward, but we must always be aware that this virus is still with us ... We must not relax our vigilance or think that the risk has passed," he said. “We are not entering phase one [of reopening the state] today nor this week. Based on the data, I expect that we may be able to enter it as soon as next week.”

Northam outlined three phases of reopening, urging residents to continue social distancing, teleworking and avoiding large gatherings.

Virginia has nearly 20,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That puts the state at nearly 17,000 more cases than the previous month, WHSV reported. Virginia health officials reported 940 new coronavirus cases and 44 deaths Sunday, the largest single-day increase in deaths for the state during the pandemic.

“Our cases continue to rise. The number will continue to go up in part because we continue to do more testing," Northam said.

Northam said the state would need to see two consecutive weeks of a downward trend in daily cases before moving into phase one.

Originally, the stay-at-home order was set to expire Friday.

New Zealand reports no new COVID-19 cases

Update 4:20 p.m. EDT May 4: New Zealand reported no new cases of the coronavirus Monday, marking a significant moment that indicated the country’s bold strategy of trying to eliminate the virus was working.

It was the first time since the outbreak took hold in mid-March that the country has reported zero new cases.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the figures were clearly encouraging and a cause for celebration, but it won’t be known until later this week if new cases continue to pop up in the community.

New Zealand closed its borders and imposed a strict monthlong lockdown after the outbreak began. The lockdown rules were eased a little last week to help reopen the economy, but many restrictions remain in place.

California to move to phase 2 of reopening efforts

Update 3:45 p.m. EDT May 4: California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will begin a move into Stage 2 of its plan to reopen businesses and the state’s economy this Friday.

Newsom said clothing stores, bookstores and florists are among the companies that will be allowed to reopen. Shopping malls and dine-in restaurants will not be included in Friday’s plans.

Over the weekend, groups of people ignored closures and camped out at beaches across Orange County, defying stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Newport Beach city spokesman John Pope said lifeguards and police officers asked more than 2,500 people to leave the beach area.

Last weekend, a heatwave drew thousands of people to Newport Beach, prompting Newsom to shut beaches in Orange County.

Newsom announced updated plans to open beaches in Laguna Beach and San Clemente this week with limitations.

UK officials report 3,985 new cases of COVID-19

Update 3:20 p.m. EDT May 4: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 3,985 new coronavirus infections Monday, raising the country’s number of COVID-19 cases to 190,584.

Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced that a total of 28,734 have died in the U.K. due to the novel coronavirus. The number is 288 higher than the fatal cases reported nationwide Sunday.

Massachusetts reports 1,824 new coronavirus cases

Update 2:50 p.m. EDT May 4: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced 1,824 new coronavirus cases reported in the state in a single day.

During a press conference Monday, Baker said the number of new cases comes after 16,000 tests were processed Sunday. It’s the seventh day in a row that less than 20% of people tested have shown coronavirus-positive results.

Baker said state officials are seeing positive evidence that COVID-19 hospitalization cases have been decreasing and that numbers “have started to trend in the right direction.” He said 904 people are currently in the intensive care unit in Massachusetts hospitals with COVID-19 -- a drop from previous days -- and certain parts of the state are seeing fewer cases than others, including Cape Cod and Western Massachusetts, while Boston remains flat, Boston25News reported.

In the city’s capital, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said 28,000 residents have now been tested for COVID-19, with 32% of those people testing positive, Boston25News reported. He said 28,000 is about 4% of the population of the city. There are currently about 9,929 cases in the city.

More than 68,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and more than 4,000 people have died in the state, according to Boston25News.

A mandate for masks to be worn in public will begin in the state on Wednesday.

Kroger to provide free COVID-19 testing for front-line workers

Update 2:15 p.m. EDT May 4: Kroger, one of the largest grocery retailers in the U.S., will provide free COVID-19 testing for its front-line associates, the company announced Monday. The retail giant, which operates in 35 states across the country, said the testing would be available for workers based on symptoms and medical need.

Available testing options include self-administered kits and the company’s public drive-thru testing sites.

“The widespread availability of diagnostic testing will now allow our associates to feel more empowered and knowledgeable about their health, creating safer stores and facilities,” Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said in a press release.

Last week, Kroger announced measures the grocer is taking to protect associates and customers, such as free drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in 12 states, grocery pickup options and mask provisions for all employees.

Some students to return to schools in Wuhan, China

Update 1:45 p.m. EDT May 4: A Chinese official said some students in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus, will be allowed to return to school on Wednesday, CNN reported.

“On May 6, all the senior students will return to schools, which marks a new beginning for the education plan for this year,” Xia Chunyin, of Wuhan’s education bureau, said according to the news outlet.

Senior students in the area are the only students allowed to return to schools this week as they prepare for university entrance exams.

Louisiana officials report 333 new coronavirus cases

Update 1 p.m. EDT May 4: Officials in Louisiana reported 333 new coronavirus infections Monday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 29,340.

Officials said that statewide, at least 1,991 people have died of COVID-19.

1,621 new cases of COVID-19 reported in New Jersey

Update 12:35 p.m. EDT May 4: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Monday that 1,621 new coronavirus infections have been reported, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 128,269.

Officials also reported 45 new fatal COVID-19 cases. Statewide, 7,910 people have died of coronavirus.

Schools to remain closed in New Jersey through end of academic year

Update 12:30 p.m. EDT May 4: Schools in New Jersey will remain closed through the end of the academic year, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.

“Guided by safety and science, this is the best course of action,” the governor wrote in a social media post announcing the decision.

Number of coronavirus patients falls below 100,000 in Italy

Update 12:15 p.m. EDT May 4: The number of active coronavirus infections reported in Italy fell below 100,000 for the first time in weeks Monday, according to numbers released by health officials.

Authorities said that as of Monday, 99,980 people were dealing with active coronavirus infections in the country. One day earlier, officials had said 100,179 people in Italy were dealing with infections.

Officials said 29,079 people have died of COVID-19 in Italy.

Since the beginning of the viral outbreak, officials have identified 211,938 COVID-19 cases in Italy. The country has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world behind Spain, which has more than 218,000 cases, and the United States, which has more than 1.1 million cases, according to health officials and numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Restaurants allowed to reopen Monday in SC

Update 11:55 a.m. EDT May 4: Restaurants across South Carolina were allowed to reopen Monday with some restrictions after Gov. Henry McMaster lifted the state’s stay-at-home order, WSOC-TV reported.

McMaster announced restaurants would be allowed to reopen so long as they are able to enact social distancing measures, including keeping tables no less than 8 feet apart.

“It’s definitely going to be an adjustment,” Tabitha Donahue, with Dust Off Brewing, told WSOC-TV. “We’ve been doing growler sales, limited contact and now, we’re actually going to have an influx of people. I mean it’s definitely going to be something everyone will have to get used to.”

New York reports 226 new fatal coronavirus cases

Update 11:45 a.m. EDT May 4: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said the number of new coronavirus-related deaths continued to slow Monday with 226 new fatal cases of COVID-19 reported.

The number was slightly lower than the 280 new fatal cases reported Sunday and the 299 new fatal cases reported Saturday.

“This is the number that haunts me every day and it’s still not declining as fast as we’d like to see it decline,” Cuomo said. “We talk about these numbers -- it’s 226 families, right? That’s 226 wives, or brothers, or sisters, or children who are suffering the loss of a loved one.”

Cuomo said Monday that about 700 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, though he cautioned that the information should be taken “with a grain of salt" because of the weekend.

“Sometimes we get different results on the weekend,” he said, noting that hospital officials are coordinating with the government like never before to ensure authorities have the most up-to-date numbers.

Supreme Court begins hearing arguments by telephone

Update 10:45 a.m. EDT May 4: The U.S. Supreme Court began historic hearings by telephone Monday morning as officials adjust to protect themselves and the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

The court chose a somewhat obscure case about whether the travel website Booking.com can trademark its name for its first foray into remote arguments. The lawyers on both sides are well known to the justices and experienced in arguing before the nation’s highest court.

Arguments, scheduled to last an hour as they would generally in the courtroom, got off to a smooth start.

154 new cases of COVID-19 reported in DC

Update 10:35 a.m. EDT May 4: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Monday that 154 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the area, raising the total number of cases in the area to 5,170.

Bowser also said seven more people between the ages of 64 and 101 also died of COVID-19. As of Monday, 258 Washington D.C. residents have died of coronavirus, officials said.

Carnival Cruise Line to resume voyages in August

Update 10:15 a.m. EDT May 4: Officials with Carnival Cruise Lines announced plans Monday to resume North American voyages beginning on Aug. 1.

Eight ships will begin sailing again from Miami, Port Canaveral, Florida, and Galveston, Texas, officials said. All voyages set to embark from other areas in North America and Australia would remain cancelled until at least Aug. 31, officials said.

Wall Street opens lower as US-China tension rises over virus

Update 9:45 a.m. EDT May 4: Stocks opened lower Monday on Wall Street as tensions worsen between the U.S. and China over the origins and early handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P 500 fell 1% in the first few minutes of trading Monday.

Airlines stocks took a hit following news over the weekend that billionaire investor Warren Buffett had unloaded his stakes in the four largest U.S. carriers. Retail stocks were also lower after J. Crew became the first major retailer to file for bankruptcy protection during the pandemic.

Stocks fell in Europe and overnight in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Trading in mainland China and Japan was closed for holidays.

Mnuchin: ‘Too hard to tell’ whether international travel will be able to resume this year

Update 9:40 a.m. EDT May 4: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told FOX Business Network on Monday morning that it remains “too hard to tell” when restrictions placed on international travel due to the coronavirus outbreak would be able to be loosened.

“I hope down the road it is but ... our priority is opening up the domestic economy,” Mnuchin said. “Obviously for business people that do need to travel there will be travel on a limited basis, but this is a great time for people to explore America.”

US Supreme Court to begin teleconference hearings this week

Update 9 a.m. EDT May 4: The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments by telephone beginning Monday morning, allowing for live audio broadcasts of proceedings for the first time.

The court announced plans last month to shift to teleconferencing as a measure to protect the justices, six of whom are over 65 years old, and others amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Historically, the court has declined requests from news media to broadcast proceedings live by video or audio recording. It was not immediately clear whether the practice of allowing for live broadcasts will continue after the threat of the coronavirus passes, Reuters reported.

Justices will hear arguments in 10 cases over the next two weeks, all of which were postponed in March and April, according to The Washington Post. Among other cases, the court will review President Donald Trump’s effort to shield tax and other financial records and whether presidential electors have to cast their Electoral College ballots for the candidate who wins the popular vote in their state.

Worldwide cases surge past 3.5M, total deaths near 248K

Update 7:32 a.m. EDT May 4: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 247,752 early Monday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 3,524,429 people worldwide. Meanwhile, nearly one in every four deaths reported worldwide has occurred in the United States, and 10 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 83,964.

The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows:

• The United States has reported 1,158,341 cases, resulting in 67,686 deaths.

Spain has confirmed 217,466 cases, resulting in 25,264 deaths.

Italy has reported 210,717 infections, resulting in 28,884 deaths.

• The United Kingdom has reported 187,842 cases, resulting in 28,520 deaths.

France has confirmed 168,925 infections, resulting in 24,900 deaths.

Germany has reported 165,664 cases, resulting in 6,866 deaths.

Russia has confirmed 145,268 cases, resulting in 1,356 deaths.

Turkey has recorded 126,045 cases, resulting in 3,397 deaths

Brazil has recorded 101,826 cases, resulting in 7,051 deaths.

Iran has recorded 97,424 cases, resulting in 6,203 deaths.

3rd Russian health care worker in 2 weeks falls from hospital window

Update 7:32 a.m. EDT May 4: A third Russian medical professional in the past two weeks has fallen from a hospital window under mysterious circumstances, The Washington Post reported.

Alexander Shulepov is in critical condition with a skull fracture after falling from the second floor of a hospital Saturday, the Post reported, citing Russian media. Shulepov, a paramedic in western Russia, released a video recently with a colleague, complaining about working conditions amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, but he walked the comments back the following day as having been “emotional.”

Natalia Lebedeva, the chief EMS officer at a cosmonaut training center outside Moscow, fell to her death last week from the window of the hospital room in which she was placed after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Authorities have ruled her death an accident, the Post reported.

Meanwhile, Yelena Nepomnyashchaya, head of a Siberian hospital repurposed for coronavirus patients, fell from the fifth-floor window of the facility, the Post reported.

J. Crew files for bankruptcy, becoming coronavirus pandemic’s 1st major retail casualty

Update 6:13 a.m. EDT May 4: J. Crew Group Inc. became the first major retail casualty of the novel coronavirus pandemic on Monday, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Virginia.

Per the agreement, the high-end New York-based chain will cede ownership to creditors in exchange for the elimination of roughly $1.65 billion in debt.

Federal judge rules in favor of strip clubs seeking coronavirus relief

Update 4:13 a.m. EDT May 4: Strip club owners may begin applying for novel coronavirus financial aid as early as today, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled.

According to The Washington Post, the owners of four Silk Exotic Gentleman’s Club locations applied for aid from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program after the coronavirus crisis forced them to close their doors. The assistance would allow them to continue to pay their staff, but their banks informed them SBA regulations prohibit loans from being disbursed to businesses that “present live performances of a prurient sexual nature.”

In turn, the Wisconsin club owners sued the SBA, arguing their First Amendment rights had been violated when they were denied the same emergency relief funds made available to other businesses.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman agreed, issuing a 33-page decision Friday ruling the strip clubs had been singled out by the government “for unfavorable treatment based solely on the content of their speech,” the Post reported.

Russia logs 4th consecutive record single-day increase in coronavirus cases with 10,633 new infections

Update 3:40 a.m. EDT May 4: For the fourth consecutive day, Russia has reported a record-setting single-day increase in the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases.

Sunday’s 10,633 new infections brought the nationwide total to 134,687, or the seventh-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world.

The country’s coronavirus response headquarters also confirmed in a statement that Russia’s virus-related death toll has reached 1,280, noting that about half of patients suffering fatal infections showed no symptoms.

Germany daily coronavirus death toll hits lowest mark in nearly 6 weeks

Update 2:46 a.m. EDT May 4: Fewer than four dozen novel coronavirus deaths were recorded in Germany on Monday, marking the lowest 24-hour increase in new virus-related deaths since March 25.

According to data from the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s center for disease control, 43 people succumbed to COVID-19 infections between Sunday and Monday, bringing the European nation’s virus-related death toll to 6,692.

Meanwhile, a tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University pegs Germany’s total infections to date at 165,644, resulting in 6,866 deaths.

US coronavirus deaths hit 67,682, total cases near 1.2M

Update 12:30 a.m. EDT May 4: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States approached 1.2 million early Monday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,158,040 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 67,682 deaths. Of those cases, more than 316,000 have been reported in New York, meaning the state has, itself, confirmed more cases than any other nation outside the United States, including Germany with 165,664, France with 168,925, the United Kingdom with 187,842, Italy with 210,717 and Spain with 217,466.

Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 24,708 – or roughly 39% of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 7,871 in New Jersey and 4,053 in Michigan.

In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest-hit state with at least 316,415 confirmed cases, followed by New Jersey with 126,744 and Massachusetts with 68,087.

Ten other states have now confirmed at least 20,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including:

Illinois: 61,499 cases, resulting in 2,618 deaths

California: 54,903 cases, resulting in 2,216 deaths

Pennsylvania: 51,225 cases, resulting in 2,720

Michigan: 43,801 cases, resulting in 4,053 deaths

Florida: 36,078 cases, resulting in 1,379 deaths

Texas: 31,998 cases, resulting in 878 deaths

Louisiana: 29,340 cases, resulting in 2,012 deaths

Connecticut: 29,287 cases, resulting in 2,436 deaths

Georgia: 28,666 cases, resulting in 1,184 deaths

Maryland: 25,462 cases, resulting in 1,281 deaths

Meanwhile, Indiana and Ohio each has confirmed at least 19,000 cases, followed closely by Virginia with 18,672; Colorado and Washington state each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases; Tennessee and North Carolina each has confirmed at least 11,000 cases; Rhode Island and Iowa each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; Arizona and Missouri each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; Wisconsin, Alabama and Mississippi each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases; Minnesota and South Carolina each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases; Nebraska, Nevada, Delaware, Utah, Kentucky and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 5,000 cases; Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arkansas each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Oregon, South Dakota, New Hampshire and Idaho each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.