National

Ovidiu Dugulan/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 355,000 people worldwide.

Over 5.6 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 worst-affected country, with nearly 1.7 million diagnosed cases and at least 100,442 deaths.

Here's how the news is developing Thursday. All times Eastern:

5:43 a.m.: Brazil's president says Trump is sending hydroxychloroquine tablets

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump is sending over 2 million tablets of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

Bolsonaro, a close ally of Trump, made the comment while speaking to a small group of supporters as well as members of the press outside the presidential palace in the capital Brasilia.

"[Trump] is sending us, here, 2 million hydroxychloroquine tablets," Bolsonaro said, without offering further details.

A Brazilian source told ABC News that the deal is still being negotiated.

Bolsonaro, who has come under fire for his handling of Brazil's novel coronavirus outbreak, keeps promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, although there's no evidence the medication works as a prophylactic for the disease.

Trump has also touted hydroxychloroquine as a possible "game changer" treatment for COVID-19 and announced earlier this month that he was taking daily doses of the drug as a preventive measure against the virus after two White House staffers tested positive.

However, a recent study of more than 96,000 coronavirus patients in hospitals around the world found that those who were treated with chloroquine or its analogue hydroxychloroquine had a considerably higher risk of death than those who did not receive the antimalarial drugs. The findings, published last Friday in The Lancet medical journal, prompted the World Health Organization to halt global trials of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

Earlier this week, Trump suspended travel to the United States from Brazil as the South American country emerged as a new hotspot in the coronavirus pandemic. The new rule does not affect trade between the two nations.

Brazil now has the second-highest number of diagnosed cases of COVID-19, behind the United States.

3:50 a.m.: Blood clots clogged lungs of African American coronavirus victims, study finds

Autopsies on 10 African American patients who died from COVID-19 show their lungs were filled with blood clots, according to a new study.

The autopsies were performed at University Medical Center in New Orleans by a team of pathologists from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans. It's believed to be the first autopsy series on African Americans whose cause of death was attributed to COVID-19, according to the study, which was published Wednesday in monthly scientific journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

"We found that the small vessels and capillaries in the lungs were obstructed by blood clots and associated hemorrhage that significantly contributed to decompensation and death in these patients," Dr. Richard Vander Heide, head of pathology research at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, said in a statement. "We also found elevated levels of D-dimers -- fragments of proteins involved in breaking down blood clots. What we did not see was myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, that early reports suggested significantly contributes to death from COVID-19."

The small vessel clotting is a new finding that appears to be specific to COVID-19, according to the study.

The 10 deceased patients were black men and women between the ages of 40 and 70, many of whom had a history of hypertension, obesity, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. In all cases, the patients had experienced sudden respiratory decompensation or collapse at home approximately three to seven days after developing a mild cough and fever.

The new findings come after some U.S. states released mortality data based on race and ethnicity that show the novel coronavirus kills black Americans at a disproportionately high rate.

"Our study presents a large series of autopsies within a specific demographic experiencing the highest rate of adverse outcomes within the United States," said Dr. Sharon Fox, another co-author of the study.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved



RiverNorthPhotography/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) -- Democratic and Republican leaders denounced gun rights supporters for hanging an effigy of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear from a tree outside the state capitol building during a Memorial Day weekend demonstration.

The symbolic lynching occurred on Sunday at a rally by gun rights groups that was initially organized to celebrate Second Amendment freedoms to bear arms. But as the rally in Frankfort went on, it turned into a protest against Beshear's coronavirus-prompted stay-at-home orders.

As country singer Lee Greenwood's hit song "God Bless the U.S.A." played in the background, a demonstrator wearing camouflage pants and what appeared to be a holstered handgun strung a rope over a tree limb and with the help of another man hoisted the effigy bearing a picture of Beshear and a handwritten sign tacked to it reading, "Sec Semper Tyrannis," a Latin phrase meaning "Thus always to tyrants."

Video of the episode, taken by a reporter from the Courier-Journal newspaper of Louisville, showed at least one child standing next to a baby carriage as she watched the adults hang the Beshear effigy.

At least one unnamed member of the group was fired from their job at Neil Huffman Auto Group on Tuesday, according to a statement.

"The Neil Huffman Auto Group does not condone threats of violence in any form, whether they be a call to action or an implied threat," Shannon Huffman, the company's human resources manager said. "Following an internal investigation on this matter, the employee was terminated. There is no place for hate or intolerance at any of our dealerships."

At a press conference Wednesday, Beshear called it "an act intended to create fear and terror."

While the group Take Back Kentucky posted a notice on its Facebook page advising members of protests at the capitol building on Saturday and Sunday, a spokesman for the group denied members were involved in organizing or sponsoring the event.

"We notified our members that there was going to be two separate events and to let people take their choice to go to whichever one they wanted to. We were in no way involved with the planning of it, the organization of it and we had no knowledge of what was going to take place," Richard Treitz, moderator of Take Back Kentucky, told ABC News.

"We believe in the Constitution. We believe in the Second Amendment," Treitz said. "We're not in favor of these lunatic activities like an effigy and we absolutely condemn things like banging on the windows of the Governor's Mansion."

On the group's Facebook page, it informed its members that "we will have guest speakers to talk about the virus, and how this shutdown will not only wreak havoc with the economy over the next several years, but also threaten our fundamental freedoms and the character of America for generations."

The Courier-Journal reported that the effigy hanging took place outside the state capitol building after about 100 demonstrators marched to the Governor's Mansion yelling for Beshear to come out.

"Come out, Andy!" protesters chanted.

It was not clear if Beshear was home at the time. The governor, a Democrat, has yet to issue a response to the protest.

As images and video of the effigy being strung up went viral, political leaders from both sides of the aisle condemned the act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, issued statement calling the incident "unacceptable" and saying "there is no place for hate in Kentucky."

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael G. Adams, a Republican, took to Twitter to denounce the incident.

"This is disgusting and I condemn it wholeheartedly," Adams wrote.

This is disgusting and I condemn it wholeheartedly. The words of John Wilkes Booth have no place in the Party of Lincoln. https://t.co/mILfSMVEHy

— KY Sec. of State Michael Adams (@KYSecState) May 24, 2020

Adams noted that John Wilkes Booth shouted the phrase "Sec Semper Tyrannis" when he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. He said those words "have no place in the Party of Lincoln."

The Kentucky House Democrats issued a joint statement deploring the protesters and calling their actions "beyond reprehensible."

"Doing this in front of our Capitol, just a short walk from where the Governor, First Lady, and their two young children live, is an act that reeks of hate and intimidation and does nothing but undermine our leading work to battle this deadly disease and restore our economy safely," the Kentucky House Democrats' statement reads.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved



Chainarong Prasertthai/iStockBy ELLA TORRES, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Domestic violence has seen a dramatic increase during the novel coronavirus pandemic, with victims cooped up with their abusers under stay-at home orders and unable to access services they normally would utilize for support, according to officials.

As resource centers face this new crisis, their services "are vital now more than ever," Keith Scott, the director of education at The Safe Center, a Long Island, New York-based domestic violence resource center, told ABC News.

"Abusers thrive off of power and control. Right now, an abuser could be controlling an entire household," Scott said. "It's harder for [victims] to reach out, it's harder for them to be more private."

The Safe Center is one of many domestic violence resource facilities adapting to the new circumstances of the pandemic.

Efforts to maintain contact with victims who have reached out to the center include weekly therapy sessions with counselors through video conferencing apps or phone calls.

Scott said the center has had to think of innovative ways to conduct the sessions without abusers knowing, including having victims say that they are going to the grocery store and then going to either a friend's house or calling from their cars.

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, whose office works with The Safe Center, told ABC News she recommends that victims who do not feel comfortable making a report immediately take photos of injuries they sustain and keep a diary of incidents.

Singas said that if someone feels their phone is being monitored, they should send the images to someone they trust and then delete them from their own device.

"It becomes harder because their abuser is usually right in the room or right in the same home with them," she said. "A lot of advocates are calling women and trying to make sure that if someone else answers the phone, they're not saying who they are."

In New York, there has been a spike in domestic violence reports since residents were told to stay home to stop the spread of the virus, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

Calls to the state's domestic violence hotline were up 30% in April compared to last year and up 18% from February to March, when New York's "PAUSE" order, which shut all but essential businesses, took effect, according to Cuomo's office.

State police also reported that domestic violence incident calls were up 15% in March compared to last year.

Singas, who is a former special victims prosecutor, said that the increase in calls is because the "usual safeguards are not in place."

"If you're in an abusive situation or a potentially abusive situation, being locked in with your abuser, you're essentially trapped," Singas said. "Domestic violence victims often report when they're able to leave the house or they can go to work under normal circumstances and can confide in a coworker."

New York's "PAUSE" order, which expires May 28, does not require people to stay at home, but closes most businesses and prohibits non-essential gatherings of any size, thereby effectively forcing people to be in their homes in many cases.

What remains concerning for Singas is that even with the increase in reports, there are more women who likely are unable to call.

Singas also said that the increase in calls has not translated into an increase in cases.

A call to a resource center or hotline does not translate into a case, which means that Singas' office is investigating and there is a possibility that criminal charges will be filed. Calls to resource centers or hotlines can lead to cases following an investigation, but that depends on many factors.

"For me, it made sense knowing what I know about domestic violence victims and about the power dynamics of intimate violence that we would have fewer cases because women would be reluctant to pursue a criminal investigation and criminal prosecution in the circumstances they're in now," Singas said.

"In normal situations, if a woman feels like her life is in danger or if she just feels she has to get out of a situation, then she does that. When she goes to work she would have already talked to a counselor, they would have come up with an escape plan. She would be able to confide in a friend or a relative or coworker that would help her execute her removal from that situation," Singas said. "All of those avenues are much more limited now."

Gov. Cuomo's office launched a task force last week to find "innovative solutions to this crisis." Melissa DeRosa, the secretary to the governor, and the New York State Council on Women and Girls, announced the creation of the unit and said they will present recommendations to Cuomo by Thursday.

"During these unprecedented times, New York has led the way in providing survivors of domestic violence access to the critical services they need to get help," DeRosa said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the reality is that we are still seeing an increase in the number of reported cases of domestic violence across NY as this pandemic continues - we need to do more to help women who are stuck in dangerous situations. I am proud to be working with this diverse task force to develop recommendations for the Governor so we can creatively address [domestic violence]."

The problem is by no means limited to New York. The United Nations Population Fund predicted there could be 31 million new cases of domestic violence globally if the coronavirus lockdowns continue for six more months, according to Newsweek.

As more people start to emerge from their homes, both Singas and Scott said that they hope more victims will come forward.

However, the trauma of being trapped with an abuser by no means will go away quickly, it at all.

"When the abuse stops, the trauma and mental effect does not always stop," Scott said.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522. The Safe Center also has a 24/7 hotline that can be reached at 516-542-0404.


Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved



Evghen_Prozhyrko/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON and WHITNEY LLOYD, ABC NEWS

(MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.) -- The mayor of Minneapolis called on prosecutors Wednesday to file criminal charges against a white police officer seen in a viral video pressing his knee into the neck of an African American man who is repeatedly heard in the footage saying "I can't breathe" before he died.

Mayor Jacob Frey said at a news conference that he has contacted the office of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to demand justice for George Floyd and his family.

"I’ve wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, one fundamental question: Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?" Frey said. “If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now. I cannot come up with a good answer to that question and so I’m calling upon Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to act on the evidence before him. I’m calling on him to charge the arresting officer in this case."

Frey's comments came a day after protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis to demand justice for Floyd. The demonstrators clashed with police, who sprayed chemical irritants on them in an attempt to disperse the large crowd.

The protests turned violent again Wednesday evening, causing Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to ask people to leave over safety precautions.

"The situation near Lake Street and Hiawatha in Minneapolis has evolved into an extremely dangerous situation," the governor tweeted around midnight Wednesday. "For everyone's safety, please leave the area and allow firefighters and paramedics to get to the scene."

At least one business was set on fire Wednesday night and ABC affiliate KSTP-TV is reporting looting took place at a local Target in the area.

Frey tweeted early Thursday morning, asking for peace because the protests have become dangerous.

"Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy," Frey tweeted. "The area along Lake has become unsafe. We are asking for your help in keeping the peace tonight."

Floyd died shortly after he was apprehended by Minneapolis police on Monday. Video emerged on social media showing a police officer with his knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, begged for mercy.

"I can't breathe, please, the knee in my neck," Floyd is heard saying to the officer, identified as Officer Derek Chauvin, who had him pinned to the ground. "I can't move ... my neck ... I'm through, I'm through."

Officers Chauvin, Tou Thao, who is also seen in the video, and Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who were also involved in the incident, were fired on Tuesday by Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

Frey said he made his decision to ask that criminal charges be filed in the case based primarily on the video of the incident.

“There are events in our city that shape us. There are precedents and protocols sitting in the reserves of institutions just like this one that will give you about a thousand reasons not to do something, not to speak out, not to act so quickly," Frey said. “We cannot turn a blind eye. It is on us as leaders to see this for what it is and call it what it is. George Floyd deserves justice, his family deserves justice, the black community deserves justice and our city deserves justice."

While autopsy results determining the cause of Floyd's death have not been released, Frey said that "what I can say with certainty based on what I saw, is that the individual, the officer who had his knee on the neck of George Floyd, should be charged."

According to the police watchdog group Communities United Against Police Brutality, Chauvin was one of six Minneapolis police officers involved in an October 2006 incident in which police fatally shot Wayne Reyes, who was suspected of stabbing his girlfriend and a male friend. Hennepin County officials confirmed to ABC News that a grand jury declined to indict the officers of wrongdoing.

Thao was named in an "unreasonable use of force" lawsuit that was settled out of court for $25,000 in 2017, according to attorney Seth Leventhal, who represented the plaintiff, Lamar Ferguson, in the case. The complaint filed in the case alleged that Ferguson was handcuffed when he suffered "punches, kicks and knees to the face and body" that left him with broken teeth and bruising. Ferguson alleged in the complaint that he was walking home with his pregnant girlfriend when Thao and another officer stopped him without cause and began questioning him about a previous incident they suspected involved Ferguson's family members.

Mayor Frey would not specify what charges he would like to see filed in the Floyd case.

"I do not want to get into the fundamentals of different classifications of murder. I do not want to get into the fundamentals of any one specific charge or any one individual," he said. “I’m not going to weigh in on the evidence. I know there’s clearly more evidence to come, but I will say that based on what I saw in the video this is the decision that I am making, obviously not as a prosecutor."

Freeman's office issued a statement in respond to Frey's request, saying, "We are working with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner to expeditiously gather and review all of the evidence in the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd. The videotaped death of Mr. Floyd, which has outraged us and people across the country, deserves the best we can give and that is what this office will do."

The Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement Monday that their officers initially confronted Floyd after being called to the scene "on a report of a forgery in progress." The officers were advised that the suspect "appeared to be under the influence" and that he "physically resisted officers."

The department said Floyd "appeared to be suffering medical distress" and that officers called an ambulance. Floyd was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he was pronounced dead. Police officials said no weapons were found on Floyd and none of the officers involved in the incident were injured.

Frey's statements echoed those made by Floyd's sister, Bridgett Floyd, during an interview Wednesday morning on ABC's Good Morning America.

She said terminating the officers is "definitely not enough justice for me or my family."

"They murdered my brother. They killed him," Bridgett Floyd said. "Firing them is just not enough."

Following George Floyd's death, the University of Minnesota announced Wednesday night that it would stop contracting the Minneapolis Police Department for most of its sporting events, concerts and ceremonies.

"As a community, we are outraged and grief-stricken," University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel said in a statement. "I do not have the words to fully express my pain and anger and I know that many in our community share those feelings, but also fear for their own safety. This will not stand."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Pennsylvania State PoliceBy IVAN PEREIRA, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) -- The University of Connecticut student who's alleged to have killed two people and injured a third was taken into custody in Maryland Wednesday night, police said.

Connecticut State Police said Peter Manfredonia, 23, was taken into custody in Hagerstown, Maryland, and there were no injuries to law enforcement or Manfredonia despite authorities saying he was believed to be heavily armed.

"We know that this suspect will face justice," Connecticut State Police Trooper First Class Christine Jeltema said Wednesday night. "This is important for the victims, the victim's families."

Jeltema said officials were able to apprehend Manfredonia in large part due to social media, technology and "good old fashioned police work."

Manfredonia could be facing state or federal charges, which will be decided in the coming days, she said Wednesday night following his arrest.

Pennsylvania police said Manfredonia was spotted at a gas station in Chambersburg Tuesday morning along with a stolen car that was seen in Manfredonia's last known location. Officers released surveillance footage that reportedly showed Manfredonia inside the gas station's store, wearing glasses, a maroon shirt, a blue jacket, shorts and red shoes.

He allegedly took an Uber cab from the store to Hagerstown, roughly 25 miles away, police said. Manfredonia is wanted in connection with the murder of two men in Connecticut.

"If seen, do not approach. He is considered armed and dangerous. Call 911 immediately," the Pennsylvania state police said in a statement.

The investigation began last Friday and involved investigators from four states and the FBI. Manfredonia, a senior, allegedly attacked two men in Willington, Connecticut, killing Theodore Demers, 62, and wounding the unidentified second suspect, according to police.

On Sunday, he allegedly invaded a Willington home and stole pistols, long guns and a truck, police said. Manfredonia allegedly drove to Derby, Connecticut, where he allegedly killed an acquaintance, Nicholas J. Eisele, 23, inside his home, abducted another resident, stole a car and fled, according to police.

The kidnapped victim was found later Sunday unharmed in Paterson, New Jersey, and identified Manfredonia as her captor, police said. He then took an Uber to an East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Walmart and disappeared behind the store.

On Monday, police reported that an SUV near the Walmart was stolen Monday and the same vehicle was discovered near the Chambersburg gas station Tuesday.

Michael Dolan, the Manfredonia family's lawyer, told reporters the suspect had a history with mental illness and had urged him to turn surrender to police.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Myriam Borzee/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, EMILY SHAPIRO and MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 355,000 people worldwide and at least 100,411 people in the United States.

Over 5.6 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 U.S. has become the worst-affected country, with more than 1.69 million diagnosed cases.

Here's how the news developed Wednesday. All times Eastern:

6:46 p.m.: Maryland to resume outdoor dining on Friday

Starting Friday at 5 p.m., Maryland restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday.

Patrons must wear masks and restaurants must do staff temperature checks, as well as follow other sanitizing and social distancing measures.

Outdoor activities like youth sports and day camps, outdoor pools at 25% capacity and drive-in movie theaters can also resume starting Friday, Hogan said.

The state has completed the first phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan, based on contact tracing capacity and rates for positivity, hospitalization and mortality, the governor said Wednesday. If statistics continue to show progress, more nonessential businesses may be able to reopen next week, he said.

Maryland has 48,423 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up 736 from the day before, and 2,270 deaths, according to the state's health department.

5:52 p.m.: 100,000 lives lost to pandemic in US

Four months after the U.S. suffered its first COVID-19 death, the U.S. death toll from the pandemic has passed the 100,000 mark.

By March 27, the coronavirus had claimed the lives of 2,300 Americans, according to Johns Hopkins University.

On April 27, the death toll had ballooned to 50,400. Now, a month later, the death toll has doubled to reach six figures.

The U.S. has by far the most deaths from the virus. The United Kingdom has the second-most deaths with over 37,500, while Italy has 33,000.

3:48 p.m.: Louisiana hospitalizations drop below 800 for 1st time in 2 months

The number of COVID-19 patients in Louisiana hospitals has now dropped below 800 for the first time in two months, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday.

Over 38,000 people in Louisiana have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. At least 2,617 people have died.

Louisiana has 13 confirmed cases and one death connected to Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a dangerous coronavirus-related illness in children that's being reported in many states and countries.

The 13 young people range in age from 0 to 19, with a median age of 11, the governor said.

Eight have been discharged from hospitals, he said.

MIS-C has features like Kawasaki disease and Toxic-Shock Syndrome. Common symptoms include persistent fever, irritability or sluggishness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, conjunctivitis, enlarged lymph node on one side of the neck, red cracked lips or red tongue, swollen hands and feet.

1:54 p.m.: Amtrak is preparing to cut its workforce by up to 20%

Amtrak is preparing to reduce its workforce by up to 20%, citing the effects of the pandemic.

"Our ridership and revenue levels have been down 95% or more year-over-year since the pandemic began," CEO Bill Flynn wrote in a memo to employees.

The railroad company is projecting ridership levels in 2021 will be 50% of what it was in 2019.

Amtrak said the reduction is necessary to ensure they can "continue to make critical investments in our core and long-term growth strategies, while also keeping safety as our top priority."

"We are currently working to finalize a plan for achieving these workforce reductions in FY 2021 and have started the process of designing our go-forward structure," Flynn wrote.

"As we look ahead to FY 2021, it is clear we have no choice but to reduce our overhead structure to better align our costs with our revenues," Flynn wrote.

In a letter to Congress, Amtrak said it needs $1.4 billion in supplemental funding for the next fiscal year -- in addition to the $2.040 billion annual grant request the company submitted to Congress earlier this year. Amtrak received $1 billion through the CARES Act and the company has taken numerous cost-cutting measures to help offset revenue losses caused by the pandemic, including reducing schedules across its system.

12:22 p.m.: Data breach scam delays unemployment checks

At a time of record layoffs, a nationwide scam involving stolen personal information is delaying the payment of unemployment claims, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said Wednesday.

"Criminal enterprises" are using personal identification information stolen in prior data breaches to file "large amounts" of illegitimate claims through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, the office said.

The fraud has forced the Department of Unemployment Assistance to implement additional identify verification that will delay the payment for "many" unemployment claims in the state.

"Protecting the integrity of the unemployment system and ensuring benefits are going only to valid claimants is a top priority of the Department of Unemployment Assistance," said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta. "While the program integrity measures we are taking will unfortunately mean that some claimants will experience temporary delays in payment, we believe these steps are necessary to respond to this unemployment scam."

11:40 a.m.: Disney World's phased reopening to begin with Magic and Animal Kingdom on July 11

Disney World's phased reopening will begin with Magic and Animal Kingdom on July 11 and Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15, said Jim McPhee, senior VP of operations at Disney.

Before July 11, there will be a soft opening for "select" guests as a way to test out the safety protocols.

Guests will also have to reserve their park tickets in advance.

Among the safety protocols in place are: temperature screenings; face covering requirements; limiting the number of people to improve physical distancing; and more plexiglass barriers where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

11 a.m.: Fauci says 'good chance' vaccine may 'be deployable by the end of the year'

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Wednesday morning that he thinks "we have a good chance -- if all the things fall in the right place -- that we might have a vaccine that would be deployable by the end of the year."

Fauci underscored that the process to develop a vaccine is not a smooth one.

"There are a lot of landmines and hiccups that occur," Fauci told CNN.

He also emphasized that the rapid development of a vaccine could not come "at the expense of safety nor scientific integrity."

10:21 a.m.: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami to transform into drive-in movie theater


As social distancing continues, Miami's Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, is transforming into a drive-in movie theater to show classic Dolphins footage and movies, as well as host events like commencement ceremonies, officials said Tuesday.

The stadium can accommodate up to 230 cars.

9:40 a.m.: Nevada gyms, bars, salons to reopen; casinos on track to open June 4

Nevada is ready to begin "phase two" of its reopening this Friday. Public and private gatherings can increase from no more than 10 people to a maximum of 50 people, while continuing to follow social distancing, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Tuesday.

Gyms can reopen but at a maximum 50% capacity. Locker rooms must be closed and equipment must be set up to ensure 6 feet of social distancing.

Bars and restaurant bar areas can now open, also at 50% maximum capacity. Walk-up ordering at bars will not be allowed.

Adult entertainment venues and nightclubs must remain closed.

Salons can reopen but with strict guidelines, and places of worship can open their doors with a maximum 50-person capacity.

Las Vegas is well known for its live performances. These events won't be allowed to have spectators, but "certain events will be allowed under specific restrictions for the purpose of broadcasting or live streaming," the governor said.

But Las Vegas is best known for its casinos.

Sisolak said he feels "confident" that casinos can reopen on his June 4 target date. The Gaming Control Board is expected to issue a notice Wednesday with gaming operation requirements for the state, he said.

9:07 a.m.: No patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in New Zealand

In New Zealand, there are no patients hospitalized with COVID-19, New Zealand's Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield reported Wednesday.

There are only 21 active cases of the coronavirus in the country.

For the fifth consecutive day New Zealand has no new COVID-19 cases, with the total remaining at 1,154 diagnosed cases.

New Zealand's shops, malls, cafes, restaurants, playgrounds and gyms can reopen on Thursday.

8:22 a.m.: Los Angeles' Greek Theatre cancels season for first time in 90 years

The iconic Greek Theatre in Los Angeles is canceling its season for the first time in 90 years, officials there announced Tuesday.

"We feel it is the right, responsible and safe thing for fans, artists, staff and our Griffith Park community to put a pause on live, large crowd events until 2021," said AP Diaz, executive officer of the city's Recreation and Parks department.

Los Angeles County has over 47,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and at least 2,143.

6:20 a.m.: Spain begins 10 days of mourning for coronavirus victims

Flags were lowered to half-mast across Spain on Wednesday as the European country began 10 days of official mourning for the victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

"10 days, the longest mourning period of our democracy, in which we show all our pain and pay tribute to those who have died," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wrote on Twitter. "Your memory will always remain with us."

Spain is one of the worst-affected countries in the pandemic, with more than 236,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 with at least 27,117 deaths, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

5:10 a.m.: South Korea reports spike in new cases

South Korea reported 40 new infections of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, the largest daily increase in over a month.

A majority of the new cases were detected in Seoul, where a cluster of infections has been recently linked to reopened bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues in the densely populated capital.

The last time the country's daily caseload was this high was April 8, when the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 53 new cases of COVID-19.

South Korea now has a total of 11,265 confirmed cases with 269 deaths.

The country once had the largest novel coronavirus outbreak outside China, where the virus first emerged, but appears to have brought it largely under control with an extensive "trace, test and treat" strategy. The number of new cases reported there has generally stayed low, but health authorities remain wary of cluster infections and imported cases.

Starting Wednesday, South Korea is requiring airplane passengers to wear face masks on all domestic and international flights as part of efforts to slow the spread of the virus while public activities increase. People must also wear masks when using the country's public transportation and taxis.

4:28 a.m.: Global death toll crosses 350,000

The worldwide number of lives lost in the coronavirus pandemic has now surpassed 350,000, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Nearly a third of those deaths have been reported in the United States, the hardest-hit country, where the toll is fast approaching 100,000.

The United Kingdom has the second-highest number of fatalities from COVID-19.

3:32 a.m.: COVID-19 cases among US health care workers top 62,000

More than 62,000 doctors, nurses and other health care professionals in the United States have contracted the novel coronavirus and at least 291 have died, according to data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The true numbers may be much higher, as less than a quarter of the more than 1.3 million people whose data the CDC analyzed disclosed whether they worked in the health care industry. Moreover, out of the estimated 62,344 cases of COVID-19 among health care personnel in the country, death status was only available for about 57%.

The number of reported COVID-19 cases in the profession was at 9,282 just six weeks ago. At that time, the median age of infected workers was 42 and nearly three-quarters were women.

Although most weren't hospitalized for the disease, severe outcomes -- including death -- were reported among all age groups. That information was not made available in the CDC's latest report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved



Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(MERRITT ISLAND, Fla.) -- History was set to be made today as NASA and SpaceX geared up to launch Americans into space from American soil and on American equipment for the first time in nearly a decade.

The launch has been called off for the day, less than 20 minutes before scheduled liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, due to inclement weather. It has been rescheduled for Saturday, May 30, at 3:22 p.m.

If all goes well on Saturday, the SpaceX Demo-2 launch will send NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station on a Crew Dragon spacecraft propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch is historic in part because it ends a nearly 10-yearlong U.S. dependency on Russia for seats to space. It also marks the first time Elon Musk's private space firm, SpaceX, is launching astronauts.

Here is the latest on the milestone launch for the U.S. space program Wednesday. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.

6:00 p.m.: Jim Bridenstine says there was 'too much electricity in the atmosphere'

The NASA administrator gave brief remarks Wednesday evening after the astronauts had dismounted the spaceship.

"I know there’s a lot of disappointment today, the weather got us,” Jim Bridenstine said. Still, he called it "a great day" for NASA and SpaceX, lauding how the teams "worked together in a really impressive way."

Bridenstine said ultimately, there was "too much electricity in the atmosphere."

"There wasn’t really a lightning storm or anything like that, but there was a concern that if we did launch it could trigger lightning," he said. "In the end the right decision was made."

He called Wednesday's called-off launch a "milestone" in its own right, saying they learned a lot from a full "wet dress rehearsal."

Bridenstine said he is proud of the teams and that on "Saturday afternoon, we are going to do it again."

"Here’s what we know, we are going to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil," he said. "We’re very close."

5:28 p.m.: Trump says he will be back for the launch on Saturday

President Donald Trump tweeted his thanks to NASA and SpaceX for their "hard work and leadership."

The president, who had flown down for the scrubbed launch today, added that he will be back on Saturday for the rescheduled launch.5:00 p.m.: Jim Bridenstine to provide remarks on today’s scrubbed launch at 5:20 p.m.

The NASA administrator announced on Twitter that they will hold a briefing at around 5:20 p.m., after Behnken and Hurley have exited the Crew Dragon.

 

Tune in for remarks on today's scrubbed launch after @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug have exited the @SpaceX Crew Dragon. No earlier than 5:20pm ET.

Watch live: https://t.co/Djy13o0Bty

— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) May 27, 2020

 

4:17 p.m.: Launch scrubbed for the day due to weather

With approximately 20 minutes until liftoff, the launch has been called off for the day due to inclement weather

3:54 p.m.: Launch escape system is armed, ready for propellant loading


The launch escape system is armed and it’s a “go” for loading the fuel, it was announced on NASA’s broadcast.

With liftoff less than an hour away, currently, all systems are a “go” except for the weather.

3:25 p.m.: How the mission is honoring the Class of 2020

The 100,000 images of recent graduates were compiled together into the image of planet earth.

“Congratulations to all of our 2020 graduates!” NASA said in a tweet.

 

What's on board the Crew Dragon? @AstroBehnken, @Astro_Doug and a mosaic @SpaceX assembled from 100,000 graduate portraits. Congratulations to all of our 2020 graduates! #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/9Pa0uAyvhd

— NASA (@NASA) May 27, 2020

 

3:05 p.m.: Chris Cassidy shares message from the ISS

NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy, the lone American currently aboard the ISS, said he will be watching the the arrival of his "friends" Benkhen and Hurley from out of his window.

"I’m very excited that two close friends will be arriving and joining the crew," Cassidy said. "I can’t tell you how exciting it is to know that we’re once again launching Americans from the coast of Florida."

"I can't wait to look out the window and see my friends on close approach," he said. "Go Bob and Doug, I'll see you soon."

2:45 p.m.: Air Force One flies over launch site

Air Force One, carrying President Donald Trump, was seen in NASA's live broadcast arriving at the launch site.

The president is flying in to watch the launch, which is currently less than two hours away.

The last president to witness a launch from the Kennedy Space Center was Bill Clinton in October 1998.

2:20 p.m.: Elon Musk calls launch 'a dream come true,' shares what he said to astronauts

In comments on NASA's broadcast of the launch, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk called the day "a dream come true" for him and everyone at SpaceX.

"When starting SpaceX in 2002, I really did not think this day would occur," Musk said.

He called the day the culmination "of 100,000 people working incredibly hard to make this day happen."

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine added that "a lot of folks said it couldn't be done."

"SpaceX can do things that NASA historically has not done," Bridenstine said, noting how the private space company has "tested, failed, fixed and flyed" multiple times ahead of the historic launch with astronauts today.

Musk said he felt extra responsibility when he saw the astronaut's family members.

Musk said he told the astronauts, "we've done everything we can to make sure you guys come back okay."

2:10 p.m.: Astronauts wrap up communications check

After strapping into their seats, Behnken and Hurley did a series of communications checks from inside the spacecraft.

All systems appeared to be working and the astronauts could communicate clearly with the teams on the ground.

From inside the capsule, Hurley said they are "feeling great" ahead of the launch.

2:00 p.m.: Astronauts get strapped into the capsule

After giving "air hugs" to their friends and family, Behnken and Hurley strapped into their seats in the Crew Dragon.

Vice President Mike Pence, donned in a mask, also greeted the astronauts and their families as they headed into the Crew Dragon.

✔️ Strapped in
✔️ Ready for the ride#LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/qJeBMFEWvS

— NASA (@NASA) May 27, 2020

1:50 p.m.: Astronauts suit up and head to the launch pad

Behnken and Hurley suited up ahead of the launch, in the same room where the first crewed Apollo mission astronauts got into their gear.

Time to suit up! 😎@AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug suit up to #LaunchAmerica in the same room as the first crewed Apollo mission, Apollo 7: https://t.co/U1COQzFy4v pic.twitter.com/fJJTA9Nnz5

— NASA (@NASA) May 27, 2020

“The suit is really one part of the bigger Dragon system, it’s really part of the vehicle,” Chris Trigg, SpaceX’s space suits and crew equipment manager said. “The suit and the seat are working together.”

The suits were designed by SpaceX’s team in California.

SpaceX spacesuits are designed for optimum functionality with Dragon pic.twitter.com/QW4DirDirx

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 27, 2020

12:45 p.m.: Weather forecast for launch includes chance of showers, possible thunderstorms

The weather forecast ahead of the launch in Cape Canaveral, Florida, includes a chance of some showers, possible thunderstorms, and potentially, some electrically charged clouds.

Major weather concerns ahead of the launch are rain and lightning. Residual electrical charges from leftover thunderstorms might interact with the rocket which has a charge itself as it goes through the troposphere and can cause trigger lightning, according to ABC News' chief meteorologist Ginger Zee.

As of Wednesday morning, the launch mission's executive forecast predicted a 50% probability of violating weather constraints.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted just after noon on Wednesday that they will continue monitoring downrange weather, but are still proceeding towards a 4:33 p.m. launch.

We are go for launch! @SpaceX and @NASA will continue monitoring liftoff and downrange weather as we step into the countdown. We are proceeding toward a 4:33 launch.

— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) May 27, 2020

 "We are a go for launch!" Bridenstine wrote.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Ru AndradeBY: NICOLE PELLETIERE, ABC NEWS

(FULLERTON, Calif.) — A teen who earned four associate degrees is starting undergrad work next week -- all before being old enough to drive.

Jack Rico, 13, is verified as the youngest graduate in the history of Fullerton College in Fullerton, California, which was established in 1913.

Mother Ru Andrade told "Good Morning America" she realized Jack was academically advanced when he asked to visit the White House for his fourth birthday.

"He was dead serious so I said, 'That's a big trip. If you want to go you're going to have to learn all the presidents,'" said Andrade, of Whittier, California, just outside Los Angeles. "I was only kidding and he said, 'Mom, I have a confession. I already knew all the presidents, so I learned the vice presidents. Does that count?’"

When Jack entered third grade he struggled with common core, so Andrade opted for homeschooling instead.

"He was thriving," Andrade said. "About 11 years old, there was nothing more I could teach him. He had pretty much blown through all the standards.”

Andrade heard Fullerton College had a bridge program for students K-12 who could pass a placement test. Jack took the exam and was enrolled in classes a few days later.

At first his mother sat in the classroom with him, until he was comfortable being on his own.

Jack successfully completed 61 units at Fullerton, earning degrees in in history, art and human expression, social behavior and social science.

When he's not studying, Jack is into video games, playing with his cousins, traveling and learning ancient history.

"He does work really hard, but what we're most proud of is his heart," Andrade said. "He's an amazing human. His sister has autism and he's been the best brother ever.”

Fullerton President Greg Schulz said Jack was able to get a free education at the school as a "special admit student," which is a unique benefit in the California Community College system.

"I've known Jack for nearly two years, and I can attest to his strong work ethic and his off-the-charts intellect," Schulz told "GMA." "He's also funny and caring, and I'm so proud that Fullerton College has been a launchpad for him.”

Schulz said that because Jack is the youngest among 21,000 students, he is pretty well known around campus.

"They treat me like any other student," Jack told "GMA." "They're really nice and I've made some friends along the way."

Starting next week, Jack will begin studying history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' undergraduate program. He will be making the four-hour commute there once a week with his mother.

As of now, Jack is not quite sure what career he wants to pursue.

"I'm still 13 so I'm trying to figure out this life thing," he said. "I can't wait to find out what kind of classes I could take and how UNLV will be."

As for advice to rising students, Jack's message is to "work on time management skills.”

"And make sure you follow the teacher's instructions," he added.

Fullerton's 105th commencement celebration has been postponed due to COVID-19.

Jack's family plans on holding a curbside graduation celebration instead.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved



Heather SimeoneBY: NICOLE PELLETIERE, ABC NEWS

(WOBURN, Mass.) — A 99-year-old veteran and coronavirus survivor healed just in time to celebrate his granddaughter's wedding day.

Vincent Simeone, of Woburn, Massachusetts, attended Amy Zimmerman Scudieri's nuptials at a safe distance on May 24 — the same day that would have been his late wife Millie's 100th birthday.

Scudieri is the third oldest of Simeone's seven grandchildren.

"It was a huge surprise and it was great to see him standing and waving, smiling," she told ABC's "Good Morning America." "You could tell by his eyes that he was very excited and happy.”

Simeone is a WWII veteran and worked 35 years for the U.S. Postal Service. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 April 16 and was hospitalized from April 20 to May 7, his granddaughter Heather Simeone told “GMA."

"He loves life, and loves to be with family," Heather Simeone said. "Even with the virus he said, 'It's OK. It's going to be fine.’"

"He is what keeps our family together," Scudieri said. "We're always there with him laughing at his jokes.”

When it came time for Scudieri to marry, 10 people witnessed the ceremony inside a church and family members gathered in the parking lot for a short reception.

When it's safe to do so, Scudieri and her husband, Sal Scudieri, hope to honeymoon in Japan.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved



Zolnierek/iStockBy CHRISTINA CARREGA, ABC News

(GLYNN COUNTY, Ga.) -- The three Georgia men charged in connection with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery have been scheduled for a preliminary hearing on June 4.

Arbery, 25, was shot and killed Feb. 23 as he was jogging through the Satilla Shores, Georgia, neighborhood, but charges weren't filed until last month.

Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were charged with the felony murder of Arbery on May 7, and William Bryan, 50, was charged May 21.

Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, had accused Arbery of committing "several break-ins" in the area, according to police reports. Gregory McMichael, a former Glynn County police officer, alerted Travis McMichael and William Bryan that he spotted Arbery and began to pursue him, according to police reports.

Bryan recorded Arbery jogging before he was ambushed by Travis McMichael, who was armed with a shotgun, as Gregory McMichael, armed with a .357 handgun, stood nearby in the bed of a truck.

The video appears to show Arbery and Travis McMichael tussling with the shotgun before three shots went off, killing Arbery.

Two prosecutors recused themselves from investigating Arbery's death, citing conflicts of interest and requesting that the state's attorney general reassign the case.

The 28-second cellphone video was leaked onto social media May 5, the same day District Attorney Tom Durden solicited the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate Arbery's death.

Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes was assigned on May 11 to handle the prosecution of the McMichaels and Bryan.

If convicted, they'll likely face either life in prison, with or without parole, or the death penalty.

Attorneys representing the McMichaels and Bryan didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Chris CooperBy AARON KATERKSY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- New York City's Commission on Human Rights launched an investigation Wednesday into the incident involving a woman who called police after encountering a black man while walking her dog in Central Park.

The commission sent a letter to the woman, Amy Cooper, requesting her cooperation.

"At a time when the devastating impacts of racism in Black communities have been made so painfully clear -- from racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes, to harassment of essential workers on the front lines -- it is appalling to see these types of ugly threats directed at one New Yorker by another," said Sapna V. Raj, Deputy Commissioner of the Law Enforcement Bureau at the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

"Efforts to intimidate Black people by threatening to call law enforcement draw on a long, violent and painful history, and they are unacceptable."

The commission said it learned of the incident from the video recorded by Christian Cooper, an African American bird-watcher, who asked Amy Cooper, who is white, to put a leash on her dog. She responded by threatening to call the police.

"I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life," she is heard on video saying.

The commission has the authority to fine violators of the law and can award compensatory damages to victims, including emotional distress damages and other benefits. It can also order trainings on the NYC Human Rights Law, changes to policies, and develop restorative justice relief such as community service and mediated apologies, in lieu of or in addition to fines and monetary relief.

Cooper has been fired from her job at the investment firm Franklin Templeton. The Central Park Civic Association has called for her to be banned from the park.

"The Central Park Civic Association condemns this behavior and is calling on Mayor de Blasio to impose a lifetime ban on this lady for her deliberate, racial misleading of law enforcement and violating behavioral guidelines set so that all can enjoy our city's most famous park," Association president Michael Fischer said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



ABC NewsBy MAX GOLEMBO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- There was record rainfall in Miami Tuesday where half a foot of rain fell in in just 90 minutes and numerous streets and roads were flooded.

For the month of May, Miami had 18.88 inches of rain, which is 14.8 inches above normal.

The recent bout of rain was due to a tropical system moving through the area over the last few days.

This storm system is now moving away from Florida and closer to the Carolinas where a Flash Flood Watch has been issued.

The heaviest rain in the Eastern U.S. will be with this tropical system and it could bring up to 4 inches of rain in the Carolinas with some possible flash flooding.

As for the SpaceX Launch Wednesday afternoon, it looks like there will be showers and thunderstorms in the area.

These storms could bring gusty winds, heavy rain and lightning which would not be favorable conditions for the launch.

A separate storm system is now moving though Texas Wednesday and it will bring severe weather to the area with damaging winds, large hail and a few tornadoes.

Meanwhile, there was record heat Tuesday in the Eastern Great Lakes, Northeast and the Southwest.

Some record highs include: Buffalo, New York at 93 degrees, Syracuse also hit 93, Burlington, Vermont, tied their record high at 92, and even Traverse City, Michigan hit a new high with 91 degree heat.

In the West, record highs were broken in Sacramento with a record of 104 degrees, Reno at 92, and Napa in California at 99 degrees.

The record heat is now over in the Northeast and Eastern Lakes but the heat continues in the West.

On Wednesday morning, numerous Heat Warnings and Advisories have been issued from northern California to Nevada and into large parts of Arizona, with more record highs possible Wednesday in the West.

There will be more heat over the next three days, especially as it moves into the Southwest deserts where some areas could approach 120 degrees.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



ABC NewsBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Bridgett Floyd thought she was dreaming when she received a phone call Monday night and was told that her brother, George Floyd, had died shortly after being apprehended by Minneapolis police.

"Everything went blank," she told ABC News in an interview on Good Morning America on Wednesday. "I had a very hard time taking that, taking that in."

Disturbing video later emerged on social media showing a white police officer with his knee on a black man's neck as he repeatedly yells out, "I can't breathe."

"I can't breathe, please, the knee in my neck," the man can be heard saying in the video as he's pinned to the ground. "I can't move ... my neck ... I'm through, I'm through."

The Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement Monday that their officers were initially called to the scene "on a report of a forgery in progress." The officers were advised that the suspect "appeared to be under the influence" and that he "physically resisted officers."

The suspect later "appeared to be suffering medical distress" and officers called an ambulance. He was transported to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, "where he died a short time later," according to the statement, which noted that there were no weapons of any type used by anyone involved in the incident and that no officers were injured.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner told ABC News the cause of death is pending further tests and investigation.

Police did not identify the man who died, but civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing his family, said he was George Floyd.

"It was nine minutes," Crump told ABC News on GMA Wednesday. "Just imagine what George Floyd endured for those nine minutes begging for breath, begging for life."

Bridgett Floyd said she hasn't watched the footage herself but has been told what it shows.

"It's wrong. I don't understand how someone could possibly let an individual go out like that," she said. "I'm just imagining it in my head, and it's very heartbreaking."

George Floyd worked as a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro in Minneapolis for more than five years, according to Jovanni Thunstrom, the owner of the restaurant, which is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Thunstrom told ABC News that George Floyd was renting a duplex apartment from him and that he had a daughter in Houston whom he was planning to bring to Minneapolis to live with him.

"I loved him like a brother," Thunstrom told ABC News in tears on Tuesday, describing him as an excellent person whom many of the customers and employees loved.

The Minneapolis Police Department announced Tuesday morning that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be a part of the probe into the man's death. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo also pledged the department's full cooperation with any investigations.

Earlier, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced that all four responding officers involved in the incident have been fired.

"Being black in America should not be a death sentence," Frey said at a news conference Tuesday morning. "When you hear someone calling for help, you're supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense."

The police union representing the officers did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Tuesday.

A member of the Kelly and Jacobson law firm in Minneapolis confirmed that attorney Tom Kelly is representing Derek Chauvin, one of the officers seen in the video.

Bridgett Floyd said terminating the officers is "definitely not enough justice for me or my family."

"They murdered my brother. They killed him," she told ABC News. "Firing them is just not enough."

As a mother to black sons, Bridgett Floyd said she worries the same fate could happen to them when they grow up.

"You never know what could happen when they walk out the door. They're small kids right now, but one day they're going to be adults," she said. "They need to know how to defend themselves, how to stand up for themselves, how to talk for themselves because if I don't teach that to them, this world, this cold, cold world will take over my babies."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved



oatawa/iStockBy ELLA TORRES, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Elderly residents at a boutique hotel on New York City's Upper West Side are voicing concerns over the city moving homeless people into their building amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying the city is placing an already-vulnerable population at higher risk.

Yet, city officials say moving the homeless into designated hotels is critical to keeping all New Yorkers safe.

Four residents, who are among about 20 permanent tenants at the Hotel Belleclaire, told ABC News that they were not made aware that homeless New Yorkers would be moved in. Mayor Bill de Blasio had announced that the city was opening thousands of hotel rooms in early April to better protect them from the virus' spread, but did not specify which hotels.

Pam, a 75-year-old resident who asked ABC News not to use her last name, was surprised to see the Belleclaire was one of those hotels. She said the majority of the permanent residents are in their 70s and some, including herself, suffer from illnesses.

"All of a sudden, these school buses pulled up and people started carrying their garbage bags into the hotel," on the evening of May 3, according to Pam. "I didn't find out until the next day, but no one told us this was gonna happen and I'm sure they didn't want us to try and stop it."

She estimates about 150 people moved in.

Pam, who said she suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said that they were not wearing masks or properly maintaining social distance in the first few days, but most have since done so.

Yet her biggest concern remains: Why are two vulnerable groups being housed together?

"It's just, you're walking through the hotel and we don't know where people came from or if people are sick," she said. "I mean, the whole thing from the beginning was you're trying to help these people, but then no one is testing and they're all thrown together. It's for their safety also."

In New York City, an overwhelming majority of the more than 20,000 deaths (which includes probable deaths by COVID-19), have been in residents 75 or older, according to data from the city. The next group with the most deaths was those 65 to 74 years old.

Pam admitted that while she would prefer that they were in an empty hotel, the goal isn't to kick them out.

"We want them tested and we cannot get any response on that," Pam said.

She wrote a letter addressed to de Blasio, but said she has not yet received a response.

A spokesman for the city's Department of Social Services (DSS), Isaac McGinn, said that individuals placed at the Belleclaire "have not expressed symptoms and are not ill." McGinn did not specifically say whether or not those living in shelters had been tested before moving into hotels.

He said that anyone who was ill was placed in the hospital and then isolated in a hotel that was dedicated for isolation, which did not include the Belleclaire.

"I can tell you that in these unprecedented times, the use of commercial hotels remains an essential part of our strategies for protecting the New Yorkers who we serve, as you'll see extensively described in the attached summary of our ongoing efforts to respond to the COVID pandemic," McGinn wrote to ABC News in an email.

The summary included information on relocating individuals to hotels and similarly stated that those who were not sick were placed in the commercial hotels.

Howard Accurso, a 71-year-old tenant in the hotel for 46 years, called the claims by DSS "poppycock."

"I don't feel that I can trust that there's no COVID here," Accurso said.

From the beginning, he said the agency "kept us in the dark" and did not inform residents that people in shelters would be moving in.

Accurso also said that even if they were not sick when they first entered the hotel, some are not wearing masks and he fears they could contract the virus when they go outside.

He noted that he believes homeless people in shelters deserve safe housing during the pandemic.

"But so do I. Why didn't they use truly empty hotels instead of putting us in jeopardy?" he told ABC News. "Would you want to live in a homeless shelter?"

Beyond concerns about testing, Accurso said he has not used the elevator because he does not want to risk catching the virus. Instead, he takes the three flights of stairs down to the lobby, a challenge he said, when reentering the building.

"I'm living in a very stressful situation," Accurso said. "One that I did not put myself into."

Two other tenants spoke to ABC News, but asked not to be named. Their concerns echoed Pam and Accurso's.

Since May 3, when the homeless population moved into the Belleclaire, there have been five complaints with the city's Department of Buildings, according to online records.

The majority of the complaints were about construction. One noted that nonessential construction was supposed to halt because of the pandemic, but the city's building department determined that the building was essential because it was a homeless shelter.

People living in shelters need protections from the city during the pandemic because they are more at risk for contracting COVID-19. Shelters are congregated settings where the virus could easily spread and maintaining social distancing is not possible.

There were 996 total positive cases among the homeless as of May 19, 833 of which were among those in shelters, according to the city's Department of Social Services. More than half were resolved, which the city said meant that those who tested positive met the criteria to have their case closed, including a lapse in time since their initial positive test.

At least 77 homeless New Yorkers have died, according to the department.

"At DSS, we're continuing to implement tiered strategies and proactive initiatives to combat COVID-19, protect the New Yorkers who we serve, and ensure anyone who needs it is connected immediately to care or to isolation -- and the use of commercial hotels is central to this work," according to a statement from the department.

So far, about 9,000 people who are homeless were moved to hotels across the city. The number is expected to increase to 10,000.

"Every day, we're redoubling our efforts and evolving with this situation to ensure we're supporting our clients in all that we do -- and we continue to explore new strategies and policy responses as this situation unfolds," the statement read.

It is not clear how hotels are chosen to house those who had been living in shelters. Mark Diller, the chair of Community Board 7, where the hotel is located, said his understanding was that hotel operators volunteered to have their buildings used.

Another organization then partnered with the hotel to help the process run smoothly. For the Belleclaire, the organization is HELP USA, a nonprofit supporting youth and families who are facing homelessness.

The company that operates the Belleclaire, which opened in 1903 and has 244 rooms, did not respond to multiple requests for comment from ABC News.

Diller said there is no approval that's required or solicited from the board for the hotels used for those without shelter. He added the community in the Upper West Side has long been a "welcoming home for a lot of social services," including the Department of Homeless Services.

"And I think a lot of us are pretty proud to do our part and, truthfully, a little bit more than our part," Diller said.

Steve Mott, the chair of staff at HELP USA, told ABC News that the organization is doing what it can to make the move as safe as possible. He said there are two security guards on site on each floor, thermometers are available for daily temperature checks and that surfaces are being wiped down as often as possible.

He said that normally shelters take years to construct and find, but staff placed people without shelter into the Belleclaire in just three days.

"Is this the most ideal place that you would put a person? I don't know honestly, but we didn't have three years to tour 50 sites. ... You can't do that when you're trying to rush people out of a congregate living site," he said, noting that the longer they were at those sites, the more at risk they were.

Mott encouraged any residents with specific concerns to contact the nonprofit, but he said there is little to do about general unease.

"I don't fault people for worrying when a bunch of new people move into a place they've been living forever ... but I do think we have a responsibility to take care of the people who need help the most," Mott said.

The tenants who spoke to ABC News questioned whether DSS knew there were permanent residents who lived there. They also wondered if management did not disclose to DSS that permanent residents lived there.

Regardless, they say that their own concerns have been overshadowed.

"We could debate the philosophical question if the benefit of 250 shelter residents overrides 22 elderly," Accurso said. "I admit that I have blinders on. ... But there's no attempts to accommodate the permanent residents."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved



Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesBy ARIELLE MITROPOULOS and ELLA TORRES, ABC News

(HOLYOKE, Mass.) -- The superintendent of the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, a state-run facility where more than 90 veteran residents have died in the coronavirus pandemic, did not keep anyone "in the dark" about the growing crisis inside, according to his attorney.

Attorney William Bennett repeatedly insisted on Tuesday that suspended Superintendent Bennett Walsh took several steps to notify state and local officials about the growing rate of COVID-19 infections among veterans.

But Bennett said Walsh's requests for medical assistance for the facility were denied.

Walsh was placed on paid administrative leave on March 30 after state officials visited the facility.

"For anyone to suggest that he covered up, concealed or tried to hide a public health crisis, affecting the veterans he was committed to serve, is a slander of his good name," Bennett said.

Bennett is Walsh's uncle and the former Hampden County district attorney.

As of Tuesday, 92 veteran residents have died during the pandemic, nearly 40 percent of the veterans who were residing in the facility when the virus first struck the home in March, according to the state's Office of Health and Human Services. Seventy-six of the deceased residents tested positive for COVID-19, 15 tested negative, and one death remains unknown, according to the office.

An additional 75 veteran residents have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the office.

Questions as to what went wrong inside the facility are being probed in four separate investigations, including an independent investigation ordered by Gov. Charlie Baker and a federal investigation being conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts and the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. Baker said Tuesday the independent investigation should be completed soon.

Employees had previously told ABC News that a failure in leadership was part of the reason for the haphazard response to the virus.

At a press conference Tuesday, Bennett displayed several documents that he said showed the steps Walsh took to keep state and local officials informed of the situation.

Walsh was first informed on March 21 about one of the veterans testing positive, and he informed the Secretary of Veteran's Services on the same day, according to Bennett. The next day, other state officials were notified through a Critical Incident Report, Bennett said.

After more veterans tested positive in the following days, and one veteran suspected of having COVID-19 died, Bennett said Walsh realized that additional help was needed. Walsh then requested medical assistance from the National Guard, according to Bennett.

"By March 27, the crisis caused by the coronavirus had erupted at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home," Bennett said. Yet later that same afternoon, Walsh was informed that his request for National Guard assistance was denied, according to Bennett.

Bennett claimed that state officials told Walsh that he was "prohibited" from issuing public comments without prior approval, and were "livid" that Walsh had spoken to local officials about the outbreak. He went on to claim that a conversation between Walsh and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse triggered an "unusually heated response" from the superintendent's superiors, which he believes led to Walsh's suspension.

Walsh referred ABC News to Bennett for comment.

A statement released by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, which has been leading the governor's response to the Soldiers' Home deaths, didn't directly address any of the allegations made by Bennett, but cited the governor's ongoing investigation.

"The tragic situation at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home is a reminder of the insidious nature of COVID-19, a virus that is having a devastating impact in our communities and long-term care facilities," the statement said. "The circumstances that led to the heartbreaking situation at Holyoke Soldiers' Home -- including management and oversight -- are the subject of a full and impartial investigation ordered by the Governor, led by Attorney Mark Pearlstein."

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