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US passes 1.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19

Here is a look at some of the latest news on COVID-19 from the U.S. and around the world on Friday.

WASHINGTON — This article contains ongoing U.S. and international updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Here are some key updates for Friday, May 1, 2020. You can find more details by scrolling through the story.

Key updates:

  • The U.S. has passed 1.1 million confirmed cases.
  • UN says COVID-19 death rate for people over 80 is five times the global average.
  • Ryanair plans to slash as many as 3,000 jobs and close bases in Europe.
  • President Trump has speculated that China could have unleashed the coronavirus on the world due to some kind of horrible “mistake."
  • From Thursday: US accounts for third of world's over 3 million coronavirus cases

The number of confirmed U.S. cases of COVID-19 passed 1.1 million Friday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 64,000 deaths and more than 164,000 recoveries. 6.5 million tests have been conducted.

Worldwide, there are more than 3.2 million cases and more than 213,000 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

RELATED: VERIFY: Headlines are taking a quote about COVID-19 transmission rates from child to adult out of context

UN: COVID-19 deaths for people over 80 are 5 times average

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the COVID-19 pandemic is causing “untold fear and suffering” for older people around the world who are dying at a higher rate, and especially for those over age 80, whose fatality rate is five times the global average. 

The U.N. chief adds that beyond the health risks, “the pandemic is putting older people at greater risk of poverty,” with an especially devastating impact on the elderly in developing countries.

Guterres issued a report Friday on the impact of COVID-19 on older people with the message that “no person, young or old, is expendable.”

British doctors identify syndrome affecting kids

British doctors have published a working definition of a rare inflammatory syndrome affecting children that may be linked to COVID-19, which they hope will help other physicians identify cases.

In a statement on Friday, the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health said it was releasing a detailed definition of the syndrome, including the symptoms seen in children, diagnostic tests that should be used and potential treatments.

The group stressed that “it remains unclear whether COVID-pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome is caused by COVID-19” and emphasized that to date, only about 20 children in Britain and a small number across Europe have been identified.

Children remain among the least affected group by COVID-19 and typically suffer only mild symptoms when infected.

Earlier this week, Britain’s Pediatric Intensive Care Society said there was “growing concern” that either a COVID-19 related syndrome was emerging in children or that a different, unidentified disease might be responsible.

Cuomo: All New York schools to remain closed through spring

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that New York schools and colleges will remain closed through the rest of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The order applies to 4.2 million students statewide, and continues a shutdown order that was set to expire May 15. 

Cuomo says it's simply too risky to reopen at a time when the virus is still sending nearly 1,000 people into the hospital every day. The governor says a decision about whether to allow summer school will be deferred until the end of May.

DEA agent accused of stealing PPE from agency warehouse

A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent and a telecommunications specialist are accused of stealing personal protective equipment, toilet paper and other supplies from an agency warehouse in Florida amid shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

That’s according to law enforcement officials familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. 

While the officials were not clear how much was taken or what the men intended to do with the supplies, the incident was serious enough that both were suspended and the agent was asked to hand over his gun pending an internal review.

Italy's May Day traditions upended by virus

As in much of the rest of Europe, Italy’s May Day traditions, which pay tribute to the role of workers in society, have been upended by lockdown rules forbidding gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

The heart and soul of Italy’s May Day commemoration have been rallies led by union leaders, followed by an evening rock and pop music concert in Rome, drawing crowds sometimes topping 100,000 in the square outside St. John in Lateran Basilica.

This year, musical artists will take turns performing solo in venues without anyone in the audience. Their music will be broadcast on TV and by state radio, with the evening’s theme being, “Working in safety to build a future.”

Unions have been demanding scrupulous attention to safety measures, including social distancing at work stations and assembly lines, hygiene and sanitizing before factories can reopen in Italy, where Europe’s devastating outbreak of COVID-19 began.

European airline slashing jobs, close bases

Ryanair has announced plans to slash as many as 3,000 jobs and close bases in Europe amid the collapse of travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group announced a restructuring program Friday that included plans for unpaid leave and pay cuts of as much as 20%.

The budget airline says will operate less than 1% of its flights from April to June and that passenger numbers will not return to 2019 levels “until summer 2022 at the earliest.’’

The airline group also says it is “active negotiations” with Boeing to cut the number of planned aircraft deliveries over the next 24 months.

Protesters in Greece gather for May Day

Protesters have begun gathering in central Athens for traditional May Day marches, despite authorities’ pleas to unions to move their demonstrations to next week, after lockdown measures begin easing.

More than 100 people from the communist party-affiliated PAME union gathered in Athens’s main Syntagma Square, outside Parliament. Holding banners and red flags, and most wearing masks and gloves, the protesters stood roughly two meters (6.5 feet) apart from each other as they waited for the march to begin.

“The symbolic events for May Day being organized as always by the labor unions, with all necessary protection measures, with them wearing masks and maintaining the necessary distance between them, do not constitute a danger for everything the people have won until today by adhering to the restrictive measures” of the lockdown, the Communist Party said in an announcement.

Trump speculates that China released virus in lab 'mistake'

President Donald Trump has speculated that China could have unleashed the coronavirus on the world due to some kind of horrible “mistake,” and his intelligence agencies said they are still examining a notion put forward by the president and aides that the pandemic may have resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab.

Trump even suggested Thursday that the release could have been intentional.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of U.S. spy agencies, said it had ruled out the virus being man-made but was still investigating the precise source of the global pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 people worldwide.

Though scientists suggest the likeliest origin of the pandemic remains natural, that it spread from an infected animal to a human, Trump claimed to have seen evidence to support the theory that the origin was an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak.

China said speculation such as Trump’s is unfounded and “purely fabricated out of nothing.”  

RELATED: VERIFY: No, the White House is not selling COVID-19 commemorative coins

Credit: AP
People cross the street as they wear mask during the COVID-19 in Chicago, Thursday, April 30, 2020.

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