US Virus Updates: Deaths Top 100K; Disney World Plans July Reopening

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.

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The United States reached another grim milestone Wednesday as the nationwide death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 100,000, according to NBC News' tally. The U.S. leads the world in both fatalities and confirmed cases, with 1.69 million infections.

Despite the large number of cases and deaths, a new poll released Wednesday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows only half of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine if scientists create one.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are pushing hard to reopen even as more than a dozen states are still seeing increasing new cases. Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina are among states with some of the least restrictive guidelines for reopening, and where coronavirus cases are increasing.

In New York state, where over 30,000 people have died, Long Island is expected to begin reopening Wednesday, leaving New York City as the state's only area still locked down, NBC New York reports.

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.:

Vegas Casinos Start Luring Customers After Governor Sets June 4 Reopening

Casinos from Lake Tahoe to Laughlin started announcing plans Wednesday to lure back customers beginning June 4, with one downtown Las Vegas hotel owner buying more than 1,000 one-way airline tickets to boost interest around the country.

The promotions began the morning after Gov. Steve Sisolak lifted the casino shut-down order he imposed in mid-March to prevent people from spreading the coronavirus.

Sisolak announced the opening date in a late-evening news release after canceling a scheduled news conference as a precaution against the virus. He said he learned earlier Tuesday that he’d visited a workplace last week where an employee who was not there at the time later tested positive for COVID-19.

Sisolak, 66, has shown no symptoms of the virus and said he was awaiting test results.

He cited a 35-day decline in the rate of new cases of COVID-19 and said the state is ramping up testing and contact tracing, and has hospital capacity to handle cases that emerge. Health officials report the virus has infected more than 8,100 people in the state and killed at least 396, mostly in the Las Vegas area.

Casinos will encourage hand-washing and offer hand sanitizer while limiting guests to 50% of fire code capacity in gambling areas, restaurants and stores. Swimming pool lounge chairs will be spaced apart.

Gamblers will be limited to three at blackjack and other table games, four at roulette, six at craps. Some resorts plan to disinfect dice between shooters, clean chips periodically and change card decks frequently. Some will encourage the use of cellphones for touchless check-in, as room keys and to read restaurant menus.

Boeing Slashes 12,000 Jobs as Virus Seizes Travel Industry

Boeing is cutting more than 12,000 jobs through layoffs and buyouts as the coronavirus pandemic seizes the travel industry, and more cuts are coming.

One of the nation's biggest manufacturers will lay off 6,770 U.S. employees this week, and another 5,520 workers are taking buyout offers to leave voluntarily in the coming wee

Air travel within the U.S. tumbled 96% by mid-April, to fewer than 100,000 people on some days. It has recovered slightly. The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 264,843 people at airports on Tuesday, a drop of 89% compared with the same Tuesday a year ago.

Boeing had said it would cut 10% of a work force that numbered about 160,000. A Boeing spokesperson said Wednesday's actions represent the largest number of job cuts, but several thousand additional jobs will be eliminated in the next few months.

The layoffs are expected to be concentrated in the Seattle area, home to Boeing’s commercial-airplanes business. The defense and space division is stable and will help blunt the impact of the decline in air travel and demand for passenger jets, the company said.

Boeing said additional job cuts will be made in international locations, but it did not specify numbers.

Disney Plans to Start Reopening Florida Theme Parks in July

Disney said Wednesday it plans to begin a phased reopening of its Florida theme parks, starting with Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11 then Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15.

The parks will limit attendance, require people to purchase their tickets in advance, perform temperature checks and have more hand-washing stations and social distancing measures in place, CNBC reported.

Disney will suspend parades and encourage contactless payments like Apple Pay and Disney Magic Bands.

Last week, Disney World allowed third-party businesses at its Disney Springs dining and shopping complex to open with new restrictions -- all workers and visitors older than 2 must wear masks, temperatures are checked at entrances to keep out anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) or higher, and a limited number of people are admitted to allow social distancing.

SeaWorld Orlando also presented its reopening plan Wednesday, saying it plans to do so on June 11.

Discount Retailer Tuesday Morning Files for Bankruptcy, Plans to Close 230 Stores

Discount goods retailer Tuesday Morning has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the fifth major retailer to do so since the pandemic.

As part of the bankruptcy reorganization, the Dallas-based chain said Wednesday it plans to close approximately 230 of its 687 stores over the summer to focus on high-performing locations and will do this with a phased approach.

Tuesday Morning joins J.C. Penney, luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus, J.Crew and Stage Stores in filing for Chapter 11 since the virus was declared a pandemic in mid-March that forced many stores that sell non-essential goods to close and resulted in evaporating sales. Pier 1 Imports, which filed for Chapter 11 in February, is now liquidating its business.

“The prolonged and unexpected closures of our stores in response to COVID-19 has had severe consequences on our business," said Steve Becker, chief executive officer at Tuesday Morning, in a statement.

Tuesday Morning has requested bankruptcy court approval to close at least 132 locations in a first phase and, eventually, the company's distribution center in Phoenix that supports these stores. These stores were identified as under-performing or are situated in areas where too many locations are in close proximity.

Tuesday Morning, which generated about a billion dollars in annual sales in its latest fiscal year, also plans to renegotiate a significant number of leases during this process. Of the remaining 555 stores, the company plans to exit approximately 100 additional locations leaving a network of roughly 450 stores.

Former FDA Chief: COVID-19 Vaccine for the General Public Is a '2021 Event'

Widespread availability of a vaccine for the general public probably won’t arrive before 2021, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

“We might have it available in the fall for emergency use authorization for certain populations, and we’ll certainly have the doses by the end of the year,” he said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “I just don’t think we’ll have the data to support widespread inoculation at that point.”

About a dozen experimental vaccines against the coronavirus are in early stages of testing or poised to start, mostly in China, the U.S. and Europe. It’s not clear that any will prove safe and effective. But many work in different ways, and are made with different technologies, increasing the odds that at least one approach might succeed.

AP-NORC Poll: Half of Americans Would Get a COVID-19 Vaccine

Only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if the scientists working furiously to create one succeed, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

That’s surprisingly low considering the effort going into the global race for a vaccine against the coronavirus that has sparked a pandemic since first emerging from China late last year. But more people might eventually roll up their sleeves: The poll, released Wednesday, found 31% simply weren’t sure if they’d get vaccinated. Another 1 in 5 said they’d refuse.

Health experts already worry about the whiplash if vaccine promises like President Donald Trump’s goal of a 300 million-dose stockpile by January fail. Only time and science will tell -- and the new poll shows the public is indeed skeptical.

“It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“The unexpected looms large and that’s why I think for any of these vaccines, we’re going to need a large safety database to provide the reassurance,” he added.

Among Americans who say they wouldn’t get vaccinated, 7 in 10 worry about safety.

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Oxford University released data on their coronavirus vaccine research that shows a reduction in instances of coronavirus and pneumonia in exposed monkeys.
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