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Businesses in the U.S., Europe begin opening doors to a new chapter

The start of a new week marked more reopenings across the United States, whose death toll from COVID-19 is now over 68,000. In Washington, D.C., the Senate returned to the Capitol, while the House remained at recess due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, in hard-hit European countries like Italy and Spain, more workers were back on the job as virus cases and deaths fell to new lows. Stephanie Sy reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The world begins a new week in the era of COVID-19, and the global death count has reached a quarter-million. That includes 68,000 in the United States.

    Meanwhile, state by state, the country is taking more steps toward reopening.

    Stephanie Sy begins our coverage tonight.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Barbers in Omaha, Nebraska, were back at work today.

  • Cearcy Smith:

    Financially, it's been real bad, but I think I have pretty much missed the atmosphere of being to cut hair and being around people.Stephanie Sy: The state is further easing restrictions on some of the businesses shuttered by the pandemic. Owners say it's a positive step toward a new normal.

  • Kyle Bland:

    We will be doing appointments, appointments only, because we can only have 10 people in the shop at once.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    The new wave of reopenings has come amid a push and pull across the country on when and how to resume public life.

    California Governor Gavin Newsom said some retailers in his state could resume doing business this week. In South Dakota, a Smithfield pork processing plant formerly closed due to hundreds of COVID-19 infections began partially reopening today.

    And Boston was the scene of the latest protest demanding that officials drop restrictions, as hundreds gathered outside the state capitol building.

    In the nation's Capitol, the Senate gaveled in for the first time in more than five weeks. That wasn't the case across the Capitol, where the House of Representatives opted to stay away, while Washington, D.C., remains a virus hot spot.

    Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined the Trump administration's offer to provide the rapid testing being used to screen visitors at the White House.

    In a rare joint statement, they said those resources should go to front-line workers, where they can do the most good the most quickly.

    Meanwhile, on Sunday, in a FOX News town hall, President Trump urged a broader return to work, even as he upped his estimate on how many Americans could die.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We're going to lose anywhere from 75,000, 80,000 to 100,000 people. That's a horrible thing. We shouldn't lose one person over this.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    And The New York Times reported today that internal administration documents now project the toll could nearly double by June, with about 3,000 deaths a day.

    The White House downplayed the report, saying it had gone through interagency vetting. But new modeling from the University of Washington showed similar results, a projected death toll of 135,000 due to relaxed social distancing.

    At the town hall, Mr. Trump also claimed, early briefings from his own intelligence community failed to depict the severity of the virus.

  • President Donald Trump:

    On January 23, I was told that there could be a virus coming in, but it was of no real import.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Meanwhile, Europe's hardest-hit countries are moving to loosen restrictions.

    Small businesses in Spain opened their doors to customers today, but owners like Susana Puebla at this nail salon in Madrid said it is far from business as usual.

  • Susana Puebla (through translator):

    It is not the same. It's not the way it was before. It's complicated now, because we have to disinfect a lot more than before. But we are happy to be back.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    And, in Italy, nearly 4.5 million people returned to work in certain industries, as the country logged its lowest new death count since the lockdown began in March.

    It's a different story in Russia, where infections spiked by more than 10,000 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total tally to double what it was last week.

    The world remains on guard, and, amid a global hunt for a vaccine, leaders from Saudi Arabia to the European Union joined a virtual summit to pledge billions for research. The Trump administration decided not to take part.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.

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