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More countries are lifting pandemic restrictions — even as infections climb

More states and countries are lifting restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, which is responsible for nearly 73,000 deaths in the U.S. and more than 260,000 worldwide. But new infections are still rising, prompting questions about how people and economies can resume activity in the face of such a major global threat. Stephanie Sy reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    COVID-19 lockdowns are loosening in more countries tonight, but others are seeing new spikes of infections, with more than 260,000 deaths worldwide, including nearly 73,000 here in the U.S.

    Stephanie Sy begins our coverage of this day.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    It's an unprecedented sign of the times. New York City's normally round-the-clock subway service ground to a halt in the early morning hours, so crews could disinfect the trains and stations.

  • Sally Librera:

    We're trying out antimicrobial treatments to keep surfaces virus-free longer. We are looking at ultraviolet light technology that can immediately eradicate the viruses.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    The country's largest mass transit system will now be suspended from 1:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. daily for cleanings. More than 80 employees, including at least 50 who worked in the subway, have died from the coronavirus.

    Elsewhere, restrictions are progressively easing. Meanwhile, President Trump reversed course. One day after saying the White House Coronavirus Task Force will wind down, Mr. Trump signed a proclamation for National Nurses Day, and said he will name new members to the task force by Monday.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I had no idea how popular the task force is, until actually yesterday. When I started talking about winding it down, I would get calls from very respected people, saying, I think it would be better to keep it going. It's done such a good job.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    But the White House faced news accounts that response efforts, coordinated by Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, have been marred by inexperienced volunteers, making supply problems worse.

    The devastation of the nation's airline industry was also a prime topic at a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee hearing this afternoon.

  • Nicholas Calio:

    Passenger volumes have fallen over 95 percent. More than 3,000 airplanes have been put in storage. That's 50 percent of the United States' active fleet.

    We're averaging 17 passengers per domestic flight and 29 per international flight.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Across the country, the pandemic continues to inflict a toll on the nation's food supply. With meat production plants closed in several states, and customers panic-buying over fears of a meat shortage, local butcher shops are feeling the pinch.

    Ken Stoysich is head of Stoysich House of Sausage in Omaha, Nebraska.

  • Ken Stoysich:

    It's getting a little bit harder every week. But, this week, it's a little bit more of a challenge than it was last week, but we seem to always come up with a little bit of meat to sell.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    The economic fallout is also worsening in Europe. The European Union today projected a recession of historic proportions this year, with the pandemic cutting output by 7 percent.

    And while some countries are reopening for business, others are battling new waves of infection. In India, a large outbreak was reported in the southern city of Chennai. About 1,000 cases are linked to a single market that remained open during the country's lockdown.

    Health officials in Africa reported the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the continent has risen 42 percent in just the last week. And in Brazil, Sao Luis, the capital of one of the country's poorest states, Maranhao, became the first major city there to impose a lockdown by local decree.

    Flavio Dino is the state's governor.

  • Flavio Dino (through translator):

    We have a national challenge, where the federal government has an attitude of sabotage related to efforts to face this national crisis.

  • Stephanie Sy:

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the pandemic and said only the elderly and high-risk populations should stay home.

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

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