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On Memorial Day, lifting of pandemic restrictions brings both relief and concern

This Memorial Day, as the U.S. honored those who gave their lives in service to the country, the national death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic topped 98,000. Still, more areas loosened their coronavirus restrictions over the holiday weekend, and President Trump ramped up his push to reopen the country even more. He also levied new limitations on travel from Brazil. Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As our nation honored those who gave their lives in service to the country today, the U.S. death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic topped 98,000.

    More areas loosened their coronavirus restrictions over the holiday weekend, and President Trump ramped up his push to reopen the country even more.

    Lisa Desjardins has our report.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In many ways, it looked like Memorial Days past. President Trump and Vice President Pence this morning visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. But it was different, no crowd and no speech there.

    Similarly, many beaches looked just like the start of summer, but those crowds in a still uncontained national health crisis felt very different.

  • Woman:

    It's insane. I don't know how many people are out here today. I didn't expect this at all. We came over here, and we were like, 'wow.'

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    All 50 states are reopening in some way, with some, like Georgia, moving more quickly, while others, like Illinois, move more slowly, by region.

    The changes are bringing relief and concern both. Many pointed to this social media video from Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, with scores of people jammed together at a pool party.

    In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo blasted efforts to reopen any place where COVID-19 case numbers are still rising.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    It's not smart. It defies history, defies everything we know, defies common sense.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    With a spectrum of different circumstances across the country, some U.S. health officials are issuing notes of caution.

    The commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration tweeted a warning yesterday, writing: "The coronavirus is not yet contained."

    For former Vice President Joe Biden, a new careful step. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee made his first public appearance outside in months, laying a wreath at a veterans park.

    Something new for President Trump, too. He spoke not at Arlington Cemetery, but at Baltimore's Fort McHenry today. He praised the military's pandemic response.

  • President Donald Trump:

    In recent months, our nation and the world have been engaged in a new form of battle against an invisible enemy. Once more the men and women of the United States military have answered the call to duty and raced into danger.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Baltimore's Mayor Jack Young had asked the president not to make the trip because the city is under stay-at-home orders.

    Earlier the president wrote on Twitter that all schools should reopen soon. He also tweeted strong words about North Carolina, saying the state should commit to full capacity for the Republican National Convention planned in Charlotte for August, or, he wrote, the GOP should move it to another state.

    His comments came days after North Carolina recorded its largest daily increase in cases yet. The state's governor said they are working with the GOP and relying on data and science to make decisions.

    All this comes amid new travel restrictions to the U.S. Sunday, the Trump administration banned entry to foreigners leaving from Brazil. That country now has the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, behind the U.S.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.

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