This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Tuesday, June 16th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 1 of reopening now. Here's a look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here's the latest:

Flushing A Toilet May Promote The Spread Of Covid

5:30 p.m A new study published on Tuesday found that flushing a toilet can expel feces-laden aerosol particles into the air that may lead to the transmission of the coronavirus.

A toilet flush can push out tiny droplets into the air. Simulations by scientists showed that showed 40 to 60 percent of those particles rise above the toilet seat. After about 30 seconds, some of the particles rose as high as three feet above the toilet seat.

"It is reasonable to assume that the high-speed airflow will expel aerosol particles from the bowl to regions high in the air above the toilet, allowing viruses to spread indoors causing risks to human health," the study reads.

The scientists noted that oral-fecal transmission is common among other viruses. Moreover, vomiting and diarrhea are two well-documented symptoms of COVID-19.

But although the virus been found in the feces of some patients diagnosed with COVID-19, it is not clear whether a person can contract the disease through touching or inhaling feces. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has not been any confirmed case of the virus spreading from feces to a person.

To be on the safe side, the latest research recommends that individuals change some of their habits, including putting a toilet lid down before flushing if possible, cleaning a toilet seat before using it and washing one's hands very thoroughly after flushing.

The authors also said they hoped their findings would inspire better toilet design, "in which the lid is automatically put down before flushing and cleaned before and after flushing."

NY Hospitals And Group Homes Can Allow Visitors This Week

12:55 p.m. Hospitals and group homes in New York state may permit visitors as long as they follow public health guidelines set by the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

Hospitals, which had severely restricted visitors during the coronavirus crisis, can immediately relax their visitation policies at their discretion. Group homes can allow visitors on Friday.

Cuomo, however, did not say when nursing homes would be cleared to have visitors.

"The reward doesn't justify the risk right now," he said.

Since March 20th, the state's 620 nursing homes have been prohibited from allowing outside visitors unless they are "medically necessary." The elderly are considered one of the most susceptible demographics to die from the virus. But in the wake of waning infections, some family members of nursing home residents have called for the ban to be lifted.

The governor has been criticized for the state's handling of virus outbreaks at nursing homes. Nursing homes were initially ordered to readmit residents sent to hospitals with the coronavirus as well as accept new patients deemed medically stable. As many as 4,500 recovering virus patients were sent back to nursing homes. Covid has killed more than 6,000 New York nursing home residents, about 6 percent of the 100,000 people who live in the state's nursing home facilities.

In April, Cuomo ordered the Department of Health and the state attorney general, Letitia James, to investigate whether nursing homes were complying with coronavirus safety precautions. The findings of that investigation have not yet been released.

Cuomo also announced on Tuesday that the U.S. Open will be held as originally scheduled from August 31st to September 13th in Queens, but without live spectators. The New York Times on Monday had reported that United States Tennis Association officials were planning to continue with the tournament.

“We can watch it on TV, and I’ll take that,” Cuomo said.

UK Researchers Say A Steroid Could Be A Breakthrough To Fighting COVID-19

An inexpensive and widely available steroid called dexamethasone has been shown to reduce coronavirus deaths by up to one third in severely ill patients, according to researchers in England.

The results of the clinical trial, which enrolled more than 6,000 patients, were announced on Tuesday. The full details of the study are expected to be published soon.

Under the trial, dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients and by one fifth in those who were receiving oxygen only. It had no benefit for those who did not require respiratory support. Patients on ventilators have the highest risk of dying from coronavirus.

"Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19," said one of the chief investigators of the trial, Peter Horby, of the University of Oxford, said in a statement. "This is an extremely welcome result. The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients."

He added: "Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide."

The drug was administered either orally or through an IV.

The United Kingdom's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance described the results as "tremendous news."

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the country will immediately start giving dexamethasone to coronavirus patients. Health officials began stockpiling the drug three months ago.