Global cases surpass 1 million, 6.6 million unemployment claims filed

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Mask
A pedestrian wears a face mask as he walks past a mural of a fish while strolling on the boardwalk at Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York on April 2, 2020.Kathy Willens / AP

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The White House is expected to recommend that Americans wear a face covering when they go out.

On Thursday, the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. topped 5,000 on Thursday, according to NBC News' tally, and nearly 240,000 cases have been confirmed across the country. Globally, more than 1,000,000 people have tested positive and more than 50,000 have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In the United States, government relief payments will begin the week of April 13 — although people who don’t have direct deposit on file with the Internal Revenue Service may have to wait months for checks to arrive, according to a memo obtained by NBC News.

The economic fallout from the pandemic accelerated with a record 6.6 million jobless claims filed last week.

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Disney announces employee furloughs

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom on Feb. 11, 2004 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.Matt Stroshane / Bloomberg via Getty Images File

The Walt Disney Company will start to furlough employees this month in order to curb the severe economic toll of the coronavirus outbreak, the company announced in a statement on Thursday.

Disney said the furlough process would begin on April 19 and that "all impacted workers will remain Disney employees through the duration of the furlough period," with full access to healthcare benefits.

The company did not say how many employees would be affected by the furloughs, but the move is expected to impact all theme park and cruise employees given that those businesses have been suspended entirely.

Disney is only the latest American company that has been forced to take severe cost-cutting measures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Retailers like Macy's and Gap have furloughed employees, as has the newspaper giant Gannett Media.

The coronavirus crisis has turned NYC into a warzone for first-responders: EMS chief

Ambulance workers clean a gurney at Mount Sinai Hospital amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 1, 2020 in New York.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The head of New York City’s Emergency Medical Services department described the five boroughs as a war zone amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our EMTs and our paramedics, all our first responders in fact including all our healthcare providers, are really on the front lines of this thing and they are doing a tremendous job, but they’re fighting,” EMS chief Lillian Bonsignore told NBC News. “This is a war. We consider this a war, and they're our soldiers and unfortunately they're not immune to this virus and many of them are getting sick."

Bonsignore said the coronavirus outbreak triggered an unprecedented volume of 911 calls.

“I'll tell you I've been in this profession for about 30 years, so three decades, and I've never seen anything like this in my whole career or in my life for that matter,” she said.

Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine released early from jail amid coronavirus health concerns

Rapper Tekashi69 appears at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on July 11, 2018.Jefferson Siegel / NY Daily News via Getty Images file

Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was released into house arrest on Thursday, over fears that his chronic asthma make him vulnerable to coronavirus, the musician's lawyer said.

"He's out and he's very happy to be released," defense attorney Lance Lazzaro told NBC News.

The rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, had been housed at a private facility under contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons. He was serving time after pleading guilty to multiple counts of racketeering, firearms offenses and drug trafficking.

Read the full story here. 

Banks warn of 'utter chaos' in new small business lending program

A woman works on her computer at her family restaurant which is being forced to close due to the global outbreak of coronavirus in Glendale, Calif., on March 18, 2020.Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Millions of small businesses are anxiously awaiting their slices of a $350 billion relief program that forms part of the government's $2 trillion economic support package.

However, with just hours to go before the launch, major banks are still awaiting guidance from the Treasury Department on how to lend the money — and some haven't even decided whether they will participate.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the program is ready to go, adding, "It is a very large priority, we want to get this money quickly into your hands."

Read the full story here.

Fact check: Trump falsely claims U.S. is testing more people per capita than other countries

During Thursday's coronavirus task force briefing, Trump claimed that the U.S. is testing “more than any other country in the world both in terms of the raw number, and also on a per capita basis, the most.”

We've fact-checked Trump's previous testing claims — and while it is technically true that the U.S. has run more tests for the disease caused by the virus than any other country, Trump is wrong on the issue of testing per capita.

The U.S. is not testing the same share of its population as other countries, a key measure that indicates the U.S. lags behind other nations. As of Thursday, April 2, the U.S has done more than 1.3 million COVID-19 tests. That's about one in every 250 Americans. South Korea, as of the same date, has tested about one in every 118 people. 

Read the full story here. 

Navy relieves captain who raised alarm about outbreak on aircraft carrier

Aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt enters port in Da Nang, Vietnam on March 5, 2020.Nguyen Huy Kham / Reuters file

The Navy announced it has relieved the captain who sounded the alarm about an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Capt. Brett Crozier, who commands the Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000, was relieved of his command on Thursday, but he will keep his rank and remain in the Navy.

Crozier raised the alarm earlier this week that sailors on the ship need to be quarantined to stop the spread of the virus. His plea for assistance quickly made headlines.

Read the full story here.

White House doctor: Trump again tests negative for COVID-19

Trump had again been tested for COVID-19, "utilizing new, rapid point-of-care test capability," according to a memo from his physician, and has tested negative.

The memo was released to reporters at the White House at the start of a coronavirus task force news briefing. 

NBC News / via The White House

3 more federal inmates die after testing positive

A four-man cell at the Englewood Federal Correctional Institution in Littleton, Colorado. Federal Bureau of Prisons / via AP file

At least three more federal prison inmates have died after testing positive for coronavirus, authorities said Thursday.

David Townsend, 66, went into respiratory failure at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Oakdale in Louisians on Saturday before dying at local hospital on Thursday, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Another inmate from that same prison, 57-year-old James Wilson, passed away on Wednesday, authorities said.

Meanwhile at a hospital near the Federal Satellite Low Institution (FSL) Elkton, in Lisbon, Ohio, Woodrow Taylor, 53, died on Thursday, officials said

All three men had long-term, pre-existing medical conditions, the bureau said. 

 

New York City mayor advises residents to cover faces when in public

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio advised residents to wear some form of protective covering over their face when they go outside.

"It does not have to be a professional surgical mask," de Blasio said. "In fact we do not want you to use the kind of masks that our first responders need, that our healthcare workers need, don't use those. Leave those alone."

As healthcare workers and other first responders struggle to get personal protective equipment, many Americans have begun creating their own handmade masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that wearing a mask is unnecessary for healthy individuals, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said federal health officials are actively discussing changing that guidance. 

"It doesn’t need to be a classical mask. But something that would have someone prevent them from infecting others," Fauci said to NBC News' Savannah Guthrie on Tuesday night. "This is actively being looked at."

Global coronavirus cases surpass 1 million

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 1 million, with more than 51,000 deaths, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,002,159 cases and 51,485 deaths due to coronavirus were reported globally.

There were more than 236,000 cases and at least 5,648 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

Tennessee issues stay-at-home order

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced a stay-at-home order Thursday after traffic patterns showed residents were beginning to travel more despite advice from public health officials. 

Lee said that while "good faith efforts" were made to follow social distancing guidelines, an uptick in traffic beginning Monday indicated many were beginning to disregard the coronavirus precautions . 

“The month of April stands to be an extremely tough time for our state as we face the potential for a surge in COVID-19 cases,” said Lee. “Every Tennessean must take this seriously, remain at home and ensure we save lives.”

The measure follows that of several other states in requiring residents to stay in their homes unless they must engage in an essential activity, such as grocery shopping or utilizing healthcare services.