The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended that people wear "cloth face coverings," in places where it is hard to maintain social distancing — like grocery stores. Officials say surgical masks or respirators should be reserved for health care workers.
The U.S. recorded more than 1,000 deaths between Thursday and Friday, according to NBC News' tally. As of Friday night, more than 7,000 U.S. deaths have been linked to the disease. Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate soared to 4.4 percent from 3.5 percent.
Support on Capitol Hill among both Republicans and Democrats for an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the country’s response to the outbreak appeared to be growing.
- Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments.
- MAPS: Where cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and worldwide.
- Stay-at-home orders across the country: What each state is doing — or not doing — amid widespread coronavirus lockdowns.
Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.
This live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 4 coronavirus news.
75 people connected to San Antonio long-term care facility infected
As long-term care facilities become a growing concern during suffer coronavirus outbreaks, 67 patients and eight staff members at one San Antonio center have been infected.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg on Friday prohibited nursing home staffers from working in multiple facilities in an attempt to slow the virus' spread. Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has had one resident die, and eight of its staff members have the virus, according to city and county officials.
Sixty-seven residents of 84 have coronavirus, the mayor said. "Seniors are some of our most vulnerable residents," Nirenberg said in a statement.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had been reluctant to use the most common tool to fight the virus, stay-at-home social distancing, but relented this week, saying Friday, "The best thing Texans can do to help maintain hospital capacity is to stay at home."
AG Barr urges home confinement for some inmates at federal prisons
U.S. Attorney General William Barr is calling for the release of eligible inmates at federal prisons hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
In a memo to the Bureau of Prisons director, Barr said he wants to speed up the process of sending select federal inmates in Connecticut, Louisiana and Ohio to home confinement because of the threat the outbreak poses at those facilities for elderly prisoners and those with pre-existing health conditions.
"While the [Bureau of Prisons] has taken extensive precautions to prevent COVID-19 from entering its facilities and infecting our inmates, those precautions, like any precautions, have not been perfectly successful at all institutions," Barr wrote in the memo.
Inmates who are identified as eligible for home confinement should be processed immediately and transferred following a 14-day quarantine at an appropriate facility, Barr said.
"It is vital that we not inadvertently contribute to the spread of COVID-19 by transferring inmates from our facilities," he wrote. "Given the speed with which this disease has spread through the general public, it is clear that time is of the essence. "
Pink says she's recovered from virus, will donate $1 million
Singer Pink, who said Friday that she is recovering from COVID-19, announced via Twitter that she is donating $1 million to help health care professionals in the fight against coronavirus.
Half will go to Philadelphia's Temple University Hospital Emergency Fund, and the other $500,000 will go to Los Angeles' emergency fund, she said. Pink's mother worked at Temple for 18 years, according to the singer.
"It is an absolute travesty and failure of our government to not making testing more widely available," she said in a tweet. "The illness is serious and real."
COVID-19 death toll in U.S. climbs to more than 7,000
As of Friday night, more than 7,000 deaths in the United States have been linked to the coronavirus disease COVID-19, according to an NBC News count. Overall, the country has more than 275,500 cases.
In New York City, which is currently considered the epicenter of the outbreak in the country, deaths rose by 305 and reached 1,867 as of 5 p.m., according to numbers from the city's health department. New York state overall has had more than 102,800 cases with more than 2,900 deaths, according to the NBC News count.
More deaths were also reported in many other states, including more than 100 in New Jersey, where 646 people have died according to the state health department. Michigan has had 479 deaths as of Friday, and Louisiana has had 370 deaths reported, according to health departments.
The count of more than 275,500 positive COVID-19 cases across the U.S. by Friday night reflects an increase of more than 30,000 cases from Thursday night, according to NBC News' tally. The count of coronavirus cases includes active cases, those who have recovered, those who have died and those who have been repatriated to the U.S.
Mosques stay open in Pakistan even as death toll rises
ISLAMABAD — Mosques were allowed to remain open in Pakistan on Friday, when Muslims gather for weekly prayers, even as the coronavirus pandemic spread and much of the country had shut down.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is relying on restricting the size of congregations attending mosques and advice to stay at home from religious groups like the country’s Islamic Ideology Council. However, some provinces have issued their own lockdown orders to prevent Muslims from gathering for Friday prayers.
Still, mosques remain open in Pakistan, even as they have been shut down across much of the Middle East and elsewhere. The Middle East has confirmed over 85,000 cases of the virus and over 3,700 deaths, most of them in Iran.
Pakistan, with 2,450 confirmed cases and 36 deaths, has been sharply criticized for moving too slow to curb large gatherings, including a gathering of tens of thousands of Muslims from several Islamic countries in March. The gathering of Tableeghi Jamaat missionaries is blamed for several outbreaks of the new virus elsewhere in the world.
Pandemic will cost global economy up to $4.1 trillion, experts say
The pandemic will cost the global economy as much as $4.1 trillion, or nearly 5 percent of all economic activity, according to new estimates from the Asian Development Bank.
The head of the International Monetary Fund said the recession sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is “way worse” than the 2008 global recession. At a news briefing in Geneva on Friday, IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva described the situation as “a crisis like no other.”
L.A. county opens COVID-19 drive-up testing site
Los Angeles County on Friday opened a new drive-up testing site in the parking lot of a popular mall.
Tests are available by appointment only and limited to people with symptoms who are in high risk categories, including those over the age of 65 and people with underlying health problems.
The new site, located at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach, is one of 10 mobile testing locations in the county.
Montana's June 2 primary will be conducted by mail
HELENA, Mont. - Montana's June 2 primary will be conducted by mail in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The ballots will be mailed out on May 8.
The U.S. Postal Service recommends ballots be mailed back a week before the election. Same-day registration and in-person voting will still be allowed. Counties will set the locations for late registration and ballot submission.
County clerks say a new law that allows counties to begin opening mailed ballots on the Thursday before Election Day to prepare them for counting should lead to quicker results on election nights.
5 million more N95 masks set for release
Another 5 million N95 masks — highly sought by medical professionals in their fight against coronavirus — will be released from the national stockpile to the Department of Health & Human Services, the Pentagon said Friday.
The announcement was made by chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.
Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are clamoring for more N95 masks and other forms of personal protective equipment as they face a constant wave of COVID-19 patients.
Trump lashes out at reporter when pressed for clarification over federal stockpile
Trump on Friday told a reporter she "ought to be ashamed" of herself and chided her for having a "nasty tone" after she asked for clarity about White House adviser Jared Kushner's comments about the federal government's ventilator stockpile.
"It's such a basic simple question you try and make it sound so bad," Trump told Weijia Jiang, a White House correspondent for CBS News. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself."
At Thursday's briefing, Kushner was pressed on why states were bidding on ventilators rather than the federal government sending them. "The notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile. It's not supposed to be states' stockpiles that they then use," Kushner said.
Trump doubled down at Friday's briefing.
"Because we need it for the government, the federal government," Trump said about Kushner's comments. "The federal government needs to it too not just the states."
Walmart to limit customer access
Starting on Saturday, only five customers per 1,000 square feet can enter a Walmart, which will be about 20 percent of each locale's listed capacity, according to a statement by Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith.
And in many stores next week, markers will be put down to direct shoppers to one-way foot traffic "so to help more customers avoid coming into close contact with others as they shop," according to Smith.
For the full story, read here.
Fact check: Trump falsely claims he inherited 'broken' COVID-19 tests
“The original test, the ones we inherited… were broken, they were obsolete, they were not good tests,” Trump said during Friday night’s news conference.
We’ve fact checked this claim before. It's impossible for Trump to have inherited a broken testing system for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The novel coronavirus did not exist until late last year, when researchers believe it was transmitted from an animal to a human for the first time.
Read more of the fact check here.
1 in 4 New York City emergency medical services workers out sick
As the New York City Fire Department announced the coronavirus death of Deputy Chief Inspector Syed Rahman, newly released data shows that nearly one in four of its Emergency Medical Services members is out sick.
Nearly two in 10 firefighters, or 17 percent, are also on medical leave, the FDNY said. About 3,000 total first responders were out sick; 376 have tested positive for the virus, the department said.
Rahman, 59, served 22 years with FDNY, leading a team that ultimately oversaw potentially high-risk buildings under construction, as well as those slated to undergo demolition and asbestos abatement.
"Deputy Chief Inspector Rahman dedicated his life to helping others through his service to the Department, and New Yorkers were safer because of his outstanding work," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. He is survived by his wife Sadia and four sons.
NYC sends emergency alert to phones
New York City has transmitted an emergency alert to phones, asking all licensed health care workers to support the city's health facilities by logging on to a website to find out where help is needed the most.
The city expects ventilator and healthcare worker shortages in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and now senior city officials are sounding the alarm to all available health care workers.
Trump administration says Americans should wear non-medical masks
President Donald Trump on Friday said Americans should wear non-surgical masks when they're out of their homes to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
"The CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as a voluntary health measure," Trump, referring to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during his daily briefing on the pandemic. "It is voluntary."
"The CDC is not recommending the use of medical-grade or surgical-grade masks," he added.
The decision, made after the cities of New York and Los Angeles advised their residents to wear cloth masks, was expected. Officials want to save surgical-grade and N95 masks for health workers.
Alabama governor issues stay-at-home order
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Friday she's ordering residents who aren't essential workers to stay at home unless getting takeout food, groceries or gas starting at 5 p.m. Saturday.
As state health officials reported 1,454 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths related to the disease in Alabama, Ivey said on Twitter, "I plead with you" to help stop the spread of the virus by staying home and practicing social distancing.
"You CAN still go get groceries & medicines," she said. "You’re ENCOURAGED to still order food out from your favorite restaurants, but the stores will be required to institute more stringent rules to keep a safe number of customers shopping at any one time."
McConnell: Expect 'plenty of mistakes' as stimulus package is implemented
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday there are “bound to be plenty of mistakes” as the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package is implemented across the country.
“You can’t pass a bill of this magnitude in a week and have a perfect implementation of $2.2 trillion, so sure there are going to be glitches,” McConnell, R-Ky., told McClatchy in a phone interview.
He refused to say what he thinks might be needed for a "phase 4" relief package, saying his main focus now is "watching how this is implemented."
McConnell also suggested Congress might not reconvene on April 20th, since the president has extended social distancing guidelines through the end of April.
Shasta County, California, to receive state's fifth federal pop-up hospital
A team of 40 to 60 soldiers from the California National Guard is set to deploy Saturday to Redding, California, about 160 miles north of Sacramento. Their mission will be to quickly construct the state’s fifth “federal medical station,” or FMS, effectively a pop-up hospital, at the Redding Convention Center and Civic Auditorium.
Shasta County, where Redding is located, has 11 reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date. The state's other pop-up hospitals are in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Riverside counties, with more likely to come. They were all constructed recently in one to two working days usually by teams of 60 to 100 guardsmen, as ordered by the California Office of Emergency Services to help mitigate hospital overflow from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to an undated fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an FMS has beds, supplies and medicine for 250 patients for up to three days.
New York City needs 45,000 medical professionals
New York, hit harder by the coronavirus than any other city in the country, needs 45,000 clinical employees for an incoming tidal wave of patients, officials said Friday.
The outbreak started with 125,000 medical employees in America's largest city, but a massive spike is coming that'll require 45,000 more to join those ranks this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters.
About 7,500 of those employees will be needed in traditional, standing hospitals while 37,500 others would work at hastily constructed field hospitals, such at those popping up at the Javits Center, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and hotels.
Lawmaker who forced colleagues to return to DC for coronavirus vote skipped earlier one
The Kentucky congressman who forced lawmakers around the country to return to Washington, D.C., for a vote on the coronavirus stimulus legislation last week skipped out on a vote on the previous aid bill to attend a fundraiser in his home state.
"I would be a 'no' on that bill anyway. I'm not going to sit up there in D.C. and wait for four people in a back room to cook something up that I know I'm not going to vote for," Rep. Thomas Massie told a local radio show of his decision to not show up for the vote on the earlier, $850 billion coronavirus package.
On the day of the March 14 vote, Massie tweeted that he and his wife were organizing their pantry.
Read the full story here.
Wisconsin gov calls back lawmakers to consider delaying election deadline
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Friday that he wants all registered voters in the state to receive an absentee ballot and have until May 19 to return them, which would effectively delay Tuesday’s election amid the coronavirus crisis.
The Democratic governor signed an executive order Friday calling for a special session of the GOP-controlled state Legislature to consider his proposed changes to Tuesday's election, which includes both the Democratic presidential primary between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and a general election for municipal officers and the state Supreme Court.
"I can't move this election or change it on my own. My hands are tied,” Evers said during a telephone news conference. He said proceeding with the election without changes would be an “unnecessary public health risk.”
Read the full story here.
Influencer Arielle Charnas faces more backlash
Social media influencer Arielle Charnas, who sparked outrage in March when she disclosed she tested positive for COVID-19 after being screened by a friend, is facing renewed backlash for retreating to the Hamptons.
Charnas, based in New York City, said in a lengthy statement Thursday to her 1.3 million Instagram followers that she wanted to "share the truth" and "above all else," express her sincerest remorse.
Charnas said she was speaking out, in part, to address accusations she had falsified her test results, which she said was "unequivocally untrue." She also claimed to have received death threats against her entire family, including her two young daughters.
First TSA employee dies from COVID-19
A employee at Newark Liberty International Airport became the first TSA employee to die from complications of COVID-19, authorities said Friday.
Francis Boccabella III, 39, handled a bomb-sniffing dog that screened air cargo going aboard passenger aircraft, the TSA said.
His canine partner was Bullet, a 6-year-old German Short-haired Pointer.
With unemployment surge, millions expected to lose insurance, turn to Medicaid
If unemployment continues to grow, an additional 10 million to 20 million Americans could enroll in Medicaid and millions could live without health care coverage altogether, a study published Friday found. Insurance provided by employers could drop by 11 million to 23 million.
This could prove to be a huge burden on state Medicaid programs as enrollment grows, the cost for coronavirus treatment proves to be costly and state revenues continue to plummet.
The study, published by research firm Health Management Associates, looks at three scenarios — unemployment at 10 percent, 17.5 percent and 25 percent — and the effects it would have on insurance coverage.
If unemployment rose to 25 percent, Medicaid enrollment nationally would grow from 70 million people to 94 million, employer-sponsored coverage could drop by 35 million people and the number of uninsured Americans would jump from 29 million before the outbreak to nearly 40 million people.
Medicaid enrollment will expand by roughly 5 million even without any increase in unemployment because the states that take funding from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act aren't able to unenroll people from the program.
Supreme Court cancels courtroom argument for rest of the term
The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday it will scrap the oral argument schedule for the rest of the term amid the coronavirus pandemic but left open the possibility that it might hear a few cases before the term ends in late June.
Nine cases were to be argued during the two-week session beginning April 20, including one of the most important of the term — a challenge to the current system used for electing the president.
The court earlier canceled oral argument in March as measures like stay-at-home orders and social distancing directives were implemented across the country to slow the spread of the virus.
Read the full story here.
A reassuring message in the sky over Los Angeles
Photo: Lining up for groceries in Johannesburg
Making your own face mask? Some fabrics work better than others
Sewing machines across the U.S. are whirring to life now that the federal government is expected to recommend that people living in coronavirus hot spots cover their face to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
But if you are making your own covering, new research finds that some fabrics are better than others at filtering out viral particles.
Polish official who relayed horrors of Holocaust dies of coronavirus
The secretary who took down the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to be smuggled out of Nazi-occupied Poland has died at age 107 from the coronavirus at a New York City hospital, the Polish Press Agency reported.
Walentyna Janta-Polczynska was the personal secretary of Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski, leader of the wartime Polish government in exile in London, when she was tasked with taking dictation from Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski.
Karski later personally delivered word of the mass slaughter of the Jews by the Germans to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
After the war, Janta-Polczynska settled in New York City where her home in Elmhurst, Queens, became a literary salon for exiled Polish writers.
USAID asks relief groups around the world for medical supplies, protective gear for U.S. use
The U.S. government's main international relief agency has issued an "urgent request" to aid groups around the world that work with refugees and impoverished people asking them to find personal protective gear and medical supplies that could be made available to the federal government, according to an internal email obtained by NBC News.
The U.S. Agency for International Development's appeal offers yet another sign of how the Trump administration is scrambling to secure badly needed medical equipment amid shortages of gear at American hospitals due to the coronavirus epidemic.
It's unclear how much medical equipment the aid groups have to spare, and how the request could affect relief work with refugees and other vulnerable populations around the world. Humanitarian aid groups have already issued warnings that the coronavirus outbreak could have a devastating effect on refugees who often lack access to clean water and are living in crowded conditions.
The Week in Pictures: Coronavirus tightens vise around the globe
The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 1 million. See more powerful images of the impact of the virus here.
Two more federal inmates dead from coronavirus
Two more federal inmates have died of the coronavirus, officials said Friday, raising the toll to seven.
Wallace Holley, Jr., 56, died Thursday, seven days after he suffered respiratory failure at the Federal Correctional Institution Oakdale in Louisiana. Holley, who was serving a 28-year sentence for several charges including armed robbery, had pre-existing conditions, officials said.
Margarito Garcia-Fragoso, 65, who was held at Federal Satellite Low Institution Elkton in Ohio, also died on Thursday after being hospitalized six days earlier. He was serving a 10 1/2 year sentence on drug and weapons charges. Officials said Garcia-Fragoso also had pre-existing conditions.
Of the seven inmate deaths across the system, five were held at Oakdale and two at Elkton.
N.J. to fly flags at half-staff to honor coronavirus victims
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered that all flags on state buildings across the Garden State be flown at half-staff indefinitely to honor coronavirus victims.
“COVID-19 has taken far too many relatives, friends, and loved ones in New Jersey,” Murphy said in a statement. “This virus has affected every corner of our state, and as we continue to work to break the back of this pandemic, we recognize those who have been lost to this terrible illness and all those affected by it. Many families cannot hold funerals for their loved ones at this time. By doing this, we remind them that their losses are not forgotten.”
As of Friday, the death toll in New Jersey was 646 with 29,895 total cases.
CNN's Brooke Baldwin says she's tested positive for the coronavirus
CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin said in an Instagram post on Friday that despite her following the social distancing guidelines and "doing ALL the things we're being told to do," she has tested positive for the coronavirus.
"I am OKAY. It came on suddenly yesterday afternoon," she wrote."Chills, aches, fever."
Baldwin said she has no underlying conditions and feels like she's "one of the lucky ones."
"I look forward to being on [television] and seeing you real soon. And shoutout to the doctors and nurses who are doing the real work right now," she said, ending her post with a touching message to singer Bill Withers, who died Monday from heart complications.
"I am listening to Bill Withers on repeat. I knew him, adored him and will miss him," Baldwin said.
Fellow CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has also tested positive for the coronavirus. On Thursday, he said he was "doing pretty well, all things considered."
Rogue paddleboarder arrested at California beach
A rogue paddleboarder who disobeyed Los Angeles County orders to stay off the beach was arrested on Thursday, officials said.
Deputies at the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff's station needed the help of a county sheriff's boat, dispatched from down the shore in Marina del Rey, to direct the paddleboarder back to land after spending at least 30 minutes on the water, officials said. Once the boat arrived, the paddleboarder complied and swam to shore.
He was arrested for disobeying a lifeguard and failing to obey a lawful order. After he was booked at a sheriff's station, he was booked and released on a promise to appear.
The county shut down all beaches and hiking trails last week as part of the effort to keep Southern California residents at home to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Massive hospital ship in NYC has only about 20 patients, but mayor says it will be full 'very soon'
A massive U.S. Navy hospital ship that was brought to New York City to help overwhelmed hospitals dealing with the coronavirus pandemic had only 20 patients, first reported by NBC News Thursday night.
But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday he expects the number of patients on the 1,000-bed USNS Comfort to "change very rapidly."
"I talked to our colleagues in the Navy. I don’t have a question in my mind that number’s going to change very rapidly,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“I’m sure that ship will be very full soon," he continued. "They have to be smart about what cases they take and create a protocol that’s going to work because it’s going to get very busy, very quickly next week. So I’m convinced over the next few days they’ll be prepared and they'll be filling up."
A second hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, was sent to Los Angeles.
Photo: Video call with relatives from a hospital bed
Watch sailors cheer Navy captain relieved of command after raising alarm on coronavirus
A cheering and applauding crowd of sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt can be seen in videos saying goodbye to their captain, who was relieved of command after he raised concerns about a coronavirus outbreak on his ship in a letter that was leaked to the news media.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the ship's commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, who was ousted Thursday, "demonstrated extremely poor judgment" in the middle of a crisis. The Roosevelt is an aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000,
A video posted to Twitter shows sailors chanting "Cap-tain Cro-zier" as he disembarked. The user who uploaded the Twitter video captioned it, in part: "Wrongfully relieved of command but did right by the sailors."
New York closes in on 3,000 deaths as Cuomo says he will order redistribution of ventilators
As the number of deaths from coronavirus approaches 3,000 in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday said he would sign an executive order authorizing the National Guard to take and redistribute ventilators and personal protective equipment.
The announcement comes a day after Cuomo said the state would run out of available ventilators in six days at the current rate of use.
The governor said ventilators would be taken from health care facilities that don't need them now and redistributed to those that do. Health care centers where ventilators are taken for redistribution would either get them back later or be paid for them, he said.
New York's deaths from the virus stood Friday morning at 2,935, an increase of 562 in one day. That compares to increases of 432 deaths on Thursday and 391 on Wednesday.
The state's total number of coronavirus cases is 102,863, up by 10,482.
New York City has 57,159 of those cases, an increase of 5,350. Once again Long Island had troubling increases in positively tested cases, Cuomo said. Nassau County's cases rose by 1,437 to 12,024, and Suffolk County's increased by 1,408 to 10,154.
Cuomo says he spoke to Pelosi, will work with her on next relief bill
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Friday morning about the next piece of legislation that Congress could consider to aid struggling states in the coronavirus fight.
Pelosi is working on boosting financial assistance to states in the next measure and Cuomo said she “fully understands” the needs of state and local governments. Cuomo said that he will work with the speaker and New York’s congressional legislation on what his state needs from federal relief legislation.
“She understands my position on how New York was short-changed in the last bill,” Cuomo said during his daily news conference in Albany.
New York's death toll hit 2,935 as of Friday, an increase of 562 deaths.
Photo: Mt. Sinai medical workers protest equipment shortage
Mosques stay open in Pakistan even as virus cases rise
Mosques were allowed to remain open in Pakistan on Friday — the important Muslim sabbath when adherents gather for weekly prayers — even as the pandemic spread and much of the country had shut down.
Some provinces, however, have issued their own lockdown orders to prevent Muslims from gathering for Friday prayers. In southern Sindh province, a complete lockdown is being enforced from noon until 3 p.m. — the time when the faithful gather for prayers. Anyone found on the streets will be arrested, according to the provincial local government minister in a statement. Authorities in Pakistan have struggled lately to persuade conservative religious groups to maintain social distancing.
Still, mosques remain open in the rest Pakistan, even as they have been shut down across much of the Middle East and elsewhere.
Pakistan has reported nearly 2,500 people infected with the virus, the highest in South Asia.
Fauci: 'I don't understand' why all states are not under stay-at-home orders
Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested Thursday night that all Americans should be under a stay-at-home order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, and that all states should be operating under the same guidelines.
“I don't understand why that's not happening,” Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview on CNN.
There has been no federally mandated order for everyone to follow the same guidelines, and Fauci appeared to stop short of endorsing one by the Trump administration.
Read the full story here.
Trump admin advises nursing homes to set up separate COVID-19 facilities
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is recommending that nursing homes work with state and federal governments to designate separate facilities or units for COVID-19 only patients.
"To avoid transmission within nursing homes, facilities should use separate staffing teams for residents to the best of their ability," the agency wrote in a Friday press release announcing the new recommendations. The administration is also recommending nursing homes ensure all staff use appropriate personal protective equipment when interacting with patients and residents.
"Our members are doing their utmost to provide care for older adults in this unprecedented, challenging situation," said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services. She cautioned that the new recommendations are not feasible without assistance from the federal and state governments to secure resources. "Our providers do not have sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other resources to adequately protect staff and to ensure the well-being of residents,” she said.
Engel calls on White House to cut exports of coronavirus PPE
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., on Friday called on the White House to restrict the export of personal protective equipment, citing the shortage of that vital gear amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the administration’s coronavirus task force, Engel said that the administration should use the Export Control Reform Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to take action.
“There is mounting evidence that the critical shortages of surgical masks and other personal protective equipment are being exacerbated by the unregulated export of such medical supplies from the United States,” Engel wrote. “Despite this alarming development, the White House Task Force on the Coronavirus has taken no steps to order the national regulation of personal protective equipment.”
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stay in self-isolation
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will continue self-isolating until further notice due to a continued fever, he said in a video update tweeted on Friday.
He said that although he has completed seven days in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus, “alas, I still have one of the symptoms,” he said.
Despite this, Johnson said that he and the rest of the government had still been working throughout the past week. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Thursday a plan to carry out 100,000 COVID-19 tests-per-day in England by the end of April. Health care experts and other politicians have slammed low numbers of testing.
He also mentioned that while there may be nice weather this weekend in the U.K., he urged people not to “hang out and start to break the regulations.” Britain is in the second week of a three-week lockdown.
Schumer, Wyden call for Labor Dept. to speed extra unemployment cash
In a call with reporters on Friday, Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the Department of Labor needed to do more to speed the delivery of the additional $600 that Congress added to augment individual states’ monthly maximum unemployment benefits, particularly after it became clear that the $1,200 stimulus checks could be delayed for some recipients by weeks.
Schumer said that the new unemployment numbers are “jaw-dropping” and that his constituents in New York are worried about being able to pay their housing costs and buy food. The additional $600 in federal benefits should ensure that the majority of laid-off U.S. workers receive benefits equivalent to their normal wages at least through July, he said.
Wyden said, “We keep hearing reports of people who just don't see how they are going to be able to keep walking this economic tightrope,” adding that he was at his desk in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in order to press the Dept. of Labor today. “If we don't hear from the Labor Department by noon, I’m going to be calling them and we’re just gonna call, and call, and call, until we get this program up and running,” he said.
The senator said it was possible there would be additional congressional stimulus measures because of “relentless” job loss numbers.
Sen. Gardner calls for investigation into ventilator stockpile
WASHINGTON — Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., announced Friday that he is calling for an investigation into reports that thousands of ventilators in the national stockpile are not operational, contributing to the low supply around the country as states scramble for supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“Troubling reports indicate that potential contracting delays and maintenance failures are contributing to a low supply of operational ventilators during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic at a time when our country desperately needs them,” Gardner said in a statement.
Gardner called the reports “unacceptable” and said there needed to be an "immediate investigation" into whether there was a gap between contracts that led to a lapse in maintaining the ventilators, how long ventilators went without proper maintenance and whether there are regulatory changes that need to be made to prevent this from happening in the future.
Gardner, who is up for re-election this year, self-quarantined earlier this month after coming into contact with a constituent who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
How contagious is the coronavirus?
In just three months, more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported around the world, including close to a quarter-million in the U.S. alone. The virus has killed more than 50,000 people and defied many countries' efforts to stop its spread.
The grim statistics raise a question: Just how contagious is the coronavirus?
Senators pushing bill to aid evacuated Peace Corps volunteers
A trio of senators are set to unveil legislation Friday aimed at ensuring that more than 7,000 recently evacuated Peace Corps volunteers get coronavirus-related unemployment benefits.
The bipartisan legislation would qualify the volunteers for the unemployment assistance provided in the coronavirus aid package that Congress passed last week and allow them to apply for additional health insurance coverage under the Peace Corps. It would also instruct the Peace Corps to connect volunteers with AmeriCorps and FEMA to help address the coronavirus crisis domestically, an issue that a group of lawmakers proposed in a recent letter to the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and FEMA.
Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., are backing the measure. “The burden the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on these public servants should not be overlooked during this economically challenging time," Collins said.
Murphy said the legislation was needed given the difficulties the evacuated volunteers are facing now that their service has been cut short. "The Peace Corps has always been about a belief that the American people are the best ambassadors to liaison with the rest of the world about our country’s values,” he added.
Mexico's Grupo Modelo to stop brewing Corona beer
Mexico’s Grupo Modelo said on Thursday it will temporarily stop brewing Corona beer and other brands exported to 180 countries after its business activities were declared non-essential under a government order aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
The Mexican government this week declared a health emergency and ordered the suspension of non-essential activities as the number of virus cases in the country surpassed 1,500.
The brewer said in a statement that the suspension will go into place from Sunday and that it was already in the process of scaling down production to a level at which it could resume once the suspension is lifted.
U.S. economy lost a total of 701,000 jobs in March
The U.S. economy lost a total of 701,000 jobs in March, bringing a record 10-year streak of employment gains to a screeching halt as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hammer the workforce and shatter economic growth.
The closely watched monthly jobs data, released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, also shows the unemployment rate soared to 4.4 percent from 3.5 percent, after months at a half-century low.
March's data represents the tip of the iceberg, however, since the survey was conducted in the first half of the month, prior to the pandemic's grip on the economy.
Death toll in Spain nears 11,000
Spain’s death toll neared 11,000 on Friday, and more than half of the deaths occurred in the past seven days. Spain now has more infections than any other country in Europe with almost 118,000 cases and is second only to the United States in total cases.
Spanish Health Ministry data showed that 7,472 of those infections had been in the past 24 hours. The ministry reported 932 deaths on Friday, 18 less than its daily record of 950 the day before.
Nearby Italy, which has now been surpassed by Spain in number of cases, has about 115,000 reported cases as of Friday morning. The hard-hit country has started to see infections leveling off after weeks of nationwide shutdown.
Army Corps chief says N.Y.'s Javits Center is safe as it prepares for COVID-19 patients
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, said Friday that his team of engineers will have to go into Manhattan's Javits Center to make changes now that COVID-19 patients are expected to go there for treatment.
The convention center had been converted into a 2,500-bed emergency facility to handle non-COVID-19 patients to provide relief to existing hospitals in New York City. On Thursday, however, at the request of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, President Donald Trump approved the use of the facility for coronavirus patients as well.
“There's probably got to be some modifications made,” Semonite said on NBC’s “TODAY” show. “I've asked my engineers to go in and re-look the pressure settings in the building. Javits is actually sectionable, there's a bunch of great big areas that we can actually change the pressure in some.”
Semonite said, “I don't see a safety problem right now in Javits.”
The lieutenant general also explained how the Army Corps of Engineers has been able to develop a standard design, authorized by the federal government, to build emergency hospitals. Those designs can then be shared with states and local areas to convert hotels and college dorms into emergency facilities.
'Hello in there': John Prine still 'very ill' in ICU
Singer-songwriter John Prine remains 'very ill' in intensive care with pneumonia in both lungs, his wife said in an update on the influential musician's condition.
"This is John’s 8th day in ICU," Fiona Whelan Prine wrote on Twitter on Thursday night. "He is receiving excellent medical care and being treated with kindness and compassion by the entire team looking after him day and night. I cannot be with him which makes this nightmare all the more distressing."
The family of the songwriter of "Angel from Montgomery" and "Sam Stone" revealed Sunday that he had been hospitalized since March 26 with COVID-19.
Fiona Prine said Thursday that he was put on a ventilator Saturday and has pneumonia in both lungs. "He is very ill and yet I remain hopeful that he can continue to fight this devastating virus and come home where we can care for him."
Britain's Prince Charles opens London's new coronavirus hospital
"It's a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work," said the prince, who joined by video link from his home in Scotland. "An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible can be made possible."
The NHS Nightingale Hospital will provide 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen at an east London conference center, with the potential to increase to 4,000 beds. Similar field hospitals will open in other U.K. cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol, according to NHS England.
Switzerland's Matterhorn mountain illuminated with message of hope
See more photos of how people around the world are coping with the coronavirus outbreak in our Week in Pictures slideshow.
Britain has 'huge amount of work to do' to up testing, health secretary says
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock — who has just himself returned from self-isolation after contracting coronavirus — admitted that the government still has "a huge amount of work to do" to meet its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day in England, he said in an interview with the BBC.
Hancock said on Thursday he plans to carry out 100,000 Covid-19 tests-per-day in England by the end of April, after critics slammed low numbers of testing. He called on both universities and private organizations to "bring their testing capabilities to bear on this," in an interview with Sky News on Friday. There are currently about 10,000 tests carried out each day.
Britain has recorded almost 3,000 deaths from the virus as of Friday, with more than 34,000 cases confirmed.
Houston hasn't reported a surge of coronavirus cases. But its hospitals tell a different story.
Two weeks ago, Houston Methodist Hospital opened a special unit to treat critically ill coronavirus patients. The city had reported only a handful of confirmed cases at that point, but the hospital’s 24-bed coronavirus ICU filled up in only about a week, far faster than doctors anticipated.
Alexandra Carnahan, 26, one of the nurses assigned to the unit, was surprised by the number of patients who were in their 30s or 40s, with no prior health problems. Now they were intubated and in critical condition, suffering from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
So far, Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, has not recorded a swell of confirmed coronavirus cases similar to those straining health care systems in New York and Detroit, giving some residents hope that stay-at-home orders issued by local officials came early enough to stop the virus from spreading too widely here. But interviews with Houston ICU doctors and nurses — as well as the daily rise in the number of critically ill patients now showing up in their hospitals — paint a more sobering picture of what’s happening in southeast Texas.
Trump's Navy chief 'shot the messenger,' Biden says
Joe Biden slammed the decision by the Navy Thursday to relieve the captain on the USS Theodore Roosevelt after he alerted military leaders that there was a COVID-19 outbreak on the ship.
“Donald Trump's Acting Navy Secretary shot the messenger — a commanding officer who was faithful to both his national security mission and his duty to care for his sailors, and who rightly focused attention on a broader concern about how to maintain military readiness during this pandemic,” Biden, the leading 2020 Democratic presidential contender, said in a statement.
The commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, sent a letter to Navy leadership last week in which he shared his concerns about what was unfolding on his ship. The letter, however, was leaked to the media and then Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said Thursday that Crozier was relieved from his role aboard the ship.
Biden said, “The Navy sent a chilling message to the rest of the fleet about speaking truth to power. The poor judgment here belongs to the Trump Administration, not a courageous officer trying to protect his sailors.”
German leader Angela Merkel resumes work in office after quarantine
German Chancellor Angela Merkel resumed work in her office on Friday after completing a self-imposed home quarantine, a government spokesman said.
She had been working from home after receiving a vaccination on March 20 from a doctor who was later found to have coronavirus. She has tested negative for the coronavirus multiple times.
Germany has more than 80,000 confirmed cases as of Friday, although they have reported fewer deaths —around 1,000 — than countries with similar cases numbers.
European countries develop new ways to tackle domestic violence during lockdowns
Fears that those affected by domestic violence may be unable to seek help because they are locked in with their abusers during the coronavirus pandemic have prompted governments in several European countries to come up with new ways to help them.
The French government has encouraged victims to discreetly seek help at pharmacies, while the Italian government has launched a new app that will enable them to ask for help without making a phone call.
France, which has been on lockdown since March 17, has already seen a spike in domestic violence. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said last week there was a 32 percent increase in police interventions nationally, and a 36 percent increase in Paris, the capital city.
American in Wuhan warns U.S. over lockdowns
An American who spent more than two months locked down in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus epidemic first emerged, is urging people back home to prepare for a lengthy interruption to their lives.
“Don't go into this thinking it's going to be over in a few weeks,” Benjamin Wilson told NBC News from his apartment in Wuhan where he and his family spent eight weeks in confinement.
After initially experiencing problems getting evacuated back to the U.S., Wilson, 38, chose to stay in the city where he has lived for more than 16 years, with his Chinese wife, Li Qin, and seven-year-old daughter Jasmin as it went into lockdown in late January.
Oprah Winfrey to donate $10 million to coronavirus relief in U.S.
Winfrey did not specify where the bulk of her donation would go but confirmed on her social media accounts that $1 million would be donated to America's Food Fund, to help feed local communities and combat food insecurity during the crisis.
"I know there are many of us looking for ways to help," she wrote on Instagram. "I am donating $10 million overall to help Americans during this pandemic in cities across the country and in areas where I grew up."
Crowded in refugee camps, Rohingya in Bangladesh vulnerable to virus
Aid workers are bracing for a possible outbreak of the coronavirus in one of the world's largest refugee camps in Bangladesh, with officials warning that containing the disease among more than 1 million tightly packed Rohingya will be a daunting task.
With about 103,600 people per square mile living in plastic shacks side by side — which is more than 40 times the average density of Bangladesh — the refugees are dangerously exposed to the virus. Each shack is barely 100 square feet and many are overcrowded with up to 12 people.
There have been no reported cases of infection in the camps yet, but officials remain concerned. Rohingya people fled Myanmar after a military-led crackdown in 2017, and were forced into squalid camps across the border in Bangladesh — a country that is currently under a lockdown until April 11.
Singapore tightens restrictions and closes workplaces, schools
Singapore will close schools and most workplaces for a month starting on Monday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Friday, as part of stricter measures to stop the virus outbreak.
Essential services and key economic sectors will remain open on the island nation.
Singapore’s coronavirus infections — both imported and domestic — have risen sharply in recent weeks and topped 1,000 this week, according to the Singapore Ministry of Health. It reported its fifth death on Friday.
Italy likely to extend lockdown to May 1, official says
Italy's lockdown is likely to last until May 1, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, Angelo Borrelli, said at a press conference on Thursday evening.
The country is now in its fourth week of lockdown and the restrictions have now been officially extended until at least April 13. The government is working on a new decree to boost the economy and support businesses severely hit by the emergency, local media reported on Friday.
Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, has more than 115,000 confirmed cases as of Friday.
African continent faces 'existential threat,' health official says
Africa faces a continent-wide crisis from the coronavirus, according to a senior pan-African health official. Dr. John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control, told a press briefing Wednesday that the virus was "an existential threat to our continent," and posed unprecedented challenges.
As of early Thursday there had been 7,028 COVID-19 cases confirmed across the African Union, as well as 284 deaths, and 561 recoveries by region. Just four of the 54 African Union member states are yet to report any cases.
Nkengasong told the press conference that several African nations could see 10,000 cases each by the end of the month, following the trajectory of the disease in Europe.
The Week in Pictures: Coronavirus tightens its vise around the globe
As coronavirus continues its spread, look through our Week in Pictures to see how it's impacting people around the globe.
Elton John, Paul McCartney among British celebrities cheering health workers
British celebrities lined up to thank Britain's National Health Service for its work during the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday.
Sports star David Beckham, musicians Elton John and Paul McCartney and actors Kate Winslet and Eddie Redmayne were among the celebrities who held up posters and voiced their thanks to hospital staff across the country.
The move was part of a #ThankyouThursday campaign that sees Britons stand outside their homes, on balconies and in windows to applaud healthcare workers each week.
Funeral directors overwhelmed by COVID-19 death toll
As the coronavirus pandemic threatens more communities, funeral directors say they can’t keep up with the growing death toll that has already claimed more than 5,000 lives in the United States.
Death care workers are considered essential in many states with stay-at-home orders. But with panic buyers hoarding cleaning products, like bleach and disinfectant, and personal protective equipment in short supply, funeral workers are fighting for more safeguards.
In New York, which has the most confirmed coronavirus cases anywhere in the U.S., funeral directors say they can’t keep up with demand.
COVID-19 cases, deaths overwhelm Ecuador
USNS Comfort has 19 New York patients aboard
U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, the 1,000-bed vessel sent to New York City to help alleviate pressure on hospitals, had 19 patients Thursday night, a Navy spokesperson said.
The ship was one of two dispatched — the other is the USNS Mercy in Los Angeles — and Pentagon officials have said they were to take patients so that hospitals could deal with those suffering from COVID-19.
In New York City alone, more than 49,700 cases had been confirmed and 1,562 deaths reported as of 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the city's health department. The state overall has more than 92,300 cases and more than 2,300 deaths, according to an NBC News count.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday said that coronavirus cases have overwhelmed hospitals but that that the ship was never supposed to be for COVID-19 patients.
Because of the huge demand, Cuomo said he asked President Donald Trump to allow a U.S. Army-run facility at the Javits Center with 2,500 beds to instead be used for COVID-19 patients, and Trump agreed.
The commander of the USNS Comfort, Capt. Patrick Amersbach, said Thursday that personnel is following Defense Department orders to accept only non-COVID-19 patients, but if that changes they would adjust.
NYC first responders reeling from 'unprecedented' call volume
New York City first responders are handling "tremendously high" call volumes, working multiple double shifts with back-to-back cases and suspected coronavirus patients going into cardiac arrest as the disease continues to sweep the city.
"Everybody's overworked. ... People who are working five doubles, five 16-hour tours," in one week, said a New York City Fire Department emergency medical technician who works in the Bronx.
"You get your two days off, but those days you're just sleeping the whole day because your body's recuperating from so much work," the EMT, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Thursday.
Trump on release of prisoners: 'We don’t like it'
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is considering intervening to stop the release of some prisoners amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Correctional facilities in states such as California, Michigan and Pennsylvania have begun releasing certain inmates as the prisons face a shortage of medical supplies.
Trump said Thursday that “we don’t like it.”
The president added that “we’re looking to see if I have the right to stop it in some cases.”
He did not elaborate what measures, or under what legal authority, he would take to stop or reverse the releases.