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Global death toll passes 100K as confirmed cases top 1.6 million

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
A healthcare worker talks with a patient at a COVID-19 testing site near Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on March 24, 2020.Matt Slocum / AP

The coronavirus death toll across the U.S. continues to climb and passed 18,500 by Friday evening, according to an NBC News tally. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York state had reached 170,512.

Globally, the number of cases passed 1.6 million with more than 102,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, as countries deliberate over further lockdown measures or worry about second wave outbreaks. Millions of people around the world are preparing for religious celebrations and a holiday weekend.

Current and former U.S. officials, meanwhile, tell NBC News that American spy agencies collected raw intelligence hinting at a public health crisis in Wuhan, China, in November, but the information was not understood as the first warning signs of an impending global pandemic.

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading Apr. 11 Coronavirus news.

Burning Man calls off 2020 festival, goes virtual

Burning Man, the end-of-summer music and arts festival in the Nevada desert, has been canceled for 2020 as a result of COVID-19, organizers said Friday.

The weeklong event on federal land in the Silver State's Black Rock desert is one of several high-profile music gatherings, including Miami's Ultra Festival; SXSW in Austin, Texas; Coachella in Indio, California; and Las Vegas' Electric Daisy Carnival, to cancel or postpone in reaction to the continued spread of coronavirus.

Marian Goodell, Burning Man project CEO, announced that a virtual version of the festival, which started in the 1980s in San Francisco, will take place in the stead of the colorful antics on the festival's famous Black Rock "playa."

She offered refunds for the nearly $500 tickets "to those that need" them, but otherwise asked so-called burners to convert their purchases into tax-deductible donations as the nonprofit organization would likely face layoffs.

Makeshift hospitals pop up around the country

70 at San Francisco homeless shelter test positive

At least 70 people, including two staff members, at a San Francisco homeless shelter tested positive for coronavirus, Mayor London Breed announced Friday.

The MSC South shelter is the largest in the city and serves 340 people. Capacity has been reduced to 100 residents, Breed tweeted. People who have not tested positive for the virus will be moved to hotel rooms while those with COVID-19 will remain in quarantine at MSC South.

"We've been preparing for situations like this and we're responding," Breed said in a separate tweet. "But it is critical that people continue following the Stay Home Order."

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced statewide plans to house some of California's 151,000 people experiencing homelessness in hotels and motels through Project Roomkey. The goal is to secure 15,000 rooms for high-risk individuals living on the street.

White House will not hold coronavirus briefing on Saturday

Dartunorro Clark

The White House will not hold a coronavirus briefing on Saturday, according to President Donald Trump's official schedule released Friday. 

Over the last few weeks, Trump has held, with the exception of one day, daily briefings at the White House with Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the administration's coronavirus task. The briefings often devolve into jousting with the press over the administration response to the pandemic. 

L.A. County extends stay-at-home order until May 15

Los Angeles County is extending its stay-at-home order until May 15 at the earliest with the possibility of extending it into the summer, officials announced Friday. The order had been set to expire on April 19.

Public health officials said social distancing has helped flatten the coronavirus curve but more is needed to protect the county's 12 million residents. More than 8,400 residents have contracted COVID-19, according to the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department.

Public health officials warned Friday that lifting the stay-at-home order now could result in nearly 96 percent of residents being infected.

24 at Indiana nursing home die in outbreak

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Twenty-four residents of a central Indiana nursing home hit hard by COVID-19 have died, the state’s health commissioner said.

Sixteen of the residents at the Bethany Pointe Health Campus in Anderson had tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the other eight had compatible symptoms, Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during a state news briefing on the pandemic.

Mnuchin announces 'Get My Payment' app

Experimental drug remdesivir shows potential for coronavirus, early research suggests

Early research shows an experimental treatment for the coronavirus may help very sick patients improve their breathing, though experts caution more studies are needed before the drug, remdesivir, can be recommended.

The research, published Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 53 coronavirus patients who had been given remdesivir through what’s called "compassionate use."

In a majority of the patients — 68 percent — doctors were able to reduce the amount of oxygen support needed. What's more, 17 of 30 patients who'd been on ventilators were able to come off of those machines. That's important because COVID-19 patients who need to be put on ventilators appear to be more likely to suffer long-term health consequences, and may have worse outcomes.

Read the full story.

Florida megachurch pastor caves after defying coronavirus rules

The Florida pastor who wound up in handcuffs after he defied a local stay-at-home coronavirus order by holding a church service for hundreds of worshippers will be celebrating Easter online with his flock Sunday.

Rodney Howard-Browne, who in previous statements railed at “tyrannical government” and threatened to sue Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister for arresting him, made the announcement on The River at Tampa Bay Church’s Facebook page.

“Join us ONLINE ONLY at 9:30 AM on Sunday, April 12th, for our Resurrection Sunday service as we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ,” the announcement read.

Read the full story.

In Nebraska, meat plant workers are afraid to go to work — but can't afford to stay home

With 3,500 workers, the JBS beef processing plant is one of the largest employers in Grand Island, Nebraska. It’s also the center of the town’s COVID-19 outbreak: employees make up 28 of the 105 people confirmed to have the virus.

This has created a dilemma for workers whose livelihoods depend on the meat plant that remains open as an essential part of the food supply chain and the local economy at a time when many people are self-isolating: do they risk exposing themselves to the virus at work, or stay home without pay?

"The people who are still working there are very afraid of catching the virus and passing it to our families at home, but we cannot stop going to work because we need to keep food on the table," said one employee, who added she worked in the "intestine area" of the plant and did not wish to be named for fear of losing her job.

NBC News spoke to four current employees at JBS Grand Island, three on the condition of anonymity, as well as two former employees, advocacy groups and a union representative.

Read the full story.

Trump pushes false claims about mail-in vote fraud. Here are the facts.

As a partisan battle heats up around the issue of mail-in voting amid the pandemic, President Donald Trump has begun arguing that an election conducted via postal service would be riddled with fraud.

There’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud of any kind in the U.S., according to numerous investigations and studies — and a fact-check by NBC News shows that his central claims about mail-in voting, which include allegations that ballots are frequently falsified and that only Democratic-led states allow such methods, are false and misleading. 

Read the full fact check of Trump's claims here

Giving back: Communities, organizations mobilize to feed, house health care workers

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt life throughout the United States, communities are banding together to assist doctors, nurses and first responders with the essentials: food and housing.

From New York City to Washington state, people have donated thousands of meals to health care workers through various organizations, while others have provided temporary housing to doctors and nurses who are on the front lines of the pandemic.

"It's really empowering just to see how people want to be a part of this," said Michael MacKelvie, one of the organizers of the group Feed the Fearless. His group has raised thousands of dollars to purchase meals from local restaurants to donate to area businesses. 

Other organizations, such as RVs 4 MDs, are working to provide health care workers with temporary housing if they choose to make the difficult decision to self-isolate from their families.

Read the full story here. 

NYC mayor says easing of social distancing possible before summer

Gabe Gutierrez

The mayor of New York City, which has seen more than a fifth of the nation's coronavirus cases, expressed qualified optimism that mobility could begin to return to the Big Apple before the end of spring.

"Every one of us is hoping and praying this shows that we're turning a corner," Mayor Bill de Blasio told NBC Nightly News. "But I'm not convinced until I see something more sustained. This day we will surpass 100,000 cases of the coronavirus in New York City. That's a staggering, unbelievable number. We've lost over 5,000 people and we still have a huge number of people fighting for their lives in our hospitals."

The Gates Foundation-funded IHME model projected a decrease for New York's daily death rate.

"The first thing is to not expect and get hopes up prematurely," Di Blasio said. "We know April is gonna continue to be tough. That's going to take us into May. There's a possibility at some point in May that we see enough steady progress to start some relaxing of the social distancing, but only some." 

Number of coronavirus deaths at VA hospitals hits 200

Rich Gardella

The number of deaths of veterans with COVID-19 in the VA hospital system hit 200 on Friday, with 26 new deaths reported since Thursday.

The 200 deaths occurred in 53 different facilities in 31 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Fifty occurred at VA facilities in New York City, and 29 were in New Orleans.

As of Friday, the VA reports it has administered over 32,160 COVID-19 tests nationwide and recorded 3,700 positive results.

The first VA patient death from COVID-19 occurred on March 14.

Doctors, nurses in Good Friday procession at Vatican

The Associated Press

The Via Crucis or Way of the Cross ceremony Friday in front of St. Peter's Basilica, empty of the faithful following Italy's ban on gatherings during the national lockdown.Alessandra Tarantino / AP

VATICAN CITY — Nurses and doctors wearing their white hospital coats joined a torch-lit Good Friday procession in an hauntingly almost empty St. Peter's Square, as Pope Francis presided over the ceremony which couldn't be held at Rome's Colosseum as tradition holds because of Italy's lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The participation of Vatican medical personnel provided a stark reminder of how the virus outbreak has infused almost all walks of life.

Francis watched from the steps outside St. Peter’s Basilica as the procession, which included a uniformed police officer, a Padua, Italy, prison chaplain and a former inmate, circled around the square’s central obelisk. The Way of the Cross procession evokes Jesus suffering on his way to be crucified.

Earlier, at a Good Friday service inside the basilica, the papal preacher said pandemic has alerted people to the danger of thinking themselves all-powerful. During that service, in a sign of humble obedience, Francis prostrated himself for a few minutes on the basilica floor.

The big-city rent bubble could be over, but many renters are still hurting

The coronavirus economy could finally put an end to overheated rents in cities like San Francisco, New York and Boston, but millions of out-of-work Americans might still not be able to afford them.

"Rents will fall," said David Shulman, a senior economist with the Anderson Forecast at UCLA. "But income is going to drop."

The months ahead could see many renters move in with family and friends as well as a continued rise in homelessness, said Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, a research associate at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

"With this pandemic, what is likely to happen is people will lose a significant portion of income, so we're likely to see more doubling up for housing," she said. "We're also going to see rent discounting and a lot of rent concessions."

Read the full story here.

Georgia bar owner strips walls of $3,714 to donate to staff

Sasha Urban

A bar in Tybee Island, Georgia, is donating thousands of dollars from its own walls to employees who are out of work because of the coronavirus. It took Jennifer Knox and a team of volunteers three-and-a-half days to strip the walls of her restaurant, The Sand Bar, of $3,714 in dollar bills.

She then distributed the cash to four bartenders and two musicians who were out of work. Knox said her pub, which has a small staff of six people, is known as “the smallest bar with the biggest heart.” 

“The people on this island rely on tourism and this is our season,” Knox said. “I just want to save the island.”

Since posting about her endeavor on, Knox said she has received more than $2,000 in additional donations, which she plans to continue distributing to her community.

Gage McKnight, a frequent patron and friend of The Sand Bar in Tybee Island, Georgia removes dollar bills from the walls to donate to staff and community members.
Gage McKnight, a frequent patron and friend of The Sand Bar in Tybee Island, Georgia removes dollar bills from the walls to donate to staff and community members.Jennifer Knox


Trump to announce 'opening our country' task force

President Donald Trump said Friday he's forming an "opening our country council" that will be formally announced next week. 

In a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Trump said the group would include "great business leaders, great doctors, we're going have a great group of people" from around the country. "I'd like to have some representative governors on the council," he added.

"We'll be announcing names on Tuesday," Trump said, adding the group would meet in teleconferences and he "believed" it would be bipartisan. "One thing I didn’t ask is are you Republican or Democrat, believe it or not," Trump said. 

National guidelines calling for social distancing and no large gatherings are scheduled to run through April 30. Trump has repeatedly said that he wants the country to get back to work as soon as possible, but said Friday he's open-minded to the possibility of extending the guidelines for a longer period of time. "The facts will determine what we do," Trump said, adding he would listen to advice from health professionals on the task force. 

Trump also said it was possible the country could in effect have to be shut down a second if there's another severe outbreak. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, suggested "a mosaic of testing" in different parts of the country could be used to keep the virus contained. 

"I'm going to have to make a decision and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision. But I would say without question it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make," Trump said. 

The Week in Pictures: Death toll mounts amid glimmers of hope

While the U.S. death toll topped 16,500 and total cases neared 500,000 on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country may be experiencing the “beginning” of the flattening of the curve. See more compelling images of how coronavirus is impacting people around the globe.

More than 2,200 coronavirus deaths in nursing homes

Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; Getty Images

Nearly 2,300 long-term care facilities in 35 states are battling coronavirus cases, according to data gathered by NBC News from state agencies. That's an explosive increase of 475 percent compared to a federal tally just 10 days ago. 

NBC News also found 2,246 deaths associated with long-term care facilities, based on responses from 24 states. 

The numbers are likely a significant undercount, given the limited access to testing and other constraints — and they show the need for more comprehensive data as nursing homes fight outbreaks, experts say. 

“It’s impossible to fight and contain this virus if we don’t know where it’s located,” said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. 

Read the full story here.

California governor says state plans to use smartphone contact tracing

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said his office spoke Friday with Apple about its tracing technology and is making it a part of the state’s planning for easing out of its statewide stay-at-home order.

“We look forward to continuing to build that capacity and partnership, and that is also part of the planning exercise as we see some light and we see a future where we’re not all permanently in this current state stay-at-home order," Newsom said.

The state's cooperation is important because Google and Apple said in their joint announcement Friday that the first phase of their work would rely on partnerships with government health authorities.

Race rises to the forefront for activists in the coronavirus pandemic

Nick Charles

When COVID-19 first started to spread across the United States three months ago, urban myths, fueled by bad information and social media, pushed the self-serving theory that African Americans were not being severely affected -- or were less likely to be infected -- by the coronavirus.

Fast forward to the present, as mortality rates skyrocket and the virus has taken hold with a vengeance -- particularly among African Americans.

“Race is in the place,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “From fake information that this disease would not affect African Americans to the numbers of deaths that we are seeing. We call on the CDC in each and every state to gather accurate information on every person who has been infected and those who have unfortunately passed.”

Read the full story here.

Mia Farrow's daughter hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus

2011 Marian Anderson Award Gala Honoring Mia Farrow
Mia Farrow with her daughter Quincy in Philadelphia on May 10, 2011.Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty Images file

Actress Mia Farrow revealed in a Twitter post Friday that her daughter, Quincy, was hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus. 

"A personal request. If you would be so kind, would you please send up a prayer for my daughter Quincy. Today she had no alternative but to go the hospital for help in her struggle against the coronavirus," she wrote. 

Quincy, 26, was adopted by Farrow in 1994 when she was a year old, according to People. She's married with a young daughter named Coretta.

Surgeon General defends call for African Americans to avoid alcohol, tobacco 'for your big momma'

Dan Good

Surgeon General Jerome Adams defended his call for African Americans and Latinos to "avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs ... if not for yourself, do it for your abuela, do it for your granddaddy, do it for your big momma, do it for your pop-pop."

Adams made the statements during Friday's White House coronavirus briefing. Challenged about his statements later by PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor, Adams said he's met with NAACP leaders and was speaking from personal experience and that his comments were "not meant to be offensive."

"We need targeted outreach to the African American community, and I used the language that is used in my family," Adams said. "I have a Puerto Rican brother-in-law. I call my granddaddy 'Granddaddy.' I have relatives who call their grandparents 'Big Momma.' So that was not meant to be offensive, that is the language that we use, and that I use, and we need to continue to target our outreach to those communities."

Fact check: Does recovery give you immunity to coronavirus?

“They have immunity if they’ve had the virus,” Trump said of people who have recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus while discussing the issue of serology tests in development to gauge the true spread of the virus.

The president is exaggerating a bit here. It’s not yet known what kind of immunity recovered patients will have to COVID-19. Some infections result in lifelong immunity (think chicken pox) while other infections will produce short-term immunity in recovered patients. 

Studies into the potential immunity effects of the novel coronavirus are ongoing

Surgeon General Jerome Adams shows his inhaler to highlight asthma, coronavirus risks for minorities

Dan Good

Surgeon General Jerome Adams highlighted the disproportionate asthma risks for black and minority Americans at Friday's White House coronavirus briefing by pulling his own inhaler out of his pocket.

"I've been carrying around an inhaler in my pocket for 40 years, out of fear of having a fatal asthma attack," said Adams, 45, who is African-American. "I hope that showing you this inhaler shows little kids all across country that they can grow up to be surgeon general one day.

"But I more immediately share it so everyone knows it doesn't matter if you look fit, if you look young, you are still at risk for spreading and dying from coronavirus."

Photo: Tiny face shields protect babies in Thailand

Associated Press

Image: Newborn baby wear face shield to prevent the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic
A Thai nurse puts face shields on newborn babies as a precaution against the coronavirus pandemic at Princ Hospital Suvarnabhumi in Samut Prakan on Wednesday in Thailand.Rungroj Yongrit / EPA

As coronavirus continues its spread, look through our Week in Pictures to see how it's impacting people around the globe.

Google and Apple will team up to track spread of coronavirus with smartphone tech

Apple and Google announced a partnership Friday to try to use technology to trace the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The two companies, usually fierce rivals, said they would work together in the coming weeks to build new tools that would enable people and health authorities to track the virus using Bluetooth proximity data from their smartphones.

“We hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life,” the two companies said in a rare joint statement.

Read the full story here.

Photos: Staying home, giving thanks

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

At 7 p.m. in New York, neighborhoods across the city share a moment of recognition during a challenging time. Residents open their windows to celebrate the hard work and selfless dedication of first responders at the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. See more pictures of grateful New Yorkers here.

OPINION: Coronavirus in the U.S. is a tale of two pandemics. New CDC numbers prove it.

Rev. Al Sharpton

Every day, we are inundated with information about the horrors of the coronavirus pandemic. We hear about the rising number of deaths, the increasing rate of infections, the mental anguish, the shortages of critical supplies in hospitals, the people struggling to pay bills and survive, the long lines at food banks and so much more. But lost in the coverage of this virus is one critical point that we simply cannot ignore: the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans and disenfranchised communities.

To be clear, I am not saying the pandemic is a conspiracy to kill or target Blacks, but it is illuminating the existing racial disparities in this country that reverberate in everything from health care to jobs, housing and more. We are watching a crisis within a crisis unfold before us, and our challenge is not just to expose it but also to ensure that when we rebuild and re-emerge, we take strategic steps to rectify it.

Read the full THINK piece here.

NYC's 911 calls drop, approach normal volume

Medical calls to New York City’s 911 system have started to wane although they remain higher than average, according to a fire department spokesperson.

In total, 4,584 medial calls were logged by the FDNY EMS system on Thursday, which is higher than the normal 4,000 medical calls but at last week's peak that number was at more than 6,500.

As NBC News first reported earlier this week, Emergency Medical Services, the part of the fire department that runs the city's paramedic response, has been responding to three or four times its average daily number of cardiac calls, with  each call almost twice as likely to involve a death.

The global death toll crosses 100K, according to Johns Hopkins

The global death toll from COVID-19 has crossed 100,000, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 100,376 people had died as of Friday afternoon ET.

Florida pastor arrested for defying stay-at-home orders to host online Easter service

The Florida pastor who wound up in handcuffs after he defied a local stay-at-home coronavirus order by holding a church service for hundreds of worshippers will be celebrating Easter with his flock online this Sunday.

Rodney Howard-Browne, who in previous statements railed at “tyrannical government” and threatened to sue the local sheriff for arresting him, made the announcement on The River at Tampa Bay Church’s Facebook page.

“Join us ONLINE ONLY at 9:30 AM on Sunday, April 12th, for our Resurrection Sunday service as we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ,” the announcement read.

Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage

Rationing protective gear means checking on coronavirus patients less often. This can be deadly. [ProPublica]

Did Ohio get it right? Early intervention, preparation for pandemic may pay off. [The Washington Post]

A Colorado ski community planned to test everyone for COVID-19. Here’s what happened. [Kaiser Health News]

NYPD now has 17 dead from COVID-19, but 600 out sick have returned to work

Two more members of the NYPD have died of COVID-19, a police officer and a traffic enforcement agent, bringing the hard-hit department's total number of coronavirus dead to 17. 

The total number of uniformed members out sick also hit a new high of 7,155 Thursday night — almost 20 percent of the 37,000-member force. 

But Friday morning Police Commissioner Dermot Shea was able to announce to NYPD employees via Twitter that 600 police officers who had been out sick with symptoms of COVID-19 during the course of the outbreak have now returned to work.

In total, 2,204 uniformed members of the force and 408 civilian members have tested positive for COVID-19 to date.

Turkey's death toll tops 1,000

Aziz Akyavas

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 1,006 people in Turkey, according to the country's health ministry.

Coronavirus testing at home: What you need to know

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a rush for private companies to offer ways for people to test themselves for the virus from their own homes.

But there's a lot of empty claims, hype and scams that consumers need to beware of — as well as crucial information that will help understand them how and why to avoid these fake tests.

The most important thing to know is that the FDA has not yet approved any at-home diagnostic tests or at-home collection kits for the coronavirus. There are also no at-home antibody tests currently approved by the FDA.

Read the fully story here.

Crew member on Zaandam cruise ship dies from the coronavirus

A crew member from the ill-fated Holland America Zaandam cruise ship has died from the coronavirus. A spokesperson for the company said that Wiwit Widarto died on Wednesday. 

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and fellow crewmembers," Holland America said in a statement. 

Widarto was hospitalized in Florida on April 2, the same day the Zaandam and its sister ship, the Rotterdam, docked in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The Zaandam spent two weeks at sea with passengers who contracted the virus before Florida gave permission for the ships to dock.

A total of nine passengers and crew were taken to local hospitals while 45 others who were sick remained on the vessel. Four people died on the Zaandam, with at least two of them testing positive for the coronavirus. 

We may need to wear masks for 'at least a year,' experts suggest

Kerry Breen

As the coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S., millions of Americans are asking when they'll see daily life return to normal again.

Public spaces are closed, a majority of the country is under stay-at-home orders, and handshakes seem like a thing of the past.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) changed their guidance on face masks. At first, people were advised not to wear masks in public; now, the CDC and other health experts say they can be a vital part of slowing the spread of the virus.

Experts say that even when daily life returns to normal, it's likely Americans and others around the world will still be wearing masks.

Read the full story on TODAY.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says testing will be key to reopening the state

New York's governor said testing for coronavirus infections will be key to reopening the economy and that he has spoken to the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut about working together toward that goal.

"I would like to operate as a coalition with New Jersey and Connecticut because we are the tristate area," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference on Friday.

He said all three states "would partner with the federal government" to get testing quickly up to scale "so that we can start to build that bridge to reopening the economy." 

New York "has been very aggressive on testing," with the state health department able to do 300 tests a day, the governor said. By next Friday, he said he expects that number to be 1,000 and the following week 2,000. He added that the state lab is now developing a fast, noninvasive antibody test for the virus.

The governor also announced that the number of deaths reported in New York in the last 24 hours was 777, bringing the total from coronavirus to 7,844.

Feds to probe dozens of deaths at nursing home for veterans

The Justice Department on Friday opened a federal investigation of a Massachusetts nursing home for veterans where 32 patients have died since late March.

Twenty-eight of the victims have tested positive for coronavirus.

Nearly half the residents of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home have tested positive for the virus, and almost 70 members of the staff have been infected, according to the state. The superintendent of the state-run facility was placed on leave, and 46 residents who tested negative were moved to a nearby hospital to keep them safe from the virus that raged through the nursing home. About 90 remain at the home.

Read the full story here.

Boris Johnson taking short walks as coronavirus recovery continues

Dan Good

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has taken "short walks, between periods of rest" as he continues his coronavirus recovery, a spokesperson said Friday.

“He has spoken to his doctors and thanks the whole clinical team for the incredible care he has received," the spokesperson added.

Johnson, 55, was moved out of intensive care Thursday after being admitted to St. Thomas' Hospital in London on Sunday.

Man hospitalized with COVID-19 learns he also has diabetes. Here's why that's dangerous.

Rico Ramirez spent 10 days in a San Francisco hospital's COVID-19 unit, hooked up to oxygen to help him breathe, isolated from family and friends.

"I thought I was going to die alone," Ramirez told NBC affiliate KNTV. "I thought every day I was in there that I was going to die in a room by myself."

But coronavirus wasn't the only illness he learned about when he was hospitalized; he also learned he has Type 2 diabetes, putting him at greater risk for complications from the virus.

Read the full story here.

Amtrak gets $1 billion in federal assistance; ridership down 90 percent

Dan Good

Amtrak is receiving more than $1 billion in federal assistance to help offset ridership declines due to coronavirus, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced.

Ridership is down more than 90 percent in recent weeks. The funding will come through the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law in late March.

Video shows giant trench getting built on NYC's Hart Island to bury coronavirus victims

Associated Press

Elisha Fieldstadt and Associated Press

New drone video shows a giant trench getting dug at New York City's public cemetery on Hart Island to help handle the increased influx of unclaimed bodies due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The medical examiner's office will now only keep bodies for 14 days before they are sent to be buried on Hart Island in the Bronx.

As the death toll mounts in New York, the city's public cemetery has started receiving about 24 bodies a day, five days a week. It used to only see about 25 bodies a week, mostly of people whose families can't afford a funeral, or who go unclaimed by relatives.

West Virginia reports 536 confirmed coronavirus cases, five deaths

Dan Good

More than 500 people in West Virginia have tested positive for COVID-19, the state Department of Health and Human Resources said.

West Virginia has 536 positive cases, 14,001 negatives and five deaths. Nearly half of the confirmed cases are located in three counties: Berkeley (83 confirmed cases), Monongalia (76), and Kanawha (74).

Photos: Portrait of a California neighborhood under lockdown

Todd Bigelow / Contact Press Images

The nation’s most populous state is serving as a laboratory for how Americans may be asked to live in the months ahead. See more compelling images from photojournalist Todd Bigelow's look at the confined existence of residents of West Hills, a Los Angeles suburb. 

Nurses union calls for help with housing, child care amid coronavirus fight

Dan Good

The helpers need help, too. The country's largest union of registered nurses is calling on governors of 17 states, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and hospital employers to provide housing, child care and workers' compensation in addition to protective equipment to nurses caring for coronavirus patients.

The union, National Nurses United, sent letters to governors of Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and West Virginia.

“NNU has heard too many reports of nurses sleeping in their cars or garages to protect their families from potential infection, and far too many reports of nurses being told to use their sick or vacation time to cover precautionary leave after being exposed,” NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said in a statement. “This is outrageous and morally wrong, and we call on the states and hospitals to immediately address our demands for better protections.”

Ohio Dept. of Health offers a stark metaphor for the importance of social distancing

Connecticut senator warns on shortage of tests, protective equipment

Irish sheep farmer uses large pair of shears for lockdown haircut

While many people have resorted to home haircuts due to the closure of barbers and salons during the COVID-19 pandemic, 62-year-old Irish sheep farmer and sheepdog trainer Donie Anderson took things a step further, using a large pair of shears to trim his own hair in a video that has been viewed nearly 2 million times on Facebook.

From his home in the Dublin Mountains where he is lambing 130 ewes, Anderson told NBC News that he normally shears his hair at Christmas, but worries over catching a cold meant that he had been waiting for the first bout of good weather to get a trim. 

While the shears look foreboding, Anderson’s experience using them on his sheep means he is able to use them to great effect. “If you clipped your ear with the shears it’d need stitching with needle and thread”, he said, “but I’ve been shearing sheep for 50 years so I’m able to do it properly”. 

Pandemic disproportionately affecting women and girls, UN says

Isobel van Hagen

The coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately affecting women and girls globally, the United Nations said in a policy brief released Thursday.

While the pandemic reaches everyone, "it affects different groups of people differently, deepening existing inequalities. Early data indicates that the mortality rates from COVID-19 may be higher for men. But the pandemic is having devastating social and economic consequences for women and girls,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a video released along with the brief. 

The economic toll will hurt women globally as they tend to earn less, hold less secure jobs and are more likely to be employed in the informal sector. Issues surrounding women’s healthcare, unpaid domestic labor and gender-based violence are also currently exacerbated, it said. 

As well as working to contain the outbreak, Guterres urged governments to also focus on the gender divide: “That starts with women as leaders, with equal representation and decision-making power. Measures to protect and stimulate the economy — from cash transfers to credits and loans — must be targeted at women,” he said.

NBC News

Prisoners in Ecuador set to manufacture coffins amid virus shortage


Hundreds of prisoners in Ecuador will begin making wooden coffins to help cover a shortage emerging due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The health crisis has prompted a shortage of coffins in Guayaquil, one of the worst hit regions, prompting some families to bury their relatives in cardboard boxes donated to cemeteries by private companies.

"The Environment Ministry is donating seized wood, which would have gone toward other purposes for a noble cause: give a wooden coffin to families who have lost a loved one," Environment Minister Juan DeHowitt said in a statement.

Prisoners in Ambato city plan to start delivering the coffins next week.

Walmart sold enough toilet paper in 5 days for every American to have one roll, CEO says

Walmart sold enough toilet paper in five days for every American to have their own roll, a statistic cited by the retail giant's CEO in saying that shoppers should buy only what they need for a week instead of stocking up. 

As to what else people are buying, CEO Doug McMillon said on TODAY on Friday that initially food was flying off the shelves during the pandemic. Then entertainment and educational products such as puzzles and games became popular. Now, grooming products like hair color and beard trimmers are in high demand. 

Walmart's business has increased during the crisis, leading to the hiring of more than 100,000 new workers since March 19.

All employees have masks and gloves and starting Friday, their temperatures were being taken before they began their shifts. 

Obama to U.S. mayors: 'Speak the truth. Speak it clearly.'

Isobel van Hagen

Former President Barack Obama addressed a group of mayors on how to best deal with the outbreak in an online meeting on Thursday, saying the “biggest mistake any us can make in these situations is to misinform.”

"Speak the truth. Speak it clearly. Speak it with compassion. Speak it with empathy for what folks are going through," Obama said to mayors of more than 300 cities across America, according to a press release on the virtual meeting organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Obama also urged the politicians to surround themselves with a strong team of reliable experts and to not be afraid to ask questions. This was the fourth virtual meeting Bloomberg's group has held with mayors. Two of the previous meetings have featured speeches by former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Nigeria reports 14 new cases of coronavirus

Nigeria has reported 14 new cases of coronavirus, the majority in the economic center of Lagos, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

The West African nation now has 288 confirmed cases and 7 deaths as of Thursday evening, it said. 

Tokyo Olympics may not happen even in 2021

The Associated Press

TOKYO — As the coronavirus spreads in Japan, the chief executive of the Tokyo Games said Friday he can’t guarantee the postponed Olympics will be staged next year — even with a 16-month delay.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued an emergency declaration this week to battle the virus, putting the country under restrictions after it seemed it had avoided the spread.

“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said, speaking through an interpreter at a news conference conducted remotely. ”We’re certainly are not in a position to give you a clear answer.”

The Olympics were postponed last month with a new opening set for July 23, 2021, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 24.

U.S. virus economy could burst big-city rent bubble

The gridlocked U.S. coronavirus economy could upend housing from coast to coast, bursting national apartment rents that have risen by 150 percent over the last decade, experts say.

Yet the situation will likely do little to alleviate the housing crisis, as the more than 16 million Americans who filed for unemployment insurance in the last three weeks will still need roofs over their heads, say economists and affordable housing advocates.

More than half of the 600 concerned landlords on a conference call Wednesday with the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles said they have tenants who haven't fully paid their April rent, according to Executive Director Daniel Yukelson.

Read the full story here.

Image: Los Angeles rent
A sign advertising a house for rent in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 2015.Richard Vogel / AP file

From Rome to Jerusalem, Christians mark Good Friday in isolation

Associated Press

Christians around the world are commemorating Easter without the solemn church services or emotional processions of past years, marking Good Friday in a world locked down by the coronavirus pandemic.

A small group of clerics held a closed-door service in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem — built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the dead. 

In Rome, the torch-lit Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum is usually a highlight of Holy Week, drawing large crowds of pilgrims and tourists. It’s been cancelled this year, along with all other public gatherings in Italy — which is battling one of the worst outbreaks. Pope Francis will lead a Good Friday ceremony to an empty St. Peter’s Square on Friday evening.

Cats that guard Russia's Hermitage museum doing well in virus lockdown

Matthew Bodner

St. Petersburg’s Hermitage museum is known world over for its rich collection of artwork, but it is also known for its furry, friendly guard cats.

The museum’s YouTube channel featured a 15-minute “hang out” with the cats in their basement hideout on Thursday, assuring viewers that all was well, amid a nation-wide coronavirus home isolation order.

“The Hermitage cats convey their greetings and meow-meow!” the museum wrote in the video description. “Everything is fine with them. They are looked after, petted, fed, and sometimes even given all kinds of treats!”

The cats have a press secretary and assistant who usually cares for them. But, with most employees working from home, the job has been left to the Museum Security Service, who can be seen in the video. It ends with a call to those interested in adopting a feline friend to contact the museum.

Spain extends state of emergency for second time

Hernan Muñoz Ratto

Isobel van Hagen

Hernan Muñoz Ratto and Isobel van Hagen

Spanish lawmakers voted Thursday evening to extend state of emergency measures until April 26, as the country battles the coronavirus outbreak.

The measures prolong the state of emergency for a second time in Spain, which has the world’s second-highest coronavirus death toll, and also included economic and labor decrees to help alleviate the crisis.

The outbreak has led to a near-collapse of Spain's health system as the country reported more than 15,000 deaths  as of Friday, according to an NBC News tally. The daily rate of infection, however, has started to slow

As Spanish citizens will now be under compulsory lockdown for a total of six weeks, the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned that he may need to ask for a third extension to prolong measures until May.

NBC News

Tokyo imposes further social restrictions in face of virus

Arata Yamamoto

Tokyo set in place further restrictions on Friday, as part of its battle to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Theaters, sports facilities and places of assembly will be closed, while bars and restaurants will have limited opening times, governor Yuriko Koike told a press conference. The measures are part of the country's ongoing month-long state of emergency announced April 7.

"From our point of view, this is a matter of life and death for Tokyoites," said Koike. "We’ve been receiving reports on a daily basis that the medical capacity of the city is getting stretched thin." 

Tokyo's lockdown is not compulsory but rather requests the public to refrain from leaving their homes.

Australia's crackdown on Easter travel amid coronavirus


Australia will deploy helicopters, set up police checkpoints and hand out hefty fines to deter people from breaking travel bans during the Easter weekend, officials warned Friday, even as the spread of coronavirus slows across the country.

With places of worship closed, bans on public gatherings and non-essential travel limited to combat the spread of the virus, Australians have been told to stay home during the Easter public holidays.

"Police will take action," New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys told reporters, adding that police had issued almost 50 new fines for breaches of public health orders in the previous 24 hours. Police have also said they will block roads and use number plate recognition technology to catch those infringing the bans.

Celebrities say 'thank you' to Britain's healthcare workers

U.S. singer Billie Eilish, actor Hugh Grant and author Stephen Fry were among the celebrities who took part in a video thanking Britain's National Health Service and staff, Thursday evening.

The video is part of what is becoming a weekly ritual across Britain that sees people standing on door steps and hanging out of windows to cheer and applaud health care workers, as they continue to manage the coronavirus outbreak.

Yemen confirms first coronavirus case

Charlene Gubash

Associated Press

Charlene Gubash and Associated Press

Yemen has recorded its first confirmed case of coronavirus on Friday, the country's supreme national emergency committee tweeted

The patient is being treated and is in a stable condition in the ⁧‫⁩ Hadhramaut governorate, the national emergency committee for the disease said. The case in the war-torn country has stoked fears that an outbreak could devastate an already crippled health care system. 

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels declared a cease-fire this week on humanitarian grounds to prevent the spread of the pandemic — possibly paving the way to a peace agreement.

Associated Press

A nun prays in front of the closed door of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
A nun prays in front of the closed door of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, during a coronavirus social lockdown on Thursday.Ariel Schalit / AP

Trump allies reportedly think briefings hurt more than help

More men than women are testing positive

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Men are not getting tested as much for the coronavirus as women.

Yet, when men do get tested, a higher percentage test positive for the virus.

Dr. Deborah Birx used the numbers to remind men “about the importance of health care” during a briefing Thursday at the White House.

So far, Birx says, 56 percent of the people tested for COVID-19 are female, and 16 percent of them tested positive for the virus.

But for men, 23 percent tested positive.

Birx made a plea for men experiencing symptoms that could be a result of the virus to get tested, saying “we appreciate you engaging in that.”

Birx serves as the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator.

Oakland, California, to close 74 miles of city streets to cars, inviting walkers, runners and cyclists instead

OAKLAND, Calif.— This Bay Area city will join a growing list of others around the country that are closing streets to cars in favor of increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic during the COVID-19 crisis, an official said Thursday.

“We’ll announce an emergency measure that allows Oakland residents more space to walk, bike and run safely through their neighborhoods, and we’re calling it the Oakland Slow Streets” Alexandria McBride, the city’s chief resilience officer, told a town hall meeting held via Zoom video conference.

McBride said Oakland will open up 74 miles of car-free streets and will begin rolling out the program Saturday.

Other cities, including St. Paul, Minnesota, and Philadelphia, have taken similar measures, and several other U.S. cities are discussing the possibility. By one count, Oakland’s road closure is the largest by far of any American city during the pandemic.

HHS reverses course on funding for local coronavirus testing sites


Dartunorro Clark

Geoff Bennett

Dartunorro Clark, Geoff Bennett and Peter Alexander

The Department of Health and Human Services late Thursday reversed its decision to end federal support on Friday for community-based coronavirus testing sites around the country.

Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that states will now be able to choose whether they want to transition to managing the testing programs themselves or continue with federal assistance.

"In this instance, we wanted to at least give them the option to take control of that. But, we will continue to resource them with personnel, supplies, and any other support they need going forward,” he said at the daily White House coronavirus briefing. 

The availability of widespread testing remains scarce in the U.S., and public health officials have called it a failure of the administration's coronavirus response.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services told NBC News in a statement Thursday that the federal government “will continue working closely with states, and their respective FEMA regions, to determine whether sites want to continue as they are now, with direct federal supervision and manpower, or transition to full state control.”