Global cases surpass 1 million, 6.6 million unemployment claims filed

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

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

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

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

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

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Michigan closes its school buildings for the rest of the academic year

Michigan's governor has ordered schools closed for the remainder of the school year, with remote lessons to continue.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the order Thursday "for the sake of our students, their families, and the more than 100,000 teachers and staff in our state," she said in a statement.

All of the state's K-12 schools will be closed, unless restrictions are lifted, although school employees will be able to use the buildings for giving remote instruction while practicing social distancing.

“My number one priority right now is protecting Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19," Whitmer said in the statement. “As a parent, I understand the challenge closing schools creates for parents and guardians across the state, which is why we are setting guidelines for schools to continue remote learning and ensuring parents have resources to continue their children’s education from the safety of their homes."

Health care workers running short of drugs for COVID-19 patients turn to Twitter

Health care workers who say they are running low on the drugs they need to keep coronavirus patients sedated while they are on ventilators are sharing their stories on Twitter.

Using the hashtag #WeNeedMeds, doctors and nurses say they are running out of fentanyl, versed, propofol and paralytic drugs, which are used to sedate COVID-19 patients so they can be intubated to help them breathe. A combination or cocktail of the drugs is often used to induce a deep sleep and manage pain.

Thailand issues nationwide curfew to contain outbreak

A woman eats her lunch at home in front of a litter of cats in Bangkok on Wednesday, as the government recommended that people stay home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.Mladen Anotonov / AFP - Getty Images

Thailand will introduce a six-hour curfew in a bid to control the virus outbreak until further notice, authorities said Thursday. The authorities warned that anyone who breached the order faced a two-year jail term and up to a $1,200 fine.

The curfew bans everyone in the country leaving their homes from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. local time starting on Friday, although essential staff, such as medical workers, are exempt. Nearly half of Thailand’s 1,875 reported cases are in the country's busy capital of Bangkok, according to Reuters. Fifteen people had died in the country as of Thursday.

Photo: Raising awareness about social distancing in India

A police officer wears a coronavirus-themed outfit as he walks through a market in Chennai on Thursday.Arun Sankar / AFP - Getty Images

Schumer calls on Trump to appoint 'military man' to oversee coronavirus supply distribution

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is calling on President Donald Trump to appoint a czar with a military background to oversee the dissemination of critically needed materials to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

“We need him to put in charge a czar of the whole production and distribution of these materials under the DPA,” Schumer said, referring to the Defense Production Act, in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Schumer said the person should be a “military man” because the military knows how to collect and distribute materials quickly. He said he would be sending a letter to Trump to formally ask him to take that step.

Read the full story here.

FedEx drivers say they're not getting coronavirus protections other delivery workers receive

The drivers who handle much of FedEx’s delivery business say they are not getting the coronavirus protections and additional sick leave other U.S. delivery workers have been given, even as they risk exposure working long hours delivering high volumes of packages to millions of Americans stuck at home.

While many major U.S. companies, including UPS, Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service, have changed sick leave policies for essential employees like delivery workers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, drivers for FedEx’s Ground division say the company has not provided cleaning and sanitizing supplies or offered additional health benefits like sick leave, even though other FedEx employees have received some.

Read the full story here.

Greece quarantines camp after migrants test positive

Migrants in the Ritsona camp after authorities found 20 coronavirus cases and placed the camp under quarantine on Thursday.Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters

Greece has quarantined a migrant camp after 20 asylum seekers tested positive for coronavirus, the migration ministry said on Thursday — its first such facility to be hit since the outbreak of the disease.

Tests were conducted after a 19-year-old female migrant living in the camp in central Greece was found infected after giving birth at an Athens hospital last week. She was the first recorded case among thousands of asylum seekers living in overcrowded camps across Greece.

None of the confirmed cases showed any symptoms, the ministry said, adding that it was continuing its tests.

The country — often seen as the gateway to Europe for people fleeing conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and beyond — has reported 1,415 cases so far, and 50 deaths.

Pentagon plans to provide 100K body bags to FEMA

The Department of Defense plans to provide 100,000 body bags to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the coronavirus death toll climbs, the Pentagon said Thursday in a statement.

"The Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency have a longstanding arrangement with FEMA to procure key commodities from DLA's industrial partners during crisis response operations," the Pentagon said.

"DLA is currently responding to FEMA's prudent planning efforts for 100,000 pouches to address mortuary contingencies on behalf of state health agencies," the Pentagon added.

China county sets new lockdown guidelines to avoid second wave outbreak

Officials in a central county in China announced strict new guidelines Thursday after several coronavirus cases were reported in the area and virtually all outbound movement was banned on Wednesday.

Due to the potential threat of a second wave outbreak in China, all villages in the Jia county will have only one exit and people trying to leave will have to show entry and exit permits, get their temperature checked and wear masks, according to the new measures.

Strict home quarantine measures will be also put in place. When necessary, “paper seals could be put on doors” for those that need to be monitored, they said. Community workers will also make sure families under quarantine have enough daily supplies delivered to their doorstep.

China, where the outbreak first emerged in December, has been reporting dwindling new infections recently. Of its more than 82,000 confirmed cases, it has reported more than 70,000 patients had recovered as of Thursday.

Fauci on threats to his safety: 'I've chosen this life'

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that he remains focused on his work fighting the coronavirus pandemic despite reports of threats to his personal safety.

In an interview on NBC's "TODAY" show, host Savannah Guthrie asked the nation's top infectious disease expert whether he feels personally threatened or whether he and his family feel safe, a reference to reports that he has received a protection from the federal government.

“I've chosen this life. I mean I know what it is," Fauci said. "There are things about it that are sometimes disturbing. But you just focus on the job you have to do, and just put all that stuff aside and try as best as possible not to pay attention to it."

Read the full story here.