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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Georgia's GOP governor admits he just learned asymptomatic people can spread coronavirus

Brian Kemp, the Republican governor of Georgia, admitted on Wednesday that he had only just learned that asymptomatic individuals can still spread coronavirus — even though health experts had warned about the possibility as early as January.

Kemp, in a press conference on Wednesday said the fact that he’d just learned that information contributed to him issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order in Georgia.

Kemp, said that he had, in just the last 24 hours, learned “that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”

“This is a game-changer for us,” he added.

Read more here.

NYC emergency medical services to stop taking unresponsive cardiac patients to hospitals

Cardiac arrest patients are no longer to be transported to hospitals if they do not have a pulse, according to a new order issued by the governing body of New York City's emergency medical services, Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York.

Typically, if someone has had cardiac arrest - such as a heart attack or severe trauma - EMS units will try and take that person to the hospital, even if there's no blood flow, while working to bring their pulse back en route.

Emergency officials told NBC News that the reasoning behind the order is it will prevent extra patients going to hospitals if those patients really have no hope of being saved. It will also decrease the amount of time emergency medical technicians are out on a call where there is no hope for saving someone. The body will be taken care of with respect, officials said.

EMTs will not initiate resuscitation for patients with obvious signs of death or a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. For patients EMTs do attempt to resuscitate, if after 20 minutes of CPR, the defibrillator or the heart monitor shows a "no shock indicated" or a non-shockable rhythm and there is no blood circulation, CPR is to be terminated.

Putin extends stay-at-home guidance until the end of April

In an address to the nation Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that a current nationwide work from home guidance has been extended until the end of April, warning that the worst of the coronavirus epidemic has yet to come.

Putin announced the guidance last Wednesday, describing it as a week-long non-working holiday in which he urged Russians to stay at home. Later, lower-level officials clarified it was a work-from-home order.

The week at home, which saw most everything save for grocery stores and pharmacies closed nationwide, bought Russia valuable time, Putin said, “but we still need to be aware that the threat — the peak of this epidemic — is not yet over.”

“That is why I have taken the decision to extend the non-working period until the end of the month, April 30,” Putin said. “This will be paid leave.”

Putin, however, left the specifics up to regional leadership, claiming that Russia is too large for a blanket policy. He also pointed out that some regions have larger outbreaks, requiring harsher measures.

Texas city says it may fine, jail residents who do not cover their face

A new emergency law in Laredo, Texas, that went into effect Tuesday morning imposes a criminal penalty on residents who do not shelter in place or wear a face covering of some kind as a way to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Police will be enforcing this new law with a fine up to $1,000 or jail time of up to 180 days, according to an announcement from city officials.

Laredo has said there are some exceptions to when face coverings are no longer required, such as “engaging in a permissible outside physical activity" and riding in a personal vehicle, among other instances.

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.