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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Photo: The scene in Spain

Coffins of coronavirus victims are stored in an underground parking lot at the Collserola funeral home in Barcelona on Thursday.Felipe Dana / AP

Many Americans may have to wait months for coronavirus relief checks

The first Americans to get relief payments from the government under the coronavirus legislation won’t see the money until at least the week of April 13, according to new estimates from the Trump administration provided to House Democrats and outlined in a memo circulated by the House Ways and Means Committee this week.

According to the memo, many people who don’t have direct deposit information on file with the IRS might have to wait months to get the money by paper checks.

The office will prioritize checks for the lowest-income Americans first.

Read more here.

15 people charged in New Jersey after funeral where dozens gathered

Fifteen people were charged Wednesday after a funeral in New Jersey where as many as 70 people gathered and refused to disperse, authorities said. A 100-year-old was among those charged.

Police in Lakewood Township, near the Jersey Shore, were called to a residence at approximately 6:30 p.m. on a report of a large gathering, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and police Chief Gregory Meyer said in a joint statement.

Officers found 60 to 70 people gathered for a funeral, in violation of Gov. Phil Murphy's stay-at-home order banning social gatherings.

As officers tried to disperse the crowd, people became unruly and argumentative, requiring additional officers to respond, authorities said.

Read the full story here

Economic crisis jolts unemployment offices into the coronavirus front lines

Almost 10 million Americans are now part of the single largest mass-unemployment event ever recorded in the U.S. 

Representatives for state unemployment offices across the country say the shock of mass layoffs has hit their workers almost as hard as the people calling after losing their jobs — and they describe the wrenching emotional toll the work is taking on call center staff, many of whom are still required to come into the office.

“The difference between the job loss of the 2008 recession and where we are now is we had more time to prepare then,” said Cher Haavind, the deputy executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “From a staff perspective, we just haven’t had time to really readjust in terms of both resources and support to staff, which includes this new role of our employees acting as mental health counselors."

Read the full story here.

British man runs backyard marathon

James Campbell runs a charity marathon to raise funds for the NHS in his garden on Wednesday.Jacob King / PA via AP

Being stuck at home didn't stop a British man from running an outdoor marathon.

James Campbell, a former professional javelin thrower, spent his 32nd birthday on Wednesday doing 20-foot shuttles from one end of his small backyard to the other after promising to run a marathon if one of his Twitter messages received 10,000 retweets.

By the time Campbell completed the marathon in just over five hours, he had raised more than 18,000 pounds ($22,000) for Britain’s National Health Service to help battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The effort — labeled the #6metregardenmarathon — was live-streamed, with former England soccer great Geoff Hurst among the viewers. Neighbors poked their heads over the backyard fence to give Campbell encouragement.

Campbell calculated he would have to traverse his yard at least 7,000 times to reach 26.2 miles.Jacob King / PA via AP

'Top Gun' and 'A Quiet Place Part II' get new release dates

Hollywood's summer movie season is all but finished. “Top Gun Maverick” became the latest would-be blockbuster to be rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Paramount Pictures on Thursday announced that sequel to the 1986 original will now open Dec. 23 instead of June 24. Paramount also said Thursday that “A Quiet Place Part II,” which had been scheduled to hit theaters in March, will now be released Sept. 4.

“The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run” will aim for July 31 instead of May 22. And the sci-fi war film “The Tomorrow War,” with Chris Pratt, is now unscheduled instead of releasing on Christmas.

Coronavirus deaths top 5,000 in the U.S.

Medical personnel remove a body from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center to refrigerated containers parked outside, April 2, 2020 in Brooklyn, N.Y.Mary Altaffer / AP

More than 5,000 people in the United States have died from the coronavirus. 

As of Thursday afternoon, the total number of fatalities is 5,557, with New York state having the highest number of confirmed deaths with at least 2,370. New Jersey is the second highest with 537 deaths. The total number of confirmed cases across the U.S. is now at 232,837.

Globally, more than 50,000 people have died from COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

FDA reduces restrictions on gay blood donors amid 'urgent need'

Amid what it’s calling an “urgent need for blood,” the Food and Drug Administration revised its blood donor guidelines on Thursday, significantly easing the restrictions on men who have sex with men.

The new guidelines reduce the donation deferral period for sexually active gay and bisexual men from 12 months to three, meaning these otherwise healthy men will now have to abstain from same-sex sexual activity for 90 days before they are eligible to donate blood.

Read the full story here.

Feds distribute thousands of surgical masks, gloves seized by FBI

The federal government said Thursday that it is distributing tens of thousands of masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment to medical personnel in New York and New Jersey after seizing the materials earlier this week.

The Justice Department said FBI agents discovered the stash during an operation by its Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force. Among the items were 192,000 N-95 masks, 130,000 surgical masks, 598,000 medical grade gloves, as well as surgical gowns, hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant.

Read the full story here.

Unemployed Americans face prospect of losing health benefits

Many Americans laid off in recent weeks face a particularly difficult challenge in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak — losing their employer-provided health insurance.

About 3.5 million workers will lose their coverage because of layoffs, according to an estimate from the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank.

Almost 10 million Americans have filed for initial unemployment claims in just the past two weeks, according to recent data released by the Department of Labor. 

"Because the United States is unique among rich countries in tying health insurance benefits to employment — roughly half of all U.S. workers receive health insurance through their own employer’s provided coverage — many of the newly unemployed will suddenly face prohibitively costly insurance options," wrote Ben Zipperer and Josh Bivens of the institute.

Hong Kong to shutter bars on Friday

A customer sits at a bar on March 29, 2020 in Hong Kong, China.Anthony Kwan / Getty Images

Hong Kong's bars will shut down in the wake of renewed cases of COVID-19 traced to lounges in the former British colony, authorities ordered on Thursday.

The two-week-long shutdown starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, covering any establishment that is "exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of intoxicating liquors," according to a government statement. There have been 62 recently confirmed COVID-19 cases traced back to saloons, officials said.