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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New York City mayor advises residents to cover faces when in public

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio advised residents to wear some form of protective covering over their face when they go outside.

"It does not have to be a professional surgical mask," de Blasio said. "In fact we do not want you to use the kind of masks that our first responders need, that our healthcare workers need, don't use those. Leave those alone."

As healthcare workers and other first responders struggle to get personal protective equipment, many Americans have begun creating their own handmade masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that wearing a mask is unnecessary for healthy individuals, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said federal health officials are actively discussing changing that guidance. 

"It doesn’t need to be a classical mask. But something that would have someone prevent them from infecting others," Fauci said to NBC News' Savannah Guthrie on Tuesday night. "This is actively being looked at."

Global coronavirus cases surpass 1 million

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 1 million, with more than 51,000 deaths, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,002,159 cases and 51,485 deaths due to coronavirus were reported globally.

There were more than 236,000 cases and at least 5,648 deaths in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

Tennessee issues stay-at-home order

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced a stay-at-home order Thursday after traffic patterns showed residents were beginning to travel more despite advice from public health officials. 

Lee said that while "good faith efforts" were made to follow social distancing guidelines, an uptick in traffic beginning Monday indicated many were beginning to disregard the coronavirus precautions . 

“The month of April stands to be an extremely tough time for our state as we face the potential for a surge in COVID-19 cases,” said Lee. “Every Tennessean must take this seriously, remain at home and ensure we save lives.”

The measure follows that of several other states in requiring residents to stay in their homes unless they must engage in an essential activity, such as grocery shopping or utilizing healthcare services.

Biden slams McConnell, calls on Congress to pass fourth coronavirus stimulus package

Joe Biden on Thursday called on Congress to immediately begin working on the fourth phase of stimulus legislation for Americans struggling under the financial stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We need another plan before this is over," Biden said on a virtual press briefing. "We can’t wait … More people are going to need the help."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calf., has also called for a fourth package, while Senate Majority Leader, R-Ky., has indicated he doesn’t support such an action at the moment — a position Biden hammered him on.

“The majority leader of the Senate was wrong and slow the first time around. And he’s wrong and slow this time around,” Biden said.

A new app asks people to submit crucial data — how they feel each day

A new app launched Thursday by a group of academics, researchers and volunteer engineers from Pinterest asks Americans to hand over crucial data to create a clearer picture of the spread of the coronavirus.

The app, called "How We Feel," asks people to take 30 seconds each day to submit how they're feeling — healthy or not — along with their age and ZIP code. No other information is requested. The app is available for download in the iOS and Google Play stores.

Technologists are working on a variety of ways to collect data via smartphones, though passive measures have alarmed privacy advocates

"Each health check-in may feel like a small act, but together they’ll make a huge difference for researchers like myself who are trying to understand this outbreak and develop intervention measures to control it,” said Xihong Lin, a professor of biostatistics at Harvard University. “The data gives us a bird's eye view of COVID-19 that helps us predict regions on the brink of an outbreak."

Detroit, still clawing back from financial crisis, reels as coronavirus claims lives

Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; AFP - Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a painful toll on Detroit, where the city’s history of financial struggle and recovery makes the crisis feel more personal — and its consequences more severe.

Detroit had recorded 97 deaths as of Thursday, including a state representative, a police homicide chief and a legendary high school basketball coach. 

“It seems like one after another after another, and it’s just hitting close to home,” said Luther Keith, a former columnist and editor for the Detroit News who is now the executive director of ARISE Detroit!, a coalition of 400 churches, block clubs and community groups. “It seems like everybody knows somebody who died.”

Read the full story here. 

CORRECTION (April 2, 2020, 6:09 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this post stated that a funeral director, O’Neil D. Swanson, died of the coronavirus. His cause of death has not been reported. 

Trump uses Defense Production Act to streamline ventilator supply chain for manufacturers

President Donald Trump said he was invoking the Defense Production Act on Thursday to streamline the supply chain for manufacturers can speed up production as the number of coronavirus cases in the nation rises. 

Trump's memo directs Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to help remove supply chain "obstacles" for domestic manufacturers. Those companies include General Electric, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed, Royal Philips and Vyaire Medical.

This order is unlike the one Trump issued to General Motors last week in which he required the company to make ventilators after negotiations fell apart. Rather, this directive facilitates the supply of materials to these companies. Trump has said within the next 100 days, the administration will oversee the production of 100,000 additional ventilators. 

Instacart to distribute safety kits to shoppers

Instacart plans to distribute a free safety kit containing a face mask, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to some of its workers in an effort to protect them from the coronavirus, the company announced Thursday.

The grocery delivery app will offer the kits for free starting next week to its 200,000 “full-service shoppers” — gig workers who pick all of the products from the store and then drive them to the customer. They will be able to order the kits online, and thousands of units will be made available each day, the company said. 

Instacart’s 12,000 “in-store shoppers" — workers who only select products from the store but don’t drive to the customer — will only be offered masks, which can be collected from some of the stores. 

The move comes after some Instacart shoppers had pushed for a strike over work conditions during the pandemic.