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.
- Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments.
- MAPS: Where cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and worldwide.
- Stay-at-home orders across the country: What each state is doing — or not doing — amid widespread coronavirus lockdowns.
Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.
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Roy Moore to advise Louisiana pastor arrested for violating coronavirus orders
Conservative lightning rod Roy Moore, the former chief justice of Alabama's high court, took to the pulpit on Thursday to back a Louisiana church defying state orders against mass gatherings.
Moore appeared at Life Tabernacle Church to lend his support and advice to pastor Tony Spell, who faces misdemeanor charges for his continued flouting of state bans on large gatherings, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"There is no more clear violation of the First Amendment than this prohibition to assemble in a church," said Moore.
New York City burials delayed due to surging coronavirus deaths
The surge in coronavirus-related deaths in New York City is overwhelming funeral homes, leading to delays in burials lasting upwards of one week.
Numerous calls to funeral home and cemetery directors painted a growing crisis in the “aftercare industry.” Two directors said some hospitals have limited hours for pick up of the deceased, slowing the funeral homes' ability to retrieve the dead. In other cases, hospitals are delayed in filing the needed paperwork to authorize a body’s release for burial, the directors said.
Private jet industry touts new coronavirus tax break
The private jet industry got a big tax break in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by President Trump on March 27. Now it's using the tax break as a marketing pitch.
“Great news!” said a marketing email sent Thursday from Paramount Business Jets based in Leesburg Virginia. “The new CARES Act, recently signed by the President, waives all Federal Excise Tax (7.5% FET) on all domestic trips, as well as the segment fees associated with those flights.”
The company boasts a “portfolio” of 4,000 “luxurious” jets, and its email adds that not only is private jet travel now cheaper, it’s also “a much safer way of flying.”
Fact check: Biden claims Trump is holding up stimulus checks
On a livestream today, Joe Biden suggested that coronavirus checks were being held up by the president.
“No American should have to wait a single minute so Donald Trump can put his signature on a physical check,” the front-runner for the Democratic nomination said on Thursday. “It isn’t about him, it’s about families that need the cash now.”
Biden is possibly referring to a recent Wall Street Journal report from late last week. The paper reported that according to an administration official, the president had told people he wanted his signature to appear on the direct payment checks. Though that would be unusual, there's no evidence that’s actually holding up payments.
Trump administration officials have said the money will go out via direct deposit and physical check within weeks, but logistical and technological issues are expected to delay many of the payments. "if we have your information, you’ll get it within two weeks," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Thursday during the White House briefing.
Disney announces employee furloughs
The Walt Disney Company will start to furlough employees this month in order to curb the severe economic toll of the coronavirus outbreak, the company announced in a statement on Thursday.
Disney said the furlough process would begin on April 19 and that "all impacted workers will remain Disney employees through the duration of the furlough period," with full access to healthcare benefits.
The company did not say how many employees would be affected by the furloughs, but the move is expected to impact all theme park and cruise employees given that those businesses have been suspended entirely.
Disney is only the latest American company that has been forced to take severe cost-cutting measures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Retailers like Macy's and Gap have furloughed employees, as has the newspaper giant Gannett Media.
The coronavirus crisis has turned NYC into a warzone for first-responders: EMS chief
The head of New York City’s Emergency Medical Services department described the five boroughs as a war zone amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Our EMTs and our paramedics, all our first responders in fact including all our healthcare providers, are really on the front lines of this thing and they are doing a tremendous job, but they’re fighting,” EMS chief Lillian Bonsignore told NBC News. “This is a war. We consider this a war, and they're our soldiers and unfortunately they're not immune to this virus and many of them are getting sick."
Bonsignore said the coronavirus outbreak triggered an unprecedented volume of 911 calls.
“I'll tell you I've been in this profession for about 30 years, so three decades, and I've never seen anything like this in my whole career or in my life for that matter,” she said.
Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine released early from jail amid coronavirus health concerns
Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was released into house arrest on Thursday, over fears that his chronic asthma make him vulnerable to coronavirus, the musician's lawyer said.
"He's out and he's very happy to be released," defense attorney Lance Lazzaro told NBC News.
The rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, had been housed at a private facility under contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons. He was serving time after pleading guilty to multiple counts of racketeering, firearms offenses and drug trafficking.
Banks warn of 'utter chaos' in new small business lending program
Millions of small businesses are anxiously awaiting their slices of a $350 billion relief program that forms part of the government's $2 trillion economic support package.
However, with just hours to go before the launch, major banks are still awaiting guidance from the Treasury Department on how to lend the money — and some haven't even decided whether they will participate.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the program is ready to go, adding, "It is a very large priority, we want to get this money quickly into your hands."
Fact check: Trump falsely claims U.S. is testing more people per capita than other countries
During Thursday's coronavirus task force briefing, Trump claimed that the U.S. is testing “more than any other country in the world both in terms of the raw number, and also on a per capita basis, the most.”
We've fact-checked Trump's previous testing claims — and while it is technically true that the U.S. has run more tests for the disease caused by the virus than any other country, Trump is wrong on the issue of testing per capita.
The U.S. is not testing the same share of its population as other countries, a key measure that indicates the U.S. lags behind other nations. As of Thursday, April 2, the U.S has done more than 1.3 million COVID-19 tests. That's about one in every 250 Americans. South Korea, as of the same date, has tested about one in every 118 people.
Navy relieves captain who raised alarm about outbreak on aircraft carrier
The Navy announced it has relieved the captain who sounded the alarm about an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Capt. Brett Crozier, who commands the Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000, was relieved of his command on Thursday, but he will keep his rank and remain in the Navy.
Crozier raised the alarm earlier this week that sailors on the ship need to be quarantined to stop the spread of the virus. His plea for assistance quickly made headlines.
White House doctor: Trump again tests negative for COVID-19
Trump had again been tested for COVID-19, "utilizing new, rapid point-of-care test capability," according to a memo from his physician, and has tested negative.
The memo was released to reporters at the White House at the start of a coronavirus task force news briefing.