The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended that people wear "cloth face coverings," in places where it is hard to maintain social distancing — like grocery stores. Officials say surgical masks or respirators should be reserved for health care workers.
The U.S. recorded more than 1,000 deaths between Thursday and Friday, according to NBC News' tally. As of Friday night, more than 7,000 U.S. deaths have been linked to the disease. Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate soared to 4.4 percent from 3.5 percent.
Support on Capitol Hill among both Republicans and Democrats for an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the country’s response to the outbreak appeared to be growing.
- 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.
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Singapore tightens restrictions and closes workplaces, schools
Singapore will close schools and most workplaces for a month starting on Monday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Friday, as part of stricter measures to stop the virus outbreak.
Essential services and key economic sectors will remain open on the island nation.
Singapore’s coronavirus infections — both imported and domestic — have risen sharply in recent weeks and topped 1,000 this week, according to the Singapore Ministry of Health. It reported its fifth death on Friday.
Italy likely to extend lockdown to May 1, official says
Italy's lockdown is likely to last until May 1, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, Angelo Borrelli, said at a press conference on Thursday evening.
The country is now in its fourth week of lockdown and the restrictions have now been officially extended until at least April 13. The government is working on a new decree to boost the economy and support businesses severely hit by the emergency, local media reported on Friday.
Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, has more than 115,000 confirmed cases as of Friday.
African continent faces 'existential threat,' health official says
Africa faces a continent-wide crisis from the coronavirus, according to a senior pan-African health official. Dr. John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control, told a press briefing Wednesday that the virus was "an existential threat to our continent," and posed unprecedented challenges.
As of early Thursday there had been 7,028 COVID-19 cases confirmed across the African Union, as well as 284 deaths, and 561 recoveries by region. Just four of the 54 African Union member states are yet to report any cases.
Nkengasong told the press conference that several African nations could see 10,000 cases each by the end of the month, following the trajectory of the disease in Europe.
The Week in Pictures: Coronavirus tightens its vise around the globe
As coronavirus continues its spread, look through our Week in Pictures to see how it's impacting people around the globe.
Elton John, Paul McCartney among British celebrities cheering health workers
British celebrities lined up to thank Britain's National Health Service for its work during the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday.
Sports star David Beckham, musicians Elton John and Paul McCartney and actors Kate Winslet and Eddie Redmayne were among the celebrities who held up posters and voiced their thanks to hospital staff across the country.
The move was part of a #ThankyouThursday campaign that sees Britons stand outside their homes, on balconies and in windows to applaud healthcare workers each week.
Funeral directors overwhelmed by COVID-19 death toll
As the coronavirus pandemic threatens more communities, funeral directors say they can’t keep up with the growing death toll that has already claimed more than 5,000 lives in the United States.
Death care workers are considered essential in many states with stay-at-home orders. But with panic buyers hoarding cleaning products, like bleach and disinfectant, and personal protective equipment in short supply, funeral workers are fighting for more safeguards.
In New York, which has the most confirmed coronavirus cases anywhere in the U.S., funeral directors say they can’t keep up with demand.
COVID-19 cases, deaths overwhelm Ecuador
USNS Comfort has 19 New York patients aboard
U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, the 1,000-bed vessel sent to New York City to help alleviate pressure on hospitals, had 19 patients Thursday night, a Navy spokesperson said.
The ship was one of two dispatched — the other is the USNS Mercy in Los Angeles — and Pentagon officials have said they were to take patients so that hospitals could deal with those suffering from COVID-19.
In New York City alone, more than 49,700 cases had been confirmed and 1,562 deaths reported as of 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the city's health department. The state overall has more than 92,300 cases and more than 2,300 deaths, according to an NBC News count.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday said that coronavirus cases have overwhelmed hospitals but that that the ship was never supposed to be for COVID-19 patients.
Because of the huge demand, Cuomo said he asked President Donald Trump to allow a U.S. Army-run facility at the Javits Center with 2,500 beds to instead be used for COVID-19 patients, and Trump agreed.
The commander of the USNS Comfort, Capt. Patrick Amersbach, said Thursday that personnel is following Defense Department orders to accept only non-COVID-19 patients, but if that changes they would adjust.
NYC first responders reeling from 'unprecedented' call volume
New York City first responders are handling "tremendously high" call volumes, working multiple double shifts with back-to-back cases and suspected coronavirus patients going into cardiac arrest as the disease continues to sweep the city.
"Everybody's overworked. ... People who are working five doubles, five 16-hour tours," in one week, said a New York City Fire Department emergency medical technician who works in the Bronx.
"You get your two days off, but those days you're just sleeping the whole day because your body's recuperating from so much work," the EMT, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Thursday.
Trump on release of prisoners: 'We don’t like it'
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is considering intervening to stop the release of some prisoners amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Correctional facilities in states such as California, Michigan and Pennsylvania have begun releasing certain inmates as the prisons face a shortage of medical supplies.
Trump said Thursday that “we don’t like it.”
The president added that “we’re looking to see if I have the right to stop it in some cases.”
He did not elaborate what measures, or under what legal authority, he would take to stop or reverse the releases.