CDC recommends masks, U.S. deaths rise by more than 1,000 in one day

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
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A person wearing protective masks due to coronavirus concerns walks in Philadelphia, on April 2, 2020.Matt Rourke / AP

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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.

President Donald Trump announced the recommendations but said he is choosing not to wear one.

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.

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With unemployment surge, millions expected to lose insurance, turn to Medicaid

If unemployment continues to grow, an additional 10 million to 20 million Americans could enroll in Medicaid and millions could live without health care coverage altogether, a study published Friday found. Insurance provided by employers could drop by 11 million to 23 million.

This could prove to be a huge burden on state Medicaid programs as enrollment grows, the cost for coronavirus treatment proves to be costly and state revenues continue to plummet. 

The study, published by research firm Health Management Associates, looks at three scenarios — unemployment at 10 percent, 17.5 percent and 25 percent — and the effects it would have on insurance coverage.

If unemployment rose to 25 percent, Medicaid enrollment nationally would grow from 70 million people to 94 million, employer-sponsored coverage could drop by 35 million people and the number of uninsured Americans would jump from 29 million before the outbreak to nearly 40 million people.

Medicaid enrollment will expand by roughly 5 million even without any increase in unemployment because the states that take funding from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act aren't able to unenroll people from the program. 

Read the more about the issue here

Supreme Court cancels courtroom argument for rest of the term

The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday it will scrap the oral argument schedule for the rest of the term amid the coronavirus pandemic but left open the possibility that it might hear a few cases before the term ends in late June.

Nine cases were to be argued during the two-week session beginning April 20, including one of the most important of the term — a challenge to the current system used for electing the president

The court earlier canceled oral argument in March as measures like stay-at-home orders and social distancing directives were implemented across the country to slow the spread of the virus.

Read the full story here

A reassuring message in the sky over Los Angeles

Photo: Lining up for groceries in Johannesburg

Shoppers wait outside a store in Johannesburg on Friday. South Africa is in a 21-day nationwide lockdown. Jerome Delay / AP

Making your own face mask? Some fabrics work better than others

Sewing machines across the U.S. are whirring to life now that the federal government is expected to recommend that people living in coronavirus hot spots cover their face to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

But if you are making your own covering, new research finds that some fabrics are better than others at filtering out viral particles.

Read more.

Polish official who relayed horrors of Holocaust dies of coronavirus

The secretary who took down the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to be smuggled out of Nazi-occupied Poland has died at age 107 from the coronavirus at a New York City hospital, the Polish Press Agency reported.

Walentyna Janta-Polczynska was the personal secretary of Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski, leader of the wartime Polish government in exile in London, when she was tasked with taking dictation from Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski.

Karski later personally delivered word of the mass slaughter of the Jews by the Germans to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After the war, Janta-Polczynska settled in New York City where her home in Elmhurst, Queens, became a literary salon for exiled Polish writers. 

 

USAID asks relief groups around the world for medical supplies, protective gear for U.S. use

The U.S. government's main international relief agency has issued an "urgent request" to aid groups around the world that work with refugees and impoverished people asking them to find personal protective gear and medical supplies that could be made available to the federal government, according to an internal email obtained by NBC News.

The U.S. Agency for International Development's appeal offers yet another sign of how the Trump administration is scrambling to secure badly needed medical equipment amid shortages of gear at American hospitals due to the coronavirus epidemic.

It's unclear how much medical equipment the aid groups have to spare, and how the request could affect relief work with refugees and other vulnerable populations around the world. Humanitarian aid groups have already issued warnings that the coronavirus outbreak could have a devastating effect on refugees who often lack access to clean water and are living in crowded conditions.

Read the full story here.

The Week in Pictures: Coronavirus tightens vise around the globe

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 1 million. See more powerful images of the impact of the virus here.

Two more federal inmates dead from coronavirus

Two more federal inmates have died of the coronavirus, officials said Friday, raising the toll to seven. 

Wallace Holley, Jr., 56, died Thursday, seven days after he suffered respiratory failure at the Federal Correctional Institution Oakdale in Louisiana. Holley, who was serving a 28-year sentence for several charges including armed robbery, had pre-existing conditions, officials said.

Margarito Garcia-Fragoso, 65, who was held at Federal Satellite Low Institution Elkton in Ohio, also died on Thursday after being hospitalized six days earlier. He was serving a 10 1/2 year sentence on drug and weapons charges. Officials said Garcia-Fragoso also had pre-existing conditions.

Of the seven inmate deaths across the system, five were held at Oakdale and two at Elkton.

N.J. to fly flags at half-staff to honor coronavirus victims

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered that all flags on state buildings across the Garden State be flown at half-staff indefinitely to honor coronavirus victims.

“COVID-19 has taken far too many relatives, friends, and loved ones in New Jersey,” Murphy said in a statement. “This virus has affected every corner of our state, and as we continue to work to break the back of this pandemic, we recognize those who have been lost to this terrible illness and all those affected by it. Many families cannot hold funerals for their loved ones at this time. By doing this, we remind them that their losses are not forgotten.”

As of Friday, the death toll in New Jersey was 646 with 29,895 total cases.