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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1 in 4 New York City emergency medical services workers out sick

As the New York City Fire Department announced the coronavirus death of Deputy Chief Inspector Syed Rahman, newly released data shows that nearly one in four of its Emergency Medical Services members is out sick.

Nearly two in 10 firefighters, or 17 percent, are also on medical leave, the FDNY said. About 3,000 total first responders were out sick; 376 have tested positive for the virus, the department said.

Rahman, 59, served 22 years with FDNY, leading a team that ultimately oversaw potentially high-risk buildings under construction, as well as those slated to undergo demolition and asbestos abatement.

"Deputy Chief Inspector Rahman dedicated his life to helping others through his service to the Department, and New Yorkers were safer because of his outstanding work," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. He is survived by his wife Sadia and four sons.

NYC sends emergency alert to phones

New York City has transmitted an emergency alert to phones, asking all licensed health care workers to support the city's health facilities by logging on to a website to find out where help is needed the most.

The city expects ventilator and healthcare worker shortages in the coming days. Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and now senior city officials are sounding the alarm to all available health care workers. 

Trump administration says Americans should wear non-medical masks

President Donald Trump on Friday said Americans should wear non-surgical masks when they're out of their homes to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

"The CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as a voluntary health measure," Trump, referring to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during his daily briefing on the pandemic. "It is voluntary."

"The CDC is not recommending the use of medical-grade or surgical-grade masks," he added.

The decision, made after the cities of New York and Los Angeles advised their residents to wear cloth masks, was expected. Officials want to save surgical-grade and N95 masks for health workers.

Alabama governor issues stay-at-home order

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Friday she's ordering residents who aren't essential workers to stay at home unless getting takeout food, groceries or gas starting at 5 p.m. Saturday.

As state health officials reported 1,454 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths related to the disease in Alabama, Ivey said on Twitter, "I plead with you" to help stop the spread of the virus by staying home and practicing social distancing.

"You CAN still go get groceries & medicines," she said. "You’re ENCOURAGED to still order food out from your favorite restaurants, but the stores will be required to institute more stringent rules to keep a safe number of customers shopping at any one time."

McConnell: Expect 'plenty of mistakes' as stimulus package is implemented

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday there are “bound to be plenty of mistakes” as the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package is implemented across the country. 

“You can’t pass a bill of this magnitude in a week and have a perfect implementation of $2.2 trillion, so sure there are going to be glitches,” McConnell, R-Ky., told McClatchy in a phone interview. 

He refused to say what he thinks might be needed for a "phase 4" relief package, saying his main focus now is "watching how this is implemented." 

McConnell also suggested Congress might not reconvene on April 20th, since the president has extended social distancing guidelines through the end of April.

 

Shasta County, California, to receive state's fifth federal pop-up hospital

Lt. Col Shane Patty, right, gestures while speaking to Captain Torrance Pineau-Brown at a possible COVID-19 treatment site on April 1, 2020, in San Mateo, Calif. The National Guard is currently setting up the federal cache, which includes cots and personal protective equipment needed to establish a federal medical station with capacity up to 250 beds.Ben Margot / Pool via AP

A team of 40 to 60 soldiers from the California National Guard is set to deploy Saturday to Redding, California, about 160 miles north of Sacramento. Their mission will be to quickly construct the state’s fifth “federal medical station,” or FMS, effectively a pop-up hospital, at the Redding Convention Center and Civic Auditorium.

Shasta County, where Redding is located, has 11 reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date. The state's other pop-up hospitals are in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Riverside counties, with more likely to come. They were all constructed recently in one to two working days usually by teams of 60 to 100 guardsmen, as ordered by the California Office of Emergency Services to help mitigate hospital overflow from the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an undated fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an FMS has beds, supplies and medicine for 250 patients for up to three days.

New York City needs 45,000 medical professionals

New York, hit harder by the coronavirus than any other city in the country, needs 45,000 clinical employees for an incoming tidal wave of patients, officials said Friday. 

The outbreak started with 125,000 medical employees in America's largest city, but a massive spike is coming that'll require 45,000 more to join those ranks this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters.

About 7,500 of those employees will be needed in traditional, standing hospitals while 37,500 others would work at hastily constructed field hospitals, such at those popping up at the Javits Center, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and hotels.

 

Lawmaker who forced colleagues to return to DC for coronavirus vote skipped earlier one

The Kentucky congressman who forced lawmakers around the country to return to Washington, D.C., for a vote on the coronavirus stimulus legislation last week skipped out on a vote on the previous aid bill to attend a fundraiser in his home state.

"I would be a 'no' on that bill anyway. I'm not going to sit up there in D.C. and wait for four people in a back room to cook something up that I know I'm not going to vote for," Rep. Thomas Massie told a local radio show of his decision to not show up for the vote on the earlier, $850 billion coronavirus package.

On the day of the March 14 vote, Massie tweeted that he and his wife were organizing their pantry.

Read the full story here.

Wisconsin gov calls back lawmakers to consider delaying election deadline

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Friday that he wants all registered voters in the state to receive an absentee ballot and have until May 19 to return them, which would effectively delay Tuesday’s election amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Democratic governor signed an executive order Friday calling for a special session of the GOP-controlled state Legislature to consider his proposed changes to Tuesday's election, which includes both the Democratic presidential primary between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and a general election for municipal officers and the state Supreme Court.

"I can't move this election or change it on my own. My hands are tied,” Evers said during a telephone news conference. He said proceeding with the election without changes would be an “unnecessary public health risk.”

Read the full story here.