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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L.A. county opens COVID-19 drive-up testing site

Los Angeles County on Friday opened a new drive-up testing site in the parking lot of a popular mall. 

Tests are available by appointment only and limited to people with symptoms who are in high risk categories, including those over the age of 65 and people with underlying health problems.

The new site, located at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach, is one of 10 mobile testing locations in the county.

Montana's June 2 primary will be conducted by mail

HELENA, Mont. - Montana's June 2 primary will be conducted by mail in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The ballots will be mailed out on May 8.

The U.S. Postal Service recommends ballots be mailed back a week before the election. Same-day registration and in-person voting will still be allowed. Counties will set the locations for late registration and ballot submission.

County clerks say a new law that allows counties to begin opening mailed ballots on the Thursday before Election Day to prepare them for counting should lead to quicker results on election nights.

5 million more N95 masks set for release

Another 5 million N95 masks — highly sought by medical professionals in their fight against coronavirus — will be released from the national stockpile to the Department of Health & Human Services, the Pentagon said Friday.

The announcement was made by chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are clamoring for more N95 masks and other forms of  personal protective equipment as they face a constant wave of COVID-19 patients.

Trump lashes out at reporter when pressed for clarification over federal stockpile

Trump on Friday told a reporter she "ought to be ashamed" of herself and chided her for having a "nasty tone" after she asked for clarity about White House adviser Jared Kushner's comments about the federal government's ventilator stockpile. 

"It's such a basic simple question you try and make it sound so bad," Trump told Weijia Jiang, a White House correspondent for CBS News. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself." 

 

At Thursday's briefing, Kushner was pressed on why states were bidding on ventilators rather than the federal government sending them. "The notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile. It's not supposed to be states' stockpiles that they then use," Kushner said. 

Trump doubled down at Friday's briefing. 

"Because we need it for the government, the federal government," Trump said about Kushner's comments. "The federal government needs to it too not just the states."

Walmart to limit customer access

Walmart will limit the number of customers allowed to enter its stores and launch new efforts to keep shoppers moving one way once inside, the company announced on Friday.

Starting on Saturday, only five customers per 1,000 square feet can enter a Walmart, which will be about 20 percent of each locale's listed capacity, according to a statement by Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith.

And in many stores next week, markers will be put down to direct shoppers to one-way foot traffic "so to help more customers avoid coming into close contact with others as they shop," according to Smith.

For the full story, read here.

Fact check: Trump falsely claims he inherited 'broken' COVID-19 tests

“The original test, the ones we inherited… were broken, they were obsolete, they were not good tests,” Trump said during Friday night’s news conference.

We’ve fact checked this claim before. It's impossible for Trump to have inherited a broken testing system for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The novel coronavirus did not exist until late last year, when researchers believe it was transmitted from an animal to a human for the first time.

Read more of the fact check here.

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.