U.S. deaths top 12,000 as New York City suffers deadliest day

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Apr 7, 2020; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee resident Jennifer Taff holds a sign as she waits in line to vote at Washington
Milwaukee resident Jennifer Taff holds a sign as she waits in line to vote at Washington High School in Milwaukee on April 7, 2020. "I'm disgusted. I requested an absentee ballot almost three weeks ago and never got it. I have a father dying from lung disease and I have to risk my life and his just to exercise my right to vote" she said, as she'd been in line almost two hours.Patricia McKnight / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Network

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At the start of what officials have warned could be the deadliest week of the coronavirus pandemic, the total number of deaths in the U.S. rose to more than 12,000 on Tuesday, according to NBC News' tally. New York City alone topped 4,000 deaths, recording its single deadliest day with over 800 dying in the 24 hours since Monday night.

Despite the coronavirus crisis, Wisconsin's controversial election is on for Tuesday, and voters will get no extension on the deadline to return absentee ballots, thanks to two top courts that sided with Republicans on Monday.

In the fight to mitigate the fallout from the pandemic, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced Tuesday that he planned to donate $1 billion to global coronavirus relief.

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey donating $1 billion to coronavirus relief

Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter and Square, said Tuesday that he is devoting $1 billion of his stake in the mobile payments company, or 28 percent of his net worth, to help fund coronavirus relief efforts.

"I'm moving $1B of my Square equity (~28% of my wealth) to #startsmall LLC to fund global COVID-19 relief," Dorsey tweeted.

Read the full story here. 

Appeals Court restores Texas ban on abortion during pandemic

A federal appeals court Tuesday threw out a judge's order blocking the state from banning abortions during the virus pandemic.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 that Texas acted properly in including abortion in the list of non-medically necessary procedures that would be delayed. 

Gov. Greg Abbott issued the order in late March, and Attorney General Ken Paxton said it would include "any type of abortion." Planned Parenthood sought a court order to block the restriction, and a federal district court judge issued a temporary order to block the ban.

The 5th Circuit last week put the judge's order on hold to give the state a chance to appeal and on Tuesday granted the state's request to keep the ban on abortion in place.  In public health emergencies, the court said, a state can restrict constitutional rights including, "one's right to peaceably assemble, to publicly worship, to travel, and even to leave one's home. The right to abortion is no exception."

Texas is now the only state where the pandemic has brought abortions to a halt.

Buckling to pressure, many states deem gun stores 'essential' amid outbreak

Andrea Schry, right, fills out legal forms to buy a handgun after Dukes Sport Shop reopened, on March 25, 2020, in New Castle, Pa.Keith Srakocic / AP

What's considered "essential?" Food, prescription drugs, sometimes liquor — and, in most states, firearms.

To slow the spread of the coronavirus, 42 states have issued some form of a state-at-home order, mandating that nearly all nonessential businesses close. Gun retailers in at least 30 of those states, however, have been allowed to stay open amid pushback from gun groups and the federal government.

Read the full story here.

MLB considering playing baseball season only in Arizona as early as April

Major League Baseball is considering a plan that would start the baseball season as early as next month using facilities and fields in and around Phoenix, Arizona. The scenario is one of several being discussed.

Under the proposal, players and team personnel would be isolated and practice social distancing during off-time. There would be no crowds in the stadiums.

"MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so," the League said in a statement Tuesday morning. "While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan."

Phoenix does have advantages, given its climate and many baseball facilities, where it annually hosts much of Spring Training.

Much will depend on how effectively the state deals with the virus and if baseball will be considered an essential job not subject to Arizona's stay at home order, should it be extended past March 31. 

Acting Navy secretary resigns over firing of captain who raised coronavirus concerns

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly has resigned his post, two defense officials said, a day after he attacked and then apologized to an ousted captain who raised concerns about a coronavirus outbreak on his aircraft carrier.

Modly made the offer during a Tuesday morning conversation with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the officials said. Esper accepted his resignation and has selected Under Secretary of the Army James McPherson to replace Modly as acting Navy secretary, according to the officials.

The revelation comes after Modly’s stinging remarks about Capt. Brett Crozier, broadcast over the loudspeakers on the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Monday, drew criticism from lawmakers and disapproval from President Donald Trump.

Read the full story here. 

France death toll surpasses 10,000, officials warn peak yet to come

The coronavirus death toll in France surpassed 10,000 on Tuesday, despite severe quarantine measures that have been put in place across the country to slow the spread of the virus. 

French authorities have counted at least 1,417 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, including deaths in nursing homes, pushing the total for the nation over 10,300. Director General of Health Jarome Salomon warned that the country has yet to see its peak and the curve has yet to flatten. 

Israel uses closed McDonald's drive-thrus for speedy coronavirus testing

"We take advantage of the infrastructure of our friends at McDonald's, of their drive-thru, in order to conduct tests for patients who need them," said Ilan Tibi, of Israeli health organization Clalit.

Amid social distancing, activists turn to a new tactic: the car protest

Activism has been disrupted by the coronavirus and organizers have turned to a new tactic to get their message out: the car protest. 

On March 22, immigration activist groups held a car protest outside the Hudson County Detention Center in New Jersey, calling for the release of detained migrants amid the coronavirus pandemic. The protesters were all in their cars, honking, demanding action — and trying to follow the state's social distance guidelines.

Never Again Action, one of the many groups that organized the event, has held various car protests as they call for the release of everyone in ICE detention, people they say are particularly vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. 

“We want to replicate the feeling of people being together in public,” Stephen Lurie, an organizer with Never Again Action, told NBC News. The car protests will hopefully “draw attention to things at a time when it’s really hard to,” he said. The protests have also happened in New York, Massachusetts, Texas, California, Minnesota and other states, and the tactic is also being used by striking workers.

Participants at the actions — which have been held outside detention centers, state capitols and governor’s mansions — slow down or park their cars, hang signs from their windows, honk, and chant. Lurie says the group is “dredging up” an old tactic that’s been used before as they try to be creative and adapt to the times.

Study: Higher air pollution rates up death risk for coronavirus patients

Coronavirus patients from areas of the United States with high air pollution levels run a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than those from areas with cleaner air, according to a new national study out this week from Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Researchers analyzed more than 3,000 counties across the country, finding a small increase in long-term exposure to particulate matter was associated with a 15 percent increase in the COVID-19 death rate. The study adjusted for population size, hospital beds, number of individuals tested, weather, and socioeconomic and a number of behavioral variables.

While noting that the epidemiology of COVID-19 is evolving, the study's authors said results "underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis."

Past research has found particulate matter likely contributed to the spread of the 2015 avian influenza and during the SARS epidemic in 2003, where increases in particulate matter air pollution increased risks of dying from the disease. SARS is a coronavirus, like COVID-19.

L.A. encourages those experiencing homelessness to social distance tents

Los Angeles officials said the city is making progress in expanding emergency shelter programs for those experiencing homelessness, a population that public health experts warn may be at greatest risk for exposure to the coronavirus, according to a late Monday federal court filing.

The city is “engaged with Skid Row service providers and community advocates in efforts to educate persons experiencing homelessness in the Skid Row area to practice social distancing and space their tents 12 feet apart from each other,” according to the filing.

Previously, some handwashing stations left near homeless encampments had been removed by the Andy Gump company after an employee was punctured with a used hypodermic needle while servicing one. The city said in its court filing that the stations were removed "without any input from the City" and that it is working with Andy Gump to address the company's concerns while replacing the stations "to keep these life-saving hygiene facilities available."