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U.S. deaths top 16,000, Boris Johnson out of intensive care

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: A woman puts cloth face masks on a string to dry before distributing it for free around the neighbourhood, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia
A woman puts cloth face masks on a string to dry before distributing it for free around the neighbourhood, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, April 9, 2020.Willy Kurniawan / Reuters

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 10 coronavirus news here.

The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. now stands at 16,527 and total cases neared half a million at 460,967, according to an NBC News tally as of Thursday night.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York state has reached 159,937 — outpacing any country except the United States as a whole.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that New York was bringing in additional funeral directors "to deal with the number of people who have passed."

Lockdowns appear set to remain in place in many European countries amid rising death tolls, as governments from Britain to France decide whether to extend restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out the intensive care unit at a St. Thomas' Hospital as he continues to recover from COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.

"Saturday Night Live" announced Thursday that it would be back on air this weekend, using remotely produced content. The sketch show tweeted a photo of its stars, including Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon, together on a video conference.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

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1024d ago / 5:02 AM UTC

Trump allies reportedly think briefings hurt more than help

1024d ago / 4:51 AM UTC

More men than women are testing positive

WASHINGTON — Men are not getting tested as much for the coronavirus as women.

Yet, when men do get tested, a higher percentage test positive for the virus.

Dr. Deborah Birx used the numbers to remind men “about the importance of health care” during a briefing Thursday at the White House.

So far, Birx says, 56 percent of the people tested for COVID-19 are female, and 16 percent of them tested positive for the virus.

But for men, 23 percent tested positive.

Birx made a plea for men experiencing symptoms that could be a result of the virus to get tested, saying “we appreciate you engaging in that.”

Birx serves as the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator.

1024d ago / 4:19 AM UTC

Oakland, California, to close 74 miles of city streets to cars, inviting walkers, runners and cyclists instead

OAKLAND, Calif.— This Bay Area city will join a growing list of others around the country that are closing streets to cars in favor of increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic during the COVID-19 crisis, an official said Thursday.

“We’ll announce an emergency measure that allows Oakland residents more space to walk, bike and run safely through their neighborhoods, and we’re calling it the Oakland Slow Streets” Alexandria McBride, the city’s chief resilience officer, told a town hall meeting held via Zoom video conference.

McBride said Oakland will open up 74 miles of car-free streets and will begin rolling out the program Saturday.

Other cities, including St. Paul, Minnesota, and Philadelphia, have taken similar measures, and several other U.S. cities are discussing the possibility. By one count, Oakland’s road closure is the largest by far of any American city during the pandemic.

1024d ago / 4:01 AM UTC

Nurses on the front lines battling extreme exhaustion

1024d ago / 3:46 AM UTC

Judge orders Chicago jail to do more to halt spread

CHICAGO — A federal judge in Chicago on Thursday ordered one of the nation’s largest jails to take prompt action to stem the potentially catastrophic spread of the coronavirus, including by ensuring that its more than 4,000 detainees have access to adequate soap and sanitizer.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly also mandated that Chicago’s Cook County Jail test all inmates as soon as they show signs of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and that it suspend the use of small holding pens to process new inmates.

Kennelly said in his 37-page order that  the jail must start dispensing soap, sanitizer or both to all inmates by Friday.

The jail has an infection rate of 50 per 1,000 people, far exceeding the rate in the county as a whole of 1.56 per 1,000, Kennelly said.

1024d ago / 2:48 AM UTC
1024d ago / 2:28 AM UTC

Florida's Miami-Dade County requiring face masks in public places

Residents of the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County are required to wear face coverings if working in or patronizing places like grocery stores, pharmacies or mass transit.

The executive order signed by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez on Thursday is aimed at helping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and it goes into effect one minute before midnight. Miami on Wednesday issued a similar order.

The moves follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to wear face coverings — not respirators or surgical masks badly needed by health workers — in public places. That CDC guidance notes that people who have no symptoms can still spread the virus. 

"I want to remind everyone that while wearing masks can help for close encounters, you must continue to practice social distancing,” Gimenez said in a statement. He encouraged people to stay home as much as possible.

Los Angeles' mayor this week also issued an order requiring face coverings in public places.

1024d ago / 2:27 AM UTC

Iconic San Francisco bookstore closed by coronavirus may never reopen

Image: City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, San Francisco.Google

A legendary San Francisco bookstore that gave voice to the Beat Generation may be forced to close its doors permanently as California’s sweeping coronavirus response takes its toll on small businesses.

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers was closed March 16, around the same time Gov. Gavin Newsom directed all non-essential businesses shuttered to prevent the virus from spreading. Online orders aren't being processed either, to try to protect employees, said longtime publisher and CEO Elaine Katzenberger, and as a result, no money is coming in.

On Thursday, Katzenberger launched a fundraising campaign to keep the business afloat. The money would go toward paying the full salaries and benefits of City Lights’ 20 employees, she said.

“Our legacy looms large, but we’re a small business like any other,” Katzenberger said. “It just became obvious that we had to do it.”

Read the full story here.

1024d ago / 1:53 AM UTC

UN chief warns COVID-19 threatens global peace and security

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic is threatening international peace and security — “potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease.”

The U.N.’s most powerful body, which has been silent on COVID-19 since it started circling the globe sickening and killing tens of thousands, issued its first brief press statement after the closed meeting. It expressed “support for all efforts of the secretary-general concerning the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to conflict-affected countries and recalled the need for unity and solidarity with all those affected.”

Guterres, who called for a cease-fire for all global conflicts on March 23, said the crisis has “hindered international, regional and national conflict resolution efforts, exactly when they are needed most.”

He cited other pressing risks to global security from the pandemic: terrorists seeing an opportunity to strike, groups seeing how a biological terrorist attack might unfold, the erosion of trust in public institutions, economic instability, political tensions from postponing elections or referenda, uncertainty sparking further division and turmoil in some countries, and COVID-19 “triggering or exacerbating various human rights challenges.”

The secretary-general reiterated that the United Nations faces “its gravest test” since the organization was founded 75 years ago from the pandemic and concluded saying: “This is the fight of a generation — and the raison d’être of (the reason for) the United Nations itself.”

1024d ago / 1:43 AM UTC

Trump orders expedited relief for farmers

President Donald Trump has directed U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to "expedite" coronavirus relief for farmers, he said Thursday.

"I have directed @SecretarySonny to expedite help to our farmers, especially to the smaller farmers who are hurting right now," Trump tweeted Thursday evening. "I expect Secretary Purdue to use all of the funds and authorities at his disposal to make sure that our food supply is stable, strong, and safe...."

It wasn't immediately clear how much money was at Perdue's disposal. On March 27, the president signed a $2 trillion relief package that includes $1,200 payments for payroll workers and some gig workers and even more for families.

The agriculture secretary responded to Trump minutes later on Twitter: "At the direction of @RealDonaldTrump, @USDA is using all financial resources we have been given to develop a program that will include direct payments to farmers & ranchers hurt by COVID-19 & other procurement methods to help solidify the supply chain from producers to consumers."

1024d ago / 1:40 AM UTC

What the coronavirus fight is like for people under 30

1024d ago / 1:35 AM UTC

Government extends no-sail order for cruise ships

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday extended indefinitely the government's March 14 no-sail order for cruise ships, noting that 100 such vessels with an estimated 80,000 crew members aboard were offshore.

The prohibition was extended to "address the health and safety of crew at sea as well as communities surrounding U.S. cruise ship points of entry," CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.

The order is effective until it's rescinded, the coronavirus national emergency is over or within 100 days, the CDC said.

The centers said at least 20 cruise ships in U.S. ports and waters have crew members on board who have the virus.

1024d ago / 1:31 AM UTC

Liberty University pushing for charges against journalists

Liberty University has pushed for criminal trespassing charges against two journalists who pursued stories about why the evangelical college in Virginia has remained partially open during the coronavirus outbreak.

The college, in Lynchburg, Virginia, is led by Jerry Falwell Jr., a supporter of President Donald Trump who has suggested coverage of the epidemic was overblown. Falwell said the university is conducting classes online and obeying social distancing directives.

After stories were written saying Liberty’s decision caused concerns in the community, the university pursued charges against Alec MacGillis, a reporter for ProPublica, and Julia Rendleman, a photographer who illustrated a March 29 story in The New York Times.

Read the full story here. 

1024d ago / 1:04 AM UTC

California sees first daily decrease in ICU hospitalizations

California saw its first daily decrease in intensive care hospitalizations during the coronavirus outbreak, a key indicator of how many health care workers and medical supplies the state needs, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The rate of all virus hospitalizations has slowed this week. Those in the ICU need the highest level of care, and so it was particularly encouraging that the number of patients in those rooms actually dropped 1.9 percent on Wednesday to 1,132.

The virus can cause severe breathing problems, and ventilators are a key tool in keeping the sickest patients alive.

Newsom has been building the state’s stockpile and earlier this week was confident enough of the supply to send 500 to other states.

California hospitals have more than 11,000 ventilators, and two-thirds aren’t being used, he said.

1024d ago / 12:31 AM UTC

FDA warns Alex Jones to stop promoting false coronavirus claims and cures

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to internet and radio personality Alex Jones on Thursday, urging him to stop promoting false claims about coronavirus preventatives and cures on his InfoWars website. 

The federal agency said products misleadingly advertised as safe and effective treatments, or as guards against the coronavirus, include silver-based gargles and toothpaste. Jones has 48 hours to respond and the FDA is threatening legal action for failure to comply.

Jones, a media mogul and notorious conspiracy theorist, has amassed a fortune through supplements and survivalist products sold on the InfoWars site. Jones is currently being sued in multiple states by parents of children killed in the Newtown, Connecticut, mass shooting for using his website and show to promote the false conspiracy theory that the attack was a hoax. 

In March, New York Attorney General Letita James sent Jones a letter demanding he cease and desist selling supplements and creams under false coronavirus claims. 

The FDA has not yet approved any vaccines or treatments for COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.

1024d ago / 12:12 AM UTC

HHS reverses course on funding for local coronavirus testing sites

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The Department of Health and Human Services late Thursday reversed its decision to end federal support on Friday for community-based coronavirus testing sites around the country.

Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that states will now be able to choose whether they want to transition to managing the testing programs themselves or continue with federal assistance.

"In this instance, we wanted to at least give them the option to take control of that. But, we will continue to resource them with personnel, supplies, and any other support they need going forward,” he said at the daily White House coronavirus briefing. 

The availability of widespread testing remains scarce in the U.S., and public health officials have called it a failure of the administration's coronavirus response.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services told NBC News in a statement Thursday that the federal government “will continue working closely with states, and their respective FEMA regions, to determine whether sites want to continue as they are now, with direct federal supervision and manpower, or transition to full state control.”

1024d ago / 11:46 PM UTC

Trump says Russia, Saudi Arabia 'close' to deal to salvage oil sector amid pandemic

President Trump said Thursday he spoke by phone with Russia’s President Putin and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman about the oil industry, in an attempt to salvage jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Trump told reporters at the daily White House coronavirus briefing the phone call was a "very productive hour and a half." 

 

The coronavirus outbreak has caused oil prices to plummet because fewer people are driving, planes flying, ships sailing and factories producing goods. Usually, oil-producing countries agree to reduce the supply to increase prices, but Saudi Arabia, who has pushed for even deeper cuts to production, and OPEC — the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries — failed to reach an agreement with Russia, who rejected more cuts, on a way to deal with lower prices. 

Trump said with oil prices being pushed down, it threatens U.S. jobs and is working with OPEC and the two countries to get a compromise. 

"We had a very good talk; we'll see what happens," Trump said. "I would say we're getting close to a deal."

1024d ago / 11:39 PM UTC

Nearly 17 million filed for unemployment over last 3 weeks due to coronavirus

The U.S. went from a 50-year unemployment low to some 17 million Americans seeking jobless benefits. That number is likely much higher, as some have been unable to file because of unprecedented demand.

1024d ago / 11:33 PM UTC

Harvey Weinstein out of medical isolation in prison after testing positive

Convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein was moved out of medical isolation in prison, a spokesperson confirmed on Thursday, just over two weeks after he tested positive for coronavirus

The former movie mogul has been "deemed alright," according to his publicist Juda Engelamyer. Weinstein tested positive at the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo, New York, Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association told NBC News in March.

Several staffers at the facility who had contact with Weinstein had also been placed in quarantine. 

Weinstein is currently serving 23 years in prison after he was found guilty of third-degree rape and first degree criminal sexual act last month. 

1024d ago / 11:20 PM UTC

 

1024d ago / 11:13 PM UTC

Federal judge says Texas must allow certain abortions

A federal judge on Thursday issued an order saying the state must allow medication abortions, which involve only pills, and abortions for women who have only a few weeks of pregnancy left before hitting the 22-month mark, at which point abortion is generally illegal in the state.

Planned Parenthood is hoping this new on limit on enforcement of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning elective surgery, will conform with a federal appeals court ruling earlier this week that struck down the judge's first order that allowed abortion to continue.

“The inability to obtain abortion care in Texas as a result of the Executive Order is causing individuals with unwanted pregnancies who have the ability to travel to go to other states to obtain abortions. The record shows that these individuals are traveling by both car and airplane to places as far away as Colorado and Georgia,” said Federal District Court Judge Lee Yeakel. 

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, overturning the judge’s first order, said even though women have a constitutional right to abortion services, states can limit rights during public emergencies like the virus pandemic. But the appeals court left the door open to a revised order that would permit some abortions.

1024d ago / 10:28 PM UTC

FBI warns of 'money mule' schemes exploiting pandemic

Image: Hackers Compete Their Skills At Seccon Cyber Security Contest
Participants use laptop computers as they take part in the Seccon 2016 final competition in Tokyo on Jan. 28, 2017.Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images file

The FBI is out with a new warning that criminals may try to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic through a a tempting scheme.

It starts off as a harmless enough request. You receive an email, maybe through an online job site or a dating website. Provide your bank account information and allow money transfers to flow through your account. You move the money for someone and they pay you a little cash for your trouble or lure you with the potential of a romantic relationship.

Read the full story here. 

1024d ago / 9:31 PM UTC

#LightItBlue campaign hits the U.S. to show gratitude to essential workers

The 'Light It Blue' campaign hits the U.S. starting at 8 p.m. local time on Thursday — calling on businesses and communities across the country to shine blue lights or share messages of thanks to essential workers on the frontlines in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

Broadway theaters are set to participate in the campaign, as well as New York City landmarks Bryant Park and One World Observatory. Other participants across the U.S. include LAX Airport and the St. Louis skyline.

The #LightItBlue initiative originally started in the UK, with blue symbolizing health care workers, and is largely a volunteer effort. 

1024d ago / 8:55 PM UTC

Mom of 27-year-old grocery store worker mourns the loss of her 'butterfly'

A mother is mourning the loss of her 27-year-old daughter — her "butterfly" — who died of coronavirus after refusing to miss a day working at her Maryland grocery store job because she "wanted to help anyone that she came in contact with."

But Leilani Jordan, who had disabilities, was worried about her safety at work. "She said to me 'Mom ... I have to take my own hand sanitizer because there's none available, there’s no gloves available,'" Zenobia Shepherd told MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle Thursday. 

Jordan started feeling sick in the middle of March, was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on March 26 and passed away on April 1, according to a memorial page.

Now, Shepherd is worried for other workers deemed necessary during the pandemic, and their families. 

"You know what using the proper PPE could have done for my baby?" she asked. "I'm a mother, and I have a hole in my heart for the rest of my life. My baby is gone."

Felismina Andrade, a communications director for Giant, said that Jordan's last day of work was March 16, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on PPE was different. 

"Our Giant Food family is mourning Leilani’s passing, along with her family, as she was a valued associate who has been part of our Giant Food family since 2016," said a statement from the company. "We are supporting Leilani’s family during this difficult time and have been in direct contact with her mother to address her needs."

1024d ago / 8:39 PM UTC

Dow rallies as Federal Reserve announces new programs to boost economy

The Dow rallied as the Federal Reserve announced $2.3 trillion in programs to boost the economy as millions of Americans filed for unemployment. NBC's David Gura takes a look at how the news of the day shaped the markets.

1024d ago / 8:21 PM UTC

Sen. Murphy, Rep.Cooper, introduce bill to protect inspectors general

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., introduced a bill Thursday that would protect inspectors general from politically motivated firings and set their terms at seven years.

The bill, which Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., also introduced in the House, aims to strengthen the independence of inspectors general to allow them to do their jobs without fear of political retribution. It comes after President Donald Trump fired Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who flagged the Ukraine whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment. Days later, Trump also removed Glenn Fine, a top Pentagon official leading the committee tasked with overseeing implementation of the $2 trillion in coronavirus relief spending that Congress passed late last month. 

“We simply cannot allow President Trump to weaponize independent oversight positions in his administration to reward his friends, punish his political enemies, and cover up wrongdoing,” Murphy told NBC News. “If recent events have shown us anything, it’s that we desperately need federal watchdogs to safeguard our system from political abuse by Trump and his allies.”

Cooper called the action against the inspectors general "reckless and appears to be political retaliation," adding, "If anything, our inspectors general need more power, not punishment, so they can hold bad actors accountable.”

1024d ago / 7:50 PM UTC

Michigan creates task force to focus on racial disparity in coronavirus cases

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of a task force that would look into the racial disparity in patients who have contracted the coronavirus. 

Whitmer said Thursday that despite the fact that African Americans only make up 14 percent of the state's population, more than 40 percent of Michigan's COVID-19 deaths have been black residents. 

“This virus is holding a mirror up to our society and reminding us of the deep inequities in this country,” Whitmer said. “From basic lack of access to health care, transportation, and protections in the workplace, these inequities hit people of color and vulnerable communities the hardest.

The task force, compromised of government workers and health care professionals, will provide advice on how to address the disparity and slow the spread of the virus. 

1024d ago / 7:35 PM UTC

Wisconsin voter speaks out amid reports that hundreds of absentee ballots were not delivered

Russell Yale, a Wisconsin voter residing in the Milwaukee suburbs, spoke to NBC News on Thursday about not receiving the absentee ballots he and his wife requested as reports detail hundreds of ballots in the state were never distributed to voters ahead of Tuesday's primary and down-ballot elections.

Yale said he and his wife, both over 70, requested the ballots in light of the public health crisis gripping the country and said he feels "disenfranchised" now that he is unable to vote, adding that there "needs" to be "a post-mortem" to learn what went wrong. Yale said he wanted to vote in the Democratic presidential primary and in a key race for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat.

"I just don't want this to happen again," Yale said, pointing to November's election. "I just don't want anything to keep my vote from counting."

Those Wisconsin voters who defied the state's stay-at-home order to vote on Tuesday braved extensive lines and hourslong waits after two courts ruled that the primary election couldn't be postponed. State Democrats sought to delay the contest but failed.

1024d ago / 7:24 PM UTC

White House to test all reporters for COVID-19 at Thursday's briefing

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All reporters planning to attend Thursday's coronavirus task force briefing will be tested for COVID-19, the White House said, in light of news that a member of the press corps who was present at the White House on Tuesday is now experiencing symptoms.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the White House Medical Unit is going to conduct a COVID-19 test on all members of the press who plan to participate in today’s task force briefing, including correspondents, photographers, and technicians," the White House said in a statement. "These test will be conducted with absolute privacy in a vacant office within lower press."

According to White House Correspondents Association President Jon Karl, test results for the person experiencing symptoms are still pending.

1024d ago / 7:21 PM UTC

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announces hotel vouchers and stipends for caregivers

Caregivers in California, some of whom have taken to sleeping in their cars as they balance the care of their clients with their own efforts to remain safe, will be able to receive vouchers and stipends that will cover hotel costs, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced during a news conference Thursday.

Newsom called caregivers “the real heroes of this moment.” More than 150 hotels are participating in the program, and a listing of available hotels is available at the website Caltravelstore.com.

The state has experienced 18,309 positive coronavirus cases and 492 deaths, an increase of 50 deaths since Wednesday. More than 1,100 people remain hospitalized in intensive care units.

1024d ago / 7:08 PM UTC
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1024d ago / 6:53 PM UTC

Video shows hospital staff cheering for doctor who recovered from COVID-19

A heartwarming video shows employees at a New Jersey hospital cheering on a colleague after he recovered from COVID-19.

The video, recorded Wednesday inside St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Paterson, shows hospital staffers clapping and holding signs for Dr. James Pruden, the hospital's director of emergency preparedness, with the theme song from the movie “Rocky,” "Gonna Fly Now," playing in the background.

In a statement to NBC News released by the hospital, Dr. Pruden thanked his colleagues and healthcare workers for their support. 

“Your care made the difference for me and enabled me to beat this virus,” Dr. Pruden said. “I implore every healthcare worker across New Jersey to keep the faith and stay strong. You are giving everything – for people just like me. You are truly our heroes.”

1024d ago / 6:52 PM UTC

Connecticut schools to remain closed through May 20, gov announces

1024d ago / 6:46 PM UTC

U.K. PM Boris Johnson moved out of ICU, but remains hospitalized

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of the intensive care unit, where he was being treated for COVID-19, a spokesperson said Thursday.Johnson, 55, was admitted to London’s St Thomas' Hospital on Sunday and was moved into the ICU on Monday.

1024d ago / 6:40 PM UTC

'Saturday Night Live' to air new content this week

The NBC comedy show will air remotely produced content at its usual Saturday time slot on the broadcast network, a surprise return from its coronavirus-induced hiatus, according to a spokesperson for NBC.

NBC is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.

The show will include a version of "Weekend Update" and other skits from cast members, though it was not immediately clear if the performances would be live. It will air at 11:30 p.m. ET.

Read the full story here.

1024d ago / 6:30 PM UTC
1024d ago / 6:23 PM UTC

Federal emergency grants available for college students

College students whose lives and education have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic are set to benefit from a more than $6 billion emergency grant, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday.

The funding is part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that President Donald Trump signed in March. The money will be doled out by higher education institutions to help students with necessities, including course materials, technology, food, housing, health care and childcare.

Each school will have grants made available to them based, in part, on a formula that takes into consideration how many of its full-time students are eligible for Pell Grants. The schools then determine which students will receive funding.

More information can be found here.

1024d ago / 6:17 PM UTC

Another member of Congress tests positive for COVID-19

Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., tested positive this week for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, his office announced Thursday, making him the sixth member of Congress to receive a positive test.

"Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D. was not feeling well on the evening of Monday, April 6th and did go to the emergency room that night out of an abundance of caution. After meeting CDC criteria, he was tested for COVID-19 and has received notice that the results came back positive," his office said in a press release.

Dunn, 67, is "feeling great" and is quarantined at home, his office said. 

Five other members of Congress that have tested positive during the outbreak, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Ben McAdams, D-Utah, Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa. While she did not receive a test, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., was a presumed positive last week.

1024d ago / 6:00 PM UTC

Nursing home patient asked Amazon Alexa for help as she lay dying of coronavirus, sister says

A nursing home patient in Michigan who got sick with the coronavirus asked Alexa on an Amazon Echo device for help before she died, her sister said.

LouAnn Dagen died Saturday, shortly after she was transferred to a hospital in Grand Rapids. She was 66.

She was one of 31 residents and five staff members who tested positive for the virus at the nursing home, Metron of Cedar Springs, which is now called Mission Point, according to the facility.

The medical examiner's office said Dagen's death was caused by diabetes, hypertension and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to her sister, Penny.

Penny was unable to visit LouAnn in person after the nursing home, like others around the country, restricted visitors due to the pandemic. So, Alexa became LouAnn's primary communications tool with her sister.

Read the full story here.

1024d ago / 5:29 PM UTC

Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage

How California has avoided a coronavirus outbreak as bad as New York’s … so far [The Wall Street Journal]

7 answers to questions about the malaria drug Trump keeps pushing [The New York Times]

Hundreds of young Americans have now been killed by the coronavirus, data shows [The Washington Post]

1024d ago / 5:28 PM UTC

Jeff Bezos makes warehouse, Whole Foods visits amid outbreak

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos toured a fulfillment center and a Whole Foods on Wednesday to thank staff, an appearance that comes as the company is the subject of scrutiny over how it has treated warehouse workers during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Amazon tweeted out a video of Bezos, dressed in jeans and a white shirt, receiving a temperature check before walking around, stopping briefly to say hello to staff on the assembly line and in the store. Bezos is wearing a mask and no gloves, though the workers shown in the video are wearing both. Bloomberg reported that the site visits were locations in Dallas.  

Some warehouse and corporate employees have called for the company to boost pay and protective measures. Last week, Amazon fired one employee in a fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York, who had publicly called on the company to make changes. Amazon said they had let the manager go because he was not self isolating after coming in contact with an infected worker.

1024d ago / 4:58 PM UTC

Melania Trump sports face covering in public service announcement

Melania Trump wore a face mask in a new photo tweeted from the first lady's account Thursday as part of a message urging fellow Americans to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended coronavirus guidelines.

Her husband, President Donald Trump, has said he has no plans to use one. "I just don't want to wear one myself, it's a recommendation," he told reporters last Friday.

Read more here.

1024d ago / 4:54 PM UTC

Nearly 2,000 new coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania

More than 2,000 additional Pennsylvania residents have tested positive for COVID-19, moving the statewide total of coronavirus cases past 18,000, the state Department of Health announced Thursday.

Pennsylvania has experienced 338 deaths and 18,228 cases statewide. More than 87,000 patients have tested negative.

1024d ago / 4:21 PM UTC

First lawsuit against small business loan program filed by strip club

The first lawsuit over the U.S. government's embattled coronavirus small business loan program was filed in federal court Wednesday by a company that operates a strip club in Michigan. It's the first of what could end up being  a series of protracted legal battles over which businesses qualify for the hastily-conceived $349 billion relief effort.

The lawsuit asserts the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Treasury violated the Constitution by barring coronavirus relief loans for businesses that have "live performances of a prurient sexual nature."

Which businesses qualify has evolved since the plan’s first version. The plan currently states that businesses merely have to certify that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary” and don’t have to prove a sharp sales decline or the imminent threat of closure. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees qualify, opening the doors to a wide range of firms, potentially including investment firms and LLCs.

1024d ago / 4:03 PM UTC

New York bringing in more funeral directors as death toll hits new high

New York state had 799 deaths from coronavirus in one day, its highest daily toll yet in the pandemic, which bringing the total to 7,067, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his press briefing Thursday.

The governor said the state will bring in additional funeral directors "to deal with the number of people who have passed."

At the same time as deaths have risen, the number of net new hospitalizations is down to 200, the lowest daily increase since the crisis in the state began, Cuomo said.

"We are flattening the curve by what we're doing," the governor said, referring to the state's closing of nonessential businesses and social distancing orders.

"You can't relax," he said. "If we stop acting the way we’re acting you will see those numbers go up."

1024d ago / 3:51 PM UTC

Grandma whose misfired text to teen led to Thanksgiving invite loses husband to coronavirus

A grandmother who went viral when she invited a stranger to Thanksgiving dinner after accidentally texting him in 2016 has lost her husband to coronavirus.

Jamal Hinton, the young man who received the misdirected text and then the invitation from Wanda Dench announced late Wednesday that Wanda's husband Lonnie had died. 

"As some of you may have already found out tonight, Lonnie did not make it ... he passed away Sunday morning, but Wanda told me all the love and support he was receiving put a huge smile on his face so I thank every single one of you guys for that!" Hinton wrote on Twitter, sharing pictures and videos of him and his girlfriend, Mikaela, with the Denches over the years.

Hinton and the couple had spent Thanksgivings together since 2016, when he accepted the first invitation. But Jamal, Mikaela, Wanda and Lonnie didn't only spend time together in November; Jamal shared on social media that the couples would go on double dates all year round. 

1024d ago / 3:25 PM UTC

Senate Democrats block GOP bid for $250 billion in small-business funds amid impasse over coronavirus aid

Senate Democrats blocked a Republican proposal to add $250 billion to small-business coronavirus relief funds on Thursday after demanding the inclusion of additional resources for hospitals and state and local governments.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had sought unanimous consent to pass the emergency funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, but Democrats objected, claiming McConnell was politicizing the push for more small-business money.

“I am afraid that this unanimous consent is basically a political stunt," Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said following McConnell's request. “This unanimous consent was not negotiated, there was no effort made … so it won’t get done. It's not going to be enacted.”

President Donald Trump and McConnell are pushing for the additional money for small businesses, as the new loan program passed in the $2 trillion stimulus is already in danger of running out of money.

Read the full story here.

1024d ago / 3:24 PM UTC

1024d ago / 3:17 PM UTC

Syrian refugee in London says he's 'honored' to clean COVID-19 hospital wards

A Syrian refugee in London who has taken a job cleaning COVID-19 wards in his local hospital says he's "honored" to have found a way to help keep his new community safe. 

"I’ve already gone through crisis — Syria, the journey here— so [lockdown] was triggering," Hassan Akkad, 32, who usually works as a filmmaker, told NBC News. "I told my fiancée I had to do something."

Akkad says he's relieved that he has the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job, and that fellow minimum wage cleaners at his hospital are being given the same protection as doctors and nurses on the ward. 

1024d ago / 3:15 PM UTC

Pennsylvania extends school closings for entire academic year

Public schools in Pennsylvania will remain closed through the rest of the academic year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday, although school districts are encouraged to continue distance learning.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has created resources to help schools that are not currently offering online platforms or need additional tech support. Designated schools, Wolf added, will continue to offer meals to-go for students.

"This was not an easy decision, but closing schools until the end of the academic year is in the best interest of our students, school employees and families," Wolf said in a statement.