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

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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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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.

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.

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]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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. 

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.