The coronavirus death toll across the U.S. continues to climb and passed 18,500 by Friday evening, according to an NBC News tally. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York state had reached 170,512.
Globally, the number of cases passed 1.6 million with more than 102,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, as countries deliberate over further lockdown measures or worry about second wave outbreaks. Millions of people around the world are preparing for religious celebrations and a holiday weekend.
Current and former U.S. officials, meanwhile, tell NBC News that American spy agencies collected raw intelligence hinting at a public health crisis in Wuhan, China, in November, but the information was not understood as the first warning signs of an impending global pandemic.
- Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Stay-at-home orders across the country: What each state is doing — or not — amid widespread coronavirus lockdowns.
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Ohio Dept. of Health offers a stark metaphor for the importance of social distancing
Connecticut senator warns on shortage of tests, protective equipment
Irish sheep farmer uses large pair of shears for lockdown haircut
While many people have resorted to home haircuts due to the closure of barbers and salons during the COVID-19 pandemic, 62-year-old Irish sheep farmer and sheepdog trainer Donie Anderson took things a step further, using a large pair of shears to trim his own hair in a video that has been viewed nearly 2 million times on Facebook.
From his home in the Dublin Mountains where he is lambing 130 ewes, Anderson told NBC News that he normally shears his hair at Christmas, but worries over catching a cold meant that he had been waiting for the first bout of good weather to get a trim.
While the shears look foreboding, Anderson’s experience using them on his sheep means he is able to use them to great effect. “If you clipped your ear with the shears it’d need stitching with needle and thread”, he said, “but I’ve been shearing sheep for 50 years so I’m able to do it properly”.
Pandemic disproportionately affecting women and girls, UN says
The coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately affecting women and girls globally, the United Nations said in a policy brief released Thursday.
While the pandemic reaches everyone, "it affects different groups of people differently, deepening existing inequalities. Early data indicates that the mortality rates from COVID-19 may be higher for men. But the pandemic is having devastating social and economic consequences for women and girls,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a video released along with the brief.
The economic toll will hurt women globally as they tend to earn less, hold less secure jobs and are more likely to be employed in the informal sector. Issues surrounding women’s healthcare, unpaid domestic labor and gender-based violence are also currently exacerbated, it said.
As well as working to contain the outbreak, Guterres urged governments to also focus on the gender divide: “That starts with women as leaders, with equal representation and decision-making power. Measures to protect and stimulate the economy — from cash transfers to credits and loans — must be targeted at women,” he said.
Prisoners in Ecuador set to manufacture coffins amid virus shortage
Hundreds of prisoners in Ecuador will begin making wooden coffins to help cover a shortage emerging due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The health crisis has prompted a shortage of coffins in Guayaquil, one of the worst hit regions, prompting some families to bury their relatives in cardboard boxes donated to cemeteries by private companies.
"The Environment Ministry is donating seized wood, which would have gone toward other purposes for a noble cause: give a wooden coffin to families who have lost a loved one," Environment Minister Juan DeHowitt said in a statement.
Prisoners in Ambato city plan to start delivering the coffins next week.
Walmart sold enough toilet paper in 5 days for every American to have one roll, CEO says
Walmart sold enough toilet paper in five days for every American to have their own roll, a statistic cited by the retail giant's CEO in saying that shoppers should buy only what they need for a week instead of stocking up.
As to what else people are buying, CEO Doug McMillon said on TODAY on Friday that initially food was flying off the shelves during the pandemic. Then entertainment and educational products such as puzzles and games became popular. Now, grooming products like hair color and beard trimmers are in high demand.
Walmart's business has increased during the crisis, leading to the hiring of more than 100,000 new workers since March 19.
All employees have masks and gloves and starting Friday, their temperatures were being taken before they began their shifts.
Obama to U.S. mayors: 'Speak the truth. Speak it clearly.'
Former President Barack Obama addressed a group of mayors on how to best deal with the outbreak in an online meeting on Thursday, saying the “biggest mistake any us can make in these situations is to misinform.”
"Speak the truth. Speak it clearly. Speak it with compassion. Speak it with empathy for what folks are going through," Obama said to mayors of more than 300 cities across America, according to a press release on the virtual meeting organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Obama also urged the politicians to surround themselves with a strong team of reliable experts and to not be afraid to ask questions. This was the fourth virtual meeting Bloomberg's group has held with mayors. Two of the previous meetings have featured speeches by former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Nigeria reports 14 new cases of coronavirus
Nigeria has reported 14 new cases of coronavirus, the majority in the economic center of Lagos, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The West African nation now has 288 confirmed cases and 7 deaths as of Thursday evening, it said.