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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Amtrak gets $1 billion in federal assistance; ridership down 90 percent
Amtrak is receiving more than $1 billion in federal assistance to help offset ridership declines due to coronavirus, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced.
Ridership is down more than 90 percent in recent weeks. The funding will come through the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law in late March.
Video shows giant trench getting built on NYC's Hart Island to bury coronavirus victims
New drone video shows a giant trench getting dug at New York City's public cemetery on Hart Island to help handle the increased influx of unclaimed bodies due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The medical examiner's office will now only keep bodies for 14 days before they are sent to be buried on Hart Island in the Bronx.
As the death toll mounts in New York, the city's public cemetery has started receiving about 24 bodies a day, five days a week. It used to only see about 25 bodies a week, mostly of people whose families can't afford a funeral, or who go unclaimed by relatives.
West Virginia reports 536 confirmed coronavirus cases, five deaths
More than 500 people in West Virginia have tested positive for COVID-19, the state Department of Health and Human Resources said.
West Virginia has 536 positive cases, 14,001 negatives and five deaths. Nearly half of the confirmed cases are located in three counties: Berkeley (83 confirmed cases), Monongalia (76), and Kanawha (74).
Photos: Portrait of a California neighborhood under lockdown
The nation’s most populous state is serving as a laboratory for how Americans may be asked to live in the months ahead. See more compelling images from photojournalist Todd Bigelow's look at the confined existence of residents of West Hills, a Los Angeles suburb.
Nurses union calls for help with housing, child care amid coronavirus fight
The helpers need help, too. The country's largest union of registered nurses is calling on governors of 17 states, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and hospital employers to provide housing, child care and workers' compensation in addition to protective equipment to nurses caring for coronavirus patients.
The union, National Nurses United, sent letters to governors of Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and West Virginia.
“NNU has heard too many reports of nurses sleeping in their cars or garages to protect their families from potential infection, and far too many reports of nurses being told to use their sick or vacation time to cover precautionary leave after being exposed,” NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said in a statement. “This is outrageous and morally wrong, and we call on the states and hospitals to immediately address our demands for better protections.”
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.