Trump puts onus on governors to reopen, stimulus chaos causes stress

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: New York City Fire Department and Emergency Medical Technicians lift a man after moving him from a nursing home into an ambulance
New York City Fire Department and Emergency Medical Technicians lift a man after moving him from a nursing home into an ambulance during an ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 16, 2020.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world topped 2 million Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with more than 143,000 confirmed deaths as of Thursday night.

President Donald Trump unveiled a three-phased plan for reopening the U.S. that puts the onus on state governors for implementing the guidelines, despite earlier assertions that he had "total authority" to direct governors how and when to reopen.

Earlier in the day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave no indication that he would "unpause" the state and extended the stay-at-home order until May 15.

Delays in stimulus payments and difficulty navigating the IRS website have left many cash-strapped Americans anxious as they struggle to pay for their homes or put food on the table.

In Europe, Germany became the latest nation to commit to cautiously reopening some businesses despite keeping a wider lockdown in place.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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Live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 17 coronavirus news here.

Facebook will start steering users who interact with coronavirus misinformation to WHO

Facebook will begin to alert users after they’ve been exposed to misinformation about the coronavirus, the company announced Thursday, the latest in a series of actions meant to curtail the spread of wrong or misleading claims related to the pandemic.

Users who have liked, commented on or reacted to coronavirus misinformation that has been flagged as “harmful” by Facebook and removed will now be directed to a website debunking coronavirus myths from the World Health Organization.

Read the full story here.

Amazon temporarily closes warehouses in France after clash with union workers

The Amazon logo at the company logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, northern France.Pascal Rossignol / Reuters file

Amazon closed six of its warehouses in France on Thursday in one of the biggest fallouts yet from a growing stand-off with its workers over safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as a French court ruled Tuesday that Amazon had to carry out a more thorough assessment of the risk of coronavirus contagion at its warehouses and should restrict its deliveries in the meantime, or face a fine. It ordered the company to limit deliveries to essential goods, such as food and medical supplies.

The director-general of Amazon France, Frederic Duval, rejected the court's order on Thursday, saying the company had spent "colossal investments" to ensure the safety of their employees in warehouses. The firm will appeal the decision, he said in a radio interview.

In a statement on Thursday, the union said it would continue to work for the recognition of the health and security of workers facing COVID-19.

Dutch new unemployment claims soar 42 percent amid pandemic

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits in the Netherlands soared 42 percent in March as many businesses were shut down in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

The Dutch federal employment agency on Thursday said it had paid benefits to 37,800 new unemployed in March, an increase of 11,200 from the month before.

The strongest increases were among people who used to work in restaurants and bars and among people under 25 years of age, the agency said.

The Dutch government on March 15 ordered all restaurants, bars, museums, sport facilities and other public places in the Netherlands to shut down in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan extends state of emergency to whole country

Japan will extend its current coronavirus state of emergency, in place in seven regions including Tokyo and Osaka, to cover the rest of the country, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday.

"We will expand the state of emergency issued on April 7th from the current 7 prefectures to all prefectures. This will be in effect until May 6th, as we have previously announced," Abe said during an address.

Unlike other countries, the state of emergency in Japan remains non-compulsory and is a strong request from the government for people to stay at home in a bid to limit the spread of the virus — especially as the country prepares for its national golden week holiday beginning at the end of this month.  

E.U. Commission president offers an apology to Italy

The president of the European Commission — the executive branch of the European Union — offered an apology to Italy on Thursday, saying the country did not receive adequate help at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Yes it is true that no one was really ready for this," Ursula von der Leyen said in an address to the European Parliament. "It is also true that too many were not there on time when Italy needed a helping hand at the very beginning. And yes for that, it is right that Europe as a whole offers a heartfelt apology."

Saying that while “there are no words that can do justice to Europe's pain,” von der Leyen also looked ahead in her address. She discussed ways the E.U. planned to support and reshape industries, and invest in digital technologies, infrastructure and the European Green Deal.

While countries across Europe have suffered from the virus outbreak, Italy has been hit the hardest, particularly in the earlier weeks of the outbreak. More than 21,000 people have died in Italy as of Thursday, the highest death toll in Europe. The country has begun to ease some lockdown measures this week. 

Trump questions accuracy of China's coronavirus death toll

President Donald Trump has heaped further criticism on China over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, questioning the accuracy of its official death toll and saying he was looking into an unverified theory that the infection originated in a Chinese laboratory.

"Do you really believe those numbers in this vast country called China. … Does anybody really believe that?" Trump said when asked at the White House daily news briefing Wednesday why the U.S. has the highest numbers of official coronavirus deaths and cases in the world.

"Some countries are in big, big trouble and they're not reporting the facts — and that's up to them," he said.

Read the full story here. 

President Trump at the coronavirus briefing at the White House on Wednesday.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

What life is like in locked-down Berlin

74 million people in Middle East lack sink, soap or basic water facilities, U.N. says

While hand-washing with soap and water has been advocated worldwide to keep the coronavirus at bay, some 74 million people in the Middle East lack access to a sink, soap or basic water facilities at home, a United Nations report published Thursday found.

Refugees and those in conflict areas were especially at risk, the report said, living with inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene services.

In the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, only one in 10 households has access to clean water, the U.N. said. Women and girls in rural areas and informal settlements, who usually undertake the water collection task, were being put at greater risk.

Gold stores in Bangkok's Chinatown see brisk trade because of COVID-19

99-year-old vet raises $16M to help U.K. health service fight virus

A 99-year-old war veteran has raised more than 13 million British pounds (about $16 million) for the National Health Service by walking laps around his garden.

Tom Moore, a former captain who turns 100 at the end of the month, has long surpassed his original target to raise 1,000 pounds by walking the length of his garden in Bedfordshire, England, a hundred times before his 100th birthday. 

Health care workers across the U.K. have raised concerns about the lack of safety equipment to protect them from getting infected while helping coronavirus patients. 

So far, nearly 13,000 people have died of COVID-19, the disease the virus cases, in the U.K., with the nationwide tally of confirmed cases now standing at 98,476.

Another 5 million people filed jobless claims last week, bringing total to almost 22 million in a month

Around 5 million more people filed for first-time unemployment claims last week, as the job market in every sector of the economy continues to be devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The staggering weekly total comes as President Donald Trump weighs plans to pull back on the social distancing measures that have shuttered businesses across the country, and reopen parts of the economy as soon as May 1.

State-mandated lockdowns have choked vast portions of the once-booming economy, kicking a new total of 22 million people out of work and launching the nation into the worst crisis since the Great Depression.

Read the full story here.