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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

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.

Ohio to begin reopening on May 1, governor announces

Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Thursday his intention to "start opening Ohio back up," saying the first phase of the planned reopening would begin on May 1. 

DeWine said at a press conference things are "going to be different," according to NBC affiliate WSAZ, with masks and social distancing becoming standard in the workplace.

Dr. Amy Acton with the Ohio Department of Health said, "The path ahead will consist of several phases and there is a lot of things that you can do to help us continue to flatten the curve, such as great hygiene and wearing a face mask while out in public."

As of Thursday afternoon, Ohio reported 8,414 cases 389 deaths due to coronavirus.

Facebook nixes planned events with 50 or more people through June 2021

Facebook is canceling all of its scheduled physical events with 50 or more people through June 2021, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post Thursday.

"Some of these we will hold as virtual events instead and we'll share more details on that soon," Zuckerberg said in a post on Facebook. "Similarly, we're extending our policy of no business travel through at least June of this year as well."

Zuckerberg also said the "vast majority" of the company's employees would continue to work from home "through at least the end of May."

"A small percent of our critical employees who can't work remotely, like content reviewers working on counter-terrorism or suicide and self-harm prevention, and engineers working on complex hardware, may be able to return sooner, but overall, we don't expect to have everyone back in our offices for some time," he said.

Seven midwestern governors announce pact to plan for reopening their economies

Seven midwestern governors announced Thursday they are forming a regional pact to plan for the reopening of their respective economies.

Those governors include Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tim Walz of Minnesota, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Andy Beshear of Kentucky. DeWine and Holcomb are Republicans, while the other five are Democrats.

"Our number one priority when analyzing when best to reopen our economy is the health and safety of our citizens," the governors said in a joint statement. "We will make decisions based on facts, science, and recommendations from experts in health care, business, labor, and education."

The governors listed four factors they will consider when determining when to reopen — sustained control in the rate of new infections and hospitalizations, enhanced testing and tracing ability, sufficient capacity in the health care system to handle a resurgence and guidance for best practices for social distancing in the workplace.

The announcement comes after seven governors of northeastern states announced a similar pact earlier this week, as did three states along the Pacific coast. President Donald Trump said earlier this week he is deferring to the governors on reopening plans, though his administration has created working groups to offer guidance and assistance.

New Orleans Jazz Fest fall reschedule date cancelled, next concert to be in 2021

The New Orleans Jazz Fest 2020 announced that its fall reschedule date has been cancelled and the next concert won't occur until 2021.

"With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to evolve unpredictably—and out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our community, including musicians, fans, participants, and staff—Jazz Fest 2020 will not occur this fall, as previously announced," the organization said.

The event was originally supposed to begin this April, but it was postponed as COVID-19 rapidly spread throughout Louisiana.

"It takes something truly momentous to interrupt a 50-year New Orleans tradition as special as the Festival, but we feel strongly that the most prudent course right now is to allow more time for the situation to stabilize," the group said. 

White House exploring ways of ramping up coronavirus testing

The White House is exploring ways of dramatically increasing coronavirus testing in the U.S., as President Donald Trump’s aides scramble to put measures in place that might make it feasible for him to meet his goal of reopening the economy in parts of the country by May 1, according to four people familiar with the efforts.

Multiple ideas are under consideration for increasing diagnostic testing and testing for coronavirus antibodies as well as how to target those tests to geographic areas and specific industries to open as much of the economy as possible, these people said.

Read the full story here.

New Jersey schools closed till May 15

U.K. extends lockdown measures for at least three weeks

The U.K. will extend its nationwide lockdown measures for at least three more weeks, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Thursday.  

Speaking at his government's daily coronavirus briefing, Raab, who is deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he recovers from COVID—19, said: "Any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus."

Relaxing the rules could cause a "second peak" which would risk increasing deaths "substantially," he said. He added that he could not give a "definitive timeframe" for when the measures would be lifted because it would not "be a responsible thing to do."

106-year-old great-grandmother released from hospital after recovering from COVID-19

Connie Titchen, a 106-year-old great-grandmother from Birmingham, England, was released from the hospital this week after enduring a three-week battle with COVID-19. She is believed to be Britain’s oldest patient to recover from the coronavirus, according to the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust

Video posted on social media shows health care workers at City Hospital lining the hallway to applaud Titchen as she was discharged.

“I feel very lucky that I’ve fought off this virus. I can’t wait to see my family,” Titchen said in a statement released by the NHS. Born in 1913, Titchen has lived through two World Wars and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

New York Gov. Cuomo extends state shutdown to May 15

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is extending the state's shutdown to May 15.

"What happens after then? I don't know," Cuomo said at a news conference Thursday. "We will see depending on what the data shows."

The governor said the decision to "unpause" New York "is going to be an ongoing process that we're working through with other states" in the region.

Cuomo also said he received some complaints about his order this week requiring New Yorkers to wear masks or face coverings in public.

"I'm sorry it makes people unhappy," the governor said. But, he said, he doesn't consider the order "a major burden, and it really is a simple measure that can save lives."

"Remember, it's not just about you, right?," he said. Others have rights. "And you have a right for another person to take reasonable safeguards not to get infected." 

Photo: Entertaining kids with cabbage masks

A mother ties makeshift masks around her children's face in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday.Mohammed Abed / AFP - Getty Images