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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:

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

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

9.2 million workers likely lost health insurance, unemployment claims indicate

Image: A Hillsborough County Library Service employee hands out unemployment paperwork in Tampa, Fla.,
A Hillsborough County Library Service employee hands out unemployment paperwork in Tampa, Fla., on April 14, 2020.Chris O'Meara / AP

The number of unemployed Americans continues to climb with another 5 million people filing jobless claims last week, bringing the total number of people applying for unemployment to 22 million in the last month.

But an unsettling undercurrent of that number is the amount of people who are also losing access to health insurance because they lost their job. Approximately 9.2 million workers have likely lost their employer-provided health care coverage in the past four weeks, an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute concluded.   

Two weeks ago, the nonprofit think tank concluded that nearly 3.5 million among the 8.7 million claims  likely lost their employer coverage.  An additional 11.4 million people have since applied for unemployment, with the biggest losses of insurance coming from the health care/social assistance, manufacturing and retail sectors.

NBC News previously reported that states are bracing for an increase in the number of people who have applied for Medicaid, the public health care coverage option, since the coronavirus pandemic caused states to shutter businesses and caused workers to lose access to their insurance.

Trump to announce 'guidelines' for reopening U.S. amid coronavirus pandemic

Image: President Donald Trump leaves the Rose Garden after a coronavirus press briefing on April 15, 2020.
President Donald Trump leaves the Rose Garden after a coronavirus press briefing on April 15, 2020.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

President Donald Trump will announce his framework for reopening the U.S. on Thursday as governors across the country have begun discussing plans to ease some of the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A coordinated pull-back on the social distancing measures that have shuttered businesses across the country would, in effect, reopen parts of the economy.

As of Thursday, more than 32,000 people have died in the U.S. from the coronavirus. In addition, more than 22 million people have filed for unemployment insurance over the last four weeks, as the job market in every sector of the economy continued to be devastated by the pandemic.

Read the full story here. 

More than 80 inmates test positive for coronavirus at Indiana prison

More than 80 inmates have tested positive for cornavirus at an Indiana prison, according to NBC South Bend affiliate WNDU. 

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box discussed the growing outbreak at the Westville Correctional Facility in northwest Indiana, saying people in the prison who have tested positive are being isolated.

A man incarcerated in the Indiana prison died of the virus this week, renewing a push by civil liberties groups to release those incarcerated who are at-risk, a move the governor opposes.

Photo: Mother recovering from coronavirus meets son for the first time

Image:
Yanira Soriano holds Walter for the first time outside Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y., on Wednesday. Soriano, who had COVID-19 pneumonia in her third trimester was put on a ventilator before she had an emergency C-section earlier this month.Northwell Health

As baseball plots its return, medical experts weigh in on what's needed

Image: Spring Training
New York Yankees play the Washington Nationals in a Grapefruit League spring training game on March 12, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Fla.Michael Reaves / Getty Images file

One of the nation’s foremost experts on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, gave baseball fans hope this week when he said that a season could start amid the coronavirus pandemic if games are played in empty stadiums and players are sequestered in hotels.

“Put (players) in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during part of an interview with Peter Hamby on the Snapchat show, "Good Luck America." “Have them tested every single week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family, just let them play the season out.”

Read the full story 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

Image:
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

U.S. intel community examining whether coronavirus emerged accidentally from a Chinese lab

The U.S. intelligence community is examining whether the virus that caused a global pandemic emerged accidentally from a Chinese research lab studying diseases in bats, current and former U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News.

Spy agencies have ruled out that the novel coronavirus was manmade, the officials say. But scientists at a military and a civilian lab in Wuhan, where the virus originated, are known to have conducted ongoing research on coronaviruses, officials say. They say intelligence agencies have gathered and are weighing evidence that an employee of one of the labs could have become accidentally infected and left the facility with the virus.

Read the full report here.

Small business loan program officially out of cash

The Small Business Administration has run out of money for the Paycheck Protection Program, it said in a statement.

"The SBA is currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding," the statement read. "Similarly, we are unable to enroll new PPP lenders at this time."

As coronavirus deaths in nursing homes skyrocket, House Dems urge Trump admin to track cases

A group of House Democrats is urging the Trump administration to track and publicly report coronavirus infections in nursing homes around the country. "We fear that there may be hundreds if not thousands more COVID-19 cases that have gone unreported," Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

The federal government does not keep a formal tally of coronavirus cases in nursing homes. An NBC News investigation this week found more than 5,600 deaths linked to long-term care facilities in 29 states, but limited testing and some states’ refusal to disclose data means that the national death toll is likely far higher.

Read the full story here.

Stopping COVID-19 will include monitoring, sharing personal data

A growing mix of health and technology experts are convinced that if the United States is to ever effectively track the coronavirus and slow its spread, then both self-reported and more surreptitiously gathered personal data — a mix of information about location, travel, symptoms and health conditions ― must be gathered from millions of Americans.

With the pandemic far from over, public health needs are paramount. Public health experts say that collecting personal data may be the only way to analyze information on the massive scale needed. But how that information is used and by whom worries some privacy advocates.

Read the full story here.

Gov. Cuomo says 606 more people had died in the state, the lowest number in days

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that 606 more people (577 in hospitals and 29 in nursing homes) had died in the state, the lowest number in more than a week. 

"We've been watching the nursing homes because nursing homes are in many ways ground zero," Cuomo said at a news conference. 

Cuomo said the number of people admitted to intensive care units at hospitals "is down significantly for the first time" and that less people had been intubated. Cuomo said New York would be sending 100 ventilators to New Jersey. 

NYC pools will be closed this summer, beaches an unknown, mayor says

New York City's public outdoor pools will be closed this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his news conference on Thursday. 

He also said he does not think beaches will open anytime soon to prevent large crowds of people. De Blasio said until there is a better understanding of the virus, he does not want to create a situation that would encourage people to gather. 

"If we bring out lifeguards and it's a situation where people think it's safe to go to the beach and it's safe to start resuming normalcy, it's going to endanger people, based on what we know now," he said. "So, no, right now we do not have a plan to open the beaches just like we don't have a plan to open the pools." 

U.K. hospital deaths top 13,000

Almost 14,000 patients have died in British hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus as of 5 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET) on Wednesday, the U.K.'s Department of Health said Thursday. 

This was up by 861 from 12,868 the day, bringing the total to 13,729. 

The Department of Health said that, as of 9 a.m. on Thursday, 327,608 people had been tested, of which 103,093 tested positive. Overall, 417,649 tests have concluded. 

Ivanka Trump skirted coronavirus guidelines to travel to N.J., report says

Image: Senior Advisor to the President, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump, walk with their children at the Ellipse in President's Park near the White House
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump walk with their children near the White House on Nov. 30, 2017.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images file

Ivanka Trump and her family traveled to the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey last week to celebrate Passover despite federal guidelines that advise against nonessential travel and a stay-at-home order is in effect in Washington, D.C., according to The New York Times.

The president's eldest daughter went with her husband, Trump adviser Jared Kushner, and their three young children, to the Trump golf club in Bedminster, two people with knowledge of their travel plans told the Times, which reported on them Wednesday night. The family lives in Washington's Kalorama neighborhood in the northwest part of the city.

Read the full story here.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio calls on Trump for more federal stimulus spending

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on President Donald Trump for more federal stimulus money. 

"The federal government was very quick to bail out the banks a decade ago, no questions asked. The federal government was very quick to bail out the auto industry. How about bailing out the nation's largest city? How about bailing out the epicenter of this crisis, where people have been suffering," he said at a news conference Thursday.

According to the mayor, there are currently negotiations for another stimulus package with a focus on small business and paycheck protection. De Blasio said on the table is $100 billion for hospitals and health care workers, $150 billion for states and localities based on need, and $250 billion for small businesses. 

De Blasio slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for being a "roadblock" to the city's getting the funding it needs. 

"He has to hear our plea. He has to understand what it means for human beings that he's not allowing the kind of aid to flow that we need," the mayor said, adding, "It's clearly time for President Trump to speak up."

Michael Che of 'SNL' to pay rent for public housing tenants where grandma who died of coronavirus lived

We apologize, this video has expired.

"Saturday Night Live" comedian Michael Che announced that he's going to pay the rent for people living in a New York City public housing building where his grandmother, who died of coronavirus, lived.

"it's crazy to me that residents of public housing are still expected to pay their rent when so many new yorkers can't even work," he wrote in an Instagram post on Wednesday.

Che, 36, said he would cover the rent for all 160 units in the building.

Read the full story here.

17 bodies found crowded into tiny morgue at New Jersey nursing home

An anonymous tip led to the discovery of 17 bodies crowded into a four-person morgue at one of New Jersey’s largest nursing homes.

Police found the bodies this week at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II in Sussex County, in northwest New Jersey, Rep. Josh Gottheimer confirmed to NBC New York. Sixty-eight people linked to Andover, NJ nursing home have died in recent weeks, including two staff members.

“They were just overwhelmed by the amount of people who were expiring,” Eric C. Danielson, the town’s chief of police, told The New York Times.

Read the full story here.

New York sports teams unite for a message: 'We're in this together'

Sickness, death — then layoffs. Coronavirus forces cities to cut budgets and furlough staff.

From Detroit to New York, nearly every city in the country is facing lower revenues as a result of the coronavirus. That's leading to painful cuts to city services, as well as layoffs and furloughs. 

In Detroit, the outbreak has stolen an estimated $348 million from the city's budget for the next 16 months — nearly a quarter of the money the city had been counting on.

"We expected a downturn, and we prepared for it," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said this week as he announced layoffs for all of the city's 200 part-time or seasonal employees, as well as steep pay cuts or reduced hours for more than 2,200 full-time staffers. "We didn't expect it to be this sudden or this dire."

Read the full story here. 

More Nigerians killed by security services than coronavirus, says human rights body

There have been 18 extra-judicial killings in Nigeria by security forces while the country has been under coronavirus lockdown, according to the country's National Human Rights Commission, more than the number of people who have died from the virus so far.

The commission said the killings were a "display of impunity and reckless disregard for human life in law enforcement by security personnel." Most of the deaths occurred in the northern Kaduna state.

The report, published late Wednesday, found 105 human rights complaints since the lockdown began on March 30, including excessive use of force, abuse of power and corruption by security forces — with Lagos State recording the highest number of incidents.

Biden: 'False choice' to decide between coronavirus safety measures and economy

Joe Biden said Thursday that the decision between protecting people’s health from coronavirus and reopening the U.S. economy is a “false choice” because you can't do one without the other.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” co-host Willie Geist asked the former vice president what he would say to people who might favor a move by President Donald Trump to reopen the economy soon if it means they can get back to work and put food on the table.

“I say we should not send you back to work till it’s safe to send you back to work. This is a false choice,” said Biden, who was speaking from his home in Delaware, sitting next to his wife, Jill Biden.

“The way you revive the economy is you defeat the disease,” he said.

Read the full story 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

Image: The Amazon logo at the company logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, northern France
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. 

Image: President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House
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.

NBC News' Richard Engel rounds up the latest coronavirus headlines

Locked-down citizens across the world dress up to take out the trash in online meme

Image: Danielle Askew, 47, says she has a backlog of 18,000 submissions from people who are dressing up to take out the trash.
Danielle Askew, 47, says she has a backlog of 18,000 submissions from people who are dressing up to take out the trash.Danielle Askew

People around the world are celebrating rare opportunities to leave the house by dressing in their finest clothes to take out the trash.

Followers of the trend from New South Wales to New York are sharing photos online of themselves donning prom dresses, superman costumes and their Sunday best to make the most of a rare trip outside, during the coronavirus crisis. One woman even wore her old wedding dress for the task.

"So basically the bin goes out more than us, SO let’s dress up for the occasion!" wrote Facebook group Bin Isolation Outing founder Danielle Askew, 47, from Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia.

Read the full story here. 

Nissan to make face shields for health care workers in Japan

Japanese automaker Nissan will start making face shields for health care workers in Japan, the company said in a statement Thursday.

Nissan said it will make around 2,500 shields a month, adding that it was looking into whether it was able to support other companies that manufacture ventilators and artificial heart-lung machines. 

The company said it had also started similar initiatives in other countries including the U.K. and Spain. In the U.S., the company is making protective face shields for health care workers in Michigan, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Amazon to begin testing some frontline staff, Bezos says

Jeff Bezos, founder of online retailer Amazon, has outlined the company's aim to begin testing staff for coronavirus.

"If every person could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we fight this virus," Bezos said in his annual letter to shareholders published Thursday. "Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence."

The company, which has come under criticism for not adequately protecting workers during the crisis, has set up a team to begin incremental testing and begun assembling equipment to build Amazon's first lab to test "small numbers of our frontline employees," Bezos said. 

 

Nearly half of Brits report high levels of anxiety during lockdown, survey says

Nearly half of adults in the U.K. are suffering from high levels of anxiety after three weeks of nationwide lockdown to stem the coronavirus epidemic, according to a survey from Britain's national statistics office.

The survey, which polled 1,581 adults between March 27 and April 6, also showed that four in five people said they were very worried or somewhat worried about the effect that the coronavirus is having on their life right now. Just over half said it was affecting their well-being.

The survey covered a time period after the U.K. government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 23. It's expected the lockdown will be extended on Thursday. 

Australia says coronavirus restrictions to continue at least four more weeks

Image: An empty Coogee beach is seen during a lock down in Sydney
Coogee beach in Sydney sits empty during the coronavirus lockdown on Thursday. Saeed Khan / AFP - Getty Images

Australia will keep in place restrictions implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus for at least four more weeks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday, despite signs that Canberra has been successful in slowing infection rates.

Morrison said Australia will over the next month expand testing, improve its capacity to trace contacts of known coronavirus cases and plan a response to any further local outbreaks.

Morrison said these three steps will be finished within four weeks, and Australia will then review the restrictions that include curtailing the movements of residents, and the closures of schools, restaurants and pubs.

Rats feature prominently in Banksy's lockdown art

Banksy published a series of pictures showing rats causing mayhem during lockdown, with the caption: “My wife hates it when I work from home."

View this post on Instagram

. . My wife hates it when I work from home.

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

The elusive and anonymous England-based street artist published five pictures on his Instagram account on Wednesday showing graffitied rats — which have featured in several of his pieces — stepping on toothpaste, swinging from the mirror and generally wreaking havoc in his bathroom.

NYC medical residents treating coronavirus describe 'living a nightmare'

On the front lines of the coronavirus crisis that has swept through New York City, a medical resident in Brooklyn decided to write about dealing with a historic pandemic at what is an early and critical time in the career of a doctor.

"Throughout these last couple of weeks I've hit a whole range of emotions," the resident, who works at several hospitals in Brooklyn, wrote in text shared with NBC News. "There have been multiple days where I'd come home and just feel … defeated."

"As this is going on, it feels like no matter what you do, what treatment you give, you are slowly watching someone die," the resident wrote in the passage.

Medical residents in New York City described their fears and hopes to NBC News and said they never imagined they would have to bear witness to so much death this early in their careers. 

Read the full story. 

Official 'very skeptical' Oktoberfest will happen this fall

Image: Revelers strain to receive the first 1-liter-mug of beer during the opening weekend of the 2019 Oktoberfest
Revelers strain to receive the first 1-liter-mug of beer during the opening weekend of the 2019 Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.Johannes Simon / Getty Images

The Minister of Bavaria Markus Soder is “very skeptical” that Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival, will happen this fall, he told German public broadcaster BR on Thursday.

He “cannot imagine such a large event at this time,” Soeder said in reference to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oktoberfest is held annually in Bavaria’s capital Munich, with the tradition beginning in 1810.

Organizers said they expected to make a decision on the festival in June at the latest. 

Romaines worth $1 million plowed up after coronavirus lockdown hits demand

'I have to walk my teddy bear': Italians come up with unlikely excuses to defy lockdown

Image: An Italian Carabiniere controls a driver by the Teatro di Marcello in Rome on April 8, 2020 during the country's lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus.
An Italian police officer talks to a driver in Rome on Wednesday, April 8 during the country's lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.Filippo Monteforte / AFP - Getty Images

An empathic woman out of her house to comfort her friend whose chicken had died. A grief-struck man visiting his grandma at the cemetery while the woman is well and alive at home. A woman walking her tortoise in the park.  

In Italy, where the government has enforced some of the most strict lockdown restrictions in the world to curb the spread of the coronavirus, people have come up with some unlikely excuses to get out of the house. 

From the man walking his son’s stuffed animal to the couple candidly admitting that their love couldn’t keep them apart, the stories caught the attention of a Rome-based journalist, Salvatore Dama, who started a daily top-ten list of the most tragicomic reasons Italians found to defy the lockdown. 

His daily Facebook lists, based on local news reports, became so popular that he decided to turn them into an e-book, with proceeds going towards a hospital in Bergamo, one of the hardest-hit cities in Italy.  

The number of reported coronavirus deaths in long-term care facilities has more than doubled to 5,670 since last week, according to state health data gathered by NBC News, driven by huge increases in hard-hit states like New York, where more than two percent of nursing home residents have died of the virus.

The death count is based on data from 29 state health departments and includes nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities. An NBC News investigation published last week found 2,246 deaths associated with long-term care facilities in 24 states.

There are now 3,466 long-term care facilities in 39 states with known coronavirus infections, according to state data – nearly 1,000 more facilities than state officials reported to NBC News last week.

Read the full story. 

Germany plans partial reopening of shops and schools

Image: A helper of the German Red Cross DRK in protective suit, left, takes a smear from a patient in his car during the official opening of a drive-through (drive-in) COVID-19 testing center at the fair ground in Dresden, eastern Germany
A helper of the German Red Cross, left, takes a smear from a patient in his car during the official opening of a drive-through coronavirus testing center in Dresden on Wednesday. Jens Meyer / AP

Germany will begin to reopen some shops and schools as of next week as it moves to ease lockdown restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Wednesday. 

Merkel said some businesses of up to 800 square meters (8,600 square feet) in size will be allowed to reopen as early as next Monday. Schools are set to reopen after May 3. 

“We have achieved something that wasn’t sure at the beginning, that our doctors, our nurses, everybody who’s working in hospitals, have not been overwhelmed,” she said. “Our healthcare system has held up.” 

However, Merkel warned that this is a “fragile interim result,” and citizens would have to continue living with the virus until there is a medication, and ideally a vaccine.

South Korea's coronavirus battle propels Moon's party to election win

Image: South Korean election officials sort voting papers for ballot counting in the parliamentary elections at a gymnasium in Seoul
South Korean election officials sort voting papers for ballot counting in the parliamentary elections at a gymnasium in Seoul on Wednesday. Jung Yeon-je / AFP - Getty Images

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections, results on Thursday showed, a landslide victory propelled by successes in the country’s efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

The election was watched around the world as one of the first nationwide votes since the pandemic began.

Authorities took stringent safety measures, disinfecting all 14,000 polling stations and requiring voters to wear masks, have their temperatures checked, use hand sanitizer and plastic gloves and maintain a safe distance from others.

Driven by record high participation in early voting over the weekend, turnout was 66.2%, higher than any parliamentary elections held since 1992, according to the National Election Commission. About 2,800 coronavirus patients were allowed to vote by mail or in person, using special booths, while more than 13,000 in self-quarantine cast their ballots after polls closed.

Trump to virtually convene G7 leaders to discuss pandemic

President Donald Trump will hold a video teleconference with G7 leaders on Thursday to coordinate national responses to the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said on Wednesday.

Trump — who is head of the G7 this year — had planned to hold this year’s summit at the presidential retreat of Camp David, Maryland, in June, but moved it to a virtual setting due to the virus.

Later in the day, Trump will be holding a call with the U.S. Senate and House members and governors, where he is expected to discuss COVID-19 response and economic revival, according to the brief.

The Group of Seven nations includes the United States, France, Britain, Italy, Canada, Japan and Germany — all have been hit hard by the virus.

L.A. Rams' Brian Allen 'on the road to recovery' after testing positive

Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen tested positive for the coronavirus illness COVID-19 three weeks ago, the team confirmed Wednesday night.

He appears to be the first NFL player confirmed to have tested positive for the illness.

Allen, 24, who was selected in the 2018 NFL draft, earlier in the day told Fox Sports' Jay Glazer that he woke up and couldn't smell anything, lost his sense of taste and had flu-like symptoms.

"He is 'feeling good, he's healthy and he's on the road to recovery,'" the Rams tweeted Wednesday night. That statement is from Rams head coach Sean McVay's comments to Glazer, according to a post on the team's website. McVay said that after the positive test the team shut down its facility immediately.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton announced in March that he tested positive for the coronavirus, and at the time he was said to be the first major figure within the league to test positive for the virus.

Students could take SAT at home if schools remain closed

A home version of the SAT college entrance exam is being prepared in case schools remain closed into the fall, College Board officials said Wednesday as they announced the cancellation of June testing.

Instead of a paper-and-pencil test given under proctors’ supervision, the home version would be digital and rely on “remote proctoring.” That could include using the computer’s camera and microphone to monitor movement or talking, College Board President Jeremy Singer said on a conference call with reporters.

The rival ACT also will launch an at-home option in late fall or early winter, the exam’s administrators said Wednesday.

“We would much prefer that schools reopen but we are ready to innovate and deliver in the unlikely case we need to,” College Board Chief Executive David Coleman said.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo's wife also has coronavirus

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo's wife Cristina also has the coronavirus, he said on his program Wednesday.

Chris Cuomo, 49, announced March 31 that he had tested positive. He has been doing his shows from his basement where he is quarantined.

"It's very rare for a family to be one-and-done," Cuomo said in a discussion with his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "Cristina now has COVID. She is now positive. And it just breaks my heart."

"It is the one thing I was hoping wouldn't happen, and now it has," the anchor said. Their children are healthy, he tweeted, adding that he can't wait for his fever to end so he can help his wife as she has done for him.

Chris Cuomo earlier this month said that having the illness is "no cakewalk" even for those who don't require hospitalization, that he lost 13 pounds in three days, and he said people should not be nonchalant.