A number of governors said that while they would take President Donald Trump's new guidelines to reopen state economies under consideration, they were wary of moving too fast in the face of unresolved issues like testing shortages.
But some Americans are calling for a quick return to business as normal and marched on state capitols Friday to make their voices heard. Meanwhile, extremists have interpreted Trump's recent tweets to "LIBERATE" certain states as a call to arms.
- 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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Even FEMA running low on protective gear
WASHINGTON — Even people who work for FEMA can’t get protective gear.
The union that represents 5,000 employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is warning Congress about a “desperate lack” of personal protective equipment.
Steven Reaves of the unit of the American Federation of Government Employees that represents the FEMA workers asks members of Congress in a letter to urge the administration to get and distribute adequate supplies.
Reaves tells The Associated Press that 25 of his members have tested positive for COVID-19. The FEMA workforce includes emergency managers, contract officers and safety officials, as well as police and firefighters.
FEMA distributes protective gear to people around the country but Reaves says the people who work for the agency can be vulnerable as well and should be provided with adequate protection.
L.A. deploys street teams to help homeless
Los Angeles is ramping up efforts to protect people experiencing homelessness from the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed some 500 county residents.
At least 33 unsheltered people had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, according to Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health. The majority of those cases are people living on the streets, not in shelters.
In an effort to prevent that number from going up, Los Angeles will deploy medical street teams to known encampments and set up trailers throughout the city to get people off the street, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Friday.
Hawaii's governor orders beaches closed
Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Friday ordered the state's iconic beaches closed.
"Many people are continuing to access beaches, waters and trails for social and recreational activities without proper social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis," Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a statement.
However, Hawaii will allow people to cross the sand to engage in water sports, including the state's official sport, surfing, which has its global center on the island of Oahu.
Hawaii on Friday reported 553 total cases and 9 deaths. The beach closure came as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said local governments could reopen beaches so long as people maintain social distancing and don't gather in groups of 50 or more.
Fauci says testing isn't everything, need to focus on mitigation strategies
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said Friday that despite the recent emphasis on the need for more coronavirus testing, it was important to recognize that more testing would not be "everything."
“The emphasis that we've been hearing is essentially testing is everything and it isn't. It's the kinds of things that we've been doing, the mitigation strategies, that are an important part of that," Fauci said at the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House Friday evening.
But Fauci, who said that he thought there would be enough tests available to control the virus, said that just because testing is not a silver bullet does not mean it is unimportant.
“I want to make sure that people understand not to underestimate the importance of testing. Testing is a part — an important part — of a multifaceted way that we are going to control and ultimately end this outbreak.”
Trump was criticized for announcing Thursday a three-phase plan to open up the economy without offering any nationwide testing and contact tracing program. Some public health experts have said that testing for the coronavirus would have to be at least doubled or tripled from its current levels to allow for even a partial reopening of America's economy.
Trump says some state orders are 'too tough', stands by tweet encouraging anti-lockdown groups
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday encouraged an anti-lockdown group that is scheduled to protest in Minnesota against stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus and he appeared to back such efforts in other states, arguing that "elements" of some state regulations were "just too tough."
“I think elements of what they’ve done are just too tough," Trump said at the daily White House press briefing Friday evening when asked about a tweet — "LIBERATE MINNESOTA!" — that he posted earlier in the day.
Trump told reporters that he felt "very comfortable" with his tweet, adding that "these are people expressing their views" and "they seem to be very responsible people to me, you know, they’ve been treated a little bit rough.”
A group that calls itself "Liberate Minnesota" was held a protest Friday afternoon outside Democratic Gov. Tim Walz's residence in St. Paul to protest his announcement that he would extend his stay-at-home order to May 4.
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NBA players to receive 25% less in paychecks
Commissioner Adam Silver said it remains impossible for the NBA to make any decisions about whether to resume this season and it's unclear when that will change.
But in a clear sign that at least some of the 259 remaining regular-season games that were not played because of the coronavirus pandemic will not be rescheduled, the league announced Friday it will withhold 25 percent of player pay starting with their May 15 checks.
The salary decision was made with the National Basketball Players Association, and the league said it would “provide players with a more gradual salary reduction schedule” if games are officially canceled or the rest of the season is totally lost.
Players will be paid in full May 1. The cutback in salary has been expected for some time in response to the NBA’s shutdown that started March 11, and has no end in sight.
'COVID toes' often appear in patients with no other symptoms
Another unexpected condition related to the virus has captured the attention of researchers.
Dubbed "COVID toes" by the dermatology community, it can look like "purple lesions" on feet or hands, Dr. Esther Freeman, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told TODAY.
The condition usually starts with red or purple discoloration, and the skin may become raised or develop ulcerations, according to Freeman. It can be on hands, too. It often appears in younger patients with no other symptoms.
It's unclear how common the symptom. Freeman is running an international registry to document COVID-19 patients' range of dermatologic conditions. The registry launched last week in collaboration with the American Academy of Dermatology.
Seattle cautious about easing business restrictions
Seattle was the country's first coronavirus hot spot, and soon it could be one of the first big cities to reopen its economy. When and how that happens will depend largely on the region's ability to get adequate testing and protect its front-line health care workers, Mayor Jenny Durkan said.
"It's a marathon, not a sprint," she said. "We're not even really halfway through, even though we've hit the peak."
Seattle and neighboring communities will weigh various factors, including closely monitoring the rate of new cases, expanding testing and reporting capabilities and ensuring that the health care system is prepared to handle additional infections, Durkan said.
More than 12,000 New Yorkers likely dead from COVID-19
New York City crossed yet another tragic milestone on Friday as health officials estimated that the COVID-19 death toll had gone past 12,000.
There have been at least 7,890 confirmed coronavirus-related fatalities in the five boroughs as of 2:30 p.m., according to the city's daily tally. In recent days, the city has started to make public its count of "probable" COVID-19 deaths and that grim number reached at least 4,309 by Friday afternoon.
Just 24 hours earlier, the totals had been 7,563 confirmed deaths and 3,914 probable fatalities.
Tech investors say pandemic is like 1906 San Francisco quake
A San Francisco venture capital fund that has invested in Airbnb and Uber warned partners Friday that the coronavirus pandemic has been a sudden shock similar to the 1906 earthquake that leveled much of the city.
Bond Capital is led by Mary Meeker, who has a large following in Silicon Valley where her annual reports on internet trends are eagerly consumed by entrepreneurs and fellow investors.
The letter says COVID-19 may be a "call to arms" to rethink health care, which "in the U.S. hasn't changed as much as you would think since the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918."
Some small business owners got $0, while lenders got billions in fees
Small-business owners across America are outraged after the coronavirus relief program intended to extend them a financial lifeline exhausted its $350 billion fund less than two weeks after it started — while lenders took home almost $6 billion in fees.
“We survived the 9/11 economic hardships and the 2008 economic downturn that seemed to go on forever, but I don’t know if we will survive the COVID-19 economic disaster,” said Candace Senato, who has owned a Tempe, Arizona-based freight shipping company for 28 years.
The Small Business Administration opened two programs: The $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program offered businesses with fewer than 500 employees a loan that can turn into a free grant if used to cover payroll and other allowed expenses and employees aren’t laid off. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan provided up to $2 million in financial assistance for any business that has losses as a result of the pandemic.
However, now that the money has already dried up for both programs, business owners' frustrations have only grown.
New Jersey to issue temporary licenses for foreign doctors
READINGTON, N.J. — Foreign-licensed physicians living in the United States can now apply for a “temporary emergency license” to practice medicine in New Jersey during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This army can always use more reinforcements,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday as he announced the program, which will begin accepting applications immediately.
Murphy called it “fitting” that New Jersey is the first state in the nation with a program of this magnitude. “This is a state where the immigrant experience is writ large in our collective history,” Murphy said. “This is a state where people from all over the world have come to build a new life and to live the American dream.”
Physicians licensed under the program will be able to provide in-person medical care at facilities licensed by the New Jersey Department of Health or at another location designated as an emergency health care center by the state health commissioner.
San Francisco makes face masks mandatory for everyone outside
Anyone setting foot on the streets of San Francisco, outside their homes, will be required to wear a face covering, authorities said Friday.
The order by Mayor London Breed and Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax goes into effect tonight.
"Additionally, transportation workers and other employees who interact with the public must also cover their face while doing essential work," according to the new city mandate.
Los Angeles, California's largest city, already has a similar policy in place.
Senate Democrats take out frustrations over testing in Pence phone call
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats laid bare their frustrations about the lack of widespread testing in the U.S. during a teleconference with Vice President Mike Pence and the Coronavirus Task Force Friday afternoon, multiple sources tell NBC News.
At one point during the call, Maine Sen. Angus King, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said he has “never been so mad about a phone call in my life,” adding that the administration’s lack of national testing is “a dereliction of duty,” according to three of the sources.
This is the second phone call in two days that Democrats peppered the administration officials about testing. A bipartisan congressional task force to reopen the country pressed President Donald Trump about the issue of testing on two phone calls Thursday.
Meanwhile, three senior administration officials tell NBC News that Friday night’s White House briefing will focus primarily on testing. Task force officials are expected to say they are confident there is enough testing available to implement the first phase of the administration’s plan to reopen the country, according to one official.
The focus on testing comes as the administration is under fire for releasing its plans to open the economy in phases without having a nationwide testing and contact tracing program in place.
At the end of Friday's call, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., brought up the president’s “Liberate” Virginia, Michigan and Minnesota tweets, according to two sources familiar.
A Democratic aide said that Pence attempted to talk about how the administration is working respectfully with the governors but Kaine said those tweets “are not at all respectful.”
Another source familiar said that Pence’s response was that “the president is an effective communicator” and speaks with the American people in “a transparent and effective way.”
In addition to Pence, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, Admiral Brett Giroir and other members of the task force were on the call offered for all Democratic senators. It’s the second call Pence and the task force have had with Senate Democrats in as many weeks.
Julie Tsirkin, Peter Alexander and Carol E. Lee contributed.
'We cannot put the cart before the horse': Governors react to Trump's reopening plan
WASHINGTON — After President Donald Trump laid out his road map for reopening state economies, a number of governors sought to temper regional expectations, raising the alarm about moving too fast in the face of unresolved issues like a lack of mass testing.
“They are helpful,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, said on MSNBC Friday of the guidelines, which encourage areas that meet certain criteria to begin easing social distancing restrictions by May 1.
“We didn't want something more heavy-handed telling the governors what they had to do. That wouldn't have worked. Every region is a little bit different.”
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said in a statement Thursday that while the White House’s suggestions were appreciated, "the plain overriding fact is we cannot put the cart before the horse.”
Parent in college admission scam leaving prison early because of coronavirus
Toby Macfarlane, a former real estate executive from Del Mar, California, will be released to home confinement after his lawyers argued the conditions behind bars put him at serious risk of contracting the virus. He will be released after he completes a 14-day quarantine in prison on April 21, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said this week.
Macfarlane was sentenced in November after admitting to paying $450,000 to get his children into the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits.
The Week in Pictures
It was another challenging week with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world skyrocketing to over 2 million and the U.S. death toll passing 34,000.
Through it all, photojournalists around the globe have captured glimpses of humanity as people navigate these tough times. Check out The Week in Pictures.
Coronavirus restrictions highlight LGBTQ domestic abuse crisis
Restrictions on movement introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus have already greatly affected the day-to-day lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe. But for victims of domestic abuse, or intimate partner violence, lockdown measures can present serious safety risks.
“During this time of social distancing and for some quarantine, more than ever survivors are isolated,” said Sabrina Santiago, co-executive director of the Network/La Red, a survivor-led social justice organization based in Boston that works to end domestic abuse in LGBTQ communities.
“Being confined with their abuser will lead to escalations of abuse and removes tools of survival such as being able to leave the house to escape or de-escalate abuse,” Santiago added.
While many of the same methods of control used by heterosexual domestic abusers are also used by LGBTQ abusers, those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer face unique forms of manipulation related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, by threatening to “out” the victim of intimate partner violence to their family or employer if they attempt to reveal abuse, the abusive partner can make reporting violence to social services far more difficult.
Lady Gaga curating 'One World: Together at Home' fundraiser
Global Citizen is producing a massive concert this weekend event titled "One World: Together at Home" to raise money to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Curated by Lady Gaga, the concert Saturday will be live-streamed and broadcast in a multitude of ways. It's being touted as the largest (virtual) gathering of major artists and influencers since Live Aid in 1985.
The event will support frontline healthcare workers and the World Health Organization.
Unapproved Chinese antibody tests being used in at least 2 states
Officials across the country are racing to provide coronavirus tests to diagnose infections and to identify recovered patients with antibodies that may help others battle COVID-19, the disease it causes.
But some COVID-19 antibody tests, including those being used by public health departments in Denver and Los Angeles and provided to urgent care centers in Maryland and North Carolina, were supplied by Chinese manufacturers that are not approved by China's Center for Medical Device Evaluation, a unit of the National Medical Product Administration, or NMPA, the country's equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, NBC News has found.
NYPD to wear black bands as death toll climbs
Officers with the New York City Police Department will wear black bands across their shields to honor the 28 uniformed and civilian members who have died from COVID-19.
“We do not know how long it will last, so we will continue to honor our colleagues in this way for the foreseeable future," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea wrote in a letter to the department. "We do know we will emerge stronger on the other side together."
More than 2,100 uniformed members and 600 civilian members are out sick after being diagnosed with COVID-19, and 1,450 uniformed members of the NYPD have returned to full-duty service after recovering from the coronavirus, the department said.
In some rural states with no lockdown orders, cases on the rise
Some rural states that have not enacted widespread lockdown orders are seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases.
From Tuesday to Friday, South Dakota and Nebraska had the largest percentage increase in cases, according to data compiled by NBC News. South Dakota confirmed 323 new cases since Tuesday evening, a 32 percent increase.
Neither state has enacted stay-at-home orders.
Some states that implemented stay-at-home orders in late March or early April have also reported sharp increases in cases including Virginia, Rhode Island and Texas.