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States react to Trump's plan to reopen U.S. while some hear a call to arms

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Medical workers are seen as they take swab samples from people to be tested for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on April 16, 2020.Hector Retamal / AFP - Getty Images

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.

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 18 coronavirus news here.

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.

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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.

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Seattle cautious about easing business restrictions

People practice social distancing after disembarking a water taxi during the coronavirus outbreak in Seattle on April 2, 2020.David Ryder / Reuters file

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.

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