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

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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

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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.

Prince Harry and Meghan deliver food to L.A. residents impacted by outbreak

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered food to people in Los Angeles impacted by the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday, a TMZ video shows.

The couple have kept a low profile since relocating from Canada to California last month, after they ended their roles as working British royals. The TMZ video shows the couple wearing caps and face coverings while dropping off meals to L.A. residents affected by the pandemic. The couple visited six people on Easter Sunday as well as 14 more on Wednesday in West Hollywood.

The Sussexes volunteered with Project Angel Food, an L.A.-based non-profit that provides free meals for people too sick to shop and cook for themselves. Markle knew about non-profit from when she previously lived in L.A., the organization told NBC News.

Richard Ayoub, the Executive Director of Project Angel Food, said in a statement: “On Wednesday, [the Duke and Duchess] quietly continued delivering meals to relieve our overworked drivers. It was their way to thank our volunteers, chefs and staff who have been working tirelessly since the COVID-19 crisis began.”

Photo: 30 Rock honors the men and women on the front line

30 Rockefeller Center was lit in blue Thursday as landmarks and buildings across New York and the rest of the nation honored health care workers and first responders in the COVID-19 pandemic.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Coronavirus could cripple voting in November. But it depends where you live.

America's decentralized system of means states enjoy broad leeway on setting election rules. Whether voters realize it or not, states' procedures vary widely on everything from registration deadlines, ID requirements and types of voting machinery to who is permitted to vote absentee and when mail-in ballots must be postmarked in order to be counted.

But in the coronavirus pandemic, a lack of federal election funding, partisan disunity and legal disputes could produce last-minute logistical confusion and drastic disparities across state lines in voters' ability to safely access a ballot.

Read the full report here.

Sign of the times, cont'd

Seattle eyes reopening economy

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."

Read the full story here.

Michigan gov. says she hopes to have 'some relaxing' of stay-at-home order by May 1

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that she hopes to be in a position to ease her state’s strict stay-at-home order by May 1, although she warned that it must be a decision based on scientific data to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus.

“I do hope to have some relaxing come May 1, but it's two weeks away and the information and the data and our ability to test is changing so rapidly, it's hard to tell you precisely where we'll be in a week from now, much less two,” Whitmer said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The Democratic governor did not elaborate Friday on which part of the order she might be willing to lift. She said they’ve had to be “really aggressive” in their response to the coronavirus outbreak because she said Michigan has the third highest death rate in the country. She has faced fierce backlash from Michigan residents, drawing large protests, after instituting one of the most restrictive stay-at-home orders in the nation. 

Read the full story here.

Norway releases prisoners to prevent spread of coronavirus in prisons

Norway has released almost 100 prisoners with ankle monitors in the last month, with plans to send up to 200 more home in the coming weeks, the country's Directorate of Correctional Service announced on Friday. 

Prisoners serving sentences of up to six months or who are in the last six months of a longer prison sentence have been able to remain in their homes with ankle monitors in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 since early March, the department wrote in a statement on its website. 

The country of over 5 million people has reported 6,891 cases since the crisis began, with 136 deaths so far. Kindergartens, after-school clubs and elementary schools are expected to reopen across the country by the end of April. 

CDC chief warns 'it's important not to let up at all' as parts of U.S. seek to reopen

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that as parts of the U.S. seek to reopen amid the coronavirus outbreak, people should still be vigilant by practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing their hands.

“It’s important not to let up at all,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.

Those in areas where there are still significant ongoing transmissions, such as New York, Boston, Baltimore and Washington, should continue following the mitigation strategies recommended by the federal government, Redfield said.

“We need to be very vigilant in that this new opening up — which has that requirement of early case diagnosis and isolation, contact tracing — is really embedded, as you'll see in the phases, with still maintaining that personal vigilance, that personal mitigation, so that we can continue to limit and protect the vulnerable in this nation,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Africa could see 300,000 coronavirus deaths this year

Africa could see 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus this year even under the best-case scenario, according to a new report released Friday that cites modeling from Imperial College London.

Under the worst-case scenario with no interventions against the virus, Africa could see 3.3 million deaths and 1.2 billion infections, the report by the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa said. Even with “intense social distancing,” under the best-case scenario the continent could see more than 122 million infections, the report said.

Any of the scenarios would overwhelm Africa’s largely fragile and underfunded health systems, experts have warned. Under the best-case scenario, $44 billion would be needed for testing, personal protective equipment and treatment, the report said, citing UNECA estimates. The worst-case scenario would cost $446 billion.

The continent as of Friday had more than 18,000 confirmed virus cases, but experts have said Africa is weeks behind Europe in the pandemic and the rate of increase has looked alarmingly similar.