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.
Image: CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS
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.

'Clap for our Carers' in UK prompts backlash over lack of social distancing

People and police who gathered on Westminster Bridge in central London on Thursday as a part of the national "Clap for our Carers" campaign sparked online criticism for a lack of social distancing during their applause. 

Damir Rafi posted a video of the scene to Twitter, writing, “I'm a doctor working at the hospital that's right there. And yes, I was also somewhat perplexed by the lack of social distancing...” The video shows police cars parked on the roadway and people standing shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk, clapping -- many standing far closer than the two meters (six feet) of separation suggested by the government.

Some Twitter users called the video 'infuriating' whiles others pointed out the irony of clapping for health care workers while also ignoring social distancing recommendations. The U.K. on Thursday extended its lockdown for three more weeks until at least May 7, as concerns grow in Britain that the crisis is far from abating.

How coronavirus could change wedding culture

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, the modern wedding industry faces an unprecedented challenge, with brides-to-be, who've already spent thousands on nonrefundable deposits, caught in the crossfire. Yet while many decisions — such as whether the venue will be able to reopen or whether they can secure a marriage license — may ultimately be left out of their hands, many couples are purposefully choosing to downsize their wedding celebrations.

Read the full story here.

Photos: Wild boars patrol Israeli city

Wild boars cross a road in a residential area in Haifa on Thursday. Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

Wild boars, some as bulky as Rottweilers and traveling in family packs, have been trotting through Haifa in increasing numbers. Their once-nocturnal visitations now take place throughout the day, as they root through refuse, spook domestic pets and even block roads.

The visitation, since nationwide lockdowns came into effect this month, has revived debate among residents of the hilly port city as to policy regarding the pests.

"We are scared to go out, even to throw out the garbage. I don't which way the boars will come," Meirav Litani, a music instructor, said as a boar loomed in the distance.

Boars roam next to a residential building in Haifa on Thursday. Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

Von Miller says he was 'shocked' to learn he tested positive

Von Miller, the second NFL player to disclose that he is infected with the coronavirus, said he was shocked when he tested positive.

The superstar Denver Broncos linebacker appeared Friday on the "TODAY" show from his home in Colorado wearing a gray hoodie and eyeglasses.

"It all started with just a simple cough and it got worse," Miller, 31, said.

Read the full story here.

NYC mayor says hotel rooms will be available to help residents isolate, events canceled through May

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated Friday that he has delegated 11,000 hotel rooms for residents who have the coronavirus but don't have the option to isolate themselves at their homes. 

"Some households can do that more easily than others," he said at a news conference. "There are a lot of people in the city who don't have a choice because they're in a very, very tight circumstance in their home or their apartment." 

The mayor said the hotel rooms will be free of charge for those who need them. According to NBC New York, de Blasio will work with community health centers to identify residents who need the rooms. 

New Yorkers can start moving into them on April 22. 

De Blasio also said Friday that he was canceling all nonessential events for May that were previously given permits. Those include parades, rallies, concerts and other large gatherings.

Medical sites, farmer's markets and meal delivery will not be affected. The mayor said he is having discussions regarding events for June.

Puerto Rico mayors work to fight coronavirus with few tests available

Mayors of towns across Puerto Rico are facing uncertainty as they grapple with the fallout of a botched effort from the island's government to purchase at least one million coronavirus testing kits, worth $38 million, at a time when the U.S. territory has the lowest per-capita testing rate compared to any state.

Read the full story here.

Azar announces new effort to streamline COVID-19 research

The National Institutes of Health is launching a public-private partnership aimed at developing a national strategy to coordinate COVID-19 drug and vaccine research. 

Research for coronavirus therapies and vaccines across the country has been scattered and disconnected, in a number of unrelated clinical trials. The new initiative, called "Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines," or ACTIV, aims to coordinate and streamline these efforts. 

“The ACTIV partnership will bring new levels of coordination and speed to public and private work on therapies and vaccines for COVID-19," HHS Sec. Alex Azar said in a statement Friday. "By bringing together 16 pharmaceutical companies and five government agencies here and abroad, the ACTIV partnership will accelerate the amazing work being done every day by scientists and innovators inside and outside of government." 

The government agencies include HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and abroad, the European Medicines Agency.

An owner of N.J. nursing home where bodies found was once VP of troubled nursing home chain

Ambulance and medical crews outside of Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in New Jersey after police found more than a dozen bodies on April 16, 2020.Ted Shaffrey / AP

One of the owners of New Jersey's largest nursing home, where at least 15 bodies were discovered crammed into a four-person morgue on Monday, was a top executive at a collapsed chain of troubled nursing homes previously investigated by NBC News.

Federal records show that Louis Schwartz is listed as a 50 percent owner of the Andover Subacute Facility I and II in Sussex County, where the bodies were found. Public records also show that Schwartz was a vice president at Skyline Healthcare, a now-defunct nursing home chain that was plagued by allegations of neglect and mismanagement and the subject of more than a dozen lawsuits.

Read the full article 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.”