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:

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

Live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 18 coronavirus news here.

Lone passenger on U.S. flight gets VIP treatment: 'Welcome aboard, Bob'

A man on a Southwest Airlines flight from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Louis on Thursday night didn't need a seat in first class to receive VIP treatment.

That's because he was the only passenger on the plane.

Bob Pitts documented some of the flight in a series of videos.

"We're going on our little flight from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Louis," Pitts said from his aisle seat. "It's about 8:30 and I'm the only person on the plane."

"It's a very, very, very unique experience," he said.

Read the full story here.

Members of Congress consider rule changes, proxy voting due to coronavirus

WASHINGTON — Congress is facing pressure to consider alternative arrangements due to the coronavirus pandemic, including proxy voting and remote work — but changes would require a vote and could come with security risks.

Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., chair of the House Rules Committee, recommended Thursday that the House allow proxy voting, in which a lawmaker unable to travel to Washington could empower a colleague to cast the homebound member’s vote. Lawmakers still need to vote to make this change.

While many House members applauded the proposed voting change, some said the House needs to do more to accommodate remote work during the crisis. Nearly two dozen members are urging Congressional leaders to allow remote committee meetings and other daily business to be conducted online.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has softened her tone to alternative ways to vote after coming under pressure from rank-and-file members, but in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he has no appetite to allow remote voting.

More than 40 senators sent a letter, unsigned, to the Senate Rules Committee urging them to approve a measure that would allow senators to electronically sign letters, something that cannot currently be done remotely. An aide to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the chairman of the Rules Committee, said the committee is working to address the issue.

Trump and Gov. Cuomo clash over coronavirus response after president tells him to stop 'complaining'

President Donald Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo clashed Friday over whether the federal government has done enough to provide assistance to the state, one of the epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak.

The fireworks began when Cuomo criticized the president during his daily press briefing over the federal aid needed to carry out Trump’s three-phased plan to reopen state economies.

“Don’t give them this massive undertaking that has never been done before and then not give them any resources to do it,” Cuomo said at the briefing. “Don’t ask the states to do this ... it’s up to the governors, up to the governors, up to the governors. Okay. Is there any funding so I can do these things that you want us to do? No. That is passing the buck without passing the bucks.”

Minutes later, Trump responded on Twitter, saying the governor should “spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining.’” The president said that the federal government built New York thousands of hospital beds that he said the state didn’t need or use and provided a large number of ventilators that it should have already had.

After a reporter read Trump's tweet to Cuomo, the governor gave a lengthy response in front of the cameras.

Read the full story here.

'On the front line' with no tests: To reopen country, primary care doctors need testing access

Success of the Trump administration's guidance to reopen portions of the country hinges on diagnostic testing: people need to know whether they're healthy enough to get back to work, or sick with COVID-19 and need continued isolation.

It's a necessity Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged during a coronavirus task force briefing Thursday at the White House.

Read more. 

Gun salutes for Queen Elizabeth II's birthday cancelled

Queen Elizabeth II’s 94th birthday will not be marked with traditional gun salutes this year because of the ongoing lockdown in the U.K., a spokesperson for Britain’s Ministry of Defense has confirmed to NBC News.   

The monarch’s birthday on Apr. 21 is usually saluted at noon local time (7 a.m. ET) with 41 guns fired by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park, which is adjacent to Buckingham Palace in central London. 

An hour later by a 62-gun salute is fired by the Honourable Artillery Company at the Tower of London nearby.

Both have now been cancelled, the spokesperson confirmed. 

San Diego Comic-Con 2020 canceled, returns July 2021

Comic-Con 2020 has been canceled for the first time in its 50-year history, a spokesman said in a statement Friday.

The event is scheduled to return to the San Diego Convention Center in July 2021. This year's badge holders will receive an email in which they can request a refund or transfer their payments to next year's event. onPeak, Comic-Con's official hotel affiliate, will also be cancelling all reservations and refund all deposits.

"Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and while we are saddened to take this action, we know it is the right decision,” said David Glanzer, a spokesman for the popular event.

Iowa schools will remain closed for rest of academic year

All Iowa schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year, the state's governor announced Friday.

The initial plan was to reopen April 30, with the knowledge that state officials would reassess two weeks out from that date.

"I would like nothing more than to stand before you and say Iowa schools will be open in May," Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a news conference Friday. "I regret to say that Iowa schools will not reopen for this school year."

4 Georgia poultry workers dead from coronavirus, company says

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Four employees of a major poultry producer's operations in rural southwest Georgia have died after becoming infected with the coronavirus, a company spokesman said Friday.

Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson said three of the employees worked at the company's chicken processing plant in Camilla, while the fourth person worked in a supporting job outside the plant. He declined to say how many workers there have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus.

Read the full story 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.