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.

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.

Read the full story here.

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.

Read the full story.

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.

30 residents dead at Massachusetts nursing home

A Massachusetts nursing home is facing heartbreaking loss after at least 30 residents died and nearly all the others have tested positive for COVID-19.

Staff at Belmont Manor are balancing the emotional weight of the deaths with the need to provide care and communicate updates with residents' families, a representative with the nursing home said Friday.

Administrator Stewart Karger confirmed in a letter this week that 30 residents died and 116 tested positive for coronavirus, some of whom were asymptomatic. "Though the residents at Belmont Manor tend to be older, there is no age at which one wants to lose a family member or worry about their health, particularly  at a time when visitation is so limited,” Karger wrote.

More than a quarter of the center's 190 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. The National Guard was deployed to the nursing home to conduct testing.

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.