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

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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.

Parent in college admission scam leaving prison early because of coronavirus

A parent sentenced to six months in prison for participating in the college admissions bribery scheme is getting to go home early because of the coronavirus pandemic, a federal judge has ruled.

Toby Macfarlane, a former real estate executive from Del Mar, California, will be released to home confinement after his lawyers argued the conditions behind bars put him at serious risk of contracting the virus. He will be released after he completes a 14-day quarantine in prison on April 21, U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said this week.

Macfarlane was sentenced in November after admitting to paying $450,000 to get his children into the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits.

Read the full story here.

The Week in Pictures

It was another challenging week with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world skyrocketing to over 2 million and the U.S. death toll passing 34,000

Through it all, photojournalists around the globe have captured glimpses of humanity as people navigate these tough times. Check out The Week in Pictures

Coronavirus restrictions highlight LGBTQ domestic abuse crisis

Restrictions on movement introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus have already greatly affected the day-to-day lives of hundreds of millions of people across the globe. But for victims of domestic abuse, or intimate partner violence, lockdown measures can present serious safety risks.

“During this time of social distancing and for some quarantine, more than ever survivors are isolated,” said Sabrina Santiago, co-executive director of the Network/La Red, a survivor-led social justice organization based in Boston that works to end domestic abuse in LGBTQ communities.

“Being confined with their abuser will lead to escalations of abuse and removes tools of survival such as being able to leave the house to escape or de-escalate abuse,” Santiago added.

While many of the same methods of control used by heterosexual domestic abusers are also used by LGBTQ abusers, those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer face unique forms of manipulation related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, by threatening to “out” the victim of intimate partner violence to their family or employer if they attempt to reveal abuse, the abusive partner can make reporting violence to social services far more difficult.

Read the full story 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.