This weekend marked the beginning of several states easing restrictions related to the outbreak, which continues to take an unprecedented number of lives.
Residents in Florida and other states returned to the beach Saturday despite an increase in COVID-19 deaths and infections. Meanwhile, three Northeastern states reopened boatyards and marinas for personal use only.
The loosening of stay-at-home orders come amid a growing chorus to reopen economies throughout the U.S. But advisers are warning President Donald Trump that his push to restart business as usual comes with political risks.
Saturday also brought the star-studded "One World: Together at Home" benefit concert to support health care workers in the fight against COVID-19.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Stay-at-home orders across the country: What each state is doing — or not — amid widespread coronavirus lockdowns.
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Live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 19 coronavirus news here.
N.Y., N.J., Connecticut reopen marinas amid calls to kick-start economies
Governors from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced Saturday the reopening of boatyards and marinas for personal use.
Strict social distancing and sanitization protocol must still be followed, the governors said, and chartered and rental services will not resume. Restaurants at those location can serve only takeout and delivery.
"Throughout this pandemic, we've worked closely with our friends in neighboring states to implement a uniform regional approach to reducing the spread of the virus," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "Aligning our polices in this area is another example of that strong partnership, and will help ensure there is no confusion or 'state shopping' when it comes to marinas and boatyards."
His state has the highest number of cases, totaling 236,732 confirmed infections and 17,140 deaths, according to NBC News counts.
Federal judge blocks Kansas limits on religious gatherings
A federal judge on Saturday blocked Kansas from limiting attendance at in-person religious worship services or activities to 10 people or fewer to check the spread of the coronavirus, signaling he believes there’s a good chance the policy violates religious freedom and free speech rights.
The ruling from U.S. District Judge John Broomes in Wichita prevents the enforcement of an order issued by Gov. Laura Kelly if pastors and congregations observe social distancing. The judge's decision will remain in effect until May 2. He has a hearing scheduled Wednesday in a lawsuit filed against Kelly by two churches and their pastors.
Broomes’ action comes amid strong criticism of the Democratic governor’s order from the Republican-controlled Legislature and increasing pressure from GOP lawmakers to lift at least part of a stay-at-home order for all 2.9 million Kansas residents that took effect March 30 and is set to continue until May 3.
It also comes as the number of coronavirus cases and COVID-19-related deaths continue to rise in Kansas.
'One World: Together at Home' concert closes with powerhouse Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, John Legend performance
Powerhouse singers Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga, Celine Dion and John Legend came together for the final performance of the "One World: Together at Home" concert with a rendition of Bocelli's "The Prayer."
"Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today," read an African proverb posted onscreen after the performance.
While the concert was not a telethon, Global Citizen raised more than $40 million through corporate donations for health care workers and the World Health Organization.
Taylor Swift one of few artists to sing one of her own songs
While most artists sang covers for their "One World: Together at Home" performances, Taylor Swift opted to sing "Soon You'll Get Better," a song from her latest album "Lover."
"This won't go back to normal, if it ever was," Swift sang. "It's been years of hoping, and I keep saying it because I have to ... you'll get better."
Swift recently announced she was canceling the rest of her 2020 live performances in her bid to follow social distancing guidelines.
Billie Eilish and brother, Finneas O'Connell, join together for 'Sunny'
Billie Eilish joined forces with her main musical collaborator and brother, Finneas O'Connell, for a rendition of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" for the "One World: Together at Home" benefit concert.
"Sending my love to you," Eilish said. "And I want to thank all the health care workers risking their lives to save ours."
The 18-year-old won album of the year for her debut "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go" and four other awards at the Grammys earlier this year.
'Wake Me Up as September Ends' as meaningful in coronavirus era
Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" was written by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong about his father, who died from esophageal cancer when Armstrong was 10 years old, but has also been used as a song to commemorate those lost in the September 11 terrorist attacks as the song's music video depicts a couple who was separated during the Iraq War.
Fans found Armstrong's rendition of the track just as meaningful in the coronavirus era as it was when released in 2004.
John Legend and Sam Smith sing 'Stand by Me' but some viewers were distracted by Legend's Grammys
John Legend and Sam Smith sang a moving version of "Stand By Me" during the "One World: Together at Home" concert, but some fans found themselves distracted by Legend's shelf of Grammys lurking in the background.
Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello sing 'What a Wonderful World'
Three Keith Urbans perform country-version of 'Higher Love'
Not one, not two, but three Keith Urbans offered a country spin on Steve Winwood's "Higher Love" at the "One World: Together at Home" concert.
Urban first appeared alone onscreen, but after a few seconds, a second and third Urbans appeared, each playing different guitars. Urban's wife, actress Nicole Kidman, also made a cameo.
Jennifer Lopez sings Barbara Streisand's 'People'
"There's one thing that I realize more than anything during this whole time and it's how much we all need each other," Jennifer Lopez said before singing Barbara Streisand's song "People."
Streisand's version was inducted in Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. The Supremes also recorded a version of the song for its unreleased 1965 album "There's a Place For Us."
Running joke of the night: The three Jimmys
It was low-hanging fruit: what kind of joke can you make when of the three biggest late hosts one is named Stephen, breaking the Jimmy streak?
“I’m Jimmy Fallon, I’m Jimmy Kimmel and I’m Stephen ‘Jimmy’ Colbert," Colbert opened the "One World: Together at Home" concert, introducing the running joke that offset the more serious moments of the concert. Fans seems to be into it, though.