Georgia to reopen businesses Friday as U.S. deaths top 40,000

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the globe.
Image: Atlanta Motor Speedway Hosts Food Distribution Event For Those In Need
Volunteers load food into vehicles during a mobile market day at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia on April 17, 2020.Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

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The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. passed 40,000 late Sunday, according to NBC News' tally, and there are nearly 760,000 confirmed cases as of Monday evening.

While some governors pushed back on the Trump administration's claims that states are conducting a "sufficient" level of coronavirus testing, other governors were eager to reopen businesses in their states regardless of testing levels.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced plans to resume many businesses in Georgia this Friday, April 24, and Gov. Bill Lee said a "vast majority" of businesses in Tennessee would reopen by the end of next week.

Meanwhile, the federal agency that oversees nursing homes announced new transparency measures requiring the disclosure of coronavirus cases to patients' families and public health officials.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 21 coronavirus news.

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Ex-FDA chief says U.S. likely won't have broad-based coronavirus testing until September

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Monday that the U.S. likely won’t have broad-based testing for the coronavirus in place until September.

“We're not going to be there. We're not going to be there in May, we're not going to be there in June, hopefully we'll be there by September,” Gottlieb said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.

Gottlieb said some states that haven’t been hit hard by the coronavirus are ready to begin reopening slowly in the beginning of May.

As other states reopen, he said that the U.S. won’t have the optimal amount of testing and contact tracing in place to “to do the work of tracking down everyone who is sick, or who might have been in contact with people who [are] sick.”

Read the full story here.

China denies coronavirus originated from Wuhan lab

Chinese officials on Monday spoke out against President Donald Trump's remarks about suspicions that the coronavirus outbreak originated from a laboratory in the city of Wuhan

Media reports last week, which have not been verified by NBC News, suggested the outbreak could have been caused by a naturally occurring virus transmitted to a lab staffer by mistake. In response, Trump had mused "a lot of strange things are happening" regarding the origins of the disease.

But China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press conference that such remarks are irresponsible, spread conspiracy theories and politicize the crisis. He added that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has strict management systems and there is no evidence nor logic to suggest it caused the outbreak. 

Coronavirus batters the Navajo Nation, and it's about to get worse

On March 17, when the Navajo Nation saw its first COVID-19 case, the reservation's limited health facilities sprang into action.

"We basically changed our hospital from an acute care hospital and an ambulatory care clinic to one that could take care of respiratory care patients," said Dr. Diana Hu, a pediatrician at one of the reservation hospitals. "And that transition happened over a period of about seven days."

It didn't take long for one case to turn into two, and then 20. As of Monday, the Navajo Nation, which sprawls across three states, had 1,197 positive coronavirus cases. It has a per capita infection rate 10 times higher than that of neighboring Arizona and the third-highest infection rate in the country behind those of New York and New Jersey. Forty-four people have died, more than in 14 other states.

Read the full story here.

In rare message, Queen Elizabeth II's husband thanks coronavirus workers

Iran begins to loosen lockdown restrictions

Cars pack streets in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Saturday after authorities eased lockdown restrictions.Atta Kenare / AFP - Getty Images

Iran has begun to lift some of its lockdown restrictions with some shops and inter-city roads opening.

Travel between provinces had been restricted for close to a month but was permitted again from Monday. Traffic in the capital, Tehran, was also visible as residents were told to use their own cars instead of public transport.

Malls and bazaars were permitted to open from Monday, but needed to close by 6 p.m. Businesses where it is believed that coronavirus could spread more easily, such as gyms, barbershops, amusement parks, coffee shops and restaurants will remain closed, with a decision on when they could open expected later this week.

UAE pledges 10 million meals for those affected by virus

The United Arab Emirates pledged to provide 10 million food parcels and meals to communities badly affected by the coronavirus crisis, Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said on Twitter.

The Gulf state has nearly 7,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 41 deaths to date, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. It is the second worst affected country in the region with only its much-larger neighbor, Saudi Arabia, reporting more cases.

The UAE also threatened to review labour ties with countries refusing to repatriate migrant workers. Often from countries like India, Pakistan and Nepal, migrant workers in the UAE form the backbone of the construction industry and often live in cramped, overcrowded accommodation.

House members may need to return to D.C. for vote on coronavirus aid this week

Members of the House might need to return to Washington this week to vote on an interim coronavirus package to aid small businesses and hospitals. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., sent out guidance to lawmakers Sunday saying that the House could meet as early as 10 a.m. on Wednesday to consider the legislation. Negotiators said over the weekend that they were nearing an agreement on the bill. 

"Members will be given sufficient notice about the exact timing of any votes and when they will need to return to Washington, DC," the guidance said. 

Lawmakers have been home in their districts during the coronavirus outbreak, but will need to travel for the vote because there are no remote voting capabilities in place.

Signs mount that Russian lockdown will be extended past April 30

Russia’s lockdown looks likely to continue past the current end date of April 30, after President Valdimir Putin signed an order on Saturday extending all visas and work permits for foreign citizens until June 15 if they expire while restrictions are in place.

Another sign that the lockdown would likely stay in place past April came from the Moscow mayor’s office one week ago, when city hall unveiled an electronic pass system regulating movement throughout the city. It is unlikely such a complex system would be unveiled to be used for just two weeks. Moscow’s mayor has said that Russia was nowhere near its peak, while other officials last week predicted peak was at least two to three weeks away.

The country on Monday reported 4,268 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 44 deaths, bringing the total to 47,121 cases and 405 fatalities, according to the Coronavirus Crisis Response Center.

Smaller shops in Germany begin to reopen as lockdown eases

A florist in Dinslaken, Germany sets up her shop as the country eased some restrictions it put in place during the coronavirus.Lars Baron / Getty Images

Smaller shops in Germany began to reopen on Monday as the country eased some of the restrictions it put in place to tackle the spread of coronavirus. Stores allowed to reopen include bookstores, bicycle shops and car dealerships, but the businesses need to observe social distancing and hygiene requirements.

"We are not expecting a huge rush of clients," the head of the German Retailers Association, Stefan Genth, told broadcaster ZDF, NBC News' partner in Germany. "We want a partial return to normality, but we know that we still need these tough regulations."

Meanwhile, the eastern German state of Saxony announced that face masks would mandatory for shopping and travel on public transport starting Monday.

Disinfection tunnel in India used to prevent spread of virus

A man drives through a disinfection tunnel outside the local government offices in Faridabad, India on Monday as a preventive measure against coronavirus.Money Sharma / AFP - Getty Images