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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N.J. Gov. Murphy says he plans to announce blueprint to reopen state

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that he plans in the coming days to announce a blueprint to reopen the state. 

The Democratic governor did not give a timeline for rescinding his stay-at-home order, but continued to urge non-essential workers to stay indoors and directed those pursuing essential tasks, such as grocery shopping, to adhere to social-distancing guidelines.

Murphy said New Jersey is ramping up testing and he wants to see the state bustling again, but he is hesitant to reopen the economy because he is fearful of a “boomerang” effect in which the virus makes a comeback. The state won't get to the point of easing restrictions if residents stop taking social distancing precautions, he said, adding, "This is no time to let up; it's time, if anything ... to bear down as we’ve never ever done before."

Murphy also said he talked to President Donald Trump on Monday morning and stressed the need for direct cash assistance to states, adding that Trump signaled that aid could be included in the next stimulus package. New Jersey has seen more than 3,500 new cases as of Monday and 177 new deaths, bringing the total cases in the state to 88,806 and total deaths to 4,377, according to state health officials. 

'The Batman' film release pushed back 4 months

Robert Pattinson as Batman.@mattreevesLA / Twitter

LOS ANGELES — Warner Bros. is delaying a batch of theatrical releases including “The Batman” and “The Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark.”

The studio said Monday that “The Sopranos” film will be pushed from September 2020 to a March 2021 release, while “The Batman” starring Robert Pattinson will be delayed four months to October 2021.

Many studios have shuffled release dates due to both shuttered productions and the closure of movie theaters to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

This year also lost the Will Smith drama “King Richard,” which has been moved back a year to November 2021, and a biographical drama about Black Panthers activist Fred Hampton set for August which now has no release date.

Baz Luhrmann’s yet-to-be-titled Elvis film that Tom Hanks was shooting in Australia when he and Rita Wilson tested positive for COVID-19 was delayed a month to November 2021.

Conservative activist family behind 'grassroots' anti-quarantine Facebook events

Demonstrators call on Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to loosen stay-at-home restrictions, issued to slow the spread of coronavirus, outside of his residence in St. Paul on April 17, 2020.Jim Mone / AP

Protests against state stay-at-home orders have attracted a wide range of fringe activists and ardent Trump supporters. They have also attracted a family of political activists that some Republicans lawmakers have called "scam artists."

A family-run network of pro-gun groups is behind five of the largest Facebook groups dedicated to protesting the shelter-in-place restrictions, according to an NBC News analysis of Facebook groups and website registration information.

The groups were set up by four brothers — Chris, Ben, Aaron and Matthew Dorr — and have amassed more than 200,000 members collectively, including in states where they don’t reside, according to an NBC News analysis based on public records searches and Facebook group registrations.

Read the full story here. 

Bon Jovi cancels tour rather than postpones so fans can get refunds

Jon Bon Jovi performs on Central Park's Great Lawn in New York in 2008.Jason DeCrow / AP file

Veteran rocker Jon Bon Jovi cancelled his band's summer tour on Monday, telling fans it's "no longer feasible" to hold concerts during the coronavirus pandemic.

"These are trying times," according to the band's statement.  "You've always been there for us and we'll always be there for you. We look forward to seeing everyone again on tour when we can all safely be together." 

The band opted to cancel rather than postpone so that fans can get refunds for their tickets, saying, "This will enable ticketholders to get refunds to help pay their bills or buy groceries."

Last week, pop megastar Taylor Swift cancelled all of her upcoming shows. 

More USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors have coronavirus

Further COVID-19 testing of Navy sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt shows the number of positive cases has increased again in the past few days, from 615 to 678, military officials said Monday.

Ninety-four percent of the roughly 4,800-member crew has been tested so far. About 3,900 of them have tested negative.

The aircraft carrier was caught in the middle of a controversy after its captain, Brett Crozier, sounded the alarm of an outbreak on board; he was relieved of his duty earlier this month. The military said last week that one crew member died last week from coronavirus-related complications.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps says its handheld device can detect coronavirus, scientists scoff

Coronavirus detector being showcased in a hospital in Iran. Screenshot taken from a video posted by the spokesperson of a military hospital in Tehran.@Hadizoheiri

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps unveiled a handheld device on Wednesday that he said could detect coronavirus almost instantly, but Iranian scientists have rejected the claim and other government officials have distanced themselves.

Read the full story here.

WHO chief warns the worst of the coronavirus is still ahead

GENEVA — The World Health Organization chief warned Monday that “the worst is yet ahead of us” in the coronavirus outbreak, reviving the alarm just as many countries ease restrictive measures aimed at reducing its spread.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus didn’t specify why he believes the outbreak that has infected some 2.5 million people and killed over 166,000 could get worse. He and others, however, have previously pointed to the likely future spread of the illness through Africa, where health systems are far less developed.

Read more. 

How contact tracing could use Bluetooth to track coronavirus on your smartphone

Google and Apple are racing to build a framework for smartphone apps that may help reopen the world economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

But what would the apps do? And how would they work?

Read more here.

Video shows endangered penguins roaming streets of South African city

A video that has garnered over 1 million views on social media shows endangered penguins roaming the empty streets of Cape Town, South Africa, during the country's COVID-19 lockdown. They're not the only ones.

Single-day death toll in New York drops to 478

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that an additional 478 people have died due to COVID-19, not including presumed cases, bringing the total number of deaths to 14,347. 

It's the the first time since April 2 that the single-day death toll dropped below 500 people, according to The New York Times.

During his daily news conference, Cuomo also called for a 50 percent pay bonus for first responders as part of a “hazard pay” for their work amid the coronavirus crisis. He also announced a plan to distribute hand sanitizer as well as over 500,000 cloth masks to public housing communities so that each resident has at least one mask.

Cuomo also discussed President Donald Trump's insistence that states are responsible for the widespread testing needed ease lockdown restrictions, saying that he agreed governors should take the lead but stressed the need for the federal government to coordinate around critical lab supplies.