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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

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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Federal government preparing workers to head back to the office

WASHINGTON — The federal government is preparing to bring employees back to the office as soon as state and local authorities permit, the Office of Management and Budget told government agencies on Monday. 

Crediting the Trump administration’s “aggressive response” for saving lives, acting OMB director Russ Vought said in a memo to agencies posted Monday on the White House website that the "federal government is actively planning to ramp back up government operations to the maximum extent possible, as local conditions warrant, consistent with the National guidelines for Opening Up America Again.” 

President Donald Trump last week that outlined a three-phase strategy for states to determine when to bring businesses and services back online. Eighty-five percent of the federal workforce is located outside the Washington, D.C., area, which means different agencies will encounter different scenarios and timelines.

“Given the diversity of Federal workforce missions, geographic locations and the needs of individuals within the workforce itself, this transition will require continued diligence and flexibility from Federal agencies and the Federal workforce,” Vought wrote. 

'Vast majority' of businesses in Tennessee to reopen by May 1

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Monday that he will not extend the state's stay-at-home order and plans on reopening businesses next week. 

Lee announced that his administration plans to work with business leaders in an effort to open doors as soon as April 27, with the state's shelter-in-place order lifting three days later. "The vast majority of businesses in 89 counties (will be) allowed to re-open on May 1," according to a statement from Lee's office.

“Social distancing works, and as we open up our economy it will be more important than ever that we keep social distancing as lives and livelihoods depend on it," Lee said. 

As of Monday afternoon, there were 7,238 confirmed cases and 152 deaths due to coronavirus in Tennessee.

McConnell: No deal yet on second round of small business funding

Senate Majority Leader McConnell said a deal has not yet been reached for the second round of funding for small businesses to provide aid during the coronavirus crisis. Stephanie Ruhle explains how the first round of funds dried up so quickly.

Nurses union sues New York state, claims 'grossly inadequate' coronavirus protections

Nurses protest in the Bronx, N.Y., on April 17, 2020.Mary Altaffer / AP

A union representing New York nurses filed multiple lawsuits on Monday, accusing the state and two hospitals of allegedly "compromising the health and safety of" members fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York State Nurses Association launched state civil complaints against the New York State Department of Health and Westchester Medical Center and a federal lawsuit against Montefiore Medical Center.

In addition to more testing, the union is demanding that nurses be better equipped with enough protective N95 masks as they treat patients with COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.

Read the full story here. 

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.