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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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Some Southern governors begin lifting restrictions

845d ago / 2:01 AM UTC

Some governors in the South have begun loosening restrictions put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday granted businesses across the state permission to reopen later this week, an announcement echoed by a handful of other Republican governors who are beginning to lift stay-at-home orders.

Kemp's decision, which will apply to barber shops, gyms and other businesses that include close contact, comes days after President Donald Trump issued guidelines for the reopening of state economies

Some health experts have expressed concern that it's too early to be backing off lockdown measures.

Read the full story here

Pence: 'We have enough testing capacity for every state' to enter first reopening phase

845d ago / 1:28 AM UTC

Vice President Pence described a call he had with governors in which he described each state's lab capacity and equipment in that state and locations where coronavirus diagnostic tests can be performed.

Brooklyn nursing home ravaged by 55 deaths, most in New York during pandemic

845d ago / 1:25 AM UTC
Image: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in New York
EMTs wheel a man out of the Cobble Hill Health Center nursing home in Brooklyn on April 17, 2020.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

"Right here, we are doing it alone," Cobble Hill Health Center CEO Donny Tuchman shouted Monday to cheering neighbors outside the nursing home in Brooklyn, New York. "These people right here," he said, pointing to the line of the health care staff members in full protective gear who'd walked out of the facility to accept the applause.

It had been yet another challenging day at Cobble Hill. A report by the New York State Health Department listed 55 deaths presumably caused by the coronavirus at the facility since the outbreak began, the highest toll at any senior care center in New York.

Read the full story here.

Inside the meat processing plant linked to nearly 900 coronavirus cases

845d ago / 12:12 AM UTC

Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is now a coronavirus hot spot. NBC News' Blayne Alexander hears about the conditions inside the plant, now closed indefinitely, from a longtime employee.

Coronavirus can lead to kidney damage. Why?

845d ago / 11:58 PM UTC
Image: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Guayaquil
A patient undergoes dialysis treatment in Guayaquil, Ecuador on April 18, 2020.Santiago Arcos / Reuters

A significant number of the sickest coronavirus patients have kidney problems, complicating their treatment and hurting their chances of survival.

Exactly how the virus affects the kidneys — which play a vital role in cleaning the body's blood supply — is still unclear, but experts have theories.

One is that the coronavirus directly attacks the kidneys. A study published in the journal Cell in March showed that the coronavirus infiltrates the body by binding to a type of receptor on cells called ACE2. These special receptors are found not only in cells in the heart and lungs, but also in kidneys.

Read the full story here. 

Family surprises couple with photos of guests pinned to pews during wedding

845d ago / 11:29 PM UTC

Clare Seghers Keefer and Mel Keefer, both nurses on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, were planning to host a large wedding on Friday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But due to the state’s stay-at-home order, the couple could only have eight guests inside the church for the ceremony.

So in a video posted on social media, as the bride is walked down the aisle by her father, photos of guests who weren’t able to be there can be seen pinned to the pews. 

The bride’s sister, Mary Seghers Shaffo, who helped organize the surprise, said in an email to NBC News she hoped the photos of their guests made the couple’s wedding day a little more special.

As the couple left the church to the parking lot, they were once again surprised — this time by socially distanced family and friends, waiting in cars, honking their horns and cheering for the newlyweds. They watched on as the couple shared their first dance, cut a cake and popped some champagne.

Trump suggests he schooled states on testing. Governors say the issue is complex.

845d ago / 11:15 PM UTC

President Donald Trump said Monday that governors “didn’t understand” the variety of the labs their states could use until the White House provided a list.

“Some of the governors, like as an example the governor from Maryland, he didn’t understand the list. He didn’t really understand too much about what was going on, so now I think he’ll be able to do that,” Trump said. “It’s pretty simple.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said on CNN Monday he appreciated the information but wasn't confused about state capabilities. Hogan said over the weekend that governors were trying to use private labs, but were stymied by shortages of swabs and reagents needed for testing. 

Trump also boasted that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had agreed with him that states should lead on testing. But Cuomo also pointed to the supply chain as an issue where states need the federal government to get involved. 

“On the testing, I can’t solve for the national manufacturers not being able to produce the volume to sell to my state labs,” Cuomo said, referring to equipment and materials needed coronavirus testing and noting that the supply chain was international. “I’d like the federal government to help on supply chain issues.”

'This is a great time to buy oil,' Trump says as prices plunge into negative territory

845d ago / 11:06 PM UTC

After a tumultuous day that saw oil futures falling into negative territory, President Donald Trump suggested the U.S. could either purchase roughly 75 million barrels of oil to add to the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or rent that spare capacity to oil companies squeezed for storage space due to the glut in the market.

“This is a great time to buy oil. We'd get it for the right price," Trump said at a coronavirus task force news briefing on Monday night. "Nobody's ever heard of negative oil before."

Lawmakers have discussed providing support to the struggling energy sector, but a plan for the Department of Energy to spend $3 billion purchasing oil for the SPR was suspended when the money was not included in the stimulus package passed earlier this month.

The price for West Texas Intermediate crude contracted for May delivery plunged Monday to negative $37.63 a barrel for contracts expiring Tuesday.

Read the full story here.

South Carolina reopens many businesses effective immediately

846d ago / 10:07 PM UTC

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday he was reopening many non-essential businesses effective immediately and beaches on Tuesday. 

The governor announced his decision after other state leaders spoke of tentative plans to reopen the economy in the coming weeks. McMaster's plan included the immediate reopening of retail locations such as department stores, clothing shops and book sellers. 

Beaches will be open beginning at noon on Tuesday.

"I've restored public beach access, allowing locals to use their discretion. I've also allowed some retailers that were previously closed to open, but they must follow strict social distancing measures," McMaster said Monday.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 4,439 confirmed cases and 124 deaths due to coronavirus in South Carolina.

Virtually all abortions again blocked in Texas

846d ago / 9:40 PM UTC

A federal appeals court has again blocked virtually all abortions in Texas.

This time around, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has said medication abortions cannot be allowed under an order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot that prohibits non-essential medical procedures. 

Abortion is now allowed in the state only for women whose pregnancies will pass the state's limit for legal abortion by April 22.

Two-thirds of restaurant employees out of work, industry survey says

846d ago / 9:20 PM UTC

A survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association says that nearly two-thirds of the industry's workforce is now unemployed. 

The survey, which was released as part of the association's request for federal funding, estimates that more than 8 million restaurant workers have lost their jobs or been furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The National Restaurant Association estimates that the industry faces more than $240 billion in losses nationwide by the end of 2020.

"Its survey reported that more than 60 percent of restaurant owners say that existing federal relief programs—including the CARES Act—will not enable them to keep their employees on payroll during the downturn," the association said in a release Monday. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics only has data as recent as last month, but did show a nearly 2.6 percent increase in food service unemployment rates from March 2019 to March 2020. Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment in the month of April. 

Coronavirus impact on travel is nine times greater than the 9/11 attacks, new study says

846d ago / 9:12 PM UTC

One-third of all estimated job losses this year will come from the travel industry, according to a new study.

Around 8 million people in the travel and tourism sector will lose their job by the end of 2020 as a result of the decline in travel, the U.S. Travel Association and Oxford Economics said in new data released Monday, noting that it expects a total of 24 million jobless.

The total economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic will be about nine times greater than 9/11, the report projected, with a $519 billion decline in travel spending in the U.S. this year and a loss of $1.2 trillion in economic output.

Travel declines will also lead to a loss of $80 billion in taxes in 2020, the report said.

Georgia to begin reopening businesses on Friday

846d ago / 8:55 PM UTC

Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Monday that the first phase of reopening Georgia businesses will begin this Friday, April 24.

Gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studio, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designer, nail care artists and massage therapists will be allowed to resume business on Friday. Kemp said basic health and sanitation standards must be met before any business can reopen, such as screening employees for fever and wearing masks.

Theaters, private clubs and restaurants' dine-in services will be allowed to reopen Monday, April 27, Kemp said. Bars, nightclubs, amusement parks and live performance venues will remain closed for the time being.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 18,947 confirmed cases and 733 deaths due to coronavirus in the state of Georgia.

Federal government preparing workers to head back to the office

846d ago / 8:39 PM UTC

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

846d ago / 8:15 PM UTC

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

846d ago / 8:07 PM UTC

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

846d ago / 7:49 PM UTC
Image: Nurses protest a new sick leave policy requiring a doctor's note outside of Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., on April 17, 2020.
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

846d ago / 7:33 PM UTC

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

846d ago / 7:31 PM UTC
Image: Robert Pattinson as Batman
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

and

846d ago / 7:28 PM UTC
Image: 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.
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

846d ago / 6:49 PM UTC
Image: Jon Bon Jovi performs on Central Park's Great Lawn in New York in 2008.
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. 

846d ago / 6:37 PM UTC

More USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors have coronavirus

and

846d ago / 6:29 PM UTC

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

and

846d ago / 6:24 PM UTC
Coronavirus detector being showcased in a hospital in Iran. Screenshot taken from a video posted by the spokesperson of a military hospital in Tehran.
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

846d ago / 6:19 PM UTC

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

846d ago / 5:22 PM UTC

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

and

846d ago / 5:05 PM UTC

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

846d ago / 4:57 PM UTC

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. 

Putin says Russia's peak has yet to come

846d ago / 4:09 PM UTC

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a meeting with epidemiologists Monday that his country has not yet reached the peak of coronavirus infections and deaths.

"Therefore we must do everything to flatten this peak," Putin said. Russia has around 47,000 confirmed cases and more than 400 reported deaths.

Meanwhile, Russia's defense ministry has quarantined 15,000 troops after they took part in rehearsals for the country's now-postponed Victory Day celebrations, which had been scheduled to take place May 9.

Video footage showed the thousands of soldiers in tight formation without masks or other protective equipment. All hardware used in the rehearsals will be sanitized before being returned to its bases, the ministry said.

Facebook removes some events calling for protests of stay-at-home orders

846d ago / 4:07 PM UTC

Facebook has removed events in a handful of states planning protests against stay-at-home measures meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The events, which were planned in California, Nebraska and New Jersey, violated protective measures imposed by governors, Facebook said.

"Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “For this same reason, events that defy government's guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook."

The removals were first reported by The Washington Post. Many other protest events remain active on Facebook, with some slated for Monday.

Read the full story here.

16-year-old released from hospital after recovering from COVID-19

846d ago / 3:59 PM UTC

Karla Duarte, 16, was released from Cohen Children’s Medical Center after a nearly month-long battle with COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. She was hospitalized on March 29 after experiencing symptoms for about a week and was intubated on April 2 after her condition worsened, according to Northwell Health. 

On April 4, Duarte was put on a VV ECMO machine, which is an invasive therapy where blood is removed from the body, passed through an artificial lung to remove carbon dioxide and add oxygen and then returned to the body. According to Northwell Health, this is the first time this treatment has been used on a minor on a ventilator for COVID-19 at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. 

Miraculously, the treatment was successful. Duarte was removed from ECMO on April 10 and extubated on April 15. She continued to quickly recover and was released from the hospital on April 19.

Karla Duarte, 16, was released from Cohen Children's Medical Center in Queens, N.Y. after recovering from COVID-19.
Karla Duarte, 16, was released from Cohen Children's Medical Center in Queens, N.Y. after recovering from COVID-19.Northwell Health

“Her successful treatment and use of ECMO would not have been possible without the extraordinary multidisciplinary effort by the entire Cohen Children’s team, including PICU nurses and physicians, ECMO nurse specialists, perfusionists, and surgeons,” said Dr. James Schneider in a statement released by Northwell Health.

846d ago / 3:27 PM UTC

846d ago / 3:01 PM UTC

Travel restrictions to Mexico and Canada extended

846d ago / 2:53 PM UTC

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it would continue its travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico for another 30 days. 

“In close collaboration, the US, Mexico, and Canada have each agreed to extend restrictions on non-essential travel across their shared borders for 30 additional days," Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement. "As President Trump stated last week, border control, travel restrictions and other limitations remain critical to slowing the spread and allowing the phased opening of the country.”

The U.S. and Canada announced on March 18 that they were limiting travel for nonessential traffic, with the U.S. making a similar announcement about travel to Mexico two days later.

NYC LGBTQ Pride March canceled for first time in half-century

846d ago / 2:25 PM UTC

The NYC Pride March has been canceled for the first time in a half-century, along with all in-person events leading up to the annual June event, which draws millions of participants and revelers every year.

Heritage of Pride, the organization that runs the march, made the announcement on Monday, shortly after New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the cancellation of all large event permits for the month of June during a coronavirus briefing.

“This probably will not surprise you,” De Blasio said, before announcing the cancellation of June's Celebrate Israel, Puerto Rican Day and LGBTQ pride parades. The mayor promised these events would go on in some format "when it's the right time."

Read the full story here.

Photo: A moment of silence in Madrid

846d ago / 2:20 PM UTC
Image: Health care workers observe a moment of silence on Monday to remember Joaquin Diaz, the chief of surgery at Madrid's La Paz hospital, who died of COVID-19.
Health care workers observe a moment of silence on Monday to remember Joaquin Diaz, the chief of surgery at Madrid's La Paz hospital, who died of COVID-19.Manu Fernandez / AP

Mayor Bill de Blasio says New York City is in desperate need of surgical gowns

846d ago / 2:10 PM UTC

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that New York City is in desperate need of surgical gowns.

De Blasio said the city did not have enough gowns to get through the week. 

"I am making an appeal to the federal government," de Blasio said at a news conference. "We need more surgical gowns in New York City and we need them now."

The mayor credited White House trade adviser Peter Navarro who is now coordinating the country's medical supply chain with providing the city 265,000 Tyvek suits and enough waterproof fabric to make 400,000 gowns.

Congressional leaders, Trump administration near deal on interim coronavirus aid bill

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846d ago / 1:54 PM UTC

Congressional leaders and the Trump administration are nearing an agreement on an interim coronavirus aid bill to further help small businesses and hospitals across the country.

The deal is expected to include $310 billion more for the federal government’s new Paycheck Protection Program, which was created in the last major relief package to help small businesses survive amid the coronavirus outbreak and ran out of funding last week. The interim measure is also expected to provide $75 billion more for hospitals and possibly $25 billion for testing.

Despite calls from governors, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for funding to directly assist state and local governments, the legislation would exclude that money as well as funding for food stamps — Democratic priorities that Republicans argue can be negotiated in the next relief bill expected in the coming weeks.

Read the full story here.

Broadway star Nick Cordero's wife on his coronavirus leg amputation: 'It was life or leg'

846d ago / 1:14 PM UTC

The wife of Broadway star Nick Cordero has opened up about the surgery to have his right leg amputated two days ago as he remains in a medically induced coma battling coronavirus.

"It came down to a point where honestly it was life or leg, and we had to choose life,'' Amanda Kloots said on the "TODAY" show Monday. "I choose life."

Cordero, 41, had his leg amputated on Saturday at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after he struggled with blood clots while on a ventilator and an ECMO machine, which helps oxygenate the blood.

"They put the ECMO machine in him to save his life," Kloots said. "It was literally to save his life, and it did, thank God. And sometimes the repercussion of putting that machine on can cause some blood issues, and it did with his leg."

Read the full story here.

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

846d ago / 12:33 PM UTC

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

846d ago / 12:27 PM UTC

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

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846d ago / 11:53 AM UTC

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

846d ago / 11:44 AM UTC

Iran begins to loosen lockdown restrictions

846d ago / 11:32 AM UTC
Image: Cars pack streets in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Saturday after authorities eased 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

846d ago / 11:23 AM UTC

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

846d ago / 11:00 AM UTC

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.

846d ago / 10:56 AM UTC

Signs mount that Russian lockdown will be extended past April 30

846d ago / 10:46 AM UTC

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

846d ago / 10:12 AM UTC
Image: A florist in Dinslaken, Germany sets up her shop as the country eased some restrictions it put in place during the coronavirus.
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

846d ago / 9:29 AM UTC
Image: A man drives through a disinfection tunnel outside the local government offices in Faridabad, India on Monday as a preventive measure against coronavirus.
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

Spain to let young children go outside for first time in weeks

846d ago / 8:50 AM UTC

Children aged 12 and under in Spain will next Monday be allowed to leave their homes after five weeks of confinement. But Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez made clear when making the announcement on Saturday that the country's lockdown would otherwise continue until at least May 9.

“These permits for children will be limited in order to avoid new contagions,” he said. “We will progressively lift the confinement during May.”

Spain has enacted one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe and has suffered more than 20,000 coronavirus-related deaths — only Italy and the U.S. have higher death tolls.

846d ago / 8:27 AM UTC

UNICEF seeks more aid for at-risk kids in the Middle East

846d ago / 8:23 AM UTC

The U.N. children’s agency appealed Monday for an additional $92.4 million to help fight the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East and North Africa, a conflict-battered region with the highest number of children in need anywhere.

Yemen is a top concern, said Ted Chaiban, the regional chief of UNICEF. After five years of civil war, half the health centers in Yemen no longer operate. Two million children are malnourished, including 400,000 who suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

“It was already critical to address the needs of children in Yemen. With COVID-19, now you’ve got this extra lawyer of vulnerability,” Chaiban said, adding that the increased funding is needed for a range of programs across the region to soften the blow of the pandemic.

846d ago / 8:10 AM UTC

Shake Shack to return $10 million in small-business loan money

and

846d ago / 4:33 AM UTC
Shake Shack
Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer and CEO Randy Garutti announced just before midnight Sunday that the company had been able to access additional capital needed "to ensure our long term stability" and would return the $10 million it was granted through the CARES Act.John Locher / AP

Shake Shack, one of several large restaurant chains that secured federal loans through the coronavirus stimulus law meant to help small businesses, said Sunday night that it is giving all $10 million back.

The New York-based hipster-favorite burger company is among more than a dozen companies with revenues in the hundreds of millions that are reported to have received money from the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, which set aside $349 billion in the stimulus law called the CARES Act to help small businesses keep their workers on the payroll.

Less than two weeks after it started, the program has already run out of money.

In a statement Sunday night on LinkedIn, Danny Meyer, Shake Shack's founder and CEO of its parent company, CEO Union Square Hospitality Group, and Randy Garutti, Shake Shack's CEO, said they had no idea the money would dry up so quickly, and after they were able to secure separate funding last week, "we've decided to immediately return the entire $10 million" so restaurants that "need it most can get it now."

Read the full story.

Nursing home transparency rules announced

and

846d ago / 3:11 AM UTC

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

Speaking at a White House briefing, Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called the new policies "important" and said they will support a nationwide effort to track the virus and slow its spread.

"As we reopen the United States, our surveillance effort around the virus will begin in nursing homes," Verma said.

Read the full story.

846d ago / 1:27 AM UTC

and

847d ago / 10:00 PM UTC

Reese Loggins, a 10-year-old boy from High Point, North Carolina, who's battling leukemia at Duke University Hospital, looked outside his window and found a surprise birthday gift hanging in mid-air.

Because of visiting restrictions and social distancing guidelines, his parents wanted to make the day extra special for Reese. It was the second birthday he would spend in the hospital.

“It’s been really tough,” said his mother, Michelle Loggins. “The closer his birthday got, the more he was talking about biking, how much he misses biking around.” 

The morning of Reese's birthday last Wednesday, construction crews used a crane to lift a bicycle gift up to his fifth-floor window, sang "Happy Birthday" and displayed a banner atop a nearby building that read, "Happy 10th Birthday Reese.” Then nurses and other staff entered Reese’s room and sang "Happy birthday."