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Senate passes $484 billion relief bill as U.S. cases top 800,000

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the globe.
Volunteers distribute food at an event by Food Share in Doral, Fla.
Volunteers distribute food at an event by Food Share in Doral, Fla., on April 17, 2020.Carmen Sesin / NBC News

The U.S. Senate passed on Tuesday, and President Donald Trump is expected to sign, a nearly $500 billion coronavirus relief bill.

Meanwhile, Trump on Monday said he is suspending immigration in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the "need to protect jobs." White House officials offered few details after the president's Twitter announcement Monday night.

In the South, some governors have begun loosening restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the virus. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp granted businesses across the state permission to reopen later this week and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said that beaches and retail stores can reopen Tuesday.

In Europe, German officials made the difficult decision to cancel the country's world famous Oktoberfest celebration.

As of Tuesday evening, the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. stands at more than 44,000 and there have been more than 802,000 recorded cases of the disease, according to NBC News' count.

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

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 22 coronavirus news.

Trump says Harvard, other large companies will pay back PPP loans

Harvard University, which reportedly netted nearly $9 million in aid through the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program, will have to give that money back, President Donald Trump said Tuesday.

"Harvard's going to pay back the money, they shouldn't be taking it," Trump said. "They have one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe the world I guess, and they're going to pay back that money."

He added that large companies, which he did not name, would also pay back funds obtained through the government loan program established to help small businesses to pay their employees during the pandemic. The Ivy League university has an endowment worth more than $40 billion.

However, Harvard University spokesperson Jason Newton denied the institution received any small business funds from the program in a statement to NBC News on Tuesday.

He added that the school, however, the school did receive funds as part of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund in which all money will be used to "provide direct assistance to students facing urgent financial needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The burger chain Shake Shack, which received $10 million from the PPP, has already said it will return the money. The New York-based burger company is among more than a dozen companies with annual revenues in the hundreds of millions that are reported to have received PPP money.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Tuesday at the daily White House coronavirus briefing that he is giving these companies the "benefit of the doubt" and will clarify guidelines for companies hoping to access loans.

The USNS Comfort free to set sail from New York City

The USNS hospital ship Comfort is seen docked at Pier 90 on Manhattan's West Side during the outbreak of the coronavirus in New York on April 3, 2020.Mike Segar / Reuters file

The Navy hospital ship deployed to New York City at the height of the coronavirus pandemic is free to set sail for any other troubled ports, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

The USNS Comfort docked in America's biggest city on March 30 to take on non-coronavirus patients and relieve hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus. But now that the city appears to have weathered the apex of the pandemic, the governor said the hospital ship should be re-deployed.

“If anyplace else needs it, send it to them," Cuomo told MSNBC.

At his daily coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump also said the hospital ship should be leaving soon: “I’ve asked Andrew if we could bring the Comfort back to its base in Virginia so that we could have it for other locations, and he said we would be able to do that."

What can coronavirus antibody tests actually tell us?

A clinical test in the Immunology lab at UW Medicine in Seattle, Washington.Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Results from antibody testing studies for the coronavirus are starting to paint a picture of the scope of the disease it causes in parts of the U.S.

But the initial findings won't identify which people are immune to the virus; in other words, a positive result from an antibody test can't be considered a "get out of jail free" card for those who wish to stop social distancing and get back to life as usual, experts say.

Read the full story here. 

Barr calls stay-at-home orders 'disturbingly close to house arrest'

Attorney General William Barr in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 1, 2020.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images file

WASHINGTON —Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that the need for strong restrictions to stop the spread of the corornavirus may be passing, and the Justice Department might consider taking legal action against states that go too far.

"There are very, very burdensome impingements on liberty," he told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, "and we adopted them for the limited purpose of slowing down the spread. We didn't adopt them as the comprehensive way of dealing with this disease. We are now seeing that these are bending the curve, and we have to come up with more targeted approaches."

Read the full story here. 

Cuomo says he had 'productive' White House meeting with Trump on coronavirus

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday for what he called a "productive" meeting on the need for federal help with coronavirus testing and financial help for hard-hit states.

"I think we had a very good conversation," the New York Democrat told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace in a phone interview after the meeting, and there was an "acknowledgment that we all need to work together on this. It has to be a real partnership."

Read the full story here. 

Illinois extends student loan relief to non-federal, private bank borrowers

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a plan to provide relief for student loan borrowers in Illinois who were left out of the federal relief plan through the CARES Act

The coronavirus relief bill halted federal student loan payments until the end of September, with no interest, but failed to account for students with private loans not controlled by the Department of Education. Pritzker said Tuesday that his plan with 20 private lenders would bring relief to nearly 140,000 more student loan borrowers in the state. 

"We created a multi-state agreement that includes borrowers in Illinois, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia and Washington State," Pritzker said. "Impacted borrowers can immediately contact their loan provider to get relief with these new options." 

Study shows more deaths, no benefit from malaria drug touted by Trump

Hydroxychloroquine, and a related compound called chloroquine, is a medication that's been around for decades. It's used to treat malaria, as well as certain autoimmune diseases including lupus rheumatoid arthritis.John Locher / AP

A malaria drug widely touted by President Donald Trump for treating the new coronavirus showed no benefit in a large analysis of its use in U.S. veterans hospitals. There were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, researchers reported.

The nationwide study was not a rigorous experiment. But with 368 patients, it’s the largest look so far of hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin for COVID-19, which has killed more than 171,000 people as of Tuesday.

The study was posted on an online site for researchers and has has not been reviewed by other scientists. Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia paid for the work.

Read the full story here. 

Betsy DeVos announces another $6 billion in federal grants for colleges

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Tuesday that an additional $6.2 billion in federal grants will be made available to colleges and universities for remote learning programs, staff training and building out IT capacity.

The boost in higher education funding comes after the Education Department announced earlier this month that nearly $6.3 billion would be made available to colleges for students who need help with necessities, including books and housing, during the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest round of money is also coming out of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that President Donald Trump signed in March.

While the Education Department said it made the initial cash grants available "quickly," and there's been an increase in eligible colleges seeking the money for their neediest students, Politico reported Monday that less than 1 percent of the $6.3 billion was released to schools this month. Education advocates have blamed bureaucracy and confusion over the rules.

Senate passes coronavirus relief bill, which Trump is expected to sign

WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus bill by voice vote Tuesday that includes additional money for the small business loan program as well as for hospitals and testing, making way for the legislation to become law as soon as the end of the week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a joint statement that they were "proud" to have secured an interim aid bill that went beyond the initial Republican proposal.

“Democrats flipped this emergency package from an insufficient Republican plan that left behind hospitals and health and frontline workers and did nothing to aid the survival of the most vulnerable small businesses on Main Street," they said.

Read the full story here. 

Texas Lt. Governor on reopening economy: 'There are more important things than living'

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks in McAllen, Texas, on Jan. 10, 2019.Sergio Flores / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick doubled down on the controversial comments he previously made regarding the coronavirus pandemic, telling Fox News on Monday that Americans had to “take some risks” in reopening the economy.

Patrick was heavily criticized last month after he suggested in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that he and other senior citizens might be willing to die in order to save the U.S. economy. The Texas official stood by his statements in a new interview with Carlson on Monday night, saying that “we are crushing the economy.”

“And what I said when I was with you that night, there are more important things than living," Patrick said.

Read the full story here. 

Senator wants Apple, Google execs to be personally liable for virus privacy

A U.S. senator said Tuesday that tech executives should face personal legal consequences if they don't protect the privacy of people using their smartphones to track the coronavirus. 

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote in a letter to Google and Apple about their virus-tracing plans that their executives should be "personally liable if you stop protecting privacy." He said the companies should not, for example, give advertising companies access once the pandemic is over. 

"Do not hide behind a corporate shield like so many privacy offenders have before. Stake your personal finances on the security of this project," he wrote. 

Apple and Google have said their plans would be voluntary and include a number of privacy measures. Apple and Google declined to comment on Hawley's letter.