House passes $484B relief package, Trump wonders about 'injection' of disinfectant

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
COVID-19 Testing Begins in Historic Black Neighborhoods in Altamonte Springs, US
Health workers test people in cars for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site at the Apostolic Church of Christ in Altamonte Springs, Fla. on April 21, 2020.Paul Hennessy / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

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The House passed another coronavirus relief package Thursday, setting aside nearly $500 billion in loans and grants for businesses, hospitals and testing. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who argued that the legislation needed to fund states and cities, was the only Democratic member to vote against the legislation.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which secured $20 million in loans under a $2 trillion package signed into law last month, joined a growing list of businesses Thursday that have said they would return the money. An online petition demanding the move had recorded more than 250,000 signatures.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, President Donald Trump wondered if an “injection” of disinfectant might keep the virus from “doing a number on the lungs.” Experts called this "irresponsible" and "dangerous."

The likely death toll from the disease rose to more than 15,000 in New York City, where public health officials said they had confirmed 10,290 deaths. Another 5,121 fatalities were identified as “probable” COVID-19 cases.

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.

Tom Hanks sends letter, typewriter to Australian boy bullied over his name: Corona

Tom Hanks on Nov. 22, 2019.Nathan Congleton / NBC

Tom Hanks has sent a letter and a Corona-brand typewriter to an Australian boy who wrote to him about being bullied over his name, Corona, Australian television networks reported on Thursday.

Corona De Vries, an 8-year-old from the Gold Coast in Queensland state wrote to the Hollywood star after he and his wife, Rita, had spent more than two weeks in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 in the Australian beach resort.

Read the full story here.

Empty highways lure California drivers to speed, with citations up 87 percent

A mostly empty highway through downtown Los Angeles just before noon on April 7, 2020.Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images file

Too many car-loving Californians, with wide open highways beckoning and possible boredom at home, are taking to roads at dangerous, triple-digit speeds, authorities said Wednesday.

The California Highway Patrol has issued 87 percent more citations for driving at least 100 mph since the state's coronavirus shutdown began,  officials said.

“Fewer cars on the road doesn’t give drivers the green light to travel over the speed limit,” the state's Office of Traffic Safety Director Barbara Rooney said in a statement.

Read the full story here.

LGBTQ activists join forces to reimagine Pride amid coronavirus pandemic

Facing a wave of cancellations amid the global pandemic, LGBTQ activists are scrambling to reimagine gay pride events, some of which are among the biggest in-person gatherings in the world

The latest major city to announce a cancellation was New York, the birthplace of the original pride march and the site of last year’s blockbuster Stonewall 50 pride celebration, which drew 5 million people to the city’s streets to celebrate the half-century anniversary of the historic 1969 Stonewall uprising.

Read the full story here.

First pollution, now coronavirus: Black parish in Louisiana deals with 'a double whammy' of death

St. James Parish is a nearly majority black parish of about 21,000 people. It sits halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge — along an 85-mile stretch that is home to more than 200 chemical plants and refineries. Even before the coronavirus arrived, there was so much sickness and death in that corridor of southeastern Louisiana that it's been given the nickname Cancer Alley. And more recently, Death Alley.

Read the full story here.

Georgia reports 772 new coronavirus cases as businesses prepare to reopen

Georgia reported 772 additional COVID-19 cases and 36 deaths at noon Thursday, hours before Gov. Brian Kemp's heavily criticized plan to reopen state businesses takes effect.

The state has recorded 872 coronavirus deaths and 21,512 cases.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he "strongly disagrees" with Kemp's executive order to allow businesses like gyms, bowling alleys, barbers, cosmetologists and nail care artists to reopen with restricted operations on Friday.

Kemp later tweeted that he appreciated Trump's "bold leadership and insight during these difficult times," but he declined to back down. "Our next measured step is driven by data and guided by state public health officials. We will continue with this approach to protect the lives - and livelihoods - of all Georgians," Kemp wrote.

N.Y. Gov. Cuomo says state nursing homes will be investigated

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that nursing homes in New York would be investigated to ensure that they were following the guidelines that had been put in place during the outbreak.

Cuomo said nursing homes are required to: 

  • Have their staffs undergo regular temperature checks and wear personal protective equipment.
  • Quarantine residents infected with the virus.
  • Have separate staff for residents who test positive for COVID-19.
  • Notify residents and family members within 24 hours if any resident tests positive for or dies because of the coronavirus.
  • Transfer residents to another facility if they cannot provide adequate care for them.
  • Readmit those infected only if the facilities can provide adequate care as dictated by the CDC and the state department of health.

Cuomo said Attorney General Letitia James would be helping to ensure these rules are being met.

Gov. Cuomo releases preliminary estimates from antibody study

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday released preliminary estimates from an antibody study.

The state collected approximately 3,000 antibody samples from 40 locations in 19 counties. Preliminary estimates show a 13.9 percent infection rate, or an estimated 2.7 million people statewide, Cuomo said.

The results were broken down by region, race and age. No one younger than the age of 18 was tested. 

"This basically quantifies what we have been seeing anecdotally," Cuomo said. 

House expected to pass latest coronavirus bill, send to Trump

The House is expected to pass a nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus bill Thursday that includes more money for the small business loan program, as well as funds for hospitals and testing. President Donald Trump is expected to sign it by the end of the week.

The bill includes more than $320 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which quickly ran out of money after it was created by the CARES Act passed late last month. It also provides $60 billion in loans and grants for the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief fund, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for coronavirus testing.

The interim bill does not include additional funding for state and local governments that Democrats wanted and say will be a priority for the next round of legislation, as well as money for election reform, hazard pay for frontline workers and additional funding for the U.S. Postal Service. But Republicans are already raising issues with those priorities.

Read the full story here.

Photos: Pony at your window

Bryony Blant and her daughter Alice, who celebrated her second birthday Thursday, admire Welsh mountain pony "Annie's Wizz" outside their home in Twickenham, London.Justin Tallis / AFP - Getty Images
Park Lane Stables is hoping to spread cheer during the lockdown in an initiative called "Tiny Pony at Your Window."Justin Tallis / AFP - Getty Images