Trump signs aid package as U.S. death toll tops 50,000

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) antibody walk-in testing site in Brooklyn, New York City
Healthcare workers wear personal protective equipment (P.P.E.) at a SOMOS Community Care COVID-19 antibody walk-in testing site during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brooklyn, New York on April 24, 2020.Andrew Kelly / Reuters

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President Donald Trump signed a nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus bill into law Friday that includes more money for the small-business loan program, hospitals and testing.

The bill includes more than $320 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, created by the CARES Act, which was passed late last month and provides forgivable loans to small businesses that keep their employees on the payroll.

Meanwhile, experts ripped Trump's idea of injecting disinfectant as a possible treatment for coronavirus infections. But during the ceremony, Trump walked back his comments from Thursday, saying he was being “sarcastic.”

The new legislation comes as the death toll in the U.S. topped 50,000 on Friday, according to NBC News' tally. The global recorded death toll has passed 190,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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 25 for coronavirus news.

Trump: U.S. Postal Service is 'a joke' and should dramatically raise prices

President Donald Trump on Friday blasted the U.S. Postal Service as "a joke," and vowed to block financial aid for the struggling agency unless it raised prices for packages "four times or five times."

Trump said agency should hit Amazon and other tech companies with much higher prices for packages. "They don't want to raise it because they don't want to insult Amazon," Trump said.

The president essentially confirmed a Washington Post report that he won't sign off on a $10 billion loan for the postal service included in emergency coronavirus legislation unless the agency does what he wants. “If they don’t raise the price, I’m not signing anything,” he told reporters during a bill signing in the Oval Office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that Trump is looking to privatize the Postal Service, which she called a "very big danger" for the country, especially in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak "when vote by mail is so important in terms of as a health issue, but also medicines and all the rest of that people are depending — on so many things that they're ordering online coming by mail for them."

A short time later, he tweeted, "I will never let our Post Office fail." 

How to help senior citizens cope with the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus can be lethal to anyone who catches it, but seniors are especially at risk if infected.

“Eight out of 10 deaths from COVID-19 have been from those age 65 or older,” says Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, a family physician in Phoenix, Arizona. “The reason why is because our immune system is less effective at fighting infections as we get older. Also, having multiple other chronic diseases can complicate this virus.”

Read more here.

Trump says he was being sarcastic with comments about injecting disinfectants

President Donald Trump said Friday that his remarks on injecting disinfectants to treat COVID-19 were sarcasm, after doctors responded with horror and disinfectant manufacturers urged people not to ingest the poisonous substances.

"I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters just like you, just to see what would happen," Trump said on Friday during a bill signing for the coronavirus aid package. "I was asking a sarcastic and a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it and it would kill it on the hands, and it would make things much better."

But the president's comments the day before — a lengthy musing that disinfectant or powerful light could be used to fight the virus — did not appear to be sarcasm; they were in part directed at a Homeland Security official.

Read the full story here.

Homeless people are at risk from the coronavirus. Police have a solution: Drones.

Drones have been in the hands of local law enforcement agencies for years, using them to help conduct search-and-rescue missions and map crime and vehicle crash scenes. But since states across the country issued shelter-in-place orders in response to the pandemic, police departments have seized on the crisis as a moment to acquire more drones to do remote patrolling.

The technology has come with warnings from anti-surveillance advocates and civil liberties watchdogs who point to the privacy risks of flying robots equipped with cameras surreptitiously filming people from afar.

Read the full story here.

Tennessee's businesses to reopen with new guidelines, but no enforcement

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Friday outlined his plans for businesses across the state to reopen starting next week — but he acknowledged that the state will not be enforcing the measures to make sure businesses are following them.

Restaurants will reopen on Monday in 89 of the state's 95 counties. Retailers will follow Wednesday, while businesses like salons and tattoo parlors that require close contact will take a few more weeks to resume operations.

In announcing his "Tennessee Pledge," Lee called on businesses that reopen to follow social distancing guidelines and operate at reduced capacity.

New restaurant guidelines call for the use of disposable menus and sanitizing chairs and table-top items after each table turn. Self-serve buffets, shared condiments, and beverage station re-use are discouraged.

Lee cited the state's "downward trajectory" for COVID-19 symptoms and economic outlook in calling for businesses to reopen. The state has experienced 8,266 COVID-19 cases and 170 deaths.

Trump signs coronavirus aid bill as tensions rise over next one

President Donald Trump signed a nearly $500 billion interim coronavirus bill on Friday that includes additional money for the small-business loan program, as well as more funding for hospitals and testing.

The bill passed the Senate earlier this week by voice vote and was approved by the House on Thursday on a 388-5-1 bipartisan vote.

The bill includes more than $320 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, created by the CARES Act, which was passed late last month. The program, which quickly ran out of money because of heavy demand, provides forgivable loans to small businesses that keep their employees on the payroll. About $60 billion of the additional PPP funding will be set aside for businesses that do not have established banking relationships, such as rural and minority-owned companies. 

The bill 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, but does not include the additional funding for states and local governments that Democrats had sought.

Read the full story here.

The Week in Pictures: Lockdown protests and Central Park raccoon

See more of the most compelling photos from the last week as people all over the world grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pennsylvania's cases of COVID-19, related deaths rise

Pennsylvania continues to have some of the highest totals of the coronavirus in the nation, with the state health department reporting 1,599 new cases on Friday, bringing the statewide total to 38,652.

The number of deaths increased to 1,492, an additional 71 from the day before, health officials said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday announced a three-phase plan for the state's economy, with a target date of May 8 for an easing of some orders and restrictions, including allowing certain businesses to reopen. The economic toll on the key swing state has been striking, and some political strategists have suggested that President Donald Trump won't have it easy there in November.

DHS warns health care facilities to guard against possible attacks

In a Friday bulletin to the health-care community, the Department of Homeland Security warned hospitals to be on the alert for potential attacks during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Terrorists and other violent extremists may attempt to exploit the situation or vulnerable individuals may be triggered by stressors to commit disruptive or violent acts targeted at the healthcare community<" said the bulletin. "This is particularly concerning as Healthcare and Public Health Sector continuity-of-operation is paramount to the national response to the pandemic."