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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

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.

Cape Cod Baseball League shuttered for 2020 season

The Cape Cod League Championship Series in Brewster, Mass., in 2017.Maddie Meyer / Getty Images file

The Cape Cod Baseball League, a famed training ground for future professional players, canceled its 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced Friday.

The league said it "would be impossible to guarantee the safety of players, coaches, umpires, host families, volunteers and fans during this unprecedented health crisis." 

Every summer, the 10-team Massachusetts league invites the nation's best college players to compete with wood bats, providing scouts a key glimpse at their pro potential. Opening day had been set for June 13.

UC San Francisco sends doctors, nurses to aid Navajo Nation

Waratid Osotsapa, center, a nurse at the University of California San Francisco, and UCSF colleagues board a flight to Navajo Nation on Wednesday to treat COVID-19 patients. They volunteered for the assignment in hospitals in Arizona and New Mexico.Noah Berger / for UCSF

With 1,360 positive cases, the rate of coronavirus infection on the Navajo Nation is worse than in 48 states, behind only New York and New Jersey. But now some help is on the way.

Seven doctors and 14 nurses from the University of California San Francisco healthcare system traveled to hospitals in Chinle, Arizona, and Gallup and Shiprock, New Mexico, where many Navajo patients are being treated. The volunteer health care workers are being dispatched as part of a UCSF initiative called HEAL, committed to helping rural communities in need.

“We have volunteers right now on the Navajo nation that are helping relieve some of the doctors and nurses that have been working around the clock to help the Navajo Nation," said Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation.

Also, this week the Navajo Nation joined 10 other tribes in a lawsuit against the federal government over $8 billion in coronavirus relief funds that were allocated to Native American tribes. The money has been tied up as the tribes and the government argue over whether Alaska Native corporations should be eligible for the money.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, right, thanks members of the California medical team working at Gallup Indian Medical Center on the Navajo reservation.Jared T Touchin / Navajo Nation

 

Trump's 'off-the-cuff' comments on disinfectants caught staff by surprise

WASHINGTON — Members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force and aides in the West Wing were shocked on Thursday when he promoted the use of light and disinfectant to treat the deadly respiratory illness, according to administration officials.

As Trump went off script to suggest people with the virus could be cured by UV rays or disinfectants “by injection inside,” White House officials began texting one another to ask where he got that idea because they thought, as one adviser put it, “this was going to be bad.”

None of them seemed to know, as Trump did not consult with any task force members or administration officials before making his impromptu statement, which has now been universally rejected by health experts, the officials said.

Instead, it appears Trump conflated and misinterpreted scientific information discussed with him in the Oval Office before Thursday’s daily briefing, according to the officials.

Read more here

More than half of coronavirus payments have gone out

The Treasury Department says more than half of people eligible for a coronavirus relief payment have gotten their stimulus money so far — with 4 in 10 still waiting for their direct deposit or check.

More than 88 million payments, totaling $158 billion, had gone out as of the end of last week, according the most recent data available. The IRS expects to send out more than 150 million payments. 

There’s been widespread confusion about how the payments would be issued. When the IRS released a website for people to check their payment status, there were delays and glitches. Despite that, the distribution process appears to be on schedule. 

Earlier in April, the Treasury Department told Congress that payments would begin in mid-April, starting with people who filed tax returns in the last two years and then Social Security recipients. At the time, the department said paper checks would be mailed out in May, but now Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says that process has already started. 

A state-by-state breakdown released Friday by the IRS shows that progress sending out the payments has been relatively consistent. Residents of California, which has the largest population of any U.S. state, have gotten a total of 9.1 million payments — which is worth nearly $16 billion. New York, which is the state hardest hit by coronavirus, has seen 5.5 million payments totaling about $9.4 billion.

For a refresher on the IRS payment process, click here

Governor pushes Virginia elections back two weeks

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order on Friday pushing back local elections scheduled for May 5 until May 19. 

The two week period is the longest he is constitutionally allowed to delay an election without action from the state's general assembly. 

Earlier this week, the House of Delegates passed a motion to postpone the election until November, but the state Senate did not, NBC affiliate WSLS reported.

"If you plan to vote in that election, I strongly encourage you to vote absentee by mail," Northam said at a news conference.

 

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'This is our busiest time of year': Georgia businesses reopen despite coronavirus concerns

Mayra Hicks took measured steps to change how she does business in mid-March before she was forced to shut down her shop because of the coronavirus.

So when Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced plans Monday to restart the state's economy, clearing the way for businesses like hers that provide close-contact services to reopen Friday, Hicks, an esthetician, felt ready.

Read more here.

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.