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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.

Driver wearing N95 mask passes out, crashes, police say

A driver wearing an N95 mask appeared to have passed out behind the wheel and crashed, police in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, said Friday.

The crash was reported Thursday, according to the Lincoln Park Police Department. The 49-year-old woman was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, said Lt. John Clements.

"The crash is believed to have resulted from the driver wearing an N95 mask for several hours and subsequently passing out behind the wheel due to insufficient oxygen intake/excessive carbon dioxide intake," the department said in its initial statement.

Clements said, "She was in the car in excess of three hours wearing the mask."

After "overwhelming response" Friday to the incident, the department said it did not know with "100% certainty" the mask was the main contributing factor. The driver was not being tested for alcohol or drugs, Clements added, because officers at the scene had no reason to believe she was under the influence.

The department said it's not necessary to wear masks in an enclosed vehicle on the road.

Blue Angels, Air Force Thunderbirds to perform flyovers to honor frontline workers

The Air Force Thunderbirds fly in formation during graduation ceremonies at the 2016 class of the U.S. Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colo. on June 2, 2016.Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP file

Keep your eye on the sky in coming weeks as the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds are planning a series of flyovers to honor health care and essential workers fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The salute to the nation, called "America Strong," will appear over areas hardest hit by coronavirus, according to a joint statement from the U.S. Navy and Air Force. 

The list of cities and corresponding dates have not been announced yet.

“We’re excited to fly over cities across America as our way of saying thanks to the healthcare workers, first responders, and all the people who selflessly run into the breach working to keep America strong,” said Gen. Dave Goldfein, chief of staff of the Air Force, and Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of Naval operations. “This is also our way of showing that we are all in this together and that America’s spirit will prevail.” 

Coast Guard releases video of oil tankers lined up off coast

The U.S. Coast Guard late Thursday released video of oil tankers lined up off the Southern California coast, ocean traffic apparently caused by an oversupply of fuel and a lack of demand as residents stay home.

The Coast Guard noted an "increased presence" of oil tankers -- 27 of them recorded Thursday -- headed to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, collectively the busiest container destination in the Western Hemisphere. 

"Coast Guard watchstanders, in partnership with the Marine Exchange of Southern California, are closely monitoring each anchorage to manage the increased number of tank vessels we're seeing off the California coast," Coast Guard Cmdr. Marshall Newberry said in the statement.

Oil prices started the week at less-than-zero pricing but domestic crude rebounded to $16.94 a barrel Friday. Global demand has decreased by about 30 percent as a result of the pandemic. Now oil producers appear to be running out of places to store their crude.

Amazon workers stage 'sick out' rally to push for warehouse changes

Hundreds of Amazon tech and fulfillment center employees called out sick Friday, rallying virtually to protest what they say are unsafe and unethical working conditions for the more than 800,000 people the company employs around the world.

The "sick out" was organized through an all-day livestream broadcast on YouTube and Facebook Live. The event kicked off with speeches from recently fired Amazon workers, followed by two warehouse workers in Poland who said their working conditions have also been unsafe during the pandemic. The writers and activists Bill McKibbon and Naomi Klein joined the event.

Friday’s protest was spearheaded by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of Amazon tech workers formed in 2018 to pressure their employer to commit to reducing its fossil fuel emissions. For the “sick out,” the group asked tech workers at the company to take a day off to signal their support for warehouse workers.

Read the full story here.

Traveler says flight from Miami was packed with people not wearing masks

A New York woman traveling home from Miami said she was surprised her flight was packed and that a lot of travelers weren't wearing face masks.

Angie Wong, 42, said she boarded an American Airlines flight Wednesday morning at Miami International Airport headed for LaGuardia Airport in New York. She and her children have spent the past few weeks quarantining in Florida with her husband, but Wong had to return home for an urgent matter.

She said that when she checked in at the airport, she was told there would be empty rows on the plane for passengers to space out a bit. But when she got on, she said the first 10 rows had a few empty seats and the rest, including where she was seated, was "packed, packed, packed."

Read the full story here.

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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