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.

Michael Avenatti leaves jail after quarantine

Attorney Michael Avenatti was released from jail Friday to prevent the spread of COVID-19, his lawyer said.

"In this case, the court recognized the grave danger to federal inmates, and took action," Dean Steward said in a statement. "We are grateful for the court's insight and fairness."

Avenatti, known for representing adult performer Stormy Daniels in her legal saga involving President Donald Trump, was convicted in February of trying to extort Nike. He was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan awaiting sentencing.

A judge said the release was temporary and that Avenatti must report back in 90 days. He was released at 11 a.m. after being quarantined behind bars for two weeks. Avenatti still faces legal troubles in California, where he is alleged to have defrauded clients.

Smithfield Foods sued over working conditions in Missouri, closes Illinois plant

Smithfield Foods Inc., the world's largest pork processor, announced Friday it is indefinitely closing an Illinois plant next week after a "small portion" of its 1,700 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Employees will be paid during the closure, the company said in a statement.

The Monmouth plant represents approximately 3 percent of U.S. fresh pork supplies, according to Smithfield, and also produces bacon.

The news comes one day after Smithfield was accused in a lawsuit of failing to adequately protect workers at a Missouri plant who have been forced to work "shoulder to shoulder" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full story here.

Trump skips questions at briefing after disinfectant debacle

A day after he floated the idea of using disinfectants and light to treat COVID-19, President Donald Trump declined to take any questions at his daily coronavirus briefing at the White House.

The briefing — which can sometimes last about two hours — was over in just over 20 minutes, following remarks from Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and FDA head Stephen Hahn. The two top government doctors charged with combating the crisis, Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, did not attend.

On Thursday, Trump drew widespread criticism for suggesting light, heat and injecting disinfectants could be used to treat coronavirus patients. Doctors called the idea dangerous and irresponsible, while state and local government agencies and disinfectant manufacturers warned the products should not be ingested or injected.

Trump tried walking back the comments earlier Friday, claiming his suggestions had been "sarcastic."

Read the full story here.

U.S. coronavirus cases surpass 900,000

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 900,000 Friday, reaching 901,490, according to NBC News' count.

The latest figures also include 51,523 fatalities related to the virus.

New York continues to lead the nation in case numbers, with 271,590. It had 21,264 deaths, including 5,102 fatalities that were not tested but probable. 

New Jersey reported 102,196 cases and  5,617 deaths. Massachusetts Friday added 4,946 cases and 196 deaths to its tally.

Some traveling nurses helping in New York face uncertain future

Barbara Edwards had never been to New York City when she decided to drop everything and leave her two children behind in Florida to help.

"I'm in the job of saving lives,” she said. “That is my job -- and I felt like the lives were in New York City that needed to be saved."

She’s among thousands of medical workers who went to the nation’s coronavirus epicenter weeks ago. From across the country, they signed up for the front lines: Edwards from Lake Butler, Florida; Chris Meyers from Gilbert, Louisiana; Madeleine Chesney from Louisville, Kentucky; and Lashay Rhodes from Newton, Kansas. All four are working at Metropolitan Hospital Center in Manhattan but say they don’t know whether they’ll have jobs when they return home.

Read the full story here.

At one Oklahoma theater, plans to reopen with 'spaced seating'

A theater owner in Tulsa, Oklahoma, plans to reopen his venue in mid- or late May, with precautions, including "spaced seating," concession counters with plexiglass screens, and masks and gloves for employees.

"You would not have to have physical contact with anything in the theater, beside setting your posterior in the seat," said Clark Wiens, proprietor of Circle Cinema. He hasn't decided yet whether to require patrons to wear masks.

The rare reopening plans come at a time when major theater chains plan to stay closed at least until July. Some drive-ins, arguing people will be safe in their cars, are open.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Wednesday that many businesses, including theaters, will be allowed to reopen May 1. After Bynum's announcement, Wiens said he consulted with his staff of about eight people to see if they were comfortable returning to work. "They are all gung-ho," he said. 

California launches free meal delivery service for at-risk seniors

California is launching a first-in-the-nation program that will pay restaurants to deliver free meals every day to people over the age of 65 who are experiencing poverty, have compromised immune systems or have been exposed to coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday. 

The program, called Restaurants Deliver, will provide three meals a day to a high-risk population and eliminate the need for people to leave their houses. At the same time, the program will inject a much-needed lifeline to small businesses struggling under the state's stay-at-home directive, Newsom said.  

"We want to get a lot of independent restaurants up and running again," he said, adding that an estimated 1.2 million California seniors live alone and are unable to cook their own meals.

The state, local governments and FEMA will split the cost, according to the governor's office.

Thousands flood Wisconsin Capitol to protest stay-at-home orders

Thousands of protestors assembled on the Wisconsin Capitol Friday, expressing loud opposition to the extended stay-at-home order put in place by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The anti-government protest in Madison was organized by a tapestry of online groups, including a group of Wisconsin business owners, as well as several rightwing Facebook groups, like Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantines.

Bob Tarantino, the leader of a group of business owners who helped plan the Madison rally, said his goal was to bring attention to the fact that Wisconsin’s “small businesses are suffering unbelievable financial harm.”

“The kind of harm that they may not recover from,” he told NBC News in an email.

Read the full story here.

Facebook launches video-calling feature that could compete with Zoom

Facebook on Friday announced a new video-calling feature designed to give isolated users another way to keep in touch with friends and family.

The platform's new Messenger Rooms poses an immediate threat to Zoom and Houseparty, two video-calling products that have seen their usage skyrocket over the past month.

The free feature will allow Facebook and Messenger users to create group video calls of up to 50 people. By contrast, Messenger video calls are limited to eight people.

Messenger Rooms’ 50-person limit will not be immediately available, however.

Read the whole story here.