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.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Stay-at-home orders across the country: What each state is doing — or not — amid widespread coronavirus lockdowns.
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Officials order closure of Colorado Walmart after 3 virus deaths
Health officials in suburban Denver said Thursday they closed a Walmart Supercenter in Aurora, Colorado, after three people associated with the location died from COVID-19.
A 72-year-old woman who worked there, her 63-year-old husband and a 69-year-old security contractor have died, the Tri-County Health Department said in a statement. Six other employees have coronavirus, and another three are awaiting test results.
The department said it received "a series of complaints" from employees and shoppers about improper social distancing and workers not wearing masks at the store.
Walmart said in a statement that it will sanitize the store. It said it had installed plexiglass barriers at checkout counters, and install floor decals promoting social distancing.
"We recognize how hard this is for our associates in Aurora and everyone impacted by this difficult situation," it said. "We want to do everything we can to support them at this time. We will continue to work closely with Tri-County Health Department and take additional steps as needed to re-open the store."
Navy officials recommend reinstatement for ship commander
Top U.S. Navy officials Friday recommended that Capt. Brett Crozier, criticized by President Donald Trump for seeking help after a coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Roosevelt, be reinstated to the ship's command.
According to a U.S. defense official, a source familiar with the matter and a former defense official, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday and Acting Secretary of the Navy Jim McPherson both laid out a series of options to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Friday afternoon, including the recommendation that Crozier be reinstated.
Crozier was relieved of the aircraft carrier's command April 2 by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who subsequently resigned after he suggested Crozier was "stupid" for sounding the alarm without greater consideration for the security of his communication to brass.
Private haven for wealthy received $2M from small business loan program
A housing association representing the richest zip code in America was approved to receive a $2 million emergency coronavirus relief loan from the Small Business Administration.
The Fisher Island Community Association, which manages the members-only private island off the Miami coast that can only be reached by helicopter or boat and once counted Oprah Winfrey as a member, was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan intended to help small businesses who had shuttered, laid off workers, or furloughed staff due to the viral outbreak.
Ana Tinsly, a spokesperson for public services union SEIU Florida, said earlier this week that she was not aware of any layoffs, according to The Miami Herald.
The $2 million loan comes as scrutiny mounts over the structure of the government's emergency program, which allowed many companies with strong cash flow to receive millions of dollars in forgivable loans while small businesses desperate for cash were shut out.
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.
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."
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.
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.