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U.S. deaths top 60,000, Florida to lift stay-at-home order Monday

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Healthcare workers react as they watch a flyover in Philadelphia
Healthcare workers react as they watch a flyover by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds in Philadelphia on April 28., 2020.MARK MAKELA / Reuters

The number of deaths in the U.S. totaled more than 60,000 as of Wednesday evening, according to NBC News' tally, while the global death toll climbed over 226,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The growing U.S. death toll hasn't prevented some states from relaxing their lockdowns, including Florida, which announced it would begin lifting stay-at-home orders on Monday.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday that an experimental drug for the coronavirus has a proven benefit.

"The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Fauci said at the White House on Wednesday.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading April 30 coronavirus news.

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

Masks thrown onto California freeway cause mini-traffic jam

UNION CITY, Calif. — In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a San Francisco Bay Area freeway suffered a mini-traffic jam Wednesday when someone tossed hundreds of face masks onto the road and some motorists stopped to grab them, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Around 1:30 p.m., CHP officers received a report that a white truck had stopped on Interstate 880 in Union City and someone tossed out boxes of medical masks, the CHP reported.

Hundreds of the prized masks spread across southbound lanes, authorities said. As many as 1,000 masks may have been dumped, KPIX-TV reported.

Several motorists “stopped and stepped out of their vehicles to pick up the masks,” the CHP’s Hayward bureau said in a Facebook post.

It took about an hour before a road sweeper picked up all the masks, authorities said.

There were no reported injuries and no arrests or citations were immediately made.

Newsom expected to close all California beaches

The California Police Chiefs Association told members in an email Wednesday that Gov. Gavin Newsom planned to announce Thursday that beaches statewide would be closed starting Friday.

The closure is also expected to include state parks.

The move appears to be designed to prevent the kind of crowding seen over the weekend, when warm weather prompted thousands to flock to the Orange County coastline.

On Monday Newsom, expressed his displeasure with the Southern California crowds, saying, "This virus doesn’t take the weekends off. This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful sunny day around our coasts."

Read the full story here.

Should students get a tuition refund as classes move online?

LeBron James to honor Class of 2020 with all-star event

LeBron James is putting together an all-star event to honor and celebrate the high school class of 2020, which has had its graduation season upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

The LeBron James Family Foundation, XQ Institute and The Entertainment Industry Foundation on Wednesday announced that the one-hour special, “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020,” will air simultaneously on NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox on May 16 at 8 p.m. EDT. The event will pay tribute to high schoolers graduating this year and will include appearances by James, Pharrell Williams, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Bad Bunny, Yara Shahidi, Ben Platt, Lena Waithe and H.E.R.

“I wanted to help create a show that looked and felt very different from traditional specials. Something that spoke to kids in a different way. These kids worked so hard to graduate and what is happening to them is truly unfair,” James said in a statement. 

“Graduate Together” was curated by high school students, educators and the American Federation of Teachers. It will feature commencement speeches, performances and more. It will also air on TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Complex Networks, PeopleTV and other digital platforms.

Biden says Trump should order flags be flown at half-staff

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday said President Donald Trump should order that flags be flown at half-staff to honor the American lives lost to coronavirus as well as the first responders and medical workers helping the country fend off the disease.

"We've lost more people to this virus in the last several months than we lost in the entire Vietnam War," said Biden.

He made the remarks during a virtual fundraiser attended by 200 Florida donors. 

This month, New York, New Jersey and Michigan have ordered flags flown at half-staff.

"The president has talked about himself and how he's affected, rather than about how it's affected America," Biden said. "I don't see much empathy or concern."

During a news conference Monday, the president addressed the pandemic's human toll. "We continue to mourn with thousands of families across the country whose loved ones have been stolen from us by the invisible enemy," he said of the human toll of the coronavirus at a Rose Garden news conference. "We grieve by their side."

Oregon woman's giant cinnamon rolls raise more than $29,000 for food bank

Whitney Rutz is not a baker by trade, but she decided to make a giant cinnamon roll with her 7-year-old daughter to help raise her family's spirits amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

"I lost it, I cried and screamed and just had a really good session of 'I'm down in the dumps,'" Rutz told NBC News. And then she got to baking.

Rutz's social media followers were amazed by photos of the cinnamon roll, 12 inches in diameter and about 5 pounds. That's when she decided to auction a giant cinnamon roll, thinking she'd raise money for the Oregon Food Bank.

"If you're in dire straits and you're trying to figure out how to pay your rent and your utility bills, at least you have the food bank and can leverage that service, which is just so, so, so great," she said. 

The pastry sold for $300. 

That was in March. Since then, Rutz has baked more than 50 giant cinnamon rolls and raised more than $29,000 for the Oregon Food Bank. But only four of those rolls have gone to individuals.

Many who participated in the auctions didn't want the sweets for themselves and asked Rutz to donate them to health care facilities. The Oregon Food Bank recently began working with Rutz to facilitate an online fundraiser, so for every $500 raised, she's baking one cinnamon roll to donate to health care facilities. 

"It's been wonderful," Rutz said. "I cry out of happiness a lot. I have felt like this really allowed me to focus on something positive under these really terrible circumstances." 

More than 50 who worked, voted in Wisconsin election have COVID-19

MADISON, Wis. — More than 50 people who voted in person or worked the polls during Wisconsin’s presidential primary this month have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest count by state health officials tracking the impact of holding the election in the middle of a pandemic.

It remains unclear how many — if any — of those people contracted the virus at the polls and health officials are still collecting testing and tracing information. But officials say they don’t expect the number of known cases potentially tied to the election to grow substantially.

The “vast majority” of cases tied to the election have “already likely come to the surface,” said Andrea Palm, the state Department of Health Services secretary on Wednesday.

Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, concerned about a spike in virus cases, tried to change the April 7 election so that it would be conducted entirely by mail, but he was blocked by the Republican-led Legislature and conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Brooklyn funeral home used U-Hauls to store bodies after running out of space

A New York City funeral home used moving trucks loaded with ice to store dozens of dead bodies after running out of space, police officials said Wednesday.

New York City’s health department issued two citations to the owner of the Brooklyn facility, Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services, but he was not criminally charged, two senior New York Police Department officials told NBC News.

Read the full story here

Trump, Musk boosted online interest in antimalarial drugs, study finds

Online interest in purchasing drugs touted by President Donald Trump and billionaire Elon Musk spiked in late March after both weighed in, a new analysis published by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found.

Musk tweeted March 16 that antimalarial drug chloroquine was "maybe worth considering," and Trump said March 19 that chloroquine and related drug hydroxychloroquine showed "very, very encouraging early results," though Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, disagreed.

University researchers based at Oxford, Harvard, UC San Diego and Johns Hopkins measured a 1,389 percent surge in online searches about purchasing hydroxychloroquine after Trump first touted the drug. "This could be evidence that thousands of Americans were interested in purchasing these drugs," study co-author Mark Dredze of Johns Hopkins University said in a statement.

In April, a drumbeat of headlines dashed high hopes for the drugs and for a combination also touted by Trump, one including antibiotic azithromycin. In fact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the drugs should not be tried outside a hospital setting.

On March 22 an Arizona man died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate, a parasite treatment for fish, believing it would protect him from coronavirus. His wife said the couple believed the substance was the drug endorsed by the president.

California's food supply could stave off meat shortage

SAN DIEGO - California isn't immune to pork, beef and chicken supply issues, but it does have its own food ecosystem that includes an abundance of fish and the availability of regional beef and chicken, experts say.

This could keep the state's appetite for protein satiated in the weeks to come as some analysts predict a coast-to-coast meat shortage. On Tuesday President Donald Trump ordered processing plants to stay open as a matter of national security.

But California, with its own fishing fleet, chicken processors and a dairy industry that serves the nation is somewhat sheltered. 

Read the whole story here.

Los Angeles to offer free coronavirus tests to all residents

Los Angeles will begin offering free coronavirus tests to all residents no matter if they have symptoms or not, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday. 

Garcetti said that all residents of Los Angeles County can get the tests. The website to schedule tests says it is open to any county resident regardless of symptoms. Those with symptoms will be given priority.

The mayor said he believes Los Angeles is the first major city to offer tests to all residents. He said they now have enough testing capacity to handle the increased tests.

Testing rules had previously been relaxed to allow grocery store workers, first responders and other essential workers with exposure to the virus to get tests regardless of whether they have symptoms. Health officials say that even those without symptoms can spread the virus.

ER doctor who died by suicide was in 'untenable' situation, sister says

The sister of an emergency room doctor who died by suicide while helping fight the coronavirus pandemic said that before her death, Dr. Lorna Breen had been in an "untenable" situation.

Speaking to "TODAY's" Savannah Guthrie, Jennifer Feist said her sister was overcome by a grim combination of events. She contracted the virus, which Feist believed "altered her brain." Eventually, Breen returned to work.

Read the full story.

States to allow elective surgeries at hospitals again

The coronavirus pandemic forced hospitals to cancel elective surgeries, causing major anxiety for patients and a loss in income for the health care industry. In March alone, some 43,000 health care workers lost their jobs.

New York City plans to move 1,000 homeless people out of shelters into hotels each week

Image: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 14, 2020.Scott Heins / Getty Images file

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that 1,000 homeless individuals will move out of shelters into hotels this week, with an additional 1,000 individuals each week as needed. 

“The priority will be on folks in those larger congregate shelters that are having more trouble with this social distancing,” de Blasio said during a press conference.

This comes after 6,000 homeless individuals have successfully been moved into hotels, which is more than one-third of New York’s single adult homeless population, according to the NYC Department of Social Services.

Over 770 homeless individuals in the city have tested positive for COVID-19, including 660 cases among those experiencing sheltered homelessness, according to data from DSS. These positive cases have occurred across approximately 166 shelter locations.

Trump to visit Arizona next week, first travel away from White House in weeks

 

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he plans to visit Arizona next week and potentially Ohio "very soon," marking one of the few times the president has left the White House in several weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think I’m going to Arizona next week, and we look forward to that," Trump said during a roundtable event with business leaders at the White House.

Trump, has rarely left the White House amid the outbreak, said that the purpose of his visit to Arizona was "industry" related because it was "too soon for the big, for the big everybody get-together-and-stand-next-to-each other crowds."

Trump’s last campaign rally was March 2 in North Carolina and spent the following weekend at his Florida resort where he met with the president of Brazil. Since then, his only public appearance outside the White House was on March 28 when he traveled to Norfolk, Va. to see off the USNS Comfort hospital ship as it made its way to New York.

Read the full story here.

A map of states that have begun reopening

IRS says it's paid out $207 billion in stimulus checks

The Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday said it's already paid out $207 billion in coronavirus stimulus checks

"The IRS and Treasury have executed an extraordinary task by delivering more than 130 million Economic Impact Payments, totaling more than $207 billion, to Americans in less than 30 days," the agency said in a statement.

The total number of payouts since Friday is surprising because the IRS and Treasury Department said then they had sent out 88 million payments totaling about $158 billion since checks started going out April 11. About 150 million Americans are eligible for the checks. 

The one-time payments were included as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus package Congress passed in March.

 

Florida to begin lifting stay-at-home order on Monday

Image: Jacksonville, Florida Re-Opens Beaches After Decrease In COVID-19 Cases
People walk down the beach on April 19, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Fla.Sam Greenwood / Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled a plan Wednesday to lift the state's stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus crisis that he called "safe, smart, and step-by-step."

The plan will go into effect on Monday in every county except Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties, where most of the Covid-19 cases in the state have been reported, DeSantis said.

But before DeSantis released any details, he took a swipe at the "doom and gloom" media and critics who faulted him for the state's slow response to the unfolding crisis.

Read the full story here. 

'Dangerous & disrespectful': Doctors tear into Pence's mask-less hospital visit

Vice President Mike Pence tours Mayo Clinic facilities supporting coronavirus disease research and treatment in Rochester, Minnesota
Vice President Mike Pence tours Mayo Clinic facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment in Rochester, Minn., on April 28, 2020.Nicholas Pfosi / Reuters

Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to wear a face mask during his visit to the prestigious Mayo Clinic this week was potentially dangerous and sent the wrong message about the federal guidelines he regularly touts, doctors and health care officials said.

Wearing a mask reduces disease transmission and protects both the wearer and the people around them, explained Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and global health policy expert who is an NBC News and MSNBC contributor. It’s an effective tool for mitigating the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus, which has claimed over 200,000 lives globally.

And while Pence was widely mocked for suggesting a mask would stop him from looking workers in the eye, doctors and health care workers said declining to wear one was a serious breach of safety regulations.

Read the full story here.

More than 6,000 long-term care facilities with COVID-19 cases, 15,385 deaths

There are now at least 6,046 nursing homes and other long-term care facilities with coronavirus outbreaks, and there have been 15,385 deaths from coronavirus in those facilities, according to NBC News tallies from the states willing to provide data.

Forty-three states provided numbers of facilities with outbreaks and 38 states provided death totals.

Although the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced on April 19 they it would start to track and publish data on outbreaks and deaths in nursing homes, it has not published any information to date.

 NBC News has confirmed state officials from both West Virginia and Maryland will test all residents and all staff (even if they are asymptomatic) in nursing homes because of the severity of the outbreak Long-term care residents account for roughly a quarter of all reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.

U.S. coronavirus death toll surpasses 60,000

The number of U.S. coronavirus deaths reached 60,012 on Wednesday, according to data collected by NBC News. 

The new death toll comes as the country reports more than 1 million confirmed cases of the virus nationwide. Cases in the U.S. grew exponentially since March and quickly led the globe in official cases as the pandemic spread. 

Though most Americans have been at home under social distancing guidelines, some states have already begun to loosen lockdown measures

We apologize, this video has expired.

Philadelphia mayor asks residents not to flush PPE

Philadelphia officials say they’ve got a real problem with clogged pipes — and it’s all coming to a head because people can’t stop flushing PPE down the toilet.

After weeks of life under stay at home orders, Mayor Jim Kenney urged residents on Tuesday to properly dispose of used masks, gloves, and disinfectant wipes.

“This is taking a toll on our water treatment infrastructure and residents own private property,” he said.

All that extra waste is causing 12 times more clogging than normal, according to the water department. At least 19 facilities have been impacted by the PPE waste, leaving workers to sort through about 100 pounds of it per month — the same amount that’s usually processed in an entire year.

New Jersey to test online voting in upcoming municipal elections

New Jersey will test out online voting for a limited number of people in a special election next month.

Responding to concerns that voting in person can violate social distancing measures designed to halt the spread of the coronavirus, the state is already planning to conduct its May 12 municipal elections, for which there are about 700,000 eligible voters, almost entirely by mail.

But counties will be able to offer voters with disabilities who say they can't fill out and mail a paper ballot the option of using Democracy Live, a platform that allows users to receive and mark their ballot through an online portal, a spokesperson for New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way said Wednesday.

Several other states, including Washington and West Virginia, have already committed to offering Democracy Live statewide for their primaries this year. The program also allows users who want to mark their ballot online and print it out. Though disability advocacy groups have praised the program, cybersecurity experts routinely condemn online voting. "This seems like an extremely narrow use case with very significant collateral risks," Matt Blaze, a Georgetown election cybersecurity researcher, said.

CORRECTION (April 29, 2020, 9:10 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this post misstated New Jersey's secretary of state. It is Tahesha Way, not Tammy Murphy.

Brooklyn man accused of stealing stimulus checks out of mailboxes

Image: President Donald J.Trump's name is printed on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak
A stimulus check issued by the IRS, Thursday, April 23, 2020, in San Antonio.Eric Gay / AP

A 31-year-old Brooklyn man is accused of stealing at least nine stimulus checks out of the mailboxes of homes and apartment buildings in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. 

Federal prosecutors said they are charging Feng Cheng with federal crimes because of the postal-related nature of the scheme, as well as the fact that the Treasury checks were meant for workers in need amid the coronavirus crisis.

One check allegedly stolen from a mailbox in the lobby of 868 45th Street was for $2,400.  An alert resident flagged police to Cheng’s alleged activity and responding police soon followed him.

Read the full story here. 

Bay Area to begin relaxing shelter-in-place requirements

OAKLAND, Calif. — On Wednesday, health authorities across six Bay Area counties loosened the shelter-in-place orders, allowing for the resumption of some business and recreational activities under the existing social distancing requirements.

The new order, which takes effect on May 4, extends the bulk of the shelter-in-place order to May 31. The fields that can reopen include construction and some sports, including golf and tennis. In addition, real estate transactions — including limited viewings — can resume. 

All businesses must update or create a new social distancing protocol. Additionally, the order provides the ability for childcare facilities and summer camps that serve essential workers to open under specific circumstances, notably that they can only host “12 or fewer” children that are “in the same group each day.” 

In a joint statement, officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties and the City of Berkeley, said that if this new order differs with any state-issued ordered, the “stricter order applies.”

Roger Goodell will cut salary to $0 as NFL announces furloughs and pay cuts

Image: Roger Goodell
Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks just before the NFL football draft on April 23, 2020.NFL via AP

In a memo to NFL league employees, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced upcoming furloughs and pay cuts in response to the "economic effects imposed by the COVID-19 virus."

In addition to the measures outlined in the memo, Goodell voluntarily asked to cut his salary to $0 in March, a change that went into effect earlier this month. Goodell's salary is approximately $4-5 million. His total annual compensation is roughly $40 million.

"The economic consequences for our country have been substantial, and we have taken a series of steps in response to their impact on the NFL," Goodell wrote.

Indefinite pay cuts will take effect in paychecks issued on May 22. The cuts will be 5% for employees up to the manager level, 7% for directors, 10% for vice presidents, 12% for senior VPs and 15% for executive VPs. No one who makes under $100,000 will have their pay cut and no one's pay will be reduced below $100,000.

The league is continuing to prepare for a full 2020-2021 season. 

TSA says 500 of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19

TSA agents screen passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on April 15, 2020.
TSA agents screen passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on April 15, 2020.Elaine Thompson / AP

Five hundred people who work for the Transportation Security Administration have tested positive for COVID-19, including four people who died from the disease, the agency said Wednesday.

Of the 500 who tested positive, 208 TSA employees recovered from the illness, the agency said in a statement.

Almost 40 percent of positive cases were found in employees working in the three major airports serving the greater New York City region.

Read the full story here.

White House to let 30-day coronavirus guidance expire on Thursday

Image: US-politics-health-VIRUS-TRUMP
President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House on April 28, 2020.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that there will be a "fading out" of the federal guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus that are set to expire on Thursday.

"They'll be fading out because now the governors are doing it," Trump said during a meeting in the Oval Office with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Administration officials said the recommendation is that states and local governments "transition" to the White House’s guidelines for reopening the economy that go into effect on Friday.

Those guidelines, however, require states to meet a threshold for each of three phases of reopening, and it’s unclear how many states, if any, meet the standard for "Phase One."

Seattle company accused of peddling fake COVID-19 vaccine

North Coast Biologics is the latest company that Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says is trying to use the coronavirus pandemic to its advantage, offering a fake vaccine for $400. No vaccine for the virus currently exists. 

Federal Reserve press conference or house party?

A video news conference led by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, top row, second from left, on April 29, 2020.
A video news conference led by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, top row, second from left, on April 29, 2020.Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell led a historic press conference Wednesday afternoon — using a videoconferencing tool to take questions from an array of financial correspondents, most of whom joined him from their home.

Even though reporters who wanted to participate in the proceedings did a trial run on Tuesday, there were hiccups. One correspondent had trouble positioning her camera, which made the frame appear sideways. Another journalist appeared too low in the shot. Some closeups were too close. Every now and then, there were audio issues. 

Unsurprisingly, Twitter was thrilled. Normally, news conferences with the Fed chair are pretty staid. This one, according to some viewers, was more like a “house party.” 

For his part, Powell seemed unfazed. Identified on screen as “Chief Powell,” the central bank chairman presided over the event as normal, sporting the usual purple tie he appears to favor.

Court denies Oklahoma's latest efforts to ban abortions during pandemic

Abortion clinics in Oklahoma can stay open and continue providing care after an appeals court denied the state's latest efforts to ban abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals this week denied the state's request seeking to stay a preliminary injunction. The injunction, granted last week, called for abortion access to fully resume in the state as a lawsuit brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Dechert LLP continues.

In March, Gov. Kevin Stitt ordered medical providers to postpone elective procedures and surgeries, including abortions.

Nancy Northup, president & CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that Governor Stitt has exploited this pandemic to try to ban abortion. "In the wake of this latest ruling, it’s past time for Oklahoma to respect the essential needs of women seeking abortion care," Northup said. "This attempt to ban abortion is an abuse of emergency powers."

'Clear-cut' evidence coronavirus drug remdesivir works, Fauci says

An experimental drug for the coronavirus has a proven benefit, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Fauci said at the White House on Wednesday. The data he referred to is from a large study of more than 1,000 patients from multiple sites around the world. Patients either received the drug, called remdesivir, or a placebo.

Read more here.

Gov. Phil Murphy announces New Jersey parks, golf courses will reopen May 2

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that state parks and golf courses will reopen to the public on May 2. The governor also emphasized that people are recommended to wear face masks in public.

Super Bowl champ fighting on front lines of COVID-19 pandemic

Nearly three months after helping the Kansas City Chiefs win their second Super Bowl in franchise history, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Chiefs’ right guard, who is the first medical doctor to play in the NFL, wrote in Sports Illustrated that he took a vacation with his girlfriend to celebrate the Super Bowl win. When he returned home to Canada, everything had changed. After a 14-day quarantine, he volunteered to fight the pandemic. 

Duvernay-Tardif said he was assigned to a long-term care facility about an hour from his hometown, Montreal. He is working as a nurse, as he hasn’t completed his residency and does not yet have a license to practice medicine. 

Duvernay-Tardif, whose first day at the facility was on April 24, wrote in Sports Illustrated that he was nervous, but compared it to the "good nerves" he feels before a big game. In an Instagram post, Duvernay-Tardif thanked health care workers for everything they’re doing to fight the pandemic.

“Now more than ever we need to work as a team and help where the help is needed. We all must come together and do what is best for society, even if that means stepping out of our comfort zone and learning new things,” he wrote.

Professor tweaks snorkel mask to work as experimental protective gear for medical staff

Redesigned full-face snorkel mask to combat PPE shortage.
Redesigned full-face snorkel mask to combat PPE shortage.Stanford Medicine

A Stanford University professor and his engineering team recently completed a working prototype of a new type of face mask that could provide a reusable barrier for nurses, doctors and other front-line medical staff fighting COVID-19.

The mask — dubbed "Pneumask” — is inspired by snorkeling equipment, and contains just three major parts: an easily-obtainable snorkeling mask, and a custom-built 3D-printed adapter so that the entire apparatus can use existing commercially-available air filter or filtration cartridges.

This research team, lead by Manu Prakash, a bioengineering professor, has already put together a comprehensive document available to the public outlining the precise specifications for the mask and what preliminary tests have already been completed. 

Earlier this month, the agency explicitly said that it does not “intend to object to individuals’ distribution and use of improvised PPE when no alternatives, such as FDA-cleared masks or respirators, are available.” The team says that it has submitted for formal approval to the Food and Drug Administration, but that a full evaluation would take considerably more time.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveils a wall of art, made up of donated masks

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday unveiled a wall of donated masks that he said are an example of the compassion shown by many Americans during this deadly and economically-crushing  pandemic.

Cuomo dramatically took down a black curtain to display the assembled work of art made up of facial coverings donated to New York from throughout the nation.

"This is what this country is about, and this is what Americans are about," said Cuomo, who has been critical of Republican opposition to supporting coronavirus-ravaged states that are struggling to stave off deep spending cuts and balance their budgets.

"A little more of this and a little less of the partisanship and the ugliness, and this county would be better place," he said.

 

Elective surgeries can begin in New York state - under some conditions

Elective surgeries can begin again in New York state, as long as a region's hospitals have available beds in case of a coronavirus surge, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

At least 30 percent of overall hospital beds and 30 percent of intensive-care beds in a county must be available for elective procedures to be allowed, the governor said, adding that the counties where these criteria would be met are all well outside the New York City metropolitan area.

"We can't go back to where we were, where we overwhelmed the hospital system," said Cuomo. "You have to have a 30-percent buffer." 

 

Costco to require face coverings for shoppers

Beginning next week, all Costco shoppers will have to wear face coverings in order to enter the store, the wholesale corporation announced Wednesday.

Starting May 4, customers will be required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times while inside the store, according to a coronavirus response update from Costco. Children under the age of 2 and people who can't wear masks because of medical conditions are exempt.

"The use of a mask or face covering should not be seen as a substitute for social distancing. Please continue to observe rules regarding appropriate distancing while on Costco premises," the company said.

New York continues slow decline in daily death rate from COVID-19

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that another 330 people had been added to the state's death toll from coronavirus, for a total of 17,968 since the outbreak began.

The daily death rate in New York is continuing to decline. It was 474 a week ago, on Wednesday, April 22, and 335 on Tuesday. However, the rate at which the daily total is shrinking has started to decelerate, having fallen by 10 deaths from Sunday to Monday, two from Monday to Tuesday, and five from Tuesday to Wednesday.

YouTube, Facebook split on removal of doctors' viral coronavirus videos

YouTube has removed two videos of California doctors whose calls to ease coronavirus lockdowns have become the newest ammunition used by conservative media and fringe activists in their calls to end government measures to slow the spread of the disease.

The doctors, Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Bakersfield, California, downplayed the risk of the coronavirus and asserted that stay-at-home measures were unnecessary. They also promoted a conspiracy theory that doctors were falsely attributing unrelated deaths to COVID-19.

Facebook, however, has not removed the doctor's videos, and dozens of others remain on YouTube, some in full, some sliced into segments, racking up hundreds of thousands of views. One video on Facebook has been viewed more than 9 million times.

Read more here.

#Creators4Comics charity campaign raises more than $430,000

#Creators4Comics announced that its five-day charity campaign raised more than $430,000 to support comic and book stores. 

“Watching the book and comics communities unite and rise to the occasion to help the stores that are the backbone of our industry has been a heartening and inspiring experience,” said Gwenda Bond, author of  "Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds."

The campaign — which was coordinated by the authors Kami Garcia, Brian Michael Bendis, Gwenda Bond, Sam Humphries and Phil Jimenez — involved a series of more than 600 online auctions, whereby buyers could bid on books and other paraphernalia using #Creators4Comics on social media. Winning bidders donated their funds directly to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC), an organization dedicated to supporting independent booksellers. 

Video shows hospital staff cheering for 6-month-old who recovered from COVID-19

A heartwarming video showing hospital employees cheering for a 6-month-old who recovered from COVID-19 has gone viral on social media.

The video, which was recorded at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, England, celebrates young Erin's recovery from COVID-19 after she spent 14 days inside an isolation room. Health care workers can be seen lining a hallway in the hospital, clapping as the young patient was moved out of isolation.

The video has been viewed more than 50,000 times after being posted to Twitter on April 24.

In a statement posted on the hospital’s Twitter account, Erin’s mother expressed her gratitude to her daughter’s health care team. 

“Thank you so much to each and every one of them, we couldn’t have got through it without them. They are all truly amazing and we will be forever grateful,” she said.

Navy holds off on reinstating captain fired after raising coronavirus concerns, wants deeper probe

Captain Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, speaks at sea
Captain Brett Crozier addresses the crew of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2019.US Navy via Reuters file

The U.S. Navy's top civilian leader said he is calling for a deeper investigation into the circumstances around the firing of Capt. Brett Crozier, who was relieved of his command after the leak of a letter he sent detailing concerns about a coronavirus outbreak on the USS Roosevelt.

Top officials with the Navy last week recommended Crozier be reinstated. But acting Secretary James E. McPherson said that after reviewing the events and speaking with the chief of Naval Operations, he was left with unanswered questions.

Read the full story here.

Dutch teens sail home across the Atlantic due to travel restrictions

Image: Dutch teens cheer on their schooner Wylde Swan after sailing home from the Caribbean across the Atlantic when coronavirus lockdowns prevented them flying, in the port of Harlingen, northern Netherlands
Dutch teens cheer on their schooner Wylde Swan after sailing across the Atlantic to their home in the Netherlands. Peter Dejong / AP

A group of teenagers sailed 4,500 nautical miles across the Atlantic because they feared coronavirus restrictions would prevent them from flying home to the Netherlands.

"It was really scary because before that we had been making jokes like, 'oh, we can always cross the Atlantic if necessary,' but it was more like a joke," said Isabella van den Hout, 16, after they docked in the Dutch port of Harlingen on Sunday. "And then it became a reality."

The 24 students aged between 14 to 17, had planned to spend six weeks sailing Wylde Swan — the biggest topsail schooner in the world — around the Caribbean, learning nautical skills as well traditional academic subjects, from the 12 adult crew members and four teachers accompanying them.

Read the full story here.

62,300+ Defense Department personnel supporting coronavirus efforts

The Department of Defense said Wednesday more than 62,300 personnel were supporting COVID-19 relief efforts throughout the U.S.

Nearly 45,000 National Guard members were supporting coronavirus response efforts at the direction of their governors, with state priorities focused on testing, screening, and logistical support through storing and distribution of medical supplies and food, the Pentagon said in a statement.

U.S. Northern Command, which is responsible for the department's active-duty operations in support of coronavirus efforts, had more than 14,500 people deployed, including approximately 4,400 medical personnel at 30 medical facilities nationwide, the department added.

The department also said the Army Corps of Engineers had 50 FEMA Mission assignments totaling $1.8 billion with 15,000 personnel and 1,495 deployed in support of COVID-19 response operations. 

Utah man ordered to stop selling silver products touted as COVID-19 cure

A federal court ordered a Utah man to stop selling and promoting various silver products he's fraudulently claimed cure COVID-19.

Gordon Pedersen of Cedar Hills, Utah, has claimed that having silver in the bloodstream will "usher" any coronavirus out of the body, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday. Pedersen was promoting and selling silver products through his companies My Doctor Suggests LLC and GP Silver LLC, and he promoted his products in a series of videos posted on YouTube in recent months.

The injunction prohibits Pedersen from "continuing to sell or distribute their silver products for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease, including COVID-19." His assets were temporarily frozen in a separate order. A hearing on the government's request for a preliminary injunction is set for May 12.

Pedersen — who identifies himself as a doctor and claims to hold numerous degrees — is not licensed in the state of Utah, authorities said.

“Even in a time of great uncertainty, there are at least two unchanging realities. There are those who would unlawfully exploit our vulnerabilities, and there are those who will hold such parties accountable,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber for the District of Utah said in a statement. “COVID-19 is a dangerous disease, and American consumers must have accurate and reliable information as they make important health decisions.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio responds to criticism he singled out the Orthodox Jewish community

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday responded to criticism he singled out the Orthodox Jewish community on Tuesday after personally overseeing the dispersal of a crowd of hundreds of mourners at a Hasidic funeral in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

"I spoke out of real distress that people's lives were in danger before my eyes and I was not going to tolerate it. So I regret if the way I said it in any way gave people a feeling of being treated the wrong way. That was not my intention," de Blasio said at a news briefing. "It was said with love, but it was tough love. It was anger and frustration.

He also dismissed comparisons of the funeral Tuesday night, which he and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said drew thousands of people, to crowds that gathered earlier Tuesday to watch a flyover by the Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds to honor health care workers.

"What I saw, no, it has not happened other places. Let's be honest," de Blasio said. "This kind of gathering has happened in only a few places. And it cannot continue. It's endangering the lives of people in the community. It cannot happen."

The mayor said he loves and has worked closely with New York's Orthodox Hasidic communities.

De Blasio lashed out at mourners late Tuesday night who had gathered for the funeral of a rabbi who died of the coronavirus.

The mayor faced swift backlash for a series of tweets in which he denounced the gathering.

"My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed," he tweeted. "I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period."

Images posted on social media show hundreds of people — some wearing face coverings — tightly packed on the street. 

3 U.S. children with coronavirus treated for rare inflammatory condition

Three U.S. children infected with the coronavirus are being treated for a rare inflammatory syndrome that appears similar to one that has raised concerns by doctors in Britain, Italy and Spain, a specialist treating the patients told Reuters.

All three — who range in age from 6 months to 8 years — have undergone treatment at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and all had fever and inflammation of the heart and the gut.

Read more here.

Stories of victims we've lost from COVID-19 two months since the first U.S. death

They were politicians and pastors, nurses and students, teachers and firefighters. They came from every level of society, every state, every race, every age.

Often, their loved ones had no idea how they had contracted COVID-19. But the sickness that followed hewed to a grim, familiar trajectory, one that felled grandmothers and granddaughters alike.

In just two months, the number of dead has swelled by tens of thousands, with families grieving in ways that would have seemed unthinkable just weeks ago.

Here are their stories.

Coronavirus drug remdesivir shows promise in large trial

A large study hints at the potential benefit of an experimental COVID-19 drug called remdesivir.

"Patients receiving a 10-day treatment course of remdesivir achieved similar improvement in clinical status compared with those taking a 5-day treatment course," Gilead Sciences, which makes the drug, said in a news release Wednesday.

However, Gilead has not yet released enough information from the trial to show what that "improvement" means for patients. The company said full results would be published "in the coming weeks."

Read more here.

Germany’s Lufthansa makes mouth/nose cover mandatory on flights

Image: Lufthansa planes are parked on a closed runway, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany
Lufthansa planes parked on a closed runway in Frankfurt, Germany, in March. Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

German air carrier Lufthansa has announced that it will recommend that all passengers wear a mouth and nose cover aboard their flights starting May 4.

The company also recommends that passengers wear them throughout their entire journey, as well as before or after their flight at the airport, whenever the required minimum distance cannot be guaranteed without restriction.

Travelers will have to bring their own mouth and nose cover, the airline said, adding that it recommends a reusable fabric mask, but disposable masks or scarves are also possible. 

Millions of women could lose access to contraception due to pandemic, U.N. warns

More than 47 million women could lose access to contraception in the coming months — leading to 7 million unplanned pregnancies — as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations warned on Tuesday. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the number of women unable to access family planning due to over-stretched health systems, shortages of contraceptives and choosing to skip medical appointments due to fear of contracting the virus were among the factors, the U.N. said.

"The pandemic is deepening inequalities, and millions more women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health," said Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director. 

Instead of gin, hand sanitizer

Image: yro Distillery Company, which is known for producing the popular Kyro Gin switched their manufacturing to hand sanitizer, Helsinki, Finland
A small kiosk that usually sells beer and soft drinks sells Kyro hand sanitizer in Helsinki on April 21. Kyro Distillery Company, known for producing a popular gin, switched their manufacturing to hand sanitizer. Kimmo Brandt / EPA

New polio outbreak in Niger after vaccination suspended during COVID-19 pandemic

Niger has been struck by a new outbreak of polio, following the suspension of immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.  

The United Nations health agency reported that two children were infected by the highly infectious, water-borne disease and that one was paralyzed.

The outbreak was sparked by a mutated virus that originated in the vaccine and was not connected to a previous polio epidemic Niger stopped last year, WHO said, in a statement last week.

"The poliovirus will inevitably continue to circulate and may paralyze more children as no high-quality immunization campaigns can be conducted in a timely manner," said Pascal Mkanda, WHO's coordinator of polio eradication in Africa.

Senior Chinese official challenges Trump over coronavirus response, says U.S. wasted weeks

A senior Chinese government official challenged President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., accusing him of wasting weeks after the threat posed by the virus first became apparent.

In a wide-ranging interview with NBC News conducted in Mandarin on Tuesday, the official, Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, also hit back at the politicization of the virus.

Le, a rising star within the country's political establishment, rejected claims that China had covered up the initial outbreak or that it should be held financially liable for COVID-19. Instead, he termed the virus a "natural disaster" and called for greater cooperation and an end to accusations.

Read the full story.

'Very concrete' risk of second outbreak, Italy's prime minister says

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the risk of a second coronavirus outbreak was "very concrete" as the country emerges from Europe's longest lockdown.

“We can’t afford to have an out of control situation," he told reporters during his visit to the city of Lodi in northern Lombardy, the hardest-hit region by the outbreak. "This is the time to act with reason, with prudence.”

On Sunday, Conte said Italy — the hardest-hit European country with more than 27,000 deaths — was looking ahead to a second phase of the crisis in which it will attempt to restart the economy without triggering a second wave of the disease, with manufacturers, construction companies and some wholesalers allowed to re-open from May 4.

Shoppers re-emerge as UAE starts lifting lockdown restrictions

Image: People wearing masks for protection against the coronavirus, leave the Mall of Dubai
People wearing masks leave the Mall of Dubai on Tuesday after the shopping center was reopened as UAE moves to ease lockdown restrictions.Karim Sahib / AFP - Getty Images

Chinese official contradicts Pompeo on coronavirus cooperation

China is open, transparent and responsible in its COVID-19 response, said the country's foreign ministry spokesperson Wednesday in response to a tweet from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that accused China of not cooperating in the search for the origins of the coronavirus pandemic

"The CCP [Communist Party of China] needs to be transparent as the world seeks answers to #COVID19 and its origins," Pompeo tweeted on Monday

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying re-tweeted Pompeo's message and said two U.S. experts were in China on the joint mission between the World Health Organization and China in late January. "Why not ask U.S. experts to locate when the virus first started in the U.S.? American people need answers. The world also has right to know," she added. 

After beating coronavirus, Britain's PM Johnson announces birth of son

Weeks after the British prime minister was in intensive care with a serious case of the coronavirus, Boris Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds announced the birth of their baby son on Wednesday.

"The Prime Minister and Ms Symonds are delighted to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy at a London hospital earlier this morning and would like to thank the fantastic NHS maternity team," a government spokesman said.

Johnson, 55, suffered serious symptoms after being infected with COVID-19 last month. He left intensive care less than three weeks ago, thanking staff at the country's publicly funded National Health Service "for saving my life." Symonds, 32, an environmental activist and former official in Johnson's ruling Conservative Party, also suffered symptoms but was never tested.

Read the full story here.

Spain — one of Europe's worst hit countries — aims for return to normal in June

Image: Two children wearing face masks sit on top of a boat in a beach in Badalona, near Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday.
Two children wearing face masks sit on top of a boat on a beach in Badalona, near Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday.Emilio Morenatti / AP

Spain announced a four-phase plan to lift one of the toughest coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and return to normality by the end of June.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the lifting of the restrictions that have halted public life since March 14 and nearly paralysed the economy, will begin on May 4 and vary from province to province. During the initial phase, hairdressers and other businesses that operate via appointment will open, while restaurants will be able to offer takeaway services.

In the next stage, envisaged to begin on May 11 for most of Spain, bars will reopen their terraces but will be limited to a third of their capacity. Remote working will be recommended where possible until reaching the last phase of the plan towards the end of June, when beaches would also be able to reopen with the support of local authorities.

Trump administration asks intelligence agencies to find out whether China, WHO hid info on coronavirus pandemic

The White House has ordered intelligence agencies to comb through communications intercepts, human source reporting, satellite imagery and other data to establish whether China and the World Health Organization initially hid what they knew about the emerging coronavirus pandemic, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter told NBC News.

A specific "tasking" seeking information about the outbreak's early days was sent last week to the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, which includes the National Center for Medical Intelligence, an official directly familiar with the matter said. The CIA has received similar instructions, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter.

President Donald Trump appeared to refer to the request at his news conference Monday. "We're doing very serious investigations," Trump said. "We are not happy with that whole situation, because we believe it could have been stopped at the source, it could have been stopped quickly, and it wouldn't have spread all over the world."

Read the full story.

Austria limits restaurant tables to four adults as it eases lockdown

Image: Staff at the FuxnGut restaurant measure distance between tables as they prepare their premises for reopening in Salzburg, central Austria
Staff at the FuxnGut restaurant measure distance between tables as they prepare their premises for reopening in Salzburg, central Austria. Barabra Gindl / AFP - Getty Images

As Austria continues to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, the country's tourism ministry has set out some rules for when restaurants can re-open on May 15.

Each table will be limited to four adults with their children and at least a one-meter distance will need to be kept between guests, the ministry said. Guests will also need to reserve tables ahead of time, and staff will have to wear mouth-and-nose covers.

Tourism sites, holiday apartments and hotels will be allowed to reopen on May 29 with hygienic measures still to be announced.

New York mayor comes under fire for tweet singling out Jewish community

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing criticism for singling out the city’s Jewish community in a tweet after he sent police to Brooklyn on Tuesday to disperse a massive crowd that had gathered for a rabbi's funeral in defiance of a statewide shutdown over the coronavirus.

"My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” de Blasio said, noting that he went himself to the gathering to ensure that it dispersed. His tweet, which many perceived as a jibe against the entire Jewish community, has prompted a strong response online.

American Jewish Committee called de Blasio’s remarks “fingerpointing” in a tweet, adding that the vast majority of the Jewish community is following the guidelines.

China's Parliament to hold key annual session on May 22

In the latest sign of life returning to normal in China, its Parliament will start its annual session on May 22, more than two months later than planned.

The session, originally scheduled for March 5, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic that originated in China, killing a reported 4,633 people there. It has now infected more than three million people around the globe, and caused more than 200,000 deaths.

China has in the past ratified major legislation and unveiled economic targets at the Beijing gathering. Usually more than 5,000 delegates descend on the capital from all over China for at least 10 days, though it is unclear how long the gathering will run this year.

Tupac Shakur unemployment claim raises eyebrows in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. — It’s no joke — Tupac Shakur lives in Kentucky and needs unemployment benefits to pay his bills.

The Lexington man’s name was brought up by Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday night as he spoke about how the state is trying to process all unemployment claims filed in March amid the coronavirus pandemic by the end of April.

According to Beshear, a few “bad apples” including a person who filed an unemployment claim under the name of the late rapper Tupac Shakur are responsible for slowing down the state’s unemployment processing. 

But the Lexington Herald-Leader reports Tupac Malik Shakur, 46, who goes by Malik, lives in Lexington and worked as a cook before restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus shut down restaurants.

“I’ve been struggling for like the last month trying to figure out how to pay the bills,” Shakur said.

Read the full story here. 

Largest U.S. mall owner plans to reopen 49 locations

Newport Beach votes to keep sand and surf open

The city of Newport Beach, California, on Tuesday decided to continue letting people frolic on the sand and in the surf even after California Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized beachgoers for being too close to one another over the weekend.

The City Council voted to keep its beaches open after having second thoughts about access. Tens of thousands of people sought the ocean breezes of the Southern California coastline during the weekend heatwave.

The city said in a statement that "greater police and lifeguard presence" would be enough to enforce social distancing.

Read the full story here.

Pope urges virus lockdown obedience amid church-state debate

Pope Francis waded into the church-state debate about virus-imposed lockdowns of religious services, calling Tuesday for “prudence and obedience” to government protocols to prevent infections from surging again.

Francis’ appeal came just two days after Italian bishops bitterly complained that the Italian government offered no provisions for Masses to resume in its plan to reopen Italian business, social and sporting life starting May 4.

While it wasn’t clear if Francis intended to send a different message than the bishops, his appeal for obedience and prudence was in line with his previous calls to protect the most vulnerable, and for economic interests to take a back seat to shows of solidarity.

“As we are beginning to have protocols to get out of quarantine, let us pray that the Lord gives his people, all of us, the grace of prudence and obedience to the protocols so that the pandemic doesn’t return,” Francis said Tuesday.