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

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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.

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

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 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

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.