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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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.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

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.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.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.