Armed anti-lockdown protesters in Michigan, beaches closed in California

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Seattle
A physician administers a test for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site Wednesday in Seattle. David Ryder / Reuters

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As states around the U.S. consider reopening, the country's death toll topped 61,000, according to an NBC News tally. Globally, there have been more than 232,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Protesters, some armed, demonstrated on Thursday against the Michigan lockdown on the steps of the state capitol building. And in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down beaches in Orange County after seeing what he called "disturbing" images of crowds from over the weekend.

Florida on Wednesday announced that it would slowly reopen. Gov. Ron DeSantis said the plan to lift restrictions "in a very measured, thoughtful and data-driven way," will go into effect Monday in every county except the three where most of the state's COVID-19 cases have been reported.

Meanwhile, South Korea recorded no new domestic COVID-19 cases for the first time in 72 days. The country dealt with the first major outbreak outside China, but brought the crisis under control with a massive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing.

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

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Shell slashes dividend for the first time since World War II

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday cut its dividend to shareholders for the first time since World War II, following a dramatic slide in oil prices amid the coronavirus crisis.

The board at Shell said it had decided to reduce the oil major’s first-quarter dividend to $0.16 per share, down from $0.47 at the end of 2019. That’s a reduction of 66 percent.

“Shareholder returns are a fundamental part of Shell’s financial framework,” Chad Holliday, chair of the board of Royal Dutch Shell, said in a statement.

Read the full story.

Vending machines in France dish out face masks, gloves and hand gel

A vending machine in a square in the French city of Jeumont sells protective face masks, hand sanitizer and gloves on Wednesday.Pascal Rossignol / Reuters

South Korea records no new domestic cases for first time since February

South Korea reported no new domestic virus cases on Thursday for the first time since February, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The country reported four new infections that were all imported, taking the national tally to 10,765. The death toll rose by one to 247 on Thursday, while 9,059 have been discharged.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in thanked the public on the news of zero reported domestic cases saying in a message, “This is the strength of South Korea and the power of the people.”

The health authorities also concluded no local transmission occurred from a parliamentary election earlier this month, according to Reuters, where authorities took safety measures like requiring voters to wear masks and plastic gloves when casting ballots.

Russia sees record rise in recorded coronavirus infections

Russia passed several coronavirus milestones on Thursday, reporting a record 7,099 new confirmed infections, bringing the total number of cases to more than 100,000.

According to data published by Russia’s Coronavirus Crisis Response Center, Russia also saw 101 deaths in the past day, bringing the total fatalities to 1,073.

About 50 percent of Russia’s cases are in Moscow, but the share of new confirmed cases has shifted outside the city and into regions less prepared to manage an outbreak. President Vladimir Putin this week extended stay-at-home restrictions through May 11, claiming Russia has not yet reached its peak — and will not get there until at least mid-May. 

Flight bookings in China surge for May 1 holiday

Travelers wear face masks while waiting to check in at the Beijing Capital International Airport on Thursday.Martin Pollard / Reuters

Flight bookings in China have spiked ahead of its upcoming five-day May 1 celebrations, with passenger numbers expected to increase by around 43 percent, the Chinese Ministry of Transport said on Thursday.

An analysis of airline passenger ticket reservations led to estimates that nearly 3 million people could fly. Though the uptick in travel is a sign that the country is starting to pick up after the coronavirus lockdown, the numbers represent a decrease of about 66 percent over the same period in 2019.

The Chinese capital had until Wednesday lived under some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions in the country, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving. That requirement was scrapped from Thursday for travelers from low-risk areas of China.

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.

Elon Musk compares stay-at-home orders to imprisonment in rant to Tesla investors

Elon Musk speaks during a news conference in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 19, 2020.John Raoux / AP file

Elon Musk used Wednesday's Tesla earnings call to rant about stay-at-home orders that have been adopted by many states across the country to limit the spread of coronavirus.

"'Shelter in place.' Frankly, I would call it forcibly imprisoning of people in their homes against all of their constitutional rights, in my opinion," said Musk, who is the CEO of Tesla. "It's breaking people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why they came to America or built this country. What the f---. Excuse me. Outrage. Outrage.”

His comments follow a tweet on Tuesday in which he said "FREE AMERICA NOW," seemingly in response to the lockdown. The tweet was soon followed by a trending hashtag urging people to #boycottTesla. Musk also previously said panicking about the pandemic "is dumb."

Musk's Fremont-based car factory has been limited to maintaining only “minimum basic operations" since March as part of shutdown orders that have closed non-essential businesses. Initially, Tesla told employees at the factory that it would stay open, but government officials stepped in and determined the factory was not an essential business. On the call, Musk said the closure poses a "serious risk" to the company. Despite its factories being shut down, Tesla reported a surprise first-quarter profit on Wednesday.