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.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide, confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally.
- Reopening America: See what states across the U.S. are starting to reopen.
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Drug dealers using food delivery services to traffic substances, police say
Criminals have been using food delivery services to transport and distribute drugs in several countries worldwide amid coronavirus lockdowns, Interpol warned on Thursday.
The France-based police agency said it received reports from Ireland, Malaysia, Spain and the United Kingdom about delivery drivers transporting illicit substances including cocaine, marijuana, ketamine and ecstasy.
In one incident, Irish Gardai officers recovered nearly 18 pounds of cocaine and two handguns hidden in pizza boxes. In another, a Malaysian food delivery rider contacted police after being tasked to deliver a single order of Indian flatbread that suspiciously weighed 24 pounds. Interpol has issued the notice to its 194 member countries to increase cooperation between police agencies and better tackle the drug trade during the global health crisis.
Fauci warns states against reopening too soon
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that states that are reopening their economies or states that are considering taking that action soon “can’t just leap over things” and get into a situation where the coronavirus makes a rebound in that region.
In an interview on the “TODAY” show, Savannah Guthrie asked Fauci whether the states that are beginning to reopen have the capability to conduct the contact tracing needed if an outbreak starts again. Fauci said that he can’t go state by state but urged states that don’t have the capability to “go very slowly.”
“You can't just leap over things and get into a situation where you're really tempting a rebound. That's the thing I get concerned about,” he said. “I hope they don't do that.”
Serbians protests against strict lockdown measures with pans and horns
A cacophony of tin pans, drums, whistles, and horns has reverberated through much of Serbia on Wednesday as stuck-at-home citizens vented their anger at the government and its strict containment measures to curb the coronavirus.
For the fourth night in a row on Wednesday evening, people across Serbia responded to the call by the Don’t Let Belgrade Drown Initiative to protest by making noise against what they called dictatorship in the country, local news reported. The noise starts at 8:05 p.m. after the applause for medical staff. Later in the evening on Wednesday, supporters of the ruling Serbian party organized a counter-noise protest, lighting torches and cheering President Aleksandar Vucic.
Serbia, which has reported 8,497 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 173 deaths from the virus, introduced stringent measures last month, including a state of emergency, closure of borders, daily curfew from 4 p.m. local time, and total lockdowns all weekend, including all four days of the Easter holiday. While the government has started to lift restrictions as the rate of infections slows, it said that a lockdown during the Labor Day holiday on May 1 — a important celebration in Serbia — should remain in place.
Britain likely to miss virus testing target, minister admits
Britain will more than likely miss its target of carrying out 100,000 virus tests a day by the end of April, Justice Minister Robert Buckland said on Thursday. Around 52,000 tests were carried out on Wednesday, according health officials.
"Even if it isn't met, we are well on our way to ramping this up," Buckland told a BBC morning show on Thursday. "Even if we don't meet the target today, the effort that's been put in to increase these numbers is remarkable," he said.
The original target was set by the U.K.'s health minister earlier this month. The government has faced growing criticism over low levels of virus testing, as well as complaints from health workers over a lack of sufficient protective gear.
British doctors warn some Chinese ventilators could kill if used in hospitals
Senior British doctors have warned that 250 ventilators the United Kingdom bought from China risk causing "significant patient harm, including death," if they are used in hospitals, according to a letter seen by NBC News.
The doctors said the machines had a problematic oxygen supply, could not be cleaned properly, had an unfamiliar design and a confusing instruction manual, and were built for use in ambulances, not hospitals.
The British case is not an isolated one, and it comes as a stark example of a procurement problem that has plagued many countries as the coronavirus has spread throughout the world.
Nearly half of global workers at risk of losing their livelihoods, data shows
Nearly half of the world's workforce is at immediate risk of losing their livelihood because of coronavirus, the International Labour Organization warned on Wednesday.
The continued sharp decline in working hours, as well as lockdown measures due to the outbreak means that 1.6 billion informal economy workers around the world “stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed,” according to the organization's analysis.
“For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent," the U.N. agency’s director general, Guy Ryder, told a briefing on Wednesday.
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.
Vending machines in France dish out face masks, gloves and hand gel
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.