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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Farmworkers sue Washington state seeking coronavirus protections
A court in Skagit County, Washington, will consider Friday whether the state should impose enforceable emergency safety rules to protect farmworkers from the coronavirus.
The case, which pits the labor advocacy group Familias Unidas por la Justicia and the United Farm Workers of America against the state's labor and health departments, is among the first agricultural labor lawsuits filed in the country since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
The labor groups are seeking adequate social distancing in farm labor housing and transportation and to ensure that protective gear is available at work sites, among other concerns.
Government orders 100,000 body bags
WASHINGTON — The federal government placed orders for well over 100,000 new body bags to hold victims of COVID-19 in April, according to internal administration documents obtained by NBC News, as well as public records. The biggest set was earmarked for purchase the day after President Donald Trump projected that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus might not exceed 50,000 or 60,000 people.
That batch is a still-pending $5.1 million purchase order placed by the Homeland Security Department April 21 with the Montebello, Calif.-based company E.M. Oil Transport, Inc. The “human remains pouches” have not been shipped to the Federal Emergency Management Agency or paid for yet, according to the company’s marketing manager, Mike Pryor.
Body bag contracts bid by the Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments are just one illustration of how Trump’s sunny confidence about the nation’s readiness to re-open is in conflict with officials in his own administration who are quietly preparing for a far worse outcome.
Industry exec: White House plan to send a week's worth of masks, gloves to nursing homes is not enough
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that nursing homes, which have been ravaged by coronavirus, had been "a little bit of a weak spot" in the U.S. response to the disease, and announced FEMA would ship a seven-day supply of gowns and masks to the nation's 15,000 long-term care facilities.
But nursing home residents have accounted for a quarter of the nation's 60,000 reported COVID-19 deaths, and for some industry leaders and advocates for residents, a week's supply of personal protective equipment is not an answer.
"This is the first sign in months that our calls for PPE prioritization for providers of aging services are being heard -- but this action is far too little, far too late," said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO LeadingAge, an association of 6,000 nonprofit providers of aging services, including 2,000 nursing homes.
Major drug company partners with Oxford to produce vaccine even before approval
AstraZeneca says it is pushing ahead to produce millions of doses of a trial coronavirus vaccine, developed by Oxford University, even before the research is complete.
Thousands of cruise ship crew members remain out at sea amid clash over CDC's rules
Thousands of cruise ship crew members remain stuck at sea amid the coronavirus pandemic as their companies clash with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over rules to bring them home.
Carnival Cruise Line said it has more than 10,000 healthy crew members on board their ships and is planning to have them home to their respective countries over the next week. Roughly 10,000 crew have already been repatriated, the company said in a press release.
"The safety and well-being of our team members continues to be a top priority," said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "Given the pause in our operations, we are committed to getting our crew members safely home to their families. We sincerely thank them for their hard work, patience and understanding during this process."
Trump says he has seen evidence that virus originated in Wuhan lab
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump suggested Thursday he has seen evidence that the coronavirus was created in a Wuhan lab, just hours after the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement that the virus was "not manmade or genetically modified."
"Yes I have," Trump said when asked by a reporter if he had seen anything that gave him a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of the virus.
"We have people looking at it very, very strongly," Trump said. "Scientific people, intelligence people, and others."
When asked what evidence he had, Trump responded "I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that."
The U.S. Intelligence Community is continuing to examine "whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” according to the DNI statement.
Coronavirus could make the iconic department store a relic of the past
The department store, once a proud symbol of American excess and upward mobility, threatens to descend into obscurity as a result of the coronavirus, with Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, and Lord & Taylor all reportedly exploring bankruptcy.
Neiman Marcus, which also operates two Bergdorf Goodman stores in New York City and 22 Last Call discount locations, had been in distress well before the coronavirus halted nonessential shopping. The company has seen sales and revenue tumble as competition increases from online startups and brick-and-mortar stores launched by their own brands.
The company missed a key $5.7 million interest payment this month to pay down its$4.7 billion in debt. It reported a net loss of $31.2 million in July, compared with a net loss of $19.9 million the year before.
British Airways to cut one-quarter of its pilots
British Airways plans to drastically reduce the number of pilots by 1,130 out of a total number of 4,346, according to a report from Sky News.
The layoffs will include captains and co-pilots, and come as part of a sweeping rethink of the business model for the airline, which says it is not receiving government bailout money, unlike some European airlines.
British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz outlined cuts to services in a press release earlier in the week, saying, “We do not know when countries will reopen their borders or when the lockdowns will lift, and so we have to reimagine and reshape our airline and create a new future for our people, our customers and the destinations we serve."
The company also said it may pull out from Heathrow Airport.
The airline’s owner, International Airlines Group, had already said the airline would make up to 12,000 staff redundant as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.
British Airways did not immediately respond for comment.
'What is it about their immune system?' Rare complication seen in some kids with COVID-19.
Last Friday, high school junior Jameela Barber called her teacher in Dallas County, Texas, to apologize for neglecting to turn in her school work.
Her school's principal, Eleanor Webb, said Barber told her teacher she hadn't been feeling well.
"She said, 'As soon as I feel better, because I'm feeling really, really sick, I'm going to turn in my missed assignments,'" Webb told NBC affiliate station KXAS. The next day, Webb said, Barber died of complications from COVID-19. She was 17.
Brazil's surge in coronavirus cases, and its open borders, alarms neighboring countries
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Brazil’s virtually uncontrolled surge of COVID-19 cases is spawning fear that construction workers, truck drivers and tourists from Latin America’s biggest nation will spread the disease to neighboring countries that are doing a better job of controlling the coronavirus.
Brazil, a continent-sized country that shares borders with nearly every other nation in South America, has reported more than 70,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths, according to government figures and a tally by Johns Hopkins University — far more than any of its neighbors. The true number of deaths and infections is believed to be much higher because of limited testing.
The country’s borders remain open, there are virtually no quarantines or curfews and President Jair Bolsonaro continues to scoff at the seriousness of the disease.
Photo: Burials in Indonesia
Cemetery workers place a coffin into place in an area of newly dug graves for those suspected of dying from COVID-19 on April 30, 2020 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia's official statistics report that nearly 800 people have died from COVID-19, but a recent review of data from 16 of the hardest hit provinces suggest that the number of deaths may be well over 2,000.
Long wait times at understaffed labs handling testing have made it difficult for the government and others to accumulate accurate statistics about how many people have the disease and how many of those suspected of dying from the disease actually had it.