Stay-at-home protests held across the country

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Image: Protest To Reopen California Businesses, Beaches, And Parks Held In Huntington Beach
Protestors gather in a demonstration in Huntington Beach, California on May 1, 2020.Apu Gomes / Getty Images

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Protests against stay-at-home orders were held across the country Friday amid mounting frustration over the economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic.

Rallies were scheduled in at least 10 states. Outside the Capitol building in Albany, New York, protesters chanted "USA! USA!" as they flew American and "Don't Tread on Me" flags. Counterprotesters scheduled their own rallies in support of keeping non-essential businesses closed.

Some states started to slowly reopen Friday, including Texas, where retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls were allowed to open for business. In Louisiana, restaurants (except those in hard-hit New Orleans) are allowed to add outdoor tables.

The calls to reopen business come as meat processing plants struggle with widespread outbreaks that have slowed or halted production. At a Tyson Foods pork-processing plant in Indiana, nearly 900 employees, 40 percent of the workforce, tested positive for the coronavirus.

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

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New York state will keep schools, colleges closed for rest of academic year

All schools and colleges in New York state will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference on Friday.

He said the decision was made to keep the state's 4.2 million students in K-12 schools and colleges and their teachers safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Distance learning will continue, the governor said, adding that schools and colleges should plan now on what measures they may need to take to reopen campuses in the fall.

Read the full story here. 

With campus life in question, high school seniors are wondering if they should still go away to college

Diego Castillo, a high school senior based in McAllen, Texas, spent months picturing a new life in Boston — he daydreamed of the friends he would meet, the places he would visit and the experiences he would have at his dream school, Boston University.

Yet when Castillo was notified that he had been accepted to BU last month, he didn’t rush to submit his enrollment deposit or procure a school ID and email.

“I had wanted to go to Boston University for a while. I wanted to get out of the state and explore,” Castillo told NBC News. “I was dead-set on it, but then the coronavirus happened and it made me reevaluate.”

Read more here.

Colorado paramedic who died of coronavirus after traveling to help NYC to be honored

A Colorado paramedic who has died of coronavirus after traveling to New York City to help during the  pandemic will be given a "special memorial," New York City Bill de Blasio said Friday. 

"We have lost someone who came to our aid, to our defense," de Blasio said of Paul Cary, 66. De Blasio added that the loss was "very, very painful," and said Cary's actions were heroic. 

"We’re going to find a way to create a special memorial for Paul right here in New York City," the mayor said. 

"I want you to remember, if you really want to honor these heroes, then it's up to you to stick to the rules we’re following now," de Blasio said, addressing New Yorkers about social-distancing rules.

"Lives you save could include our first responders and our health care heroes," he said. "I want to make it personal for you."

Photo: Cleaning a Rome rooftop

Andrew Medichini / AP

A worker disinfects the roof terrace of the Atlantic Hotel in Rome on Wednesday. After seven weeks in lockdown, Italians are regaining some freedoms. Starting on May 4, public parks and gardens will re-open and people will be able to visit relatives who live in the same region.

See more compelling photos as some lockdowns begin to ease in The Week in Pictures.

First 7 miles of NYC streets will be opened to pedestrians, blocked to cars Monday

The first seven miles of streets in New York City that will be closed to cars to create room for people to get outside while also social distancing will be blocked off Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

More than 2.5 miles of street closures will be surrounding city parks, and 4.5 miles of closures will be within the parks. The majority of the street closures are outside of Manhattan, and are in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. 

De Blasio said earlier this week that between 40 and 100 miles of city streets will be blocked off to cars for pedestrian use.  

WHO official says agency not invited to take part in China's virus investigation

China has not invited the World Health Organization to take part in an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to the global health authority's representative in the country.

Dr. Gauden Galea told Sky News on Friday: "We know that some national investigation is happening but at this stage, we have not been invited to join."

"The origins of virus are very important, the animal-human interface is extremely important and needs to be studied," he added. "The priority is we need to know as much as possible to prevent the reoccurrence."

Read the rest here.

South Africa eases lockdown of battered economy

South Africa took its first shaky steps on Friday towards rolling back one of the world's strictest lockdowns, seeking a balance between containing the disease and providing much-needed relief for the economy.

While South Africa has recorded relatively low numbers of 5,647 coronavirus cases and 103 deaths so far out of a population of 58 million, the economic hardship has been severe in a country that was in recession even before the pandemic. The National Treasury forecasts the economy will contract 5.8 percent this year. 

The five-week shutdown Africa's most advanced economy has threatened to send already rampant unemployment soaring and reopening the economy is proving harder than closing it down.

New regulations were finalized only on Wednesday and led to some confusion. Under the first phase of easing, only some sectors may restart operations, and with limited staff. Restaurants, for example, can now resume business but only for food deliveries. Many businesses are weighing whether to reopen at all.

India extends lockdown by two weeks

India said it would extend its nationwide lockdown for another two weeks on Friday after it was originally set to end May 4, but would allow "considerable relaxations" in lower-risk districts marked as green and orange zones, according to government officials.

India's biggest and most economically-important cities — including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Ahmedabad — will all be classed as red zones, infection hotspots, and kept under strict lockdown. To qualify as a green zone, eligible for quicker lifting of restrictions, an area would have had to report no new infections for three weeks.

India has reported more than 35,000 cases and 1,147 confirmed deaths from the virus. The official toll is far lower than in the U.S. and many European countries, although the true extent of infection may be higher in a country where millions of people do not have access to sufficient healthcare.

The world's biggest lockdown — imposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 25 — has pummeled India's economy, depriving millions of day laborers of income and stranding rural migrants in cities where they can no longer afford rent or food. The government also issued an order on Friday to provide special trains for stranded migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists and students to return home.

Using plastic markers, Greek workers defy ban to mark Labor Day

Greek workers wearing protective masks and respecting social distancing measures protest in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens on Friday.Aris Messinis / AFP - Getty Images

Greek workers and students wearing masks and gloves lined up outside parliament to commemorate May Day, defying a government ban on movement imposed to fight the coronavirus.

Using colorful plastic markers placed on the ground to help them observe distance rules, hundreds of protesters joined a rally organized by the Communist-affiliated group PAME. The protesters waved flags, chanted slogans and held banners reading "No sacrifice for the bosses."

Movement restrictions in Greece — imposed in March as part of a nationwide lockdown — will be gradually eased starting on Monday like many other countries in Europe. The conservative government has promised to work to protect jobs in a country that has only just emerged from a decade-long debt crisis that wiped out a quarter of its economic output. The country has reported 2,591 cases and 140 deaths as of Friday.

Russia records record rise in new coronavirus cases for third day in a row

Russia recorded a record number of new coronavirus cases for the third day in a row on Friday, as 7,933 people tested positive, bringing the total to almost 115,000. Russian authorities urged people to resist the temptation to flout lockdown measures, as May 1 marks the beginning of 11 days of celebration across the country.

The figures mean Russia now ranks eighth worldwide for the number of confirmed cases, though it has so far recorded far fewer deaths than many of the most hard-hit countries. It has a death toll of 1,169 as of Friday.

This comes a day after Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said he tested positive for virus. Last week, President Vladimir Putin warned the peak of the outbreak in Russia has yet to come.