Over 76,000 dead as 33 million file for unemployment in U.S.

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Demonstrators holding signs demanding their church to reopen, protest during a rally to re-open California and against Stay-At-Home directives on May 1, 2020 in San Diego, Calif.Sandy Huffaker / AFP - Getty Images

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The U.S. economy continues to look bleak after more than 3 million workers filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, according to federal labor data released Thursday.

Although that figure is down slightly from the week before, over 33 million Americans have now filed for initial jobless claims as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has routed some industries to Depression-era levels.

Yet even as the economy begins to slowly fire up again state by state, economists expect unemployment levels to continue rising — and to extend across a broader swath of industries.

Meanwhile, the debate over state reopenings goes on — and coronavirus cases show no sign of slowing down. As of Thursday evening, the death toll in the U.S. is over 76,000 and there are more than 1.2 million confirmed cases, according to NBC News' count.

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

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Photo: Darth Vader and Stormtroopers patrol village in Manila

Young people in wooden boats dressed as Stormtroopers and Darth Vader patrol a flooded village in suburban Manila to remind residents to stay home.Ted Aljibe / AFP - Getty Images

Pompeo rebuffs German plea on WHO funding halt

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has rebuffed a plea from Germany to reconsider halting funding for the World Health Organization over its handling of the outbreak, according to a German newspaper.

The German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Thursday that Pompeo responded to a letter from German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, insisting that the U.S. was “deeply committed to working with the international community to fight the coronavirus pandemic” despite the funding freeze.

Pompeo said that the U.S. has been the largest single contributor to WHO over the years despite what he described as “a string of mismanaged pandemic responses” by the Geneva-based agency, which he accused of “public kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party regime.”

Germany’s Foreign Ministry confirmed an exchange of letters between Maas and Pompeo but declined to elaborate. The U.S. Embassy in Berlin said it would not comment on diplomatic communications.

Spain plans national day of mourning for coronavirus victims 'once the streets can be walked freely'

Spain will hold a day of mourning for those who died from coronavirus once people are allowed to move freely again, Minister of Health Salvador Illa said on Thursday.

Illa was speaking during a daily news conference, where he also said that while much was not known about the virus, the government was sure its transmission was linked to the mobility of people. He said “once the streets can be walked freely again," the government will declare a national day of mourning with a tribute to follow.

Most of the country is currently in “Phase 0” of their lockdown lifting, where some small stores are allowed to reopen, and people are allowed to leave their homes to exercise within set times.

Around 3 million more workers filed for initial jobless claims last week

Around 3 million more workers filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, down slightly from 3.8 million the previous week.

More than 33 million Americans have now filed for initial jobless claims since the coronavirus pandemic ripped through the economy, according to data released Thursday by the Department of Labor.

Continuing claims, or the number of people receiving ongoing benefits, is now at more than 22 million, far surpassing the recessionary peak of 6.6 million.

Thursday's jobless-claims number comes before the closely watched monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which will be released Friday morning.

In an interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC's "TODAY" show Thursday morning, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Neel Kashkari, said Friday's official unemployment rate "will probably be something like 16 or 17 percent — but it will understate how bad the damage has been. I think the real number is probably around 23 or 24 percent. It's devastating."

However, he added, "I don't think we're actually headed for another Great Depression," predicting instead a "a long, gradual recovery" whose pace will be dictated by the coronavirus.

WHO 'deeply troubled' by increased reports of domestic violence in Europe

The World Health Organization is “deeply troubled” by increased reports of domestic violence in Europe, including Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Ireland, Russian, Spain, and the U.K., Dr. Hans Kluge said in a news briefing on Thursday. 

Kluge, the head of the WHO Europe office, said although data was scarce, countries across Europe are reporting up to a 60 percent increase in emergency calls by women subjected to violence by their intimate partners in April this year compared to last. He also noted that online inquiries to violence prevention support hotlines have jumped about five times.

Citing data from the U.N. Population Fund, Kluge said “if lockdowns were to continue for six months, we would expect an extra 31 million cases of gender-based violence globally."

Kluge said governments and local authorities should consider it a moral obligation to ensure services are available to vulnerable communities. Reported numbers are still only a small measure of the actual problem, since people suffering from abuse often decline to report it, he said. 

Apple awards $10 million to nasal swab maker COPAN Diagnostics

Apple said Thursday that it was awarding $10 million to a maker of nasal swabs and other materials for collecting samples for Covid-19 tests in a move aimed at boosting the swab maker's production to 1 million collection kits per week by early July.

The two companies said the award would help Murrieta, California-based COPAN Diagnostics expand into a larger facility and create 50 new jobs in Southern California. In addition to providing the funding, Apple said it would help COPAN Diagnostics design and source new equipment from York, Pennsylvania-based K2 Kinetics and Waukesha, Wisconsin-based MWES, both makers of industrial robotics systems.

PPE bought by U.K. government from Turkey does not meet safety standards

The U.K. government has confirmed that nearly 400,000 gowns ordered from Turkey have been impounded after it was found that they do not meet British safety standards. The news, first reported by the U.K. newspaper The Daily Telegraph, comes after the government has faced a wave of criticism for not procuring adequate amounts of personal protective equipment, or PPE, for medical workers.

The shipment of gowns from Turkey was initially announced by the government when addressing the shortage of PPE available in the country. The shipment was delayed, but arrived in London last month on a Royal Air Force plane. The gowns are now reportedly being kept in a government warehouse after inspectors found they were faulty.

“We are working night and day to source PPE internationally and domestically and brought together the NHS, industry and the armed forces to create a comprehensive PPE distribution network to deliver critical supplies to the frontline," a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said. 

The U.S. also received a shipment of supplies from Turkey on April 29, including medical gowns, which was greeted by a delegation from the Turkish Embassy as well as State and Defense Department officials at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. No issues have been reported with that shipment.

Air France says it won't return to 2019 levels until at least 2022

Air France-KLM forecast a "prolonged negative impact on passenger demand" in a statement on Thursday, after the company lost 1.8 billion euros, or $1.9 billion, in the first quarter.

"We're not seeing a return to 2019 levels until, at a minimum, 2022 — an absolute minimum," Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith said according to Reuters. Current forecasts indicate that Air France is expecting European borders to reopen in September at the earliest, resulting in a 40 to 50 percent decrease in activity compared to the same period in 2019.

The partner airlines expect that the second quarter of this year will be far worse, with traffic down 95 percent. Air France has implemented protective measures in its flights to keep activity going, notably the mandatory wearing of masks to take effect from May 11.

'Superhero' health workers hailed in new Banksy painting

The largely black and white painting shows a child holding aloft a doll in a superhero cape and an apron with a red cross. The toy nurse's right fist thrusts forward in a flying Superman pose.

Banksy’s latest piece, which went on display at Southampton General Hospital in the south of England on Wednesday, marks the spirit of gratitude for healthcare workers that has swept across Britain during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full story here.