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:
- 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.
Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.
This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading May 8 coronavirus news.
Pence delivers protective equipment to a nursing home - without a mask on
Vice President Mike Pence delivered boxes of personal protective equipment outside a nursing home with COVID-19 patients in Virginia on Thursday - without wearing any himself.
Pence put a box of equipment on the doorstep of the Woodbine Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Alexandria and waved inside before wheeling over more boxes and helping unload them. He was not wearing a mask or gloves while handling the packages. Other officials who were with him were also not wearing masks.
Pence made headlines last week when he toured the Mayo Clinic, a hospital with a strict mask policy, without a face covering. Pence defended the decision afterward, telling reporters that he's confident he doesn't have the coronavirus because he and other White House officials are tested it for it regularly and he felt healthy.
Dr. Vin Gupta told NBC News last week, "The vast majority of individuals that we think are likely transmitters of the disease have no symptoms."
Pence said during a Fox News town hall on Sunday night that not wearing a mask at the facility was a mistake. Pence's Thursday delivery came as the White House said President Donald Trump's personal valet has tested positive for the virus. A White House spokesman said Pence has tested negative since the revelation.
White House returned CDC guidelines for reopening economy, requesting revisions
The White House sent back guidelines it received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month on how businesses, schools and other organizations should reopen with a request for revisions, two administration officials said.
The White House coronavirus task force, which is headed by Vice President Mike Pence, viewed the CDC’s advice as overly restrictive and in some cases thought it undercut the White House’s three-phase guidelines for opening up the country, released in mid April, the official said.
The White House's guidelines on reopening and easing social distancing are broad and leave much of the decision-making to governors. Those guidelines say states should see a 14-day decrease in coronavirus cases before reopening but do not set a specific timeline for doing so.
"Issuing overly specific instructions — that CDC leadership never cleared — for how various types of businesses open up would be overly prescriptive and broad for the various circumstances states are experiencing throughout the country," a task force official told NBC News, noting that the White House guidelines advise states to open up in safe and responsible ways based on their own data and response efforts.
New York coronavirus death toll tops 20,000
The official New York state death toll from coronavirus has now topped 20,000, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.
The number reached 20,597 because of 231 new deaths and because past fatalities from nursing homes and other adult care facilities have now been confirmed as caused by coronavirus and added to the state total.
The total of new deaths announced each day continues to decline, though the 231 new deaths announced Thursday are just one less than the number reported Wednesday. The governor called the state's gradual decline in new fatalities "slow" and "painful."
The governor also released more results from the state's ongoing antibody testing program, and said indications so far are that health-care workers are less likely to be infected than the general public.
He said that in New York City, 19.9 percent of those tested for coronavirus antibodies have come back positive. but for the healthcare worker population that number was 12.2 percent, with a similar pattern in the city's suburbs.
South Carolina parents celebrate their son's dissertation defense on a billboard
Brandon Truett's parents surprised him with a celebratory billboard near his South Carolina hometown, congratulating him for finishing his University of Chicago PhD in English.
"My dad was thinking of ways to celebrate because he knew the graduation was canceled," Truett said. "I always think I'm the extra one, but he really topped me on this one."
Truett said he defended his dissertation, the last assignment before becoming a PhD, on a video conference, which allowed his parents to watch. He said his father, who rented the billboard in South Carolina, would not have been able to attend his defense because of his demanding work schedule.
"My dad has always been supportive, but this is the culminating gesture," said Truett, who added his father is currently reading his 250-page dissertation on visual art and the Spanish Civil War.
Trump's personal valet tests positive for coronavirus, president ‘not happy’
One of President Donald Trump’s personal valets at the White House has tested positive for the coronavirus and the president was “not happy” when he found out on Wednesday, a White House official said.
The valet works in the West Wing and serves Trump his meals, among other duties. Valets do not wear masks, the official said.
N.Y. to bring products from 2,100 farms to food banks to feed an estimated 20,000 families
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced the state has launched a program to buy excess agricultural products in the state and donate them to food banks.
"At a time when people are hungry, it makes no sense for food or milk to go to waste," Cuomo said. "We will bring products from 2,100 upstate farms to 50 food banks, providing 20,000 households with food."
N.Y. Gov. Cuomo extends moratorium on evictions
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said the state is extending its moratorium on evictions for people facing coronavirus-related hardship for an additional 60 days — until at least Aug. 20.
The state is in addition banning fees for late or missed payments during the moratorium period, he said.
"We are also allowing renters facing COVID-related hardship to use their security deposit as payment and repay the deposit over time," the governor said.
Photos: Lonely graduation in Illinois
Graduates at Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School received their diplomas in a nearly-empty auditorium Wednesday. Friends, family and relatives were not allowed to attend because of the state's social distancing mandates.
Texas governor changes coronavirus orders to eliminate jail punishment for violators
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today eliminated jail confinement as a punishment for people who violate his coronavirus executive orders.
In a statement, Abbott said the change is retroactive to April 2 and supersedes local orders.
He said the revision should lead to the release of Shelley Luther, who was arrested and sentenced to seven days in jail for opening her salon in violation of coronavirus shutdown orders.
“Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,” Abbott said in the statement. “As some county judges advocate for releasing hardened criminals from jail to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is absurd to have these business owners take their place.”
Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus files for bankruptcy
The luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the second major retailer after J.Crew to seek reorganization this week as the industry buckles under widespread store closures.
“Like most businesses today, we are facing unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed inexorable pressure on our business,” said Geoffroy van Raemdonck, chairman and CEO of Neiman Marcus Group, in a statement.
Leading up to the pandemic, the company reported a loss of $31.2 million in July, compared with a net loss of $19.9 million the previous year.
Market conditions have been brutal for the retail industry over the last several weeks. Like other retailers, Neiman Marcus stores have been closed since mid-March as state governors issued stay-at-home orders to stem infections. The company furloughed almost all of its 14,000 employees on March 30.
NYC mayor announces task force to combat domestic, gender-based violence during pandemic
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that he's putting together a task force to combat domestic and gender-based violence during the coronavirus pandemic.
The group will include 20 leaders to assist those who may need shelter, legal services and counseling.
"We need people to stay home for everyone's safety, but we also have to find a way to disrupt this problem because it's unacceptable," the mayor said at his new conference. "It's unacceptable that anyone would be in danger in their own home. We do not allow that in New York City."
NYC ramps up antibody testing, plans to test 70K people in next two weeks
New York City is ramping up its antibody testing and plans to test roughly 70,000 people over the next two weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Thursday.
The city is "launching an antibody survey to understand COVID-19 spread and provide New Yorkers with more clarity," the mayor's press secretary, Freddi Goldstein, said in a tweet.
There initially will be a testing site in each of the city's five boroughs, with each site providing tests free to 1,000 people a day. The initiative starts next week and is by appointment only.
Results will take 24 to 48 hours.
Antibody tests are intended to show whether a person's immune system has developed antibodies, which would indicate they were exposed to the coronavirus at some point. There have been questions about the accuracy of some antibody tests.
Coronavirus patients in NYC admitted to hospitals, ICU drop
New York City is making progress in its fight against the spread of the coronavirus with declines in the number of patients admitted to hospitals and intensive care units.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that 79 people were admitted to hospitals for COVID-19, down from 109 people on May 4. The number of patients admitted to intensive care declined to 567 from 599.
"It's not perfect progress, but it's damn close," the mayor said.
Moscow mayor extends lockdown to May 31
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin extended the Russian capital’s strict lockdown until May 31, according to an order announced Thursday.
Industrial and construction enterprises can return to work on May 12, but the remainder of the city's social and economic life will remain frozen.
Moscow residents will still need passes to leave their homes for most activities — save for grocery shopping, walking pets and taking out the trash.
And as of May 12, residents will also face a new requirement to wear masks when going to buy groceries or ride public transport.
Sobyanin said a recent spike in new cases was the result of expanded testing, and that hospitalizations remain stable.
Photo: Darth Vader and Stormtroopers patrol village in Manila
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.
Duchess Kate launches coronavirus photography project, talks lockdown with the kids
Britain's Prince George wants to do his sister Charlotte's school projects instead of his own work, his mother Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, said Thursday in an interview with ITV.
Kate appeared on the show "This Morning" to launch a photography project designed to capture "the spirit, the hopes, the fears and the feelings" of the U.K. during the coronavirus crisis. In collaboration with London's National Portrait Gallery, the "Hold Still" will crowd-source 100 of the best photos submitted by the public to provide "a snapshot of the people of the U.K. at this time."
"That’s the power of photography, it can capture a moment and tell a story," said Kate, the wife of Queen Elizabeth II's grandson, Prince William. She added that her three children check in daily with family members they can't see in person, and that they are having "in some ways a lot more contact than perhaps we would have done before."
Black people more than four times as likely to die from coronavirus than white people, U.K. data shows
Black people in Britain are more than four times as likely to die from coronavirus than white people, according to data published Thursday by the U.K.’s Office of National Statistics, which analyses population data for England and Wales.
The analysis showed that even when accounting for socio-economic factors along with age and health, black people are still 1.9 times more likely to die from coronavirus. People of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, or mixed ethnicity also had what the ONS calls a “statistically significant” rise in risk of death from coronavirus, versus those of white ethnicity.
“These results show that the the difference between ethnic groups in COVID-19 mortality is partly a result of socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but a remaining part of the difference has not yet been explained,” the report said.
China says it's open to cooperating with WHO on virus tracing
China is open to cooperating with the World Health Organization on a virus tracing investigation, Hua Chunying, a Chinese political spokesperson said at a press conference on Thursday. Chunying emphasized, however, that the country is opposed to an investigation where China is already presumed to be guilty.
"China remains open to all kinds of cooperation with WHO on issues including virus tracing, as long as it is conducive to better cope with major infectious diseases," she said. China opposes that the United States and other countries can't wait for a "presumed international investigation of guilt" on the issue of traceability, she added. Recently, U.S. officials have offered differing claims on the virus' origins.
On Wednesday, the head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, said the organization was in talks with China to send a follow-up mission to the country to investigate the animal source of the pandemic. This comes just days after the WHO said China had not invited the organization to take part in an investigation into the origins of the virus.
Russia surpasses France and Germany in total number of coronavirus cases
Russia's number of total confirmed cases of coronavirus overtook France and Germany on Thursday, reaching 177,160 infections. There was also a new record for the daily number of confirmed infections, with official government numbers showing 11,231 new cases, the fifth day in a row with more than 10,000.
These milestones come a day after President Vladimir Putin asked regional leaders to prepare plans for a gradual easing of lockdown starting May 12. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said Thursday 300,000 people have likely been infected in Moscow, despite an official tally of 92,676 cases in the city.
Sobyanin said the growth in new cases is due to expanded testing, which has allowed for the identification of more asymptomatic cases.
London to fast-track cycle lanes after predicting tenfold increase in biking
London will fast-track the construction of new cycle lanes to facilitate a predicted ten-fold increase in biking as a result of the coronavirus crisis, Mayor Sadiq Khan announced. The city's public transit system will only be able to run at a fifth of pre-crisis capacity due to social-distancing requirements, the mayor said, adding that if just a fraction of transit journeys are taken in cars instead, "London risks grinding to a halt, air quality will worsen, and road danger will increase."
The "streetspace" program will see temporary bike lanes installed quickly on some of London's busiest roads and sidewalks widened to allow more space for pedestrians to socially distance. The new lanes could be made permanent, the mayor indicated.
London is the latest city to turn to more space for cycling and walking as a result of the coronavirus crisis. New York, Milan and Paris have already announced big plans to turn over street space to walking and cycling. Columbia University’s Purnima Kapur — until recently the executive director of the New York City Department of City Planning — suggested that city planners could now find they have the political will to push through progressive changes that would have seemed too radical just a few months ago.
Tracking apps and thermal scanners: Life in post-lockdown South Korea
South Korea ended its stringent social distancing policies Wednesday after halting the spread of the coronavirus. But although sports fans will soon be allowed to return to stadiums and as museums and libraries began to reopen, life remains far from normal.
Thermal scanners at theme parks, shopping for makeup while wearing masks and constant tracking of people's whereabouts through apps and credit card data are markers of the new post-pandemic world in the country leading the way in its response to the virus.
"Everyday distancing does not mean returning to life before COVID-19," Kim Kang Lip, vice minister of health and welfare, said Tuesday at a news briefing. "It means building new social norms and a culture based on exercising social distancing."
Frontier Airlines will drop open-seat fee that drew attacks
Frontier Airlines is dropping plans to charge passengers extra to sit next to an empty middle seat after congressional Democrats accused the airline of trying to profit from fear over the new coronavirus.
“We recognize the concerns raised that we are profiting from safety and this was never our intent,” Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said late Wednesday in a letter to three lawmakers. “We simply wanted to provide our customers with an option for more space.”
Biffle said the airline will rescind the extra fee, which Frontier called More Room, and block the seats from being sold.
Earlier in the day, Democrats had railed against Frontier's plan to charge passengers at least $39 per flight to guarantee they would sit next to an empty middle seat. The offer was to begin with flights Friday and run through Aug. 31.
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Thai elephants, out of work due to coronavirus, trudge home
BANGKOK — The millions of unemployed in Thailand because of the coronavirus include elephants dependent on tourists to feed their voracious appetites. With scant numbers of foreign visitors, commercial elephant camps and sanctuaries lack funds for their upkeep and have sent more than 100 of the animals trudging as far as 100 miles back to their homes.
The Save Elephant Foundation in the northern province of Chiang Mai has been promoting the elephants’ return to the greener pastures of home. The foundation supports fundraising appeals to feed animals still housed at tourist parks, but also believes it is good for them to return to their natural habitat where they can be more self-sufficient.
The situation is critical. London-based World Animal Protection says as many as 2,000 tame elephants are at risk of starvation because their owners are unable to feed them.
Since last month, more than 100 of the animals have marched from all over Chiang Mai to their homeland of Mae Chaem, which is dotted with villages where members of the Karen ethnic minority live and traditionally keep elephants.
Relief payments sent to the dead should be returned, IRS says
The federal government said Wednesday people should return coronavirus relief payments that were sent to the deceased.
The IRS issued the formal guidance on its website Wednesday, and the Treasury Department also tweeted about what it called the inadvertent payments.
Congress authorized payments of $1,200 to individuals as part of a massive relief package due to the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus epidemic. Many were based on past tax returns, and people have reported that relatives who have since died got that money.