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:

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading May 8 coronavirus news.

House probe finds U.S. efforts to screen travelers from Italy and South Korea were lax

Airport medical screenings designed to keep coronavirus-stricken travelers from South Korea and Italy out of the United States in early March resulted in only 69 people being turned away, a House investigation found. 

The probe by the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy found the U.S. effectively outsourced the screenings to South Korea and Italy and resulted in "another opportunity the administration missed to limit the impact of coronavirus,” said committee chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.  

The Trump administration issued a Level 4 travel advisory involving the two countries on Feb. 29th, as both were dealing with escalating coronavirus cases. Vice President Mike Pence said President Donald Trump had "directed the State Department to work with our allies in Italy and in South Korea to coordinate a screening, a medical screening, in their countries of any individuals that are coming in to the United States of America."

The House investigation found that between March 3rd and March 13th, just 13 passengers were barred from Italy and 56 were barred from South Korea. It also found that the officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not know how the screenings in Italy were being conducted and had no personnel overseeing the screenings. Passengers from both countries were not screened when they arrived in the U.S., the report found.

Krishnamoorthi said the findings show the government "disregarded valuable opportunities to slow the spread through enhanced entry screenings."

 

In Illinois, Latinos have highest cases of coronavirus, officials worry about a spike in deaths

Norwegian Hospital nurses perform one of the first half dozen coronavirus tests on site in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood on April 28, 2020.Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune via Getty Images file

Latinos are testing positive to coronavirus at higher rates than any other demographic group in Illinois, alarming officials and experts who say that if the number of COVID-19 cases "continues to rise in Latino communities, so too will the rates of deaths."

Of the more than 28,200 Latinos who have been tested for coronavirus, at least 17,240 have been diagnosed with COVID-19. That's about 61 percent of all Latinos who have been tested, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who said the rate is "more than three times our state average."

“The Latino community is being silently decimated by the coronavirus," Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García, D-Ill., told NBC News in a statement. "If we are serious about controlling the spread of COVID, our country cannot have a plan that ignores Latinos and the conditions we are living in during these times."

Read the full story here. 

NFL moves ahead with plan for next season with new coronavirus restrictions

As the NFL unveils its schedule of games, Commissioner Roger Goodell set ground rules for reopening facilities. Teams must comply with local governments and create “infection response” units, among other guidelines.

As '#Plandemic' goes viral, those targeted by discredited scientist's crusade warn of 'dangerous' claims

Protesters hold signs on the steps of the state capitol at the ReOpen Oregon Rally on May 2, 2020 in Salem, Ore.Terray Sylvester / Getty Images

A video from a discredited scientist promoting a hodgepodge of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus went viral across every social media platform Thursday. It was initially pushed by anti-vaccination disinformation peddlers, and then picked up steam when it was promoted by minor celebrities.

In a matter of hours, the video became one of the most widespread pieces of coronavirus misinformation, drawing millions of views across major technology platforms. Its success underscores how misleading information about the coronavirus crisis continues to circulate, with some indications that growing fear and frustration are making conspiracy theories more appetizing to a larger audience.

The video, far more polished than other similar videos, comes as authoritative sources of information are finding it hard to compete with people who have years of experience in creating viral internet media.

Read the full story here. 

Frontier becomes first U.S. airline to announce temperature checks

Frontier Airlines planes sit at gates at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colo., on April 4, 2017.Matt Staver / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Frontier Airlines said Thursday it would begin implementing mandatory temperature checks on passengers prior to boarding, the first U.S.-based airline to announce such a measure. 

The temperature checks, which will begin June 1, are another added layer of protection, Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle said in a press release. Any passenger with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will be denied boarding. 

"This new step during the boarding process, coupled with face coverings and elevated disinfection procedures, will serve to provide Frontier customers an assurance that their well-being is our foremost priority and we are taking every measure to help them travel comfortably and safely," Biffle said. 

Although many U.S. airlines have imposed face mask requirements and social distancing measures, mandatory temperature readings have yet to become an industry standard. Air Canada announced Monday that it would be the first North American carrier to start infrared temperature checks.  

NYC-based school meal program provider turns to mobile distribution

Red Rabbit, a school meal program provider based in New York City, has turned to mobile distribution to ensure students in underserved communities are still able to receive nutritious meals amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Previously the organization worked directly with charter and public schools in the area to develop healthy meal programs for students.

However, once schools shut down, the organization switched over to mobile distribution where each week members make stops in Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side to “deliver fresh, made-from-scratch meals.”  

The organization is also hosting Zoom Cooking Classes students and their families can sign up for on Instagram.

Disney Springs to begin phased reopening on May 20

Disney announced a plan to begin a phased reopening of Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida, on May 20.

In a press release, Matt Simon, vice president of the resort, said "a limited number of shopping and dining experiences that are owned by third-party operating participants will begin to open during this initial phase."

There will be numerous new safety measures put in place in order to reopen including additional cleaning procedures, face cover requirements for both guests and cast members as well as limited-contact guest services. 

There will also be limited hours and parking capacity.

The remainder of Walt Disney World Resorts in Florida will remain closed. On Tuesday it was announced Disney Shanghai will reopen on May 11. 

China accuses U.S. of pushing false coronavirus claims for Trump's re-election

Chinese officials accused U.S. leaders of pushing false claims and conspiracies about the origin of the coronavirus, calling it a ploy in President Trump's re-election narrative.

OPINION: To recover from COVID-19, America needs a vaccine. To get it, we can't rely on corporations

A manufacturing associate works in a cell culture room where scientists are working on developing a vaccine for the Zika virus in Meriden, Conn., on June 20, 2016.Mike Segar / Reuters file

The current consensus by scientists and public health experts is that the only way to end the coronavirus' devastating effects on America's citizens and its economy is to develop, produce at scale and widely distribute an effective vaccine against COVID-19 as quickly as possible.

There are, of course, myriad scientific challenges inherent to that imperative, among them the virus' potential mutability, our lack of knowledge about whether antibodies provide protection against reinfection (and, if so, for how long), and the time it takes to discover an effective vaccine, test it, receive regulatory approval and begin commercial production.

But there is one more problem we've rarely had to consider: By pharmaceutical companies’ own estimates, no company has anywhere near the production capacity needed to meet the demand, once those effective vaccines (or treatments) have been found.

Read the full THINK piece here.

Amtrak asks all customers to wear masks on trains and in stations

Amtrak is asking customers to wear masks, following the lead of multiple airlines from JetBlue to Spirit, in attempts to protect employees and slow the spread of COVID-19. 

"We strongly recommend customers follow CDC guidelines and wear facial coverings in public, including in our stations and on trains," according to new guidance on its website.

The railroad service, which operates routes across the U.S. and has been struggling to meet a profitability goal this year, said it plans to limit boarding capacity to just 50 percent and for a period of time will no longer accept cash.

The company is also trying to stop crowding on escalators and around trains by placing signs reminding people about social distancing guidance.  It also has enacted more thorough cleaning, according to its website.

The new guidelines go into effect Monday, May 11.

Lyft to require riders to wears masks

Ride-hailing platform Lyft announced Thursday that riders and drivers will be required to wear a face covering in order to book a ride. The new policy, which will launch on the Lyft app in the next few weeks, requires users to check boxes confirming they are symptom free and wearing a mask.

“If you do not certify that you will comply to those policies, you will not have access to the platform,” said Angie Westbrock, who leads Lyft’s coronavirus task force.

The app will prompt riders and drivers to commit to leaving the front seat of a vehicle empty, open vehicle windows and frequently wash hands. Drivers will also be prompted to clean “high touch” surfaces between rides. Lyft said it has invested $2.5 million in sanitation and mask supplies and ordered “hundreds of thousands of units” of hand sanitizer in an effort to help drivers keep vehicles clean. 

The policy applies to the U.S. and Canada, where Lyft operates, including in areas which may have less-stringent mask policies. Global rideshare giant Uber plans to announce a similar mask requirement in certain countries, including the United States, in the coming days, an Uber spokesperson said.