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.
- 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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American Samoa remains virus-free, official says
American Samoa is a rare place where officials say coronavirus does not exist.
Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, chairman of American Samoa Coronavirus Task Force, said Thursday, "We still don't have a confirmed case."
The U.S. territory has suspended flights from Hawaii, declared a state of emergency and put a pandemic plan into action.
It initially sent test samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for analysis but now has its own machine to do that. "We are steadily conducting tests which so far have all come back negative," Pereira said.
4th relative charged in death of Michigan guard enforcing mask rule
A fourth member of a family has been charged in connection to the fatal shooting of a Michigan security guard after an argument about a face mask requirement for shoppers.
Brya Shatonia Bishop, 24, the sister of the man accused of firing at the guard at a Flint store is accused of tampering with evidence by wiping her phone, lying to investigators and accessory after the fact to a felony, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Thursday.
Michigan State Police and the U.S. Marshals Service are searching for Bishop's brother, Ramonyea Bishop, 23, and his stepfather, Larry Teague, 44, in connection with Friday's killing at a Family Dollar store.
Off-duty officer in Alabama body slams Walmart shopper irate over face mask rule
An off-duty Alabama police officer body-slammed a Walmart customer after she refused to wear a face covering and became irate, authorities said Thursday.
The woman, who was not publicly identified, was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and other alleged crimes, police in Birmingham said.
Sgt. Rod Mauldin said the incident occurred Tuesday at a Walmart in a Birmingham shopping district.
The woman became upset after a store employee asked her to wear a face covering as a coronavirus protection before entering, Mauldin said in a statement. She refused and became “disorderly,” yelling expletives at customers and employees, he said.
The officer used a “takedown measure” to gain control of the woman because of “other threat factors in the store,” Mauldin said.
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
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."
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
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.
Frontier becomes first U.S. airline to announce temperature checks
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.