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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Duncan Hunter allowed to report to prison later because of coronavirus
Former U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, convicted of misusing campaign funds, has been granted a delay in when he must surrender to start serving his 11-month sentence.
U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan in an order filed Thursday said that Hunter must surrender to a federal prison on or before Jan. 4. Online federal court records show the previous surrender date was set for May 29.
Prosecutors and Hunter's attorney said that the delay was appropriate "due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the unknown impacts the disease will have in the coming months."
Hunter, 43, pleaded guilty in December to a corruption charge after prosecutors said he and his wife "converted and stole" more than a quarter-million dollars in campaign funds for their own use over several years.
Seattle to close 20 miles of streets permanently
Seattle is getting at least 20 linear miles of new open space after Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced Thursday that streets closed to allow people to get some exercise amid stay-at-home orders will be permanently shut down.
"People have more ways to get out safely and get out and walk and bike," she said at a news conference.
The blocks are part of of the city's Stay Healthy Streets program, announced April 17. The closed streets are intended for pedestrians, bicyclists and people engaging in exercise while practicing social distancing.
U.N. chief calls for end to virus hate speech
UNITED NATIONS — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the coronavirus pandemic keeps unleashing “a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering.”
The U.N. chief said Friday that “anti-foreigner sentiment has surged online and in the streets, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have spread, and COVID-19-related anti-Muslim attacks have occurred.”
Guterres said migrants and refugees “have been vilified as a source of the virus — and then denied access to medical treatment.”
“With older persons among the most vulnerable, contemptible memes have emerged suggesting they are also the most expendable,” he said. “And journalists, whistleblowers, health professionals, aid workers and human rights defenders are being targeted simply for doing their jobs.”
Guterres appealed “for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally.”
The secretary-general called on political leaders to show solidarity with all people, on educational institutions to focus on “digital literacy” at a time when “extremists are seeking to prey on captive and potentially despairing audiences.”
Virginia neighbors howl to ease coronavirus anxiety
U.S. says illegal crossings down at Mexico border
WASHINGTON — U.S. officials say fewer illegal immigrants are trying to enter the country from Mexico amid new enforcement rules imposed in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan says agents are encountering about half the number of migrants along the southwest border than in the month before President Donald Trump authorized the rapid expulsion of migrants under a March 21 public health order.
Total encounters in April were about 16,700.
The public health order was initially renewed for 30 days and is scheduled to expire this month. But Morgan and Deputy Commissioner Robert Perez suggested Thursday that the public health restrictions may have to stay in place longer even as the U.S. starts to ease quarantine restrictions.
Morgan also said border agents have encountered their first two migrants with confirmed cases of COVID-19. The first was from India and was captured near Calexico, California, on April 23. The second was a man from Mexico captured this week as he tried to enter the U.S. to seek medical attention for his illness.
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.