Jobless rate soars as more states ease restrictions

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: People queue for handouts of excess potatoes in Auburn
Amy Darnell rests after loading a truck for deliveries to food banks and other locations, as people queue for handouts of excess potatoes in Auburn, Wash., on May 7, 2020.David Ryder / Reuters

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In just over a month, the coronavirus has wiped out all job gains since the Great Recession and brought the country's decade-long record economic growth streak to an abrupt halt.

According to the monthly employment report released Friday by the Department of Labor, the U.S. economy lost an unprecedented 20.5 million jobs in April and the unemployment rate soared to 14.7 percent, after months at a half-century low.

The White House is considering measures aimed at providing relief, including another delay in the deadline to file federal taxes, that can be adopted without legislation from Congress, two people familiar with the discussions told NBC News.

More states are loosening restrictions, including California, where some retail, manufacturing, and logistics businesses will be allowed to reopen. Michigan will allow manufacturing firms to reopen their doors as of Monday.

The U.S. death toll stood at more than 76,700 early Friday, with more than 1.2 million cases of coronavirus, 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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Pakistan set to ease lockdown as coronavirus cases pass 26,000

Pakistan’s confirmed cases of coronavirus passed 26,000 on Friday, with the country’s lockdown expected to be lifted on Saturday. The country has seen a rapid increase in the number of cases over the past month, with approximately 1,000 new cases reported per day in the last week.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the lockdown would be reintroduced if coronavirus cases increased in the future, and distancing procedures needed to be followed by reopened businesses.

It has been reported that many health workers in Pakistan have complained of lack of proper protective equipment when they are working with those who have contracted the virus.

E.U. gives millions of masks to healthcare workers across Europe

The European Commission — the executive branch of the European Union — will start dispatching 10 million masks to health care workers across the 27-country bloc and in the U.K.

The Commission says a first batch of 1.5 million masks will be shipped to 17 member states and Britain over the next few days. The stock, purchased through an E.U. fund set up to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, will be distributed in weekly installments over the next six weeks.

“This is E.U. solidarity in action to help respond to the needs of European health systems and 3 billion euros has been mobilized from the E.U. budget to directly support national efforts,” Stella Kyriakides, commissioner for health and food safety, said on Friday.

Melinda Gates on 'TODAY' says 'I'm surprised we've wasted so much time'

Portugal PM laments international fight for medical equipment during outbreak

Portugal’s prime minister says his country has learned a tough lesson over the past two months of the pandemic: that you can’t depend on foreign suppliers for essential medical equipment.

“We can’t be relying on a market that’s uncontrolled and brutal, with an almost physical brawl going on to buy one ventilator here, another there,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Friday.

He announced plans to step up national production so that Portugal can become self-sufficient in the production of masks, personal protective equipment and ventilators. He said that if Portugal is going to move on from the current lockdown and “learn to live together with the virus,” it’s crucial that there are enough breathing machines available in case things go wrong.

Costa spoke during a visit to Portugal’s Engineering and Development Center, where a crowdfunding scheme has enabled it to produce an expected 400 breathing machines this month. The country has reported more than 25,000 cases as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data. 

Trump says he will get tested for coronavirus antibodies

President Donald Trump said Friday that he had not yet been tested for coronavirus antibodies but would be taking the test in the future.

“I will do that," Trump said in an interview with "Fox & Friends" about taking the antibody test. "Who knows, some people had it and they didn't even know they had it."

Antibody tests provide information about whether a person's immune system has developed antibodies needed to fight off a particular infection. A positive test means a person has antibodies, and therefore had the virus at some point; a negative test means a person does not have antibodies and has not yet contracted the virus. 

Trump is believed to have been in close contact with multiple people who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The White House said Thursday that Trump’s personal valet, who works in the West Wing serving the president his meals, among other duties, had tested positive for the coronavirus. In March, a Brazilian official Trump met with at Mar-a-Lago also tested positive for the virus.

Read the full story here.

FDA moves to expand testing capacity with at-home collection kits

The Food and Drug Administration has released guidelines for manufacturers to develop kits for consumers to collect samples at home to be sent off to labs for COVID-19 testing. Currently, one kit, made by LabCorp, is authorized for at-home collection. 

On Wednesday, the FDA wrote on its website that it is supportive of at-home self-collection, provided there is data  "data and science to support consumer safety and test accuracy."

Such kits would provide swabs, tubes and other tools necessary to ship specimens to a lab for analysis.

The move is meant to greatly expand the number of people able to be tested for the coronavirus. 

Lufthansa airline to fly to 106 destinations starting from June

Lufthansa airline will significantly expand its flights starting in June with trips to Mallorca, Crete and other destinations, according to a news release on Friday. The June flight schedule will include 106 destinations, although customers will continue to be asked to wear a mask during the entire journey.

The German airline is negotiating a 9 billion euro, or $9.71 billion, rescue after hundreds of its airlines were grounded due to the coronavirus.

Over the past few weeks, Germany has slowly reopened, with museums and hairdressers under strict conditions, churches opening their doors for worshippers, and more car factories resuming work. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned, however, that reopening too swiftly risks triggering a second wave of infections. The country has 167,300 confirmed cases as of Friday, with 141,700 reported as recovered. 

U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, unemployment rate spikes to 14.7 percent

The U.S. economy lost an unprecedented 20.5 million jobs in April, and the unemployment rate soared to 14.7 percent, up from 4.4 percent in March after months at a half-century low, according to the monthly employment report, released Friday by the Department of Labor.

In just over a month, the coronavirus has wiped out all job gains since the Great Recession and brought the country's decade-long record economic growth streak to an abrupt halt.

April's staggering jobless total is more than 10 times that of the previous unemployment record of 1.96 million, set in September 1945, when American soldiers returned home after World War II.

Read the full story here.

Austria won’t play 'blame game' on virus responsibility, chancellor says

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says there’s no sense in engaging in a “blame game” about who was responsible for the spread of the virus on Friday, when asked in a news conference whether the Austrian government will apologize to other countries for what happened in ski resorts such as Ischgl, where tourists were infected and carried the virus as far away as Iceland and Norway.

“I would never demand an apology from the Italians for Italian guests bringing the virus to Austrian ski resorts, because they certainly didn’t do it deliberately,” he said, adding that "it doesn’t make sense to play an international blame game about who is responsible for this pandemic.” 

Also on Friday, Kurz said restaurants in the country would reopen on May 15 as he urged Austrians to buy and consume regional products as a way to ensure an economic comeback for the country. Kurz also hinted that he hoped to open borders with Germany, tweeting that "their development is similar to ours and that's why I am very optimistic that we can find a solution here."

The government still doesn't know how many nursing homes have coronavirus outbreaks

WASHINGTON — On April 19, Medicare Administrator Seema Verma took the podium at the White House's daily coronavirus briefing to announce that the Trump administration would begin tracking outbreaks and deaths at long-term care facilities nationwide — and publish the numbers for everyone to see.

The effort would begin within days, federal officials promised.

More than two weeks and 13,000 long-term care deaths later, the federal government still has not tallied the number of nursing homes that have had outbreaks nationwide or the number of residents who have died. And the data is still weeks away from being made public, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, the federal agency that oversees nursing homes.

Read the full story here.