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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Cuba has 12 new COVID-19 cases, its lowest total in weeks

Cuba announced 12 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, the country's lowest total in weeks.

Of the new cases, 75 percent were asymptomatic. One person, a 77-year-old, also died, officials said.

Cuba has seen 1,741 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 74 deaths. The country, known for its focus on prevention, has been at the forefront of the global fight against COVID-19 and sent doctors to countries such as South Africa and Italy.

What's it like graduating into a recession? We want to hear old and new stories

As the coronavirus pandemic decimates the economy, students set to leave college this month had their post-graduate plans upended. Widespread hiring freezes and business closings mean finding work is a lot harder than it was three months ago. While the circumstances are different, students who graduated in 2008 and 2009 during the Great Recession faced similar challenges.

NBC News wants to hear from people who graduated in the 2008 recession and from students set to graduate this spring.

Wan Edzadatul Akmal Wan Mohamad / Getty Images/EyeEm

Pence staff member tests positive for coronavirus

An aide to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for the coronavirus, the second administration staffer known to become infected with the virus, an administration official said Friday.

Pence's flight to Des Moines was delayed by roughly an hour Friday morning, although the staffer who tested positive was not expected to travel with the vice president. Some members of the vice president's staff were seen disembarking from Air Force Two.

Read more here.

U.S. post office loss doubles as it warns COVID-19 will hit its finances

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service on Friday said it lost $4.5 billion in the quarter ending in March, more than double its loss over the same period last year, and warned COVID-19 could severely hurt its finances over the next 18 months.

The agency said its revenues rose $348 million to $17.8 billion, but noted that rising workers compensation costs in the quarter increased its expenses.

Nancy Pelosi responds to April jobs report, calls for increased COVID-19 relief and testing

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for additional coronavirus relief efforts following Friday's April jobs numbers showing the national unemployment rate at 14.7 percent.

“Our nation is in the midst of an historic health and economic crisis, and even this record-shattering April jobs report understates the suffering in our nation today," the California Democrat said in a statement.

Pelosi called for an additional Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to supplement the one signed into law by President Donald Trump in late March.

“The answer to opening up our economy is science, science, science. Our CARES 2 package must commit critical resources to the testing, tracing and treatment we need in order to have a science-based path to safely reopen our country," Pelosi said.

Friday's job numbers from the Department of Labor show 20.5 million jobs lost during the month. The unemployment rate is the worst the country has recorded since the Great Depression.

NYC man accused of selling stolen COVID-19 tests, failing to send results

A New York City man is accused of selling stolen COVID-19 tests online, falsely claiming he was connected to a lab — and when his victims sent swabs to the "lab" for testing, they never received any results.

Henry Sylvain Gindt II, 34, of Queens, was charged with committing mail fraud and wire fraud, and conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.

Gindt obtained the stolen test kits from a lab employee, then advertised the testing services on his website for YouHealth Inc., advertising the stolen testing services for $135 to $200, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady.

"Once the testing kit services (including the nasal swabs used for collection and packaging to send to the lab) were ordered, Gindt would have them overnighted to consumers with a request to then complete a medical questionnaire to screen for COVID-19 symptoms," authorities said in the release. "Gindt II sent the test kits to consumers via FedEx overnight using the FedEx account in the name of an entity identified in the complaint as 'Lab' and an individual identified as 'T. A.'  Gindt II directed consumers to swab themselves and send their test kits to 'Lab' for testing.  The consumers never received any test results."

The case began after a resident from western Pennsylvania tipped off authorities about an email from Gindt advertising his testing services scheme. His websites for YouHealth.shop and YouHealth.me were shut down in mid-April.

Number of people in some NYC parks will be limited

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that capacity would be limited at certain parks that got busy last weekend.

The number of people allowed into Hudson River Park's Piers 45 and 46 on Manhattan's West Side and Domino Park in Brooklyn will be limited, and people will be asked to leave after a certain amount of time to make space for social distancing.

"Why are we doing this? Because it saves lives and that’s what we’re going to tell people from the beginning," he said.

The mayor said if the initiative works it will be applied to more places. 

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office released data late Thursday that showed of the 40 people arrested for social distancing violations in the borough since mid-March, 35 were black and four were Hispanic. All of the cases were dropped, but de Blasio tweeted that "the disparity in the numbers does NOT reflect our values."

"Our police officers are being asked to do something they've never trained for," de Blasio said Friday. 

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.

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