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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N.J. nursing home where 17 bodies were stuffed into tiny morgue hit with $220K fine

The New Jersey nursing home where 17 bodies were found stuffed into a tiny morgue last month was hit with a hefty fine after federal inspectors found that residents there were put at risk of "serious injury, harm impairment or death."

The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II facility in Sussex County must pay $220,235 — more than $14,000 for each day that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) found the "facility was not in substantial compliance with federal requirements" between April 6 and April 20. The home also faces other fines, and the monetary penalties will accrue "until substantial compliance is achieved or termination occurs," according to a statement released Thursday by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.

The nursing home currently has 133 residents and 54 staff members who have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the congressman. In total, 94 residents and one staff member have died.

The report detailed specific instances of disturbing neglect and violations at the home, the statement said.

In one instance, a resident had fallen on the floor by the bed, and got a head abrasion. The resident was pronounced dead the next day. A physician's report read: “Found dead this am ... not performed Physical-COVID-19 test was done? ... High fever for the last few days — that was not brought to my attention. Flu like illness, likely COVID-19.”

French doctors find man who may be Europe's 'patient zero'

Health investigators around the world are racing back in time.

While it was thought COVID-19 only began to spread beyond China and across Europe in January and February, French doctors this week said they have established the coronavirus was already present in Paris by late December — a month before the country’s first official recorded case and two and a half months before a nationwide lockdown.

The patient, Amirouche Hammar, 43, from the suburbs of Paris, has been dubbed France’s potential “patient zero” by researchers and was possibly even the first case in Europe.

The French team is among researchers across the world now poring over old medical reports hunting for clues from the very start of the COVID-19 outbreak, hoping to paint a wider, more accurate picture of how the virus spread so quickly.

Read more here.

FDA clears way for first mail-in COVID-19 spit test

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first test that uses saliva, rather than an uncomfortable nasal swab, to diagnose COVID-19.

On Friday, the FDA gave Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory in New Jersey an emergency use authorization for its test with an option for at-home sample collection, which would allow patients to spit into a provided tube and send it back to the lab in a sealed envelope for testing. 

"Authorizing additional diagnostic tests with the option of at-home sample collection will continue to increase patient access to testing for COVID-19," Dr. Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner, said in a press release. 

"This provides an additional option for the easy, safe and convenient collection of samples required for testing without traveling to a doctor's office, hospital or testing site," he said.

Amtrak's Acela line resuming service on June 1

The Acela line, Amtrak's upscale service between Boston and Washington, D.C., will be back on track in three weeks, the rail service announced on Friday.

Beginning June 1, there will be three weekday Acela round trips, and the frequency of Northeast Regional round trips will be increased from eight to 10, Amtrak said.

Acela service has been shuttered for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Amtrak also announced that all riders, starting immediately, are required to wear facial coverings on board trains and in stations.

70 percent of U.S. Olympic sports applied for government funds

At least 70 percent of U.S. Olympic sports organizations have applied for government funds during the coronavirus pandemic, a stark financial reality that underscores the frailties within the world's most dominant Olympic sports system.

The Associated Press surveyed 44 of the country's national governing bodies (NGBs) -- the organizations charged with operating programs from the grassroots through the Olympic levels in sports that run the gamut from badminton to basketball.

 All but four of the 36 NGBs that responded said they had applied for assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program. Not all the organizations revealed how much they received, but those who did have been approved for a cumulative total of about $12 million.

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.