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

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE

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:

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading May 9 coronavirus news.

Birx to help lead remdesivir distribution effort as hospitals struggle to access drug

Dr. Deborah Birx has been tapped to help manage the distribution of remdesivir to hospitals nationwide, the White House said Friday, amid growing frustration among physicians who say they have been unable to access the drug for their sickest COVID-19 patients.

Birx — a key member of the White House's coronavirus task force — is the person "who's constantly reviewing the numbers, constantly reviewing the data," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a briefing Friday. "She really has the best grasp as to how that should be distributed, so she will be one of the chief consultants."

Read more. 

Pence's press secretary tests positive for coronavirus

One of Vice President Mike Pence's closest aides, press secretary Katie Miller, confirmed to NBC News that she has tested positive for the coronavirus — making her the second administration staffer known to have become infected this week.

Miller, the wife of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, said she tested positive on Friday after testing negative on Thursday. She said she's asymptomatic.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that Miller had tested negative recently.

"She's a wonderful young woman, Katie," Trump said during a meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House. "She tested very good for a long period of time, and then all of a sudden today she tested positive. She hasn't come into contact with me, spent some time with the vice president. So she tested positive out of the blue."

Read the full story here.

Rural Maine retail stores, restaurants can soon reopen with restrictions

Maine Gov. Janet Mills said Friday that retail stores and restaurants could begin reopening with restrictions over the next two weeks in certain rural counties where community transmission of coronavirus was not present. 

“With low case counts, no evidence of community transmission, and, now, expanded testing capacity, we believe it is appropriate to gradually lift some limitations on certain businesses in our rural counties with health and safety precautions to protect public health,” Mills said in a statement.

The counties subject to the reopenings were: Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock, Somerset, Franklin, Oxford, Kennebec, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc.

Starting on May 11, retail stores in those counties can reopen with restrictions; restaurants in those counties can open with safety precautions beginning on May 18.

Oregon strip club pivots to preparing food, and its dancers deliver

The Lucky Devil Lounge, a strip club in Portland, Oregon, has transformed itself into Lucky Devil Eats to stay afloat during the global pandemic.

Its dancers deliver food made in the strip club's kitchen, and those who order takeout from Food 2 Go-Go get to enjoy an in-car experience that includes performances, music and lights under canopies.

After closing in March under stay-at-home orders, owner Shon Boulden decided on March 17, St. Patrick's Day, to pivot to food delivery and takeout to keep his cooks and dancers working.

Read the full story.

New drug trial looks at remdesivir combined with anti-inflammatory

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has begun a trial looking at the effects of remdesivir combined with a second drug, called baricitinib, on treating COVID-19. 

The study builds upon a previous NIAID trial, which found that remdesivir reduced patients' hospital stays from 15 days to 11 days, on average.

“We now have solid data showing that remdesivir diminishes to a modest degree the time to recovery for people hospitalized with COVID-19,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of NIAID, said in a statement released Friday.  The new trial "will examine if adding an anti-inflammatory agent to the remdesivir regimen can provide additional benefit for patients, including improving mortality outcomes.”

Baricitinib (brand name: Olumiant) is an anti-inflammatory drug made by Ely Lilly that's approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The trial will enroll more than 1,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, who will receive either remdesivir alone or remdesivir plus baricinitib. 

Senators urge federal contractor accused of flouting CDC rules to meet with worried workers

Six U.S. senators on Friday urged a federal contractor accused of failing to follow social distancing guidelines at a Mississippi call center to meet with workers worried about their safety.

Their letter came after a whistleblower claimed in an NBC News report that Maximus, which hired her to provide callers with coronavirus information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was not following CDC guidelines and exposed dozens of workers to the virus.

Read more here.

NYPD says 81% of social distancing citations went to blacks, Latinos

The New York Police Department said it has issued 374 summonses tied to social distancing enforcement from March 16 through May 5, with 89 percent issued to men and 81 percent to people identified as black or Latino.

The department had about 1 million contacts with the public regarding social distancing in that period, including visits to pharmacies, supermarkets, bars, restaurants, parks and other institutions and establishments, it said.

A total of 193 summonses, or 51.6 percent, were issued to blacks; 111, or 29.7, percent to Latinos, with the majority of enforcement occurring in the in the Brooklyn patrol borough, the department said.

Of all summonses, 66 percent went to people between the ages of 20 and 39, with 46 percent going to people ages 20 to 29.

Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage

The morgue worker, the body bags and the daffodils [The New York Times]

Prioritize play when schools reopen, say mental health experts [The Guardian]

Op-ed: The freefall economy will scar these Americans worst [The Daily Beast]

Live animal markets should not be closed despite virus, WHO says

The World Health Organization said Friday that although a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan selling live animals likely played a significant role in the emergence of the new coronavirus, it does not recommend that such markets be shut down globally.

In a press briefing, WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek said live animal markets are critical to providing food and livelihoods for millions of people globally and that authorities should focus on improving them rather than outlawing them — even though they can sometimes spark epidemics in humans.

He said reducing the risk of disease transmission from animals to humans in these often overcrowded markets could be addressed in many cases by improving hygiene and food safety standards, including separating live animals from humans.

He added that it was still unclear whether the market in Wuhan linked to the first several dozens of coronavirus cases in China was the actual source of the virus or merely played a role in spreading the disease further.

'Can I carry the empty ones?': Pence caught joking about delivery of boxes on hot mic

Vice President Mike Pence's delivery of personal protective equipment to a nursing home in Virginia came complete with a joke offer to carry empty boxes, video of the delivery shows.

An out-of-context video snippet of the moment went viral on Friday thanks to comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

Complete video of the moment shows that after delivering several packages of equipment to the Woodbine Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Alexandria on Thursday, Pence offered to take more boxes from the back of the delivery van. The van's driver then tells him, "Those boxes are empty, sir."

"Can I carry the empty ones? Just for the cameras?" Pence asks the driver, who laughs and says, "They're a lot easier." A smiling Pence then closes the van doors and goes to talk to reporters. Pence's quip blew up on social media after Kimmel played a snippet of it on his ABC late-night show "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

Read the full story here.

Fact check: Trump claims national stockpile 'was bare.' It wasn't.

"The cupboard was bare when we took it over," Trump said on Friday, referring again to the Strategic National Stockpile. "We had nothing."

We've fact checked this claim before — it's false.