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

Sen. Duckworth wants stimulus checks for parents of babies born this year

Almost all Americans who qualified for a stimulus check received theirs in the last month, but one key group currently doesn’t meet the criteria for the much-needed relief: new parents.

Since the program, as part of the CARES Act, is based on earnings for the previous year, parents of children born on or after January 1, 2020 have to wait one year to receive $500 per child, money that other eligible parents are already benefitting from. 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., — along with a bipartisan group of senators, including Tim Scott, R-S.C., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mike Braun, I-Ind. — has an idea on how to fix it. 

The Newborn CARES Act would waive the existing rules and require the Internal Revenue Service to develop a system to provide payments to families with newborns once a Social Security Number is assigned to the child. The senators hope to have their bill included as part of the next CARES package, and would need Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get on board.

“It’s just common sense, it doesn’t cost any more money which is a big selling point,” Duckworth told NBC News. “Families with newborn babies that are experiencing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic can’t wait until next year to send in their rent checks or pay for diapers and a new car seat."

Cast of "Community" to reunite for relief efforts

Cast of "Community" television show.Sony Pictures Television

The cast of cult comedy “Community” is reuniting for a virtual table read to benefit COVID-19 relief efforts, according to Variety.

The May 18th show will feature castmembers Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong and Donald Glover, whose return marks the first time the actor, comedian, and artist has joined a “Community” event since his much-discussed departure from the show in 2014.

The table read will center on the season five episode "Cooperative Polygraphy," which featured characters gathering for the funeral of Pierce Hawthorne (previously played by Chevy Chase).

Creator Dan Harmon will also join the table read and fan Q&A, which will be livestreamed at 5 p.m. ET on the “Community” YouTube channel. Fans are encouraged to submit questions on social media using #AskCommunity and tag @CommunityTV.

The ensemble joins a growing list of TV and movie reunions spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. The event will raise funds for World Central Kitchen and Frontline Foods, which work to get meals to frontline responders in vulnerable communities across the country.


The Week in Pictures

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California governor: All registered voters will receive mail-in ballots

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, citing risks brought by the coronavirus pandemic, on Friday ordered election officials to mail all registered voters in the state a ballot that can be filled out at home.

Each county clerk is required to mail ballots before November's election because no "Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote," Newsom said.

"I think that's huge, there's no safer, physically distancing, healthier  way to exercise your right to vote than from the safety and convenience or your own home," California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said.

President Donald Trump has said he's opposed to voting by mail, though he admitted to casting his ballot by mail in Florida's recent presidential primary. 

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.