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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Colombian company creates bed that can double as coffin

Rodolfo Gomez and his employees demonstrate a cardboard box they say can serve as both a hospital bed and a coffin. Fernando Vergara / AP

BOGOTA, Colombia — A Colombian advertising company is pitching a novel if morbid solution to shortages of hospital beds and coffins during the coronavirus pandemic: combine them.

ABC Displays has created a cardboard bed with metal railings that designers say can double as a casket if a patient dies.

Read the full story.

Sheriff sues China over virus-related losses

The sheriff of a Louisiana parish filed a federal lawsuit Friday against China, claiming it essentially unleashed coronavirus.

Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards is the brother of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who said Friday that state Attorney General Jeff Landry was considering the state's own lawsuit against China. The sheriff's filing in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana seeks damages of $700,000.

The claim, filed "on behalf of all Sheriffs in the United States of America," alleges China's actions have translated to "lack of foreclosures and sales, lack of court fees, and decreased tax revenue."

After Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a similar lawsuit against the Chinese government last month, a China Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said, "These so-called lawsuits are purely malicious abuses."

Woman heartbroken by Smithfield Foods' response to grandfather's death from coronavirus

A Nebraska woman said she's heartbroken by the response she got from Smithfield Foods after reaching out to share that her grandfather had died from coronavirus and that her aunt and uncle, employees at a plant for the world's largest pork processor, also became ill.

"My grandpa was a very sweet old man," Vy Mai, 22, told NBC News. "He cared about his family, his family was basically all that he had. He really cared about his grandkids, his siblings, his children. He was overall a very selfless person."

Tam Mai, 80, lived with relatives who work at the Smithfield Foods facility in Crete, Nebraska, and recently tested positive for the coronavirus, his granddaughter said. She said he rarely left the house but had underlying health conditions, including heart disease.

Read the full story. 

Brazil's doctors urge more stringent measures

Brazil's doctors are calling for stricter measures as the daily coronavirus death toll shows little sign of easing — while the nation’s turbulent politics threaten to undermine efforts to combat the spread of the outbreak.

Case numbers have been doubling approximately every five days, and according to a recent study by Imperial College London, Brazil has the highest transmission rate of any major country.

“Last week, we reached the lowest peak of quarantine compliance, and this week more serious cases started to appear,” said Amanda Ferreira Santa Barbara, 26, a doctor at Sao Paulo’s Unifesp training hospital.

Read the full story.

No masks and little social distancing at White House meeting

WASHINGTON — Two White House aides may have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past two days, but President Donald Trump continued to hold public events Friday with limited social distancing and without requiring participants to wear face masks.

Two dozen House Republicans gathered with Trump and other administration officials in the State Dining Room at the White House Friday afternoon to discuss the country's economic recovery from the pandemic. None of the attendees wore a mask.

“I do want to advise our media friends before they write stories about how we didn’t wear masks and we didn’t possibly socially distance adequately, that you saw to it that we had tests, and that nobody in here had the coronavirus unless it's somebody in the media,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, during the meeting.

Read the full story.

Apple to reopen some stores next week

Apple will reopen a handful of its stores across the country starting next week, the company said Friday.

The first Apple Store to reopen since the country went into lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will be on Monday in Boise, Idaho. Later in the week Apple will reopen some stores in South Carolina, Alabama and Alaska.

Shopping won’t be as it was before the pandemic, a spokesperson for Apple said. The company will require all shoppers to wear masks and maintain six feet of distance between all shoppers and employees. All customers will also be subject to temperature checks, the company said. If someone attempts to enter who is running a higher-than normal-temperature, they will be asked to leave.

Read the full story.

Hyatt, American Airlines to give staff at Elmhurst hospital free vacations

Hyatt Hotels and American Airlines are joining forces to to give more than 4,000 employees at hard-hit Elmhurst hospital in New York City complimentary vacations when they are able to take time off, the companies announced Friday

The three-night vacations will include roundtrip flights to destinations in the United States and Caribbean, as well as hotel accommodations, according to a news release. Members of both companies' loyalty programs can donate their miles or points to help support the cause 

“We are extremely grateful to Hyatt and American Airlines for this generous gift to our healthcare workers, who have been at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Israel Rocha, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, in a news release.

“Our doctors, nurses, and other staff on the front lines of this unprecedented healthcare crisis really appreciate the outpouring of support from two of America’s major companies," she continued, "and we look forward to taking advantage of these well-earned vacations in the near future.”

Elmhurst is one of the hardest-hit hospitals in New York, the center of the nation's coronavirus outbreak. 

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

Stay-at-home orders flouted, a nursing home drone and a glimpse at what dining may look like in the near future. See more of the most compelling photos from the last week