Nearly 3 million more Americans file jobless claims

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Around 2.98 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment claims last week, more than economist expectations of 2.7 million, and the eighth straight week of numbers in the millions. More than 36.5 million unemployment claims have been filed since the COVID-19 pandemic struck two months ago.

Meanwhile, a Health and Human Services whistle blower, Dr. Rick Bright, warned Congress on Thursday that "2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history" without clear action against the coronavirus.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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NYC now has 100 children with rare syndrome linked to COVID-19

New York City now has 100 cases of children with a rare inflammatory syndrome thought to be linked to the coronavirus, including one child who has died, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

That is up from 52 cases of the illness, called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, that the mayor reported for the city on Tuesday.

De Blasio also cited other figures that were more positive.

Hospital admissions for people with COVID-19 are down to 59 from 78 as of May 11, the mayor said. The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units is also down to 517 from 561, while the percentage of tests showing positive cases of the virus dipped to 11 percent from 13 percent. 

He credited social distancing guidelines and people's wearing face coverings while out in public for the improved numbers. "Today is a very good day," de Blasio said. 

New York City plans to expand testing for residents to those who have had close contact with a coronavirus patient and to people who work in settings such as nursing homes and shelters. T

Photos: Boarded-up storefronts are magnets for graffiti in New York City

John Taggart / for NBC News

The blank plywood panels that went up over stores in New York have not remained blank for long. See more of John Taggart's photographs of the graffiti appearing in the closed city. 

Patient dances out of hospital after recovering from COVID-19

A heartwarming video shows healthcare workers cheering for a patient who danced out of the hospital after spending nearly 30 days there fighting COVID-19.

Tom Berisha, 49, was first admitted to New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan for COVID-19 treatment in early April. After some 27 days in the hospital fighting the virus, he was finally well enough to be discharged. 

In the video posted on social media by New York-Presbyterian Hospital, healthcare workers line the hospital’s hallway clapping and cheering as Berisha is wheeled out in a wheelchair. Berisha, visibly emotional as he is reunited with his family, then stands up and dances. Hospital employees roar in excitement. 

“To finally see him standing up, reuniting with his family, and going home to get better was overwhelming,” Cynthia Quezada, a clinical nurse manager, said in a statement released by New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “We really appreciate the success stories through this pandemic. It is a light at the end of the tunnel for the patient and for the staff.”

Vietnam determined to save British pilot in order to avoid its first COVID-19 death

Vietnam has mounted an all-out effort to save the life of its most critically ill coronavirus patient, a British pilot who works for Vietnam Airlines. Through aggressive testing and a mass, centralized quarantine program, the Southeast Asian country has kept its tally of total cases to just 288 as of Thursday, and has reported no deaths.

Little expense has been spared to try to save the life of the 43-year-old man, identified only as "Patient 91", who caught the virus at a bar in Ho Chi Minh City in mid-March, state media reported. More than 4,000 people connected to the cluster were tested, with 18 of them found to be infected.

While most have recovered, the British pilot is on life support and his condition has deteriorated significantly. On Tuesday, the health ministry held a meeting with experts from top hospitals and decided that the only way to save the man's life was with a lung transplant.

His case has garnered national interest in Vietnam, where the government has won broad support for its campaign to contain the outbreak. On Thursday, state media said 10 people — including a 70-year-old military veteran — had volunteered themselves as lung donors, but had been turned down by state doctors.

First coronavirus case detected in Rohingya refugee camp

The first confirmed coronavirus case has been detected in a Bangladesh camp, home to more than one million Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar, officials said on Thursday.

An ethnic Rohingya refugee and another person had tested positive for COVID-19, a senior Bangladeshi official and a U.N. spokeswoman said. The camps are more densely populated than most crowded cities on earth.

Aid workers have warned of a potential humanitarian disaster if there is a significant outbreak in the refugee camps outside Cox's Bazar. As many as 60,000 to 90,000 people are jammed into each square kilometer, with families of up to a dozen sharing small shelters.

The Obamas, Oprah Winfrey collaborate on Chicago library initiative

The Obamas and Oprah Winfrey are among the Chicagoans joining "Live from the Library," an initiative aimed at bringing daily storytime to children everywhere. 

"I remember my first trip to the library and how important I felt," Michelle Obama said during a live reading on Wednesday. "My library card was a key that unlocked a world of knowledge and experiences." 

Chicago Public Library launched the initiative after its branches were forced to close for the first time in more than 150 years amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The reading program occurs every weekday at 10:00 a.m. CT and will be livestreamed on CPL's Facebook and Instagram pages. The Chicago Public Library is also partnering with the Obama Foundation to bring another CPL branch to the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.


The coronavirus has destroyed the job market in every state

Weekly percent change in new unemployment claims compared with the same period one year earlier. Georgia, Kentucky, Hawaii and Connecticut have seen the largest percentage of cuts, with around 1-in-3 workers in each of those states losing their jobs.

Read more here.

More than 2.9 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment claims last week, the continuation of a downward trend as more workers return to their jobs after coronavirus-induced lockdowns are lifted across the country.

Normally, that would be an astonishing figure, sending the total number of Americans laid off their jobs over eight weeks past 36.5 million. But there has been a steady decline in the number of weekly claims since mid-March, when first-time filings peaked at 6.9 million in just one week.

States may finally be getting through the backlogs of filers that initially overwhelmed their antiquated systems, while the onslaught of first-time applications may also be tapering off after two months of closure due to coronavirus.

Continuing claims, a metric that captures the total number of people receiving ongoing benefits, is now at around 22.8 million. That number represents one week of lag time behind initial claims.

Restaurant uses toy pandas to ensure social distancing for diners

Two-minute silence held for Spanish health workers who died with COVID-19

A two-minute silence was observed outside hospitals and medical clinics across Spain on Wednesday, as tributes were paid to the 49 medical workers who unions said had died from COVID-19. Doctors, nurses and other health care workers held up signs with black ribbons, remembering their fallen colleagues before breaking out into a round of applause.


In a statement, the Forum of the Spanish Medical Profession and the State Confederation of Medical Unions encouraged social media users to join in the tribute online, sending images, videos or messages of remembrance for doctors who had helped fight the pandemic. In Madrid, the Committee on Health of the Congress of Deputies began its session by observing the two-minute silence.

The tribute came on the same day the Spanish Ministry of Health announced 506 new cases of the disease had been registered in the country, and an additional 217 deaths, bringing Spain's total number of cases and deaths to 229,540 and 27,321 respectively. A nationwide antibody study published by the ministry on Wednesday found about 5 percent of the country's population had contracted the virus.