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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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading May 15 coronavirus news.

Democratic governors say their states are underprepared for a second wave of coronavirus

In a virtual roundtable discussion with apparent Democratic nominee Joe Biden, three prominent Democratic governors all acknowledged that they are underprepared for a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases later this year. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that until there’s a vaccine, the best thing states have is testing — but indicated that her state would face a shortage of critical testing supplies.

"We have the capabilities to continue ramping up testing. We’re able to execute the tests, we’ve got the tracing capabilities to follow up where we’ve got positives. But what we don’t have are some of the critical simple supplies. Swabs, which is really not a hard thing to manufacture,” Whitmer said.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, for his part, said his state still had a lot of work to do to restock hospital bed capacity, PPE and ventilators. “Are we prepared for a rebound in the fall or winter, I would say we are trying to get there,” he said.” We’re not there yet, though. Without question we’re not there yet.”

And Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said he’d have a stronger stockpile of critical equipment in place if a second wave “comes about,” but that he’d want control of the supply chain for it in the hands of governors — not the Trump administration. "I don’t want to be sitting around waiting for the national stockpile to decide they can send it to me,” Lamont said. “I want to make sure next time around we control our own destiny.”

CDC releases some of its reopening guidelines

U.S. health officials on Thursday released some of their long-delayed guidance that schools, businesses and other organizations can use as states reopen from coronavirus shutdowns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted six one-page “decision tool” documents that use traffic signs and other graphics to tell organizations what they should consider before reopening.

 

The tools are for schools, workplaces, camps, childcare centers, mass transit systems, and bars and restaurants. The CDC originally also authored a document for churches and other religious facilities, but that wasn't posted Thursday. The agency declined to say why.

The CDC drafted the guidance more than a month ago and it was initially shelved by the Trump administration, The Associated Press reported last week.

The agency also had prepared even more extensive guidance — about 57 pages of it — that has not been posted.

FBI seizing Sen. Burr's phone sign investigation moving into 'intense phase'

NBC News' Pete Williams breaks down Sen. Richard Burr's decision to step down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee after the FBI opened an investigation into possible insider trading stemming from a briefing on the coronavirus.

Broadway stars are giving personal performances to benefit out-of-work artists

Former "Aladdin" star Telly Leung, performs a "SingforHopeGram" for nurses at Hackensack Meridian Medical Center.Sing for Hope

Following the announcement that Broadway would remain dark through the summer, the organization “Sing for Hope,” which focuses on uplifting individuals using the performing arts throughout New York City and the world, launched a new initiative called “SingforHopeGrams.”

Individuals can order personal telegrams to send to their loved ones that are sung by Broadway stars, classical artists, Grammy winners such as former "Aladdin" cast member Telly Leung, "Ain’t Too Proud" star Jelani Remy, and Heather Makalani Manley from "Emojiland."

All of the proceeds from the telegrams go towards programs that bring comfort to vulnerable members of the community as well as the working artists who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization said they created the initiative in order to “help lift the spirits and bring joy to those isolated while also benefitting artists from Broadway, opera, and more who are reeling financially due to the pandemic.”  

The telegrams can also be tailored to special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, or graduation ceremonies.

'Fewer graves if we reopen in waves': At-risk North Carolina man flies banner over anti-lockdown protest

An immunocompromised North Carolina man hired a plane to deliver a message to people who are protesting the state’s stay-at-home order. 

The message, “FEWER GRAVES IF WE REOPEN IN WAVES,” was towed by a plane over a ReOpenNC protest in Raleigh on Tuesday. Todd Stiefel, the man behind the viral stunt, told NBC affiliate WRAL that he wanted to deliver the message to protesters in person, but couldn’t because of his weakened immune system.

“They don’t care about other people’s health. If they did, they would be wearing masks and social distancing,” Stiefel told WRAL

North Carolina is currently in its first phase of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We do need to start opening the economy. We do need to do that, but we need to balance it by listening to the science, taking it slowly and not spreading this disease everywhere,” Stiefel said

110 children in New York with inflammatory syndrome

The New York State Department of Health is now looking into 110 cases of a rare inflammatory syndrome believed to be linked to COVID-19 in children.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the new cases during a media briefing Thursday. "Parents should be informed," Cuomo said, adding that three young people, ages 5, 7 and 18, have died in that state.

The condition was identified just within the past few weeks, and has been tentatively called "pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome." The illness mirrors many of the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, including severe inflammation of the coronary arteries.

NBC News has learned of suspected cases in at least 17 other states, as well as several European countries. 

Tesla gets clearance to move ahead in reopening

Tesla was officially given the go-ahead on Wednesday to "ramp up minimum basic operations in order to prepare for operations next week," according to a release from the Alameda County Public Health Department.

The county received on Monday Tesla's plan for reopening. The following day it responded with additional safety recommendations that needed to be included for Tesla to move forward with reopening, which it has done.

Wednesday's announcement comes after Tesla CEO Elon Musk moved to reopen his Fremont, California assembly plant on Monday in defiance of a county health order aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. The original plan discussed with the county was to open around May 18 if health conditions didn't worsen in the area.

Musk's decision to reopen early alarmed some workers, who said they didn't plan to return to work until the order was officially lifted by the county.

American missionary pilot dies in plane crash while bringing COVID-19 tests to Indonesian village

An American missionary pilot died in a plane crash while trying to deliver COVID-19 rapid test kits to a remote Indonesian village, officials said

Joyce Lin.Mission Aviation Fellowship

Joyce Lin, 40, departed the Sentani, Papua, Indonesia airport Tuesday morning in a Kodiak aircraft heading for the village of Mamit in the Papua highlands when the plane crashed into Lake Sentani. 

Lin was a missionary with the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), serving as a pilot and field IT support specialist, the organization said in a news release. The MIT graduate had been stationed in Indonesia for two years.

“The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) family is deeply saddened by the loss of their colleague and friend, Joyce Lin,” the organization wrote. “Joyce was a light reflecting Jesus, and she will be deeply missed.”

Gov. Cuomo says central New York can partially reopen May 15

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that central New York state has now met all seven metrics to begin reopening on Friday.

On Monday the governor announced that three upstate regions are ready to begin reopening on Friday. He said the state would allow certain low-risk businesses and activities to resume operating, including landscaping, outdoor recreation activities such as tennis and drive-in movie theaters.

The governor said that the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley have met the criteria to reopen.