Nearly 3 million more Americans file jobless claims

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.

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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.

Disney shutters 'Frozen' on Broadway for good

Disney Theatrical Productions said Thursday it was shutting down its Broadway production of "Frozen" for good.

It had produced 851 performances since 2018 before it was shut down as a result of New York's ban on large gatherings March 12. 

"We are heartbroken to announce that Frozen will not reopen once Broadway returns," Disney said on Twitter. 

Broadway's Actors’ Equity Association said in a statement that "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Hangmen," in previews as the ban on large gatherings was enacted, have also closed permanently.

"Public officials at all levels must think much more boldly about supporting the arts or our entire economy will be slower to recover," the group's executive directly, Mary McColl, said in the statement.

Mississippi casinos given OK to reopen May 21

The Mississippi Gaming Commission said Thursday that casinos in the state can start reopening May 21 — more than two months after the commission closed them because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The reopening is allowed just before the Memorial Day weekend, which usually marks the beginning of the summer tourist season.

Gaming Commission executive director Allen Godfrey confirmed the reopening date to WLOX-TV and the Sun Herald. He said the commission will release an order Friday with safety guidelines, which are expected to include requirements for social distancing between customers and frequent cleaning of slot machines and other equipment.

The commission closed Mississippi’s state-regulated casinos March 16. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has closed other types of businesses to try to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus, and he has allowed many to reopen. He said Thursday that the commission makes the “final and official” decision about reopening casinos.

Former MLB player and manager Art Howe in ICU

Art Howe in the Mets dugout during a game against the Seattle Mariners in 2003.Nancy Scariati / WireImage/Getty Images file

Former Major League Baseball player and manager Art Howe is in intensive care fighting coronavirus, he told a Houston television station Thursday.

Howe told NBC affiliate KPRC he tested positive for coronavirus this month and has lost his sense of taste.

“That’s the thing. My tastebuds still aren’t there," he said. "I know I should eat but nothing at all makes you want to eat.”

The 73-year-old Howe played for the Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals and was an MLB manager for 14 seasons. He's best known for a seven-season run leading the Oakland A's during the club's "Moneyball" era between 1996-2002.

The A's, Astros and Mets all issued statements Thursday, wishing the best for their former manager.

 

Americans are moving again — see how driving, walking and transit are returning to normal

Americans are moving again. Or, at least, they're looking for directions again.

After two months of social distancing and staying home to curb the spread of the coronavirus, data from Apple suggests that people in several cities, most of them where reopening plans are in place, are starting to venture outside their homes again.

Apple began publishing data in April showing the change in searches for directions in Apple Maps in about 70 U.S. cities. And while the data showed clear drop-offs in requests for transit, walking and driving directions in March, search volume has moved back to pre-coronavirus levels in seven cities.

Read the full story here

Abbott COVID-19 test — used by White House — could be inaccurate, FDA warns

The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert Thursday warning that a common COVID-19 diagnostic test could be giving inaccurate results.

President Donald Trump recently touted Abbott Labs' ID NOW point-of-care test, which is used by hospitals across the country, as the test used to screen him and those around him.

Read more. 

USNS Mercy to leave Los Angeles, but some personnel will remain

The Navy hospital ship the USNS Mercy will leave Los Angeles on Friday, officials said, although some medical personnel will remain in the area to help amid the coronavirus epidemic, the military said.

The Mercy was one of two Navy hospital ships dispatched to help in the pandemic, which has been linked to more than 86,100 deaths in the country as of Thursday according to an NBC News count. The other ship, the USNS Comfort, was sent to New York City and left there late last month.

The Mercy's mission was not to treat patients suffering from COVID-19, but to handle other patients in order to ease the burden on hospital systems.

Around 60 medical staff from the Mercy will remain in the Los Angeles area to provide care at nursing facilities. The Mercy's home port is in San Diego.  

Los Angeles County health officials on Thursday reported 925 newly identified cases of COVID-19 and an additional 51 deaths from the disease. There have been more than 35,300 cases and 1,700 deaths in the county, according to the health department.

TikTok cereal stunt on NYC subway amid pandemic is 'despicable,' transit authority says

A man dumping a large tub of cereal on a subway car for a TikTok stunt was called out by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for putting unnecessary strain on essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The TikTok account “fckjoshy” posted a video on Tuesday to the account in which the man drops a large storage tub of milk and cereal on the floor of a subway train, presumably as a prank. The video gained 3.2 million views on the app before someone posted the clip to Twitter, where it received another 5 million views.

A prank on a NYC subway circulates via TikTok.MTA

The MTA condemned the unidentified man’s stunt for the strain it put on essential workers amid the pandemic on Wednesday.

“A new low: Pulling a prank on essential workers in the middle of a global pandemic,” the MTA said on its official Twitter account. “And making essential workers clean up your mess. Despicable.”

Read the full story here. 

CDC issues alert to doctors on rare COVID-19 'mystery illness' in kids

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health alert to physicians Thursday on what has emerged as a rare but potentially deadly condition linked to COVID-19 in children.

The illness, which the CDC calls "multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children," or MIS-C, has been reported in at least 19 states and Washington, D.C. It was previously referred to as pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

At least 110 cases have been reported in New York, and three young people — ages 5, 7 and 18 — have died. New Jersey has at least 17 cases, and California has six. Other states, such as Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Washington, have reported small numbers of cases.

Read the full story here. 

Areas with no social distancing see 35 times the amount of coronavirus spread, study finds

Researchers found that social distancing policies can reduce the daily growth of new coronavirus cases by as much as 9 percent, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Health Affairs.

The study, which looked at confirmed cases in the United States between March 1 and April 27, found that the longer the social distancing policy was in effect, the slower the growth rate was of COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus. For policies that lasted 16 to 20 days, the rate plunged 9.1 percent.

No social distancing policies could lead to 35 times more cases, the study found.

The policies the researchers studied include bans on large events, shelter-in-place orders and the closure of gyms, bars, restaurants and other businesses.

The researchers, from the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and Georgia State University, found that by April 7, 95 percent of the U.S. had mandated social distancing measures. Most states have begun allowing businesses to reopen, those plans vary widely from state to state.