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White House considers scaling back daily briefings after disinfectant comments

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Georgia
Jessica King sits under a dryer at Three-13 Salon, Spa and Boutique, during the phased reopening of businesses and restaurants from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in the state, in Marietta, Ga., on April 24, 2020.Bita Honarvar / Reuters

The White House is considering scaling back President Donald Trump's daily briefings on the coronavirus pandemic as his aides and allies increasingly worry that his lengthy appearances may backfire politically.

Those concerns reached an inflection point when the president suggested on Thursday evening that people might be able to inject household cleaning items or disinfectants to deter the coronavirus, sparking immediate and universal backlash from the medical community.

The evaluation of Trump's briefings comes as the worldwide death toll for the coronavirus surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Over 20,000 of those fatalities have been in the United Kingdom, the country's health minister said Saturday, making it the fifth nation to reach that grim milestone.In China, where the pandemic began, the government reported no new deaths for a 10th straight day.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 April 26 for coronavirus news.

Savannah mayor says it's 'absolutely premature' to reopen despite governor's order

Savannah, Georgia Mayor Van Johnson is asking businesses to remain closed after Gov. Brian Kemp allowed businesses such as bowling alleys, hair salons and gyms to reopen Friday as the state continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases.

"It's absolutely premature" to reopen, Johnson said told MSNBC's Alex Witt, adding that his city is not doing widespread coronavirus testing and has not seen infections plateau for more than 14 days.

However, he's encouraging business owners who decide to open to implement a "pay it forward" system where customers can pay for services now that they can redeem weeks or months later when the threat of coronavirus has diminished.

"Pay for it now and do the appointment later. Lets' make sure we're able to continue payroll and income for these folks and just do the appointment later," said Johnson. "Some businesses have to open and again, we're not mad, we understand it's economics."

Businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters are expected to start opening on Monday. Johnson said Gov. Kemp hasn't contacted him to discuss reopening the city amid the coronavirus outbreak.

White House considering scaling back Trump's daily coronavirus briefings in coming weeks

WASHINGTON — After nearly 50 coronavirus press briefings in March and April, President Donald Trump’s aides and allies are increasingly worried that his lengthy appearances may backfire politically and White House officials say they are evaluating whether to reduce his participation in news conferences in the weeks to come.

Concerns that the pressers were hurting the president reached an inflection point Thursday evening when Trump suggested that people might be able to inject household cleaning items or disinfectants to deter the coronavirus, sparking immediate and universal backlash from the medical community.

“The president has taken questions for 49 briefings since the end of February. This president's the most accessible in modern history, the most transparent,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Saturday when asked by reporters why Trump cut the Friday briefing short, adding that he had taken “many, many” questions from reporters earlier in the day during a bill signing ceremony. It was there he told reporters his injection remarks were "sarcastic."

When asked if Trump would stop holding the briefings, McEnany said “I leave that to the president. That is entirely his decision.”

There was no briefing on the president’s schedule for Saturday, but his schedule is always subject to change.

Click here for the full story.

Florida Gov. DeSantis: No fans at sporting events through May: 'That's for TV, so people have some content'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said his plans to bring sporting events to the state are for TV viewers at home -- and at least through May, there will be no fans in attendance.

"We're not doing in-person sports yet, no matter what. That's just not going to happen in May," he said. While Floridians won't be able to enjoy sports in person, the state plans to host WWE and UFC matches as well as a golfing fundraiser with icons Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. 

"That's for TV, so people have some content," DeSantis said. He said he would like for bigger events to come to the state "but that's going to be far in the future." 

DeSantis previously declared sports an essential service, which allowed the WWE to continue to broadcast live shows from a facility outside Orlando.

He wrote in a tweet Friday that the state would be hosting a match in May with Woods, Mickelson and NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He said the event will raise millions of dollars for coronavirus relief to give "sports fans something to look forward to during this difficult time." 

Texas mayor apologizes after violating stay-at-home order to go to nail salon

The mayor of a southern Texas city apologized for violating her own stay-at-home order after a photo surfaced on social media of her at a nail salon.

The trip Tuesday by Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames to the closed salon has sparked an investigation by the district attorney.

In the image, the mayor is seen wearing a face mask as she's seated at a table with her hands in a bowl of water. According to NBC affiliate KBMT in Beaumont, the photo was taken at The Nail Bar.

Read the full story here. 

49 residents at Massachusetts nursing home have died from the coronavirus

A Massachusetts nursing home where 30 residents had died from the coronavirus said that there have been more than a dozen additional deaths.

Belmont Manor administrator Stewart Karger wrote in a letter released Friday that 49 residents have died and 116 tested positive for COVID-19. Some tests have not yet come back. 

"The loss this represents is nothing short of devastating. Our collective hearts are broken for the families of these residents, each of whom was the center of someone’s world. Rest assured that our staff did their very best to provide them both care and comfort," the letter read. 

Many of the residents are asymptomatic and Karger said they have seen "encouraging signs of recovery" among those who are showing symptoms. He said the facility is working hard to get residents healthy again. 

More than 70 staff members, many of whom are asymptomatic, have also tested positive. The ones who did not have symptoms have passed a 10-day period since testing and have returned to work, the facility said. "We remain extraordinarily appreciative of the efforts of our staff. Their professionalism, compassion and commitment has been inspiring to me personally in this challenging time," Karger wrote.

Global death toll passes 200,000

COVID-19 has killed more than 200,000 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The global death toll on Saturday reached 200,698. Fifteen days earlier, on April 10, the number of fatalities was 100,000.

More than 2.8 million cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed worldwide, including 924,000 in the United States.

New York expanding testing to health care workers, first responders, other essential employees

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that the state is expanding its testing criteria for the coronavirus to include health care workers, first responders and other essential, frontline employees "who are risking their health to get us through this crisis."

The governor said in his daily press briefing that the state is doing about 20,000 coronavirus tests daily and expects to double that capacity with help from the federal government.

Toward that end, he said he will be signing an executive order to allow more than 5,000 independent pharmacies in the state to collect samples that could be sent to laboratories for testing. 

The state is also expanding antibody testing and will start with health care workers.

News of the testing criteria expansion comes as the state saw a slight uptick in reported deaths to 437 on Friday, compared to 422 the day before. At the same time, the number of new hospitalizations in New York continues to decline.

"Our efforts are working, but we must keep it up if we want the curve to decline faster," Cuomo said.

Detroit health care worker dies after being denied coronavirus test 4 times, daughter says

Deborah Gatewood had two years to go before she could retire from a Detroit hospital.

But Gatewood, a phlebotomist for three decades, will never celebrate that milestone. She died April 17 from symptoms related to the coronavirus.

Her daughter said that prior to her mother's death she was denied a coronavirus test four times by her employer, Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills.

"They said she wasn't severe enough and that they weren't going to test her," said Kaila Corrothers, Gatewood's only child. "They told her to just go home and rest."

Read the full story here.

Why so many people are experiencing weird pandemic dreams

People around the world may be physically separated in pandemic lockdowns, but they are joined in at least one way — many are experiencing vivid and bizarre coronavirus dreams.

Nighttime visions of bugs, natural disasters and difficulties breathing are just a few of the recurring themes, traded in countless Zoom get-togethers, WhatsApp conversations and on social media, as "quarandreams" spread as quickly as the pandemic itself.

Florida-based dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg, who uses psychology to interpret people’s dreams, says lockdown stress, job and relationship worries and the sudden loss of familiar comforts have triggered a wave of surreal overnight encounters. Since the beginning of the lockdowns, she has found her Facebook inbox full of requests for appointments from people wanting to talk through their experiences.

Read the full story here.

Britain's death toll surpasses 20,000

The death toll from the coronavirus in hospitals across the U.K. has risen to 20,319 — an increase of 813 in 24 hours — the health ministry said on Saturday. The country has nearly 150,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Saturday.

Britain has the fifth-highest virus death toll in the world, after the U.S., Italy, Spain and France.  Back in mid-March the government's chief scientific adviser said that keeping the death toll below 20,000 would be a "good outcome," according to Reuters. 

As the death toll rises, the U.K. government has faced criticism over its response to the pandemic while it struggles to raise its testing capacity.