Some states ease restrictions as protestors call for reopening economy

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This weekend marked the beginning of several states easing restrictions related to the outbreak, which continues to take an unprecedented number of lives.

Residents in Florida and other states returned to the beach Saturday despite an increase in COVID-19 deaths and infections. Meanwhile, three Northeastern states reopened boatyards and marinas for personal use only.

The loosening of stay-at-home orders come amid a growing chorus to reopen economies throughout the U.S. But advisers are warning President Donald Trump that his push to restart business as usual comes with political risks.

Saturday also brought the star-studded "One World: Together at Home" benefit concert to support health care workers in the fight against COVID-19.

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

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

Live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 19 coronavirus news here.

Even after 'flattening the curve,' Americans face a long road back to pre-coronavirus normalcy

After flattening the curve, Americans should expect a number of curveballs.

Once the immediate crush of COVID-19 cases subsides, epidemiologists say a "post-peak" purgatory lies ahead until a vaccine can be discovered and disseminated that would allow a return to normalcy.

“When this lockdown ends, it’s not going to be like one day you’re in your house and the next day you’re taking the metro to the ballgame,” said Dr. Robert Murphy, the director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

"It’s not going to happen like that. It’s going to be gradual."

Read the full story here.

Iran's coronavirus death toll surpasses 5,000 as some businesses reopen

The coronavirus death toll in Iran surpassed 5,000, according to the country's health ministry.

The worst-hit country in the Middle East, Iran on Saturday reported 80,868 total cases of COVID-19, up from 1,374 the day before. 

Iran allowed some businesses in the capital of Tehran and nearby towns to re-open Saturday, however, after weeks of lockdown, according to the Associated Press.

Miami police chief tests positive for coronavirus

Miami's police chief, Jorge Colina, tested positive for coronavirus, he announced in a message to his department.

"My symptoms are mild, my spirits are high and I have every reason to believe that I will have a full recovery," Colina wrote.

He said he is remaining in isolation until tests show that he's "no longer at risk for spreading the virus to coworkers."

Deputy Chief Ronald Papier is serving as acting chief in Colina's absence.

Death toll in Spain surpasses 20,000

The death toll in Spain surpassed 20,000 on Saturday, and the total number of infections in the country nearly reached 200,000, according to Spanish health authorities. 

Spain’s health authorities reported 565 deaths in the last 24 hours, which is a decrease from the day before which reported 585. Only the United States and Italy have higher death tolls than Spain.

While more than 74,000 people in the hard-hit country have recovered, strict confinement rules are expected to be extended beyond the planned date of April 26.

Unexpected impact of stay-at-home orders: Cleaner air and wild animals reclaiming habitats

At least 20 Afghan presidential palace staff test positive for virus

At least 20 officials working at Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's palace have tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the 70-year-old leader to limit most of his contact with staff to digital communication, government sources said on Saturday. The president himself has not officially been tested for the virus.

"A contaminated document was sent to an office inside the palace from another government department and that's how the employees were infected," a senior official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Some of the employees were still working in their offices when the results came out, and we had to quarantine them and their families, but the numbers could be higher," the official added.

Afghanistan has reported more than 900 cases as of Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Pope Francis prays for health care workers assisting disabled patients

Pope Francis said on Saturday to a small audience at his Vatican morning mass that he was praying for health care workers helping disabled COVID-19 patients.

He said that he had received a letter from a nun detailing the difficult situation facing nurses and doctors treating disabled people.

"We pray for those who are always at the service of people with with different abilities, who don't have the abilities we have," he said.

Italy's healthcare system has been hit particularly hard by the outbreak, but the country, along with others in Europe are now consider lifting lockdown measures.

Kurdish-led region in northeast Syria reports first case

The Kurdish-led administration in Syria's northeast reported the area's first case of coronavirus on Friday. It said samples had been tested in Damascus earlier this month.

The regional administration said in a statement that a 53-year-old man had died on Apr. 2 and that a sample sent to Syria's capital Damascus had tested positive for COVID-19. Health authorities in the northeast — a region ruled autonomously from Damascus — had not until now been made aware of the results, which emerged on the same day as the patient's death, it added. 

A World Health Organization regional spokesperson said that active surveillance was being carried out in northeast Syria to probe for other potential cases. The Kurdish-led administration said in a statement it was "dangerous" that their health authorities had not been informed directly when the case was first confirmed.

Relief organizations have expressed concern about the pandemic reaching northeast Syria, where health infrastructure has been shattered by war and medical supplies are limited. 

Nigerian president's chief of staff dies as Africa’s death toll surpasses 1,000

The Nigerian president’s chief of staff Abba Kyari died on Friday after contracting the coronavirus, a presidential spokesman said on Twitter.

Kyari — who was in his 70s and had underlying health problems including diabetes — was the top official aide to 77-year-old Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and was considered one of the most powerful men in the country.

As of Saturday, Africa now has more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. A total of 52 of the continent’s 54 countries have reported the virus, with the overall number of cases nearing 20,000.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom warned on Friday, however, that because of a shortage of testing on the continent “it’s likely the real numbers are higher than reported.”

U.S. 'concerned' by threat of cyber attack against Czech Republic healthcare

The United States is concerned by the threat of a cyber attack against the Czech Republic’s healthcare sector, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday, adding that anybody engaged in such activity should “expect consequences.”

Two hospitals in the Czech Republic reported attempted attacks on their computer systems on Friday, a day after the country’s cybersecurity watchdog said it expected a wave of cyberattacks on the country’s critical infrastructure.

“We call upon the actor in question to refrain from carrying out disruptive malicious cyber activity against the Czech Republic’s healthcare system or similar infrastructure elsewhere,” Pompeo said in a statement, without naming anyone.

A Czech official speaking on condition of anonymity said it was not clear who was responsible for the activity the watchdog had identified but it was thought to be the work of a “serious and advanced adversary.”