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.

Cuomo: pandemic is 'no time for politics'

 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak was "no time for politics" and called for national unity.

“I have no political agenda," Cuomo said at his daily briefing in Albany. "It's no time for politics.” 

Cuomo has gone back and forth with President Donald Trump, publicly disagreeing with the White House's response to the pandemic and at times drawing the ire of Trump. 

Cuomo insisted that he had no interest in partisan politics during this time, saying "I work so hard to distance myself from it."

“If you have partisan division splitting this nation now, it's going to make it worse,” he said. 

How to watch Lady Gaga's 'One World: Together at Home' concert

"One World: Together at Home," a concert event produced by Global Citizen and touted as one of the largest (virtual) gatherings of major artists and influencers since Live Aid in 1985, is being held in support of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, including front-line health care workers, and the World Health Organization.

The event — curated by Lady Gaga and hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert — will air Saturday, April 18, 2020, starting at 8 p.m. ET on all NBC networks, ABC, ViacomCBS Networks, The CW and iHeartMedia channels.

A digital stream of “One World: Together At Home” will begin at 2 p.m. ET and can be streamed on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon Prime Video, TIDAL, Yahoo, Apple platforms and Twitch.

Read the full story here. 

Pentagon extending travel restrictions for military personnel through June 30

The Department of Defense announced Saturday that it would extend travel restrictions for all military personnel through June 30th due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. 

The travel restrictions were initially in place through May 11th. The new date will go into effect on Monday, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew P. Donovan told reporters on a phone call Saturday morning. 

The Pentagon also said that Defense Secretary Mark Esper will formally review the travel restriction policy every 15 days.

United States tops 700,000 cases

More than 700,000 people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

The country crossed that threshold Saturday as Virginia reported 562 additional cases and 27 deaths, and Ohio reported 249 probable cases. Puerto Rico also announced 50 new cases and two deaths.

The U.S. leads all countries in reported deaths, 36,734, and cases, 700,664, as of 10:55 a.m. ET Saturday, according to NBC News' tracking.

Britain passes 15,000 coronavirus deaths

Britain’s coronavirus death toll rose by 888 to 15,464 on Saturday, the U.K.’s health ministry said.

Of the more than 350,000 people in the country who've been tested for COVID-19, 114,217 tested positive.

Britain recently extended its nationwide lockdown measures for at least three more weeks due to concerns that relaxing the rules could cause a "second peak" which could "substantially" increase the number of deaths, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday.

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.