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:

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

New Jersey coronavirus cases top 81,000

More than 81,000 people in New Jersey have tested positive for COVID-19, Gov. Phil Murphy said at his daily news conference Saturday. 

Murphy said in the last 24 hours more than 3,000 residents have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 81,420. The number of deaths in the state is 4,070. 

"We will do everything in our power to stop the spread of this disease and lose fewer and fewer residents to it," Murphy said. 

The governor said that over the past week the number of people in intensive and critical care has started to stabilize and he credited social distancing. He also said more people are being discharged from the hospital than entering. 

Laboratory in Wuhan denies claims that the coronavirus originated there

Residents wearing masks pass by government propaganda posters featuring Tiananmen Gate in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on April 16, 2020.Ng Han Guan / AP

A laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan has broken its silence to deny accusations that the novel coronavirus originated there.

Yuan Zhiming, vice director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, told Chinese state broadcaster CGTN, that this was a "conspiracy theory" designed to "confuse" people. He also denied the virus was manmade.

It is the first time anyone from the institute has spoken publicly.

Read the full story here.

Twenty-five nurses and physicians from the Cleveland Clinic welcomed at NY hospital

N.J. woman who organized protest charged with violating stay-at-home orders

A New Jersey woman who organized a protest of Gov. Phil Murphy's stay-at-home order was charged with violating that same order. 

The protest took place on Friday outside the Statehouse and at other locations in Trenton, the state's Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in his daily briefing, calling it a "prohibited event." 

The woman who organized the protest, Kim Pagan, was charged by New Jersey State Police with violating the governor's emergency orders, which prohibits all gatherings.  

'No excuse now' on marriage with ceremonies by video, NY gov. says

New York officials said Saturday they will allow people to get marriage licenses remotely as the coronavirus pandemic continues and marriage bureaus are closed to the public.

Clerks will also have the authority to perform wedding ceremonies over video. 

"Video marriage ceremonies, there's no excuse now when the question comes up for marriage," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "You can do it by Zoom."

New York Gov. Cuomo says COVID-19 hospitalizations are down 'but it's not over yet'

While the rate of coronavirus hospitalizations has declined in New York, the numbers are still high, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference Saturday.

Around 2,000 new coronavirus hospitalizations are still taking place in the state daily, suggesting "it's not over yet," according to Cuomo.

At least 540 New Yorkers died of coronavirus Friday, the lowest daily death rate the state has seen this week. The rate of infection has also gone down in part thanks to "what we have all done to flatten the curve," Cuomo said. With social distancing, the rate of infection has dropped to 0.9, meaning one person with COVID-19 infects about one other person.

Cuomo said that ramping up testing is crucial for reopening the state without increasing the rate of infection. Increasing New York's capacity to do more tests would also help "find people with the virus and trace their contacts," he said.

The governor called on the federal government "to oversee the supply chain" in order to help laboratories get what they need to increase testing. He also urged the federal government to improve their efforts to coordinate response efforts with states.

Photo: India locks down entire population

Children wait to receive free food distributed in a slum during a lockdown to check the spread of the new coronavirus in Mumbai, India, on Saturday. As governments around the world try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, India has launched one of the most draconian social experiments in history, locking down its entire population, including an estimated 176 million people who struggle to survive on $1.90 a day or less.Rajanish Kakade / AP

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.