U.S. now leads world in deaths, passes 20,000 mark

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: FRANCE-VIRUS-HEALTH
A man wearing a protective facemask looks at the reflection of the Eiffeil Tower on the Seine river, in Paris, on Saturday.Ludovic Marin / AFP - Getty Images

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The U.S. has now passed the 20,000 mark in the number of coronavirus deaths and leads the world in this grim tally, surpassing Italy for the first time.

The virus has killed 20,029 people in the United States, just above the number in Italy, according to NBC News' figures.

Worldwide, the death toll is more than 107,000, and the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 1.7 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., has warned that it is too early to relax coronavirus restrictions.

"Now is not time to back off," Fauci said Friday,

Meanwhile, current and former U.S. officials have told NBC News that American spy agencies collected raw intelligence hinting at a public health crisis in Wuhan, China, in November, but the information was not understood as the first warning signs of an impending global pandemic.

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

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading Apr. 12 Coronavirus news.

Photo: Sign of the times in London

A cyclist passes a billboard for artist Mark Titchner, in the Shoreditch district of London, on Saturday.Henry Nicholls / Reuters

Trump authorizes 'robust assistance package' to help Italy

President Donald Trump authorized a "robust assistance package" to help Italy, a country hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, fight the outbreak, according to a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday. 

"This will include support for international organizations and NGOs, including faith-based organizations, many of which are already providing essential relief to Italian communities," Pompeo said. 

Pompeo also said that the roughly 30,000 U.S. military personnel and families living in Italy would "assist with a variety of functions, including providing telemedicine services, facilitating the transport and assembly of field hospitals and equipment, treating non-COVID-19 patients, and supporting transport of supplies, fuel, and food."

UK has not reached coronavirus peak, so lockdown will continue, official says

A woman is told to go home by a police officer on Primrose Hill in London last week. The park was only open for people walking dogs or exercising.Matt Dunham / AP

Britain has not yet reached its peak of coronavirus infections, which would allow for an easing of tight restrictions of movement, health minister Matt Hancock said on Saturday.

His announcement comes as the death toll in British hospitals has reached nearly 9,000, with 980 of those fatalities reported on Friday, a figure which surpassed even the deadliest day so far in Italy.

“Our judgment is we’re not there yet. We haven’t seen a flattening enough to be able to say that we’ve reached the peak,” Hancock told BBC radio on Saturday. Nobody knows when that might be, he said. 

The U.K. government came under fire for an alleged lack of preparedness on Saturday. The British Medical Association said current supplies in were insufficient, and doctors faced a “heart-breaking” decision over whether to treat patients without proper personal protection equipment (PPE) and therefore put themselves at risk, according to Reuters. Nineteen health care professionals have died in the country as of Saturday

Among those who have been infected is Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is recovering in a hospital after spending three nights in intensive care. He is making “very good progress” in his recovery, his office said on Saturday.

New York City is moving 6,000 homeless people out of shelters into hotels

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday that by 6,000 of the city's homeless residents, mostly single adults, will be moved out of shelters into hotels by April 20.

"We think that is the right balance to strike to get people to stay safe" from coronavirus infection, the mayor said during a press briefing.

Over 300 homeless people in the city have tested positive for the virus, and at least 20 have died from the disease, according to city data released Friday.

Cuomo, Hogan call on Congress to give money to states

A bipartisan group of governors are calling on the federal government to provide more funding to states who have seen dramatic falls in state revenue amid the coronavirus outbreak and have shouldered much of the costs related to fighting the pandemic. 

"[T]he recently passed federal CARES Act contained zero funding to offset these drastic state revenue shortfalls. To stabilize state budgets and to make sure states have the resources to battle the virus and provide the services the American people rely on, Congress must provide immediate fiscal assistance directly to all states," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, chairman of the National Governors Association, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, vice chair, said in a statement Saturday. 

Hogan, Cuomo and other governors called on Congress to appropriate $500 billion specifically for states and territories to help meet their budget shortfalls.

Senate Democrats proposed giving $150 billion for state and local governments as part of an interim emergency coronavirus package last week, but Republicans objected to it in favor of a narrower bill focused just on small business relief. 

NYC mayor says schools will stay closed rest of year, Cuomo says not so fast

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Saturday that the city's schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year, but less than three hours later, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the mayor lacks the authority to make such a decision.

Cuomo said it was only the mayor's "opinion" to keep schools closed until fall, and that the governor holds authority on this issue.

"He didn't close them, and he can't reopen," Cuomo said of the mayor and the vast school district that serves over 1.1 million students in 1,800 schools.

De Blasio in announcing the continued closure earlier Saturday, said, "It's not an easy decision but it's the right decision," adding, "It clearly will help us save lives."

Read the full story here.

A daughter fights to say goodbye to her mother

Deborah Mastromano’s mother was dying, isolated inside a Long Island nursing home that had been beset by the coronavirus. But she couldn’t get anyone to pick up the phone.

Mastromano called the nursing desk. She called a supervisor. She called a nursing assistant. One staff member answered late last Saturday but quickly ended the call. “I can’t talk right now,” the woman said, before hanging up.

Mastromano, 67, knew the workers were stretched thin. It had been nearly a month since the home for seniors in Brentwood, New York, had banned visitors, hoping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among its frail residents. But the virus found its way in anyway, and now nurses were scrambling to care for the sick.

Read the full story here.

British bakers reintroduce World War II bread in coronavirus fight

As British politicians invoke memories of World War II’s “Blitz Spirit” during the coronavirus lockdown, and many are quietly channeling the stoic resolve their elders showed in the face of enormous hardship, some in the nation’s baking community are taking a more direct cue from history.

Britain's National Loaf — a nutrient-dense whole wheat bread first produced in 1942 — has been re-emerging in recent weeks.

Today, as was the case back then, a scarcity of ingredients and a concern for public health are challenging the culinary status quo. 

Read the full story here. 

The National Loaf.Bread Source

India to extend nationwide coronavirus lockdown

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will extend a nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of coronavirus, the chief minister of Delhi state said on Saturday, without disclosing how long the extension would be for.

Earlier in the day, Modi held a video conference call with several state ministers to decide on the future course of the current 21-day lockdown, which had been set to end on Tuesday.

Several Indian states have urged Modi to extend the lockdown, even amid rising concerns that the restrictions had put millions of poor people out of work and forced an exodus of migrant workers from cities to villages.

 

Iran begins lifting restrictions after brief virus lockdown

Iran began reopening government offices and businesses Saturday after a brief nationwide lockdown to help contain the worst virus outbreak in the Middle East, which has killed more than 4,300 people in the country.

Government offices outside the capital, Tehran, reopened Saturday with two-thirds of employees coming in and the remainder working from home, state media reported. Women who have young children were given priority in deciding who works remotely.

Businesses in Tehran will be allowed to reopen next Saturday, provided they register with authorities and follow guidelines on social distancing.

For many weeks, Iran had declined to impose the kind of wide-scale lockdowns adopted by other Middle Eastern countries, even as the number of confirmed cases and fatalities steadily climbed. Authorities have defended their response, saying they have to consider the economic impact of any quarantine measures since the country is under severe U.S. sanctions

Spain's overnight death toll at its lowest in 19 days

The number of coronavirus deaths in Spain fell for a third consecutive day on Saturday, with 510 fatalities reported in the past 24 hours — the smallest overnight increase since Mar. 23.

The slowdown is an encouraging sign for the country, which has suffered the third-highest number of casualties from the virus after Italy and the United States.

Spain's total death toll from COVID-19 disease rose to 16,353, the Health Ministry said in a statement, and the number of confirmed cases climbed to more than 160,000.

Spanish lawmakers voted Thursday evening to extend the state of emergency measures until Apr. 26, and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned that he may need to ask for a third extension to prolong measures until May.