President Donald Trump said at the daily White House coronavirus press briefing on Saturday, “This will be the toughest week” in the U.S. fight against the pandemic.
“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately," he said.
The president's comments came as the total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to over 300,000, with the number of deaths at more than 8,000, according to NBC News' tally.
Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The CDC is recommending now that Americans wear cloth masks when out in public. And, New York, by far the hardest-hit state, is gearing up for the pandemic to peak there in an expected in four to 10 days. China is donating 1,000 ventilators to the state, and another 140 are coming from Oregon.
Support on Capitol Hill among both Republicans and Democrats for an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the country’s response to the outbreak appears to be growing.
- Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments.
- MAPS: Where cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and worldwide.
- Stay-at-home orders across the country: What each state is doing — or not doing — amid widespread coronavirus lockdowns.
Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.
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Hospital at NYC's Javits Center starts taking patients
A 2,500-bed emergency medical facility being run by the U.S. Army in New York's the Javits Center began taking COVID-19 patients Friday night, the governor's office said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the center, which had initially been planned to take non-virus patients, would instead take only those suffering from the coronavirus illness.
The New York City area has been called the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States, and as of 5 p.m. Friday it had more than 56,000 cases with 1,867 deaths in the city itself, according to the city's health department.
Cuomo said in a statement Thursday that he asked President Donald Trump to allow the Javits Center facility to take COVID-19 patients, and the president agreed to the request. Cuomo thanked Trump for his quick action in the matter.
The Defense Department said Friday that in addition to the Javits Center, COVID-19 patients would also be taken at federal medical stations set up at convention centers in New Orleans and Dallas.
Americans stranded in Russia after last flight canceled just before takeoff
Hundreds of Americans are stranded in Russia after the last flight scheduled to leave the country was canceled as they sat on the plane Friday.
Aeroflot flight 102, which was scheduled to fly from Moscow to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, was preparing to depart when the pilot announced that the trip had been called off.
“A couple of people just started shouting,” said Joe Democritos, an English teacher trying to get back to New Jersey. “They were saying ‘I refuse to leave the plane. I will not leave the plane,’ in Russian, then they got the police to escort people off the plane.”
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued several alerts this week encouraging citizens to book the Aeroflot flight, noting that it “may be the last flight available this month” due to strict travel restrictions from the Russian government.
Embassy spokesperson Rebecca Ross called the cancellation “inexplicable” in a series of tweets. “To those of you who were boarded on Aeroflot 102 today only to have it canceled moments before takeoff, we understand and share your frustration.”
Renowned ballet dancer Julian Mackay was on the plane and took to social media to document the confusion. Videos posted to the Montana native’s Instagram account show bewildered travelers trying to get information from airport staff.
The airline claimed that it received late word from the Russian government that it could not fly. "We were forced to cancel the flight and return passengers to the terminal following a decision by Russian aviation authorities to suspend all permits previously granted to carriers for charter flights to repatriate Russian and CIS citizens," the airline said in a statement. "Aeroflot stands ready to resume flights, and we hope that passengers will be able to return home in the near future."
The State Department is working to organize a charter flight for citizens, but it requires the approval of the Russian government, according to an alert on the Embassy website. Passengers have been encouraged to seek lodging for the time being.