U.S. and global news on COVID-19

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The Senate overwhelmingly passed a massive stimulus package late Wednesday night aimed at softening the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic for American workers and businesses. The bill includes billions of dollars in credit for struggling industries, a boost to unemployment insurance and direct cash payments to Americans.

The fate of the bill now rests with the House, which will not vote until Friday, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

The U.S. reached a grim milestone as the number of deaths linked to the coronavirus passed 1,000 in the country, according to a count of reports of cases and deaths by NBC News. Globally, the death toll topped 20,000, with nearly half a million reported cases.

Meanwhile at the U.N., the Trump administration is pushing the Security Council to call attention to the Chinese origins of the coronavirus, four diplomats posted to the United Nations told NBC News, triggering a stalemate as the global body seeks to cobble together a response to the pandemic.

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Texas orders quarantine for travelers from New York tri-state area and New Orleans

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order Thursday that restricted all travelers arriving from airports in the New York tri-state area and New Orleans to quarantine for 14 days. 

The order applies to those entering Texas from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut after New York surpassed more than 35,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. New Orleans is also on track to become a coronavirus epicenter as doctors speculate whether the more than 1 million spectators who arrived for Mardi Gras at the end of February could have spread the virus. 

Failing to comply with the Texas self-quarantine order is considered a criminal offense that is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to 180 days in jail, according to the governor's office. 

Trump to visit hospital ship headed for NYC on Saturday

 

President Trump is traveling to Norfolk, Va., on Saturday to "bid bon voyage" to a hospital ship headed to New York City, the current epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., the White House said in a statement Thursday. 

The hospital ship USNS COMFORT will bring over 1,200 medical personnel and critical supplies to New York City, the statement said. The ship has a dozen operating rooms and 1,000 beds.

The city has seen more than 21,000 cases, according to the state health department.

Earlier this week, the administration sent the hospital ship USNS MERCY to Los Angeles, another coronavirus hotspot. 

New Jersey governor: There is 'special place in hell' for coronavirus discrimination

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy denounced discrimination against Asian communities saying, "There is a special place in hell," for those vilifying communities in connection with COVID-19.

U.S. coronavirus cases surpass China

The United States now has more cases of the coronavirus than any other nation, including China.

As of Thursday, there were at least 82,474 cases in the U.S., according to NBC News data. Cases have been reported in every state. More than 1,100 people have died in the U.S.; there have been more than 3,000 deaths in China and more than 8,000 deaths in Italy. 

China has the second highest number of cases, at 81,961, according to the World Health Organization

New York, Washington and California remain the hardest-hit states. 

Coronavirus checks, direct deposits are coming. Here's everything you need to know.

Dollar note sheets sit in a stack in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2015.Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — As the coronavirus crisis ravages the U.S. economy, millions of Americans are urgently awaiting financial help from Congress in the form of direct cash payments.

Congressional leaders and President Donald Trump announced a bipartisan deal Wednesday on a massive $2 trillion emergency economic package that includes direct cash payments to people across the country to help them through the crisis. The Senate passed the bill 96 to 0, and the House is expected to follow suit on Friday.

Read the full story here. 

Asian Americans report over 650 racist acts over last week, new data says

People walk along Chinatown's Grant Avenue on Feb. 26, 2020 in San Francisco, Calif.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

Seattle resident Kari was at her local grocery store in mid-March when another shopper told her own child she couldn't be in the same line as the Korean American. She would get them sick, the shopper said. A week later at the same store, a cashier refused to check her out, saying she was going on break.

The encounter is one of hundreds of racist and xenophobic incidents that have been reported over the past week, new data reveals. The online reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate shared exclusively with NBC Asian America that since its inception March 18, it has received more than 650 direct reports of discrimination against primarily Asian Americans.

"We live in a scary world, but it's unbelievable that this is happening," said Kari.

Read the full story here. 

U.S. passes Italy in total coronavirus cases

Plant that makes MLB jerseys to produce 1 million medical masks and gowns

A person models a face mask and gown that the company is now producing.Fanatics

Major League Baseball is going to bat for hospital workers.

MLB and Fanatics, a company that manufactures official league jerseys, is shifting a manufacturing plant in Easton, Pennsylvania, to now make at least 1 million gowns and masks for health care workers and emergency personnel tackling the coronavirus outbreak.

The gear will go to workers in Pennsylvania, and then New York and New Jersey, which are seeing some of the largest numbers of cases in the nation.

The plan is to continue producing the gowns and masks as long as the need exists, Fanatics Executive Chairman Michael Rubin said. MLB's regular season has been delayed.

'There's only going to be more': NYC nurse dies after contracting coronavirus

An assistant nurse manager at a New York City hospital, who told his family he believed he had contracted the coronavirus after being exposed at work, died Tuesday evening, his sister told NBC News.

The death of James Kious Kelly, 48, was confirmed by Mount Sinai Hospital. It comes amid an escalating crisis in New York where hospitals are faced with surging numbers of coronavirus patients and shortages of crucial medical equipment and protective gear for staffers.

Read the full story here.

This state rejected Medicaid expansion. Its uninsured residents now stare down a pandemic.

Dr. Stephen Luking and a member of his staff prepare an outdoor clinic for an expected surge of coronavirus patients in Reidsville, N.C.Courtesy of Dr. Luking

Every six months Penny Wingard’s doctor in Charlotte, North Carolina, checks her white blood cell count even though she can’t afford the tests. After a brutal round of chemotherapy for stage 2 breast cancer in 2014 left her with chemical burns, Wingard has a compromised immune system and no health insurance.

Now her medical debt has ballooned to more than $25,000 — an amount she has no hope of paying off as a part-time Lyft driver. With required doctor visits and medicine, her bills are still growing and the debt collectors’ calls haven’t stopped. The drugs she needs also make her more susceptible to the common cold, the flu and now the coronavirus.

“You didn’t ask for any of this, and you didn't ask to get sick,” Wingard said, as her voice broke and she began to cry. “You know, it's not something that you went out there and said, ‘Oh, OK,’ you know. You didn't ask for any of it. And it is a burden. It really is a burden.”

Click here to read the full story, and for even more on this story, subscribe to "Into America," a new podcast from NBC News and MSNBC

VA more than doubles number of tests administered in a day

The Department of Veterans Affairs more than doubled the number of tests it administered in a day, according to the agency’s latest numbers. It has now administered over 7,425 tests, compared to the 3,378 tests reported Wednesday. Of those tests, the VA has had 484 positive results and six deaths around the country.

The VA sought to reassure the more than 9 million veterans that it’s health care system of more than 1,200 facilities, including 170 VA Medical Centers, has the capacity to respond to them during the coronavirus crisis in a video message from Dr. Richard Stone, the head of the VA’s Veterans Health Administration and a former U.S. Army combat physician.

“There will always be capacity in our system for you as a veteran to be seen,” he said. “In times of great pressure on the healthcare systems, with increasing numbers of coronavirus patients, it could be that your civilian provider is not available. I want you to know that we are.”