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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NYU dean sends 'tone deaf' dancing video to students

A video sent by a New York University dean in an email upset multiple students, some of whom called it “tone deaf.” Dean Allyson Green of Tisch School of the Arts at NYU inserted a video of herself dancing to R.E.M. in an email she sent to all Tisch students with campus updates regarding coronavirus. The email included the information that students would not be receiving tuition refunds.

Green argues in her email that refunding tuition would be challenging for the university because remote learning is costing millions of dollars. She also argues the university has to pay for facilities.

“But we are still paying for these whether or not they are empty for the rest of the semester. We are also continuing to support payments to our valued colleagues, and we just won’t let them down,” the email said.

Neither Green nor the university immediately responded to a request for comment.

Students took issue with the juxtaposition of the carefree video and the bad news on tuition.

“There’s a feeling amongst the students, Tisch specifically, that we are being cheated out of something, so everyone thought it was really ridiculous and tone deaf,” said Tisch senior Michael Price. “She’s not answering any of our questions and it’s just her dancing to ‘Losing my Religion.’”

John Miller, NYPD counterterrorism expert, hospitalized

John Miller, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for counterterrorism and intelligence, is in a hospital with the coronavirus, four law enforcement officials said.

Miller had had not been feeling well for a couple of days and went to the hospital, the officials said.

Two other law enforcement sources said Miller had a low fever and went to the hospital as a precaution, and that he is alert and in good spirits and has been taking calls from family and friends throughout the day.

New York City had more than 23,000 coronavirus cases as of Thursday night. There have been 365 deaths in the city related to the illness, according to the health department. The police department said Wednesday that 100 sworn members and 29 civilians have tested positive for the coronavirus illness COVID-19.

Also on Thursday, the department reported its first death from the disease, Custodial Assistant Dennis Dickson.

Six degrees of coronavirus? In NYC area, cases get personal

A man wearing a mask checks his phone in Times Square in New York on March 22, 2020.Kena Betancur / AFP - Getty Images

After returning from a European vacation three weeks ago, Vidal Chávez, a real estate broker in Manhattan, spoke to a friend who had fallen ill. His fever had spiked to 103 degrees.

It was the first conversation with someone he knew locally who may have contracted the coronavirus — but it wouldn't be the last.

Chávez, in his 40s, now knows more than a dozen people who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, or are sick with related symptoms but can't access a test or are awaiting results. Two people, including a fraternity brother at the University of California, Berkeley, have died, he said.

Read the full story here. 

White House expert explains the timeline and risks of creating a vaccine

Dr. Fauci describes the complicated timeline of creating a vaccine for a disease like COVID-19, including the different stages of development and the risks that have to be taken into consideration before releasing to the public.

Mark Blum, actor on 'Law & Order' and 'Succession,' dies from coronavirus

Veteran character actor Mark Blum — a union activist best known for movies "Desperately Seeking Susan" and "Crocodile Dundee," as well as television work in "Law & Order," "Us" and "Succession" — died of complications from COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus, his friends said Thursday.

He was 69.

"This is really tragic and my heart goes out to him, his family and his loved ones," Madonna, his "Desperately Seeking Susan" co-star, said on social media. "I remember him as funny warm, loving and professional when we made Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985!!"

Read the full story here. 

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.