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.
Sewing group making fabric face masks for facilities, people in need
People across the United States are pitching in to help sew fabric face masks to donate to hospitals, first responders and other people in need as the country grapples with a shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE.
"Everybody just felt the same," said Jessy Broughton Gillespie, who started the group Sew You Care. "These are our people, this is our community. We should protect them."
Gillespie launched the group on Facebook last week, and it now has more than 3,000 members working to sew masks and ship them to facilities and people who have reached out asking for donations. To be safe, she said, the group is asking members to wash their fabric and use sterile equipment. They also tell recipients that the masks are handmade and should be washed before use. Gillespie said they've made up to 8,000 masks this week and won't stop until they're no longer needed.
"We have to remember that the American spirit is amazing," she said. "In unprecedented times, we really do have unprecedented answers, and this is one of those."
Homemade face masks are not considered PPE, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but might be used by health care personnel as a last resort. CDC guidance says homemade masks "should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face."
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2d ago / 2:36 AM UTC
Idaho reports first 3 deaths linked to COVID-19
Idaho health authorities on Thursday announced the state's first deaths related to the coronavirus illness COVID-19, a day after the governor issued a stay-at-home order.
The deceased were three men, all over age 60, the state health department said. Two were from Blaine County, and the third was from Canyon County. The Canyon County man had underlying health issues but it was not clear if the other two had any, the health department said in a statement.
A total of 155 inmates are under observation at a South Dakota jail where another prisoner tested positive for the coronavirus, and state officials announced three more inmates who escaped this week are back in custody.
The two inmates still missing from the minimum-security unit of the Pierre Community Work Center were identified as Philomene Boneshirt, 25, and Sylvia Red Leaf, 25, the state Department of Corrections said.
The inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 remains in isolation, and no other inmates in the state system have tested positive, the department said.
Three additional female inmates are back in custody; Inmates Schoneman, Richards and Lamont apprehended in Pierre this evening. Inmates Boneshirt and Red Leaf remain on escape status. pic.twitter.com/4azQLGfl3W
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.
The Dean of Tisch sent this as an attachment to the email saying they won't give us our money back. Embarrassing. pic.twitter.com/Q63x5GqsJm
“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.’”
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Jonathan Dienst and Tom Winter
2d ago / 1:51 AM UTC
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.
We are sad to announce the passing of our own NYPD family member, Custodial Assistant Dennis Dickson. Mr. Dickson faithfully served this department for 14 yrs & is the 1st member to succumb to the COVID-19 virus. Our thoughts go out to his loved ones during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/YIKzhMXsuc
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.
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.
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David K. Li
2d ago / 12:18 AM UTC
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!!"
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.