U.S. surpasses 100,000 cases as Trump signs $2 trillion stimulus package

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President Donald Trump on Friday signed the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill that the House passed earlier in the day, while the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 100,000.

The legislation signed by Trump and also unanimously passed by the Senate on Wednesday provides relief for workers and businesses devastated by the outbreak.

The United States now has more reported coronavirus cases than any other country, including China, as the number climbed past 100,000, according to NBC News' count.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted he tested positive for the coronavirus.

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Dyson designs new ventilator to help COVID-19 patients

A graphic representation of the new CoVent ventilator designed by Dyson.Dyson / via Reuters

 

Several companies around the world are trying to make ventilators, but it takes time.

At Dyson, the British company best known for making vacuums, a team of engineers has been working on a design for the last 10 days since receiving a request for help from Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Billionaire inventor James Dyson told his staff the device would draw on technology used in the company's air purifier ranges and is powered by a digital motor. Britain wants to increase the availability of ventilators from 8,000 to 30,000.

'Praying for Laura': Tweet about 30-year-old victim strikes chord, goes viral

A man's tweet requesting prayers for a 30-year-old coronavirus victim went viral Friday, inspiring thousands of tweets with the phrase "Praying for Laura."

The man, author Jonathan Merritt, said his friend, whom he identified only as "Laura from NYC," was diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Merritt said Laura is on a ventilator in intensive care "fighting for her life."

"She is only 30," he wrote in his tweet Thursday night. "Please pray for her."

His post had upward of 10,000 retweets as of Friday morning and more than 70,000 likes.

Read the full story here.

Death toll hits more than 500 in New York, Cuomo says

New York's coronavirus death toll has topped more than 500 — about half of all deaths linked to COVID-19 in the U.S., Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

"This is a different beast than we're used to dealing with," Cuomo said, speaking from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, which has been turned into a field hospital.

The deaths in New York climbed to 519, a nearly 35 percent increase from Thursday. Cuomo said he expects the number to grow as people who have been on ventilators for a long period succumb to the virus. He also said:

  • The number of positive cases is at 44,635, up 20 percent from Thursday. The total in New York City is 25,398, up 22 percent.
  • There are 6,481 hospitalized in the state, up from 1,042 a week ago. But Cuomo said hospitalizations are doubling every four days instead of every 2.5 days, showing a possible slow down is occurring.
  • New York public schools will remain closed for an additional two more weeks until at least April 15, after Cuomo initially gave an April 1 deadline to reassess the situation.
  • Aside from temporary field hospitals in Manhattan, Westchester County and Long Island, he's planning for similar field hospitals in New York City's other four boroughs.

Bishops tell faithful they don't have to give up meat on Lenten Fridays

Some Roman Catholic bishops around the country are relieving the faithful of the need to give up meat on Fridays as they are already deprived of some foods and other pleasures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Catholics are instructed not to eat meat on Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins, and all Fridays.

Some bishops are telling parishioners that they've given up enough as the pandemic denies them of gatherings, outside entertainment and everyday conveniences. Others loosened the guidance because many foods are hard to come by on picked-over grocery shelves and going out to shop for specific foods could jeopardize people's health.

Read the full story here.

Instacart workers plan a national 'emergency' walkout

Instacart workers announced Friday that they will hold a national "emergency" walkout on Monday, accusing the company of failing to take proper safety precautions and not honoring its promise to pay workers for 14 days if they are diagnosed with the coronavirus or subjected to quarantine.  

The announcement, which was posted to Medium, said workers will not return to work until their demands for safety precautions, hazard pay and an "extension and expansion of pay" for workers affected by coronavirus are met. 

"This is an extraordinary time in history, and as Shoppers, those of us who are able — and have the means to protect ourselves — do want to help those in our community by delivering groceries and supplies," the post read. "But with Instacart neglecting the basic wellbeing of its 150,000+ drivers, we believe there is no choice but to not only walk off, but to raise awareness to the company’s practices." 

Instacart did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment.

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Morning roundup of coronavirus coverage

The four possible timelines for life returning to normal [The Atlantic]

A Twitch streamer is exposing coronavirus scams live [Wired]

Need tips on social distancing? This guy's been doing it for almost 50 years. [KUNC in Northern Colorado]

South Africa struggles to adapt to lockdown

Suspects are lined up against a wall as a member of the South African Police Service wearing gloves arrests them because they defied the lockdown order during an operation in the Johannesburg CBD on Friday.Michele Spatari / AFP - Getty Images

South Africans struggled to adapt to new confinement rules Friday, with many city streets no less crowded than normal as a strict lockdown regime took effect. This came as the country recorded its first two deaths from the virus Thursday, with the number of confirmed cases above 1,000, according to Reuters.

The 21-day lockdown — which is among Africa's strictest — came into force at midnight. It restricts people to their homes for most activities including exercise, only permitting excursions for buying food or for health emergencies.

While streets in the more affluent parts of Johannesburg appeared quiet, large crowds continued to gather in other poor townships, where cramped conditions hinder social distancing among people reliant on an ailing public health system.

Many are also too poor to weather the associated economic fallout: “I don’t have money, now I am thinking what should I do? Because of this, I will be stuck in the house with my babies and everyone and my wife,” street vendor Godfrey Thula told Reuters in downtown Johannesburg.

Photos: Matterhorn lights up with messages of solidarity

The iconic Matterhorn mountain is illuminated by Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter aiming to send messages of hope, support and solidarity to the ones sufferings from the global coronavirus disease, COVID-19, pandemic in the alpine resort of Zermatt, Switzerland, on Thursday. Local officials in the nearby town of Zermatt authorized Hofstetter to splash the Alpine peak each night with words and images of encouragement and inspiration.Valentin Flauraud / Keystone via AP