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U.S. leads global coronavirus cases, British PM Boris Johnson tests positive and a tribute to health workers

'This is a war': NYC doctors describe fight against coronavirus as cases surge.
Image: A warning sign at Whitehall Terminal warns ferry riders to practice social distancing while commuting during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Manhattan, New York City
A warning sign to commuters in New York City on Thursday as the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise.Caitlin Ochs / Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The U.S. marks another grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic as House members race back to Washington to make sure a $2 trillion aid bill gets passed and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for the virus.

Here's what we're watching this Friday morning.

U.S. now leads world in coronavirus cases

The United States has surpassed China and Italy as the country with the most confirmed cases of coronavirus, marking another unwelcome turning point as the number of global cases passes 500,000.

As of early Friday, the U.S. had 85,707 cases, according to NBC News' count.

Here are some of the latest developments:

'This is a war': NYC doctors describe fight against coronavirus as cases surge

Overfilled waiting rooms packed with people who are contagious. Patients waiting six hours to be seen. Others on stretchers waiting 50 to 60 hours for a bed. Doctors desperately trying to get more ventilators.

That is what it’s like to be on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic at a public hospital in New York City, Dr. Rikki Lane, an emergency room doctor at the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, said.

“Our hospital has never, ever, ever seen anything like this,” said Lane, who has worked for more than 20 years at Elmhurst, a public hospital with 545 beds.

And the virus is not sparing those in its path.

Kious Jordan Kelly an assistant nursing manager at Mount Sinai Hospital, a major New York City hospital, died after contracting the virus at work.

The 48-year-old suffered from asthma, his sister said. But as New York hospitals face the growing crisis with severe shortages of crucial medical equipment and protective gear for staffers, his sister, Marya Sherron, fears he won't be the last health worker to die.

"There's only going to be more," his sister, Marya Sherron said. "He's not the only one with asthma. He's not the only one with conditions who is going to work every day helping and fighting for people."

We apologize, this video has expired.

The coronavirus warning light is blinking red in New Orleans. Here's why.

New Orleans is on track to become the next coronavirus epicenter in the U.S.

The city's rich cultural history that prizes large social gatherings, combined with its higher than average rates of obesity and chronic disease, put its population at particular risk.

"New Orleans needs help, or the next week may be disastrous," one local doctor said.

We apologize, this video has expired.

Latest to interview Fauci on coronavirus? NBA's Steph Curry, on Instagram

In times like these, accurate information is key.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is doing his level best to get it out there, on whatever platforms are possible.

On Thursday he took his message of calm awareness to Instagram for a Q &A session with NBA star Stephen Curry.

Repeating advice he has been giving for weeks, Fauci said people must practice social distancing to mitigate infection rates and not overwhelm hospitals.

"This is serious business. We are not overreacting," he said. "We have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable ones."

Earlier this month, Curry, a six-time All-Star, three-time league champion and two-time Most Valuable Player, missed two games because of flu-like symptoms. Since recovering, Curry has become active in fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

"We're going through a period of time now where we need to pull together," Fauci told Curry. "Don't get frightened. Don't get intimidated. Use the energy to be able to confront it and do the things that will put an end to it."

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Quote of the day

"Together we will beat this. #StayHomeSaveLives"

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing he has tested positive for coronavirus.

A round of applause for the health workers

People across the U.K. gathered on their doorsteps and balconies on Thursday night to show their appreciation to the country’s health workers.

From apartment blocks to 10 Downing Street, well-wishers paid tribute to all the staff in the National Health Service.

Along with the applause, buildings across the country were lit up with blue lights in tribute to those working within the NHS and emergency services.

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

I hope you have a restful weekend.

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Be safe and stay healthy, Petra Cahill