Health and Science

Global coronavirus deaths cross 200,000, US beaches reopen, NY expands testing

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The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic crossed 200,000 on Saturday as countries and a handful of U.S. states ease lockdown restrictions. New York, the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., reported hospitalization and death rates that continue to improve, while doctors and experts around the globe weigh in on testing, treatment and vaccination. 

  • Global cases: More than 2.8 million
  • Global deaths: At least 201,502
  • U.S. cases: More than 925,500
  • U.S. deaths: At least 53,070

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
All times below are in Eastern time.

5:40 pm: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will return to work Monday after coronavirus recovery

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on his way to Buckingham Palace after the general election in London, Britain, December 13, 2019.
Thomas Mukoya | Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will return to work at Downing Street Monday morning after recovering from coronavirus. 

Johnson has been convalescing at Chequers, the prime minister's country estate, since he was discharged from hospital earlier this month. Dominic Raab, the U.K. foreign secretary, has stood in for Johnson during his absence. 

Johnson, who tested positive for the virus in late March, initially said he had mild symptoms. He was admitted to hospital in early April and subsequently placed in intensive care for three days after his condition deteriorated. —Spencer Kimball

5:24 pm: Potbelly says it will return $10 million small business loan, following others after outrage

Potbelly said it will return its $10 million loan from the Payroll Protection Program intended for small businesses, making it the latest notable name to return the funds. 

Potbelly, which received the maximum loan amount, has a market cap of $71.2 million. 

The sandwich shop chain follows other large, public companies like Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Shake Shack to give back the government funds meant to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. —Hannah Miller

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4:56 pm: Ex-Apple employees are tackling the mask shortage

Last year at this time, Sabrina Paseman was at Apple working on the design of the Mac Pro. Now, she's holed up in a San Francisco apartment with another ex-Apple employee trying to address the global mask shortage.

Paseman and Megan Duong are founders of a nonprofit they're calling Fix The Mask, an effort to create a simple solution to a massive and growing problem. The lack of protective gear amid the Covid-19 pandemic is first and foremost a crisis in the health-care industry, but as states and countries start loosening social-distancing restrictions, the need for masks becomes more acute for people on buses, in stores and in the workplace. —Ari Levy

4:41 pm: Algeria allows businesses to reopen

Algeria has taken further steps to ease restrictions over the novel coronavirus by allowing several businesses to reopen "to reduce the economic and social impact of the health crisis" caused by the pandemic, the prime minister's office said.

It said shops to be reopened including those for materials for building and public works, appliances, fabrics, jewelry, clothing and shoes, cosmetics and perfumes, home and office furniture, pastries and hairdressers in addition to urban transport by taxi.

The government on Thursday decided to ease confinement measures by shortening the curfew for some provinces but called on citizens to be "vigilant". That measure came hours before the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan on Friday.

The government has reported a total of 3,256 confirmed infections with the virus, with 419 deaths and 1,479 recoveries. —Reuters

4:18 pm: Treasury pays airlines an additional $9.5 billion in coronavirus aid 

The Treasury Department says it's disbursed another $9.5 billion to airlines as part under the CARES Act so carriers can continue paying their workers through Sept. 30. Air travel demand, and revenue, have all but dried up amid the coronavirus pandemic and shelter-in-place orders.

So far, the department has paid out $12.4 billion to 93 airlines out of a total $25 billion allotted in payroll grants and loans, while the bulk of the payments were for the largest U.S. carriers. Passenger airlines can also apply for portions of another $25 billion in government loans to help weather the coronavirus fallout.

Airlines expected the $25 billion to be paid out solely as grants, but the Treasury Department said it will require that 30% of the amount be paid back and that carriers provide the U.S. government with stock warrants for 10% of the loan value. 

Cargo airlines and airline contractors, such as caterers, seeking part of a separate $8 billion in payroll grants, won't have to provide the U.S. government with those stock warrants or similar financial instruments if they seek $50 million and $37.5 million or less, respectively. —Leslie Josephs

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3:47 pm: Oil producers eye shutting down after crude sell-off

Oil producers in the U.S. are making painful decisions about how to shut down operations after the pandemic decimated the need for fuel.

The price of U.S. benchmark crude plummeted more than 70% since the start of the year, selling for $17 a barrel Friday, well below what producers need to remain viable.

Parsley Energy, a mid-sized fracking company based in Austin, Texas, lost half its market value since the year began and told regulators it has been shutting down enough wells to take about 400 barrels of oil per day off the market.

In recent weeks, Exxon slashed its capital spending plan by 30%, or $10 billion, and Chevron gutted its capital expenses by 20%, or $4 billion. Both companies are planning to halt drilling for new oil in different parts of the world and will likely shrink further since conditions have deteriorated since their announcements. —Associated Press

3:19 pm: French PM to present plan to unwind lockdown on Tuesday

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will present the government's plan to unwind the country's lockdown to parliament on Tuesday, his office said.

The prime minister's statement next week will be followed by a debate and a vote.

The lockdown ordered by President Emmanuel Macron has been in place since March 17 to slow the spread of the coronavirus and is due to be lifted on May 11. —Reuters

3:12 pm: New stimulus check deadline approaches for veterans and SSI beneficiaries with kids

People who receive benefits through either the Department of Veterans Affairs or Supplemental Security Income who have children have a new deadline if they want to get all of the stimulus money that is due them.

The government said on Friday that those beneficiaries who have children and who do not typically file tax returns need to update their information by May 5 in order for their eligible dependents to be counted in their stimulus payments.

That goes particularly if you have not filed tax returns for the 2018 or 2019 tax years and you have children under age 17. The government has set up a website for non-filers where they can enter their information. —Lorie Konish

2:45 pm: Spain to allow outdoor exercise if coronavirus cases continue to fall

A man on his balcony is seen applauding to pay tribute to health-care workers struggling to fight the coronavirus pandemic on on April 18, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. Spain is beginning to ease strict lockdown measures to ease its economy, people in some services including manufacturing, construction are being allowed to return to work but must adhere to strict safety guidelines.
Carlos Alvarez | Getty Images

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in an address to the nation that people will be allowed out to exercise from May 2 if the number of new coronavirus cases continues to fall.

Sanchez said people would be allowed outside for sport or to go for a walk with a person with whom they live if the evolution of the pandemic "remains favorable."

Spaniards have been living under one of Europe's strictest lockdowns since March 14. They are allowed out for food, medicine and essential work but not to exercise. —Reuters

2:32 pm: Google, Facebook, Twitter team up to support addiction recovery during pandemic

GoogleFacebook and Twitter have partnered with the nonprofit Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) to launch Tech Together (TechTogether.co), an online platform to offer support to individuals with substance use disorders. The site is a collection of resources to help those experiencing substance use disorder or battling addiction and the associated stigma.  

Many of these people have lost their 12-step meetings and other in-person resources during coronavirus social distancing practices. Tim Ryan, star of the 2017 A&E documentary "Dope Man" and recovery advocate for the treatment resource Rehab.com, said that the resulting isolation from shelter-in-place orders has created conditions that are ripe for substance abuse.

"Covid-19 has cultivated an environment that lacks accountability and visibility, which allows people to engage in drug and alcohol abuse while in isolation," Ryan said. —Daniel Bukszpan

2:06 pm: Global death toll surpasses 200,000

The total number of deaths related to Covid-19 has hit 200,698, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll hit 100,000 on April 10 and 150,00 on April 17. 

The United States has the highest death toll from the coronavirus with 52,782 reported fatalities, according to JHU. That's roughly double the 26,384 deaths reported by Italy, the country with the second-highest number of fatalities.

The data also showed that Spain and France have been hard-hit, with each country reporting more than 22,000 deaths. —Hannah Miller

1:31 pm: More than 5,000 New York pharmacies to give coronavirus tests in bid to screen 40,000 people daily

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state is expanding diagnostic coronavirus testing to first responders, health care workers and essential employees and aims to provide tests to 40,000 people each day. 

Cuomo will also sign an executive order to allow independent pharmacists to conduct diagnostic testing. This will unlock a network of over 5,000 pharmacies as testing locations, he said. 

The governor said he plans to expand testing to 40,000 people per day with the help of the federal government as well as expand the criteria for someone to receive a diagnostic test. The state is currently averaging about 6,000 new virus cases every day. —Emma Newburger

1:20 pm: Doctor who pioneered HIV treatment discusses potential Covid-19 drugs

Dr. David Ho has more experience than most with viruses.

As director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York City in the early 1990s, Ho's lab pioneered treatment approaches to HIV and he was TIME's Man of the Year for that work in 1996. He still leads the center. 

Now, his focus is Covid-19 or more specifically SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

He and a team of about 15 people are working on two different approaches to stopping the virus: isolating antibodies from people who've recovered from Covid-19, and developing new drugs called protease inhibitors that interfere with the virus's ability to replicate.

Here are Ho's thoughts on some of the most prominent drugs and approaches under consideration for Covid-19 right now. —Meg Tirrell

1:15 pm: The latest on US hot spots

1:02 pm: Beaches eyed as US takes steps toward reopening

Cailin Healy, and an unidentified friend, both of Calabasas, take a selfie together as beach-goers enjoy warm summer-like weather amid state and city social distancing regulations mandated by Gov. Newsom in Huntinton Beach, CA, on April 22, 2020.
Allen J. Schaben | Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Many Americans are expected to flock to beaches this weekend as one Florida county relaxed restrictions and California braced for a heat wave, even as new cases of the novel coronavirus hit a record high the day before.

Volusia County, home to the famed Daytona Beach, opened lots at its coastal parks to handicapped visitors, one step in a phased reopening that has so far limited its beaches to those wanting to walk, surf, bike or swim.

The step is warranted by the county's successful efforts to suppress cases of the virus, George Recktenwald, the county manager, said at a briefing on Friday, although he likened the situation to tapping the brakes on a car going downhill.

"We are starting to let up that brake a little bit but you don't want to do it too fast because you don't want to speed out of control," he said. "If you are on the beach you should be physically active. No sitting, sunbathing or hanging out with a cooler." —Reuters

11:55 pm: NY death rate continues to slow after '21 days of hell'

Deaths from the coronavirus in New York ticked up slightly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday, with the state recording 437 new deaths in the past 24 hours. The death toll is up from 422 in the previous period reported on Friday.

The virus has killed at least 16,599 people in the state, the governor said, although that number doesn't include what could be thousands of probable deaths in New York City.

"We are back to where we were 21 days ago … 21 days of hell," the governor said at a press conference. About 1,100 new patients were hospitalized yesterday in New York. —Emma Newburger

11:38 am: UK government under fire over virus advice as deaths pass 20,000

A sign for St Thomas' Hospital is seen in front of the Houses of Parliament on April 07, 2020 in London, England.
Justin Setterfield | Getty Images

Britain's government on Saturday defended the independence of the scientists advising it on the coronavirus after it emerged that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's controversial chief aide had attended meetings of the group.

Criticism of Johnson's Conservative government mounted as the U.K. became the fifth country in the world to report 20,000 virus-related deaths and counting.

The government said Saturday that 20,319 people with COVID-19 have died in British hospitals, an increase of 813 from the death toll reported the day before. The figure does not include deaths in nursing homes, which are likely to number in the thousands.

Scientists say the U.K. has reached the peak of the pandemic but is not yet out of danger. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is declining, and the number of daily deaths peaked on April 8. —Associated Press

11:05 am: India and Pakistan ease coronavirus restrictions for some small businesses

India allowed shops in residential areas to reopen Saturday, more than a month after the country went into lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, federal and state officials said.

The federal home ministry said late on Friday that retailers could resume operations with the staff numbers reduced by half as long as employees wore masks and gloves and appropriate social distancing was maintained.

The sale of liquor and other non-essential items continues to be banned and no shops in large market places or multi-brand and single-brand malls will be allowed to reopen until May 3. —Reuters 

10:30 am: Coronavirus spreads in NY nursing home forced to take Covid-19 patients

The coronavirus patients began arriving the last week of March, transferred to the Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center under a New York state mandate requiring nursing homes to accept those recovering from Covid-19, even if they still might be contagious.

At the time, the Long Island nursing home had only one known resident who had contracted the virus, according to the facility's president and CEO, Stuart Almer.

A month later, NBC News reports, Gurwin is battling an outbreak that's killed 24 residents — only three of whom were hospital transfers — and one staff member, who worked in housekeeping, Almer said. And the nursing home is still mandated to take in recovering hospital patients known to have the virus, potentially increasing its spread in the facility. Read the full report on Gurwin here—NBC News

9:20 am: How automakers plan to reopen their US plants

Walking into an auto parts plant in suburban Detroit, General Motors employees are instructed to stand at least six feet apart and go through a health screening that includes a temperature check. They also sanitize their hands and put on a face mask and safety glasses.

It's a far different process than how the former transmission facility, which GM decommissioned last year, used to operate with hundreds of employees freely entering and exiting the facility all at once.

As automakers wrestle with how to open their production facilities safely, timing is contentious.

UAW President Rory Gamble on Thursday said that the union believes restarting production in early-May is "too soon and too risky" for its members. Read the full story of how automakers plan to open their U.S. plants here. —Michael Wayland

8:55 am: Zillow CEO will allow his employees to work from home all year

Zillow Group’s headquarters in downtown Seattle.
Source: Zillow Group

Rich Barton, CEO and cofounder of online real estate service Zillow, told his employees on Friday that they can work from home through 2020. 

"My personal opinions about WFH have been turned upside down over the past 2 months. I expect this will have a lasting influence on the future of work ... and home," the internet entrepreneur said in a verified tweet early Saturday morning. 

Many nonessential workers around the country have been doing their jobs remotely for weeks, often while homeschooling and caring for their children, and about a quarter of them say they want to continue working from home at least part-time after the pandemic ends. —Elisabeth Butler Cordova

8:30 am: Poland to reopen outdoor sports fields as it eases restrictions 

Poland plans to reopen outdoor sports areas on May 4 and will allow top league football matches to be played at the end of next month, as part of an easing of restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Poland started relaxing some of the curbs earlier in April, saying they were costly for the economy. It has reopened forests and parks and eased rules on the number of customers in shops.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference on Saturday that the next stage of easing sport restrictions would include reopening indoor sports halls, followed by swimming pools and fitness clubs. —Reuters

6:30 am: 'No evidence' that recovered patients cannot be reinfected

"There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection."

That's the warning from the Word Health Organization in a new scientific brief. It comes in direct response to some governments suggesting that the detection of antibodies to the virus could serve as the basis for an "immunity passport" or "risk-free certificate."

"Most of these studies show that people who have recovered from infection have antibodies to the virus. However, some of these people have very low levels of neutralizing antibodies in their blood, suggesting that cellular immunity may also be critical for recovery," the statement read. Read the full brief here— Matt Clinch

6:02 am: Iran death toll rises by 76

Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said Saturday that Iran's death toll had risen by 76, to reach a total of 5,650, according to Reuters.

The total number of people confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus in the country is 89,328, he added. — Matt Clinch

3:51 am: German virus cases rise by 2,055

A man wearing a face cover cycles in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on April 10, 2020, amid a new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
John MacDougall | AFP | Getty Images

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases have increased by 2,055 to 152,438, and deaths by 179 to 5,500, according to Reuters who cited the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases— Matt Clinch

Read CNBC's coverage from CNBC's Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Brazil becoming virus hot spot; WHO warns on reinfection.