President Trump announced guidelines for states to start opening their economies that have been largely shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. The “Opening up America Again” plan includes three phases and will give governors the authority to make decisions about how their states proceed.

The Labor Department reported more than 5 million new unemployment claims and a stimulus plan to help small businesses ran out of cash Thursday as the nation’s economy staggered under weeks of severe coronavirus restrictions.

U.S. deaths spiked Wednesday to a daily high of almost 2,500, although the impact of a decision by federal health officials to include deaths “probably” caused by the coronavirus pandemic was not immediately clear. What is clear is that the outbreak has now claimed more than 32,000 lives across the nation and more than 142,000 worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The number of confirmed cases has surpassed 2 million globally – including nearly 660,000 in the U.S.

The latest jobless numbers would have shattered records less than a month ago. But under new economic realities, more than 22 million Americans have lost their jobs in recent weeks. Some economists estimate the unemployment rate will surge to nearly 16% by July, higher than at any point since the Great Depression. 

Our live blog is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news, and get updates in your inbox with The Daily BriefingMore headlines:

• Heartbreak, prayer and mourning: US leads world in coronavirus deaths after deadliest week.

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• Travel may get harder:Flights to these cities likely to be nixed as bailed-out airlines seek service cuts.

• Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and hand soap:Here’s where to buy them.

• Where’s my stimulus check? IRS ‘Get My Payment’ coronavirus stimulus check portal hit by early glitches.

Staying Apart, Together.Sign up for our newsletter on how to cope during the pandemic.

President Trump announces guidelines for opening of economy

President Donald Trump unveiled recommendations to start the process of states reopening the U.S. economy that has been severely damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

The ”Opening up America Again” guidelines were announced Thursday at the White House after a call with governors of all 50 states. The president is giving the states the authority to make decisions about how to proceed. Trump had said earlier this week that it was his call on when to relax restrictions.

“Some states will open sooner than others,” Trump said. “Some states are not in the kind of trouble that others are in. Now that we have passed the peak in new cases, we’re starting our life again. We’re starting rejuvenation of our economy again in a safe and structured and very responsible fashion.”

The plan, which involves three phases, wouldn’t begin until states had 14 consecutive days of decreases in coronavirus cases and had testing and hospital capacity to deal with potential spikes in COVID-19 positive cases.

The current social distance guidelines set by the White House task force end May 1.

Erick Smith

Small business stimulus program runs out of money

A stimulus program set up to prevent small businesses from shuttering and their employees from going on unemployment officially ran dry Thursday in less than two weeks. The fate of the Paycheck Protection Program, launched with $349 billion for loans to small businesses, remains unclear as congressional leaders and the Trump administration remain at an impasse on a deal to inject billions more into the program. 

The Treasury Department says by law, it will not be able to issue new loan approvals for small businesses because of the lapse, putting a pause on the program that has already approved more than 1.6 million applications for employers.

– Christal Hayes

US stocks slightly up despite weak jobless, retail sales numbers

U.S. stocks edged slightly higher Thursday amid mixed economic news with the Dow Jones average rising 33.13 points to 25,537.68, an increase of 0.14%. The S&P 500 improved 0.58% to 2,799.55.

The rises came after the U.S. government reported last month’s retail sales plunged by a record 8.7% and factory output fell at the fastest rate for March since 1946. An hour before U.S. markets opened, another stunningly poor jobless report was released by the Labor Department.

5.2 million file new unemployment claims

More than 5.2 million people filed new unemployment benefit claims last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, a stunningly high number but below record-breaking reports the last two weeks. That brings the total claims over the past month to roughly 22 million. Jobless claims provide the best measure of layoffs across the country, and economists surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated that 5.5 million Americans would file initial applications for unemployment insurance last week. 

“The trajectory of the virus itself will ultimately determine how long the economy will remain shuttered,” analysts at Deutsche Bank Research said in a note.

– Jessica Menton

Encouraging news out of New York, but lockdown extended

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after noting a marked drop in COVID-19 deaths overnight, extended the state’s stay–at–home policy until next month and expanded the new order on wearing masks to include subways, buses, trains and taxis.

Cuomo said 606 people had died overnight, compared to the previous two days, which registered 778 and 752 deaths. He credited the state’s “N.Y. Pause” policy of closing businesses and stay-at-home orders and said those measures will be extended until at least May 15.

Cuomo said he had gotten a lot of “not happy phone calls” about the mandated use of face masks starting this week.

– Doug Stanglin

Scientists say US long way from CDC conditions for reopening country

Federal health officials warned leaders on the White House’s coronavirus task force this week that reopening the nation will require a massive capacity to test, track and treat people for the ongoing threat of the new coronavirus. 

Recommendations under development by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, copies of which were obtained by USA TODAY, largely follow a playbook that public health experts have been advocating for weeks. In conversations with a dozen scientists, USA TODAY found that states are falling short of the measures laid out by the CDC, high among them access to testing.

“I don’t see a path to reopening unless the testing issue is fixed,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “We have been complaining about testing for at least a month and nothing happened.”

– Letitia Stein and Brett Murphy

Cruise-goers not deterred by pandemic

While the coronavirus pandemic has put the cruise industry on hold, many cruise-goers aren’t feeling deterred, even after watching multiple ships end up in chaos.

Booking for 2021 has started to ramp up and cruise-lovers are ready to put the virus in the rear-view mirror and get back to what cruise blogger Donovan Frederickson called “a way of life.”

Others don’t see cruises as any more inherently risky than crowds on land. “Despite the headlines, it’s not as if the cruise lines are spraying passengers down with the virus,” said Tanner Callais, founder of “The outbreaks are simply the result of being in close proximity to others. To me, there is no more risk of getting sick on a cruise as there is to being at a concert or a crowded airport.”

– Jesse Yomtov

Midwest governors to partner to reopen regional economy

The governors of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky on Thursday announced that the states plan to coordinate efforts to reopen the Midwest economy.

In the statement, the governors said they’ll be considering four main factors before reopening: Sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations, enhanced ability to test and trace, sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence and best practices for social distancing in the workplace.

Michigan and Illinois are among states reporting the most confirmed coronavirus cases.

– Grace Hauck

CDC to tour Smithfield Foods plant in South Dakota, hottest US ‘hot spot’

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday will tour the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the biggest single source of coronavirus cases in the U.S. More than 600 cases have been tied to the meat processing plant, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. The plant closed Sunday, and two days later its first employee died. Augustín Rodriguez, 64, had been clinging to life on a ventilator for two weeks.

“I lost him because of that horrible place,” said Angelita, 73, through a translator. “Those horrible people and their supervisors, they’re sitting in their homes, and they’re happy with their families.”

The CDC team will create a checklist of items to complete before the plant can reopen, Gov. Kristi Noem said. Noem said she’s working with federal officials and Smithfield to get the plant back online to provide relief for pork producers and the food chain.

– Makenzie Huber​​​ and Lisa Kaczke, Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader

More coronavirus news and information from USA TODAY

• What to know about COVID-19: Here is USA TODAY’s one-stop guide.

• When are you getting your stimulus money? Here’s how to find out.

• Mapping coronavirus:Tracking the outbreak, state by state.

President Donald Trump has halted U.S. funding to WHO. Experts say we need it now more than ever. 

Fact check: Disposable masks should always be worn colored-side-out.


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Britain extends lockdown 3 weeks

The United Kingdom’s lockdown, scheduled for review today, has been extended by at least three weeks. “Relaxing any of the measures currently in place would risk damage to both public health and our economy,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said during a briefing Thursday, adding, “We must keep up the social distancing measures.”

Raab is standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is recovering from the coronavirus after a stay in the ICU. The national lockdown has been in place since March 23. More than 104,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the U.K., and more than 13,700 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins database.

– Grace Hauck

Drinking alcohol may heighten risk of getting coronavirus, WHO says

Alcohol sales have risen drastically nationwide during the nation’s stay-at-home experience, but booze may put individuals at increased risk for the coronavirus, the World Health Organization warns. Alcohol can weaken the body’s immune system and put drinkers at risk for other behaviors that could increase the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus. Upside: Alcohol does work as a disinfectant on surfaces.

“Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” the WHO’s regional office for Europe reported.

– Joshua Bote

Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller has COVID-19

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Miller’s agent, Joby Branion, confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.

Branion told the NFL Network that Miller is resting at home “in good spirits.” Branion told USA TODAY Sports that they are working through details of how Miller — who has asthma — will speak publicly on the matter Friday.

Miller was game MVP in the Broncos’ win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Last week, Miller was announced as an unanimous selection to the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2010s.

–Scott Gleeson and Jarrett Bell

More coronavirus headlines from USA TODAY

• Cash is ‘as important to Americans as Purell and toilet paper’: 3 in 10 Americans have lost income because of the coronavirus.

• Is New York using parks as burial grounds?We checked the facts; it’s not true.

• Poor, essential and on the bus: The coronavirus is putting public transportation riders at risk.

• A visual guide: This is what the coronavirus does inside your body.

• I drove across the country during the coronavirus.Here’s what I saw. 

Contributing: The Associated Press


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