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US Coronavirus Updates: Entire Country Is Now Under Disaster Declaration

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The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. has surpassed 20,600 while the total number of cases was over 529,950, according to a tally from John's Hopkins University.

New York state leads the world in coronavirus infections with more than 181,800 confirmed cases, a number that only counts infected people who have been tested. The death toll in the state has climbed to 8,650, with the majority of the cases and fatalities concentrated in New York City.

Worldwide, more than 1.7 million have been diagnosed since the virus emerged in China in December. The death toll reached a grim milestone on Friday, topping 100,000 fatalities globally.

How Coronavirus Has Grown in Each State — in 1 Chart

New York has quickly become the epicenter of the American coronavirus outbreak. This chart shows the cumulative number of cases per state by number of days since the 10th case.

Source: Johns Hopkins University
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.:

Every U.S. State Is Now Under Disaster Declaration

The entire country is now under a major disaster declaration for the coronavirus pandemic.

Wyoming on Saturday became the final state to receive such a declaration, which comes 22 days after the first one was approved, for New York, on March 20.

In addition to the 50 states, disaster declarations are also in place for Washington, D.C., as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Only one U.S. territory isn't under a major disaster declaration — American Samoa.

Coronavirus Infects Navajo Nation as Cases Rise 17%

The number of coronavirus cases on the nation's largest Native American reservation jumped by 17% Saturday as the Navajo Nation prepared to get new rapid-test kits.

The Navajo Nation said in a statement that the number of cases on the 27,000-square-mile (70,000-square-kilometer) reservation that sprawls across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah rose to 698 Saturday, up 101 from the day before. So far, a total of 24 people have died from complications of COVID-19.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer said they have been told that Abbott ID rapid test kits will become available at Navajo Area IHS facilities and tribal health care centers in the next few days. The tests come out with results within several minutes, they said.

Federal Judge OKs Drive-In Easter Service

The city of Louisville, Kentucky cannot halt a drive-in church service planned for Easter, a federal judge ruled.

On Fire Christian Church had sued Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and the city after Fischer announced drive-in style religious gatherings were not allowed on Easter.

U.S. District Judge Justin Walker sided with the church.

“On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter,” Walker wrote in his sternly worded 20-page opinion. “That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion.”

Walker added that “The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.”

Fischer had argued that drive-in church services weren’t “practical or safe” for the community. However, Walker noted that drive-thru restaurants and liquor stores were still allowed to operate.

US Death Toll Overtakes Italy's as Midwest Braces

The U.S. has recorded nearly 20,000 deaths from the coronavirus, overtaking Italy for the highest death toll in the world.

Fear is mounting over the spread of the virus into the nation’s heartland. Hot spots of contagion are erupting in the Midwest, including nursing home deaths in Indiana and Iowa and deaths at the Cook County Jail in Chicago.

Cook County has also set up a temporary morgue that can take more than 2,000 bodies. 

New York City Schools Will Remain Closed for the Remainder of the School Year

The state governor and the New York City mayor are at odds over whether public school sites in the 1.1 million-student district will be shuttered for the rest of the academic year to curb the coronavirus.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday they would close, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo swiftly responded that the decision was his to make.

The governor says school closings would have to be coordinated with districts surrounding the city. The dispute was the latest in a long-running grudge match between the two Democrats. School buildings in the nation’s largest school district have been closed since March 16.

White House Approves Production of N95 Masks

Defense Department officials say the White House has approved the production of N95 masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a statement, $133 million will be used to increase the production capacity of masks to more than 39 million over the next 90 days. Officials say the names of the companies that have been chosen to make the masks will be made available in the coming days when the contract is awarded.

The masks will be made under the Defense Production Act. President Donald Trump invoked the act, which gives the federal government broad authority to direct private companies to meet the needs of the national defense, to help provide medical supplies.

Crime Drops in Chicago as COVID-19 Keeps People Inside

In Chicago, one of America’s most violent cities, drug arrests have plummeted 42% in the weeks since the mayor ordered the city to shut down, compared with the same period last year.

Overall, Chicago’s crime declined 10% last month, a trend playing out across the U.S.

Much of the decrease has taken place because of tougher security policies and gang truces. But the imposition of near-total limits on movement is likely driving it down further.

Burning Man Canceled, Virtual Festival on Instead

Burning Man, the music festival that takes over the Nevada desert every summer, has been canceled, organizers announced Friday night.

Instead of setting up its venue in the Black Rock desert, the festival will instead take place virtually.

"In 2020 we need human connection and Immediacy more than ever, " the statement read. "But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff, and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities."

Details about the virtual event are still being ironed out, including whether participants will need to purchase a ticket.

Although the statement acknowledged the virtual event would likely be "messy and awkward with mistakes," the organizers invited people to hold onto their tickets and make a tax-deductible donation to the Burning Man Project.

The organization said that with the cancellation, it expects substantial staff layoffs and pay cuts will be needed to ensure it can remain operational until the 2021 festival season.

"This is going to be a tough year for us, as we know it will be for you, but we will get through it together," the statement read.

The group added it was committed to providing refunds to those who need them. Ticketholders can request a refund through their profile on the site.

Tickets for the event, which first started in 1986 on a San Francisco beach, cost nearly $500.

More than 70,000 people flood Burning Man's Black Rock City venue, according to a festival census.

The festival was set to run from Aug. 30 through Sept. 7.

Experimental Drug Remdesivir Shows Potential, Early Research Suggests

Early research shows an experimental treatment for the coronavirus may help very sick patients improve their breathing, though experts caution more studies are needed before the drug, remdesivir, can be recommended, NBC News reports.

The research, published Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 53 coronavirus patients who had been given remdesivir through what’s called "compassionate use."

In a majority of the patients — 68%— doctors were able to reduce the amount of oxygen support needed. What's more, 17 of 30 patients who'd been on ventilators were able to come off of those machines. That's important because COVID-19 patients who need to be put on ventilators appear to be more likely to suffer long-term health consequences, and may have worse outcomes.

Read the full story at NBCNews.com.

Hundreds of cars lined up at a food drive in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as organizations try to help people through the coronavirus pandemic. In Oklahoma City, the lines of cars even caused traffic delays.
The Associated Press/NBC
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