Coronavirus Live Updates

LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES ON THE PANDEMIC

Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET

The U.S. budget deficit soared to a record $3.1 trillion, following a massive surge in government spending aimed at containing the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

The deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 was more than triple that of fiscal 2019 and easily eclipsed the previous record of $1.4 trillion recorded in 2009.

Israel, which imposed the world's strictest second nationwide lockdown, will be loosening some restrictions this weekend.

After a four-week lockdown, including a ban on movement beyond one-third of a mile from home, the country has dramatically brought down its number of infections.

On Sept. 30, Israel's health ministry reported there were 9,013 new cases, among the world's highest per capita daily infection rates. On Thursday, there were 1,608 new cases.

Coronavirus cases are rising rapidly in many states as the U.S. heads into the winter months. And forecasters predict staggering growth in infections and deaths if current trends continue.

It's exactly the kind of scenario that public health experts have long warned could be in store for the country, if it did not aggressively tamp down on infections over the summer.

Updated at 9:57 a.m. ET

Shoppers bought more clothes and cars, and even returned to beleaguered department stores in September.

Updated at 1 pm, to include comment from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services

Even the most effective, safest coronavirus vaccine won't work to curb the spread of the virus unless a large number of people get immunized. And getting a vaccine from the manufacturers all the way into people's arms requires complex logistics — and will take many months.

The Chinese port city of Qingdao is under soft lockdown after a cluster of 13 COVID-19 cases was discovered last weekend.

In the past five days, health authorities say they conducted more than 10 million coronavirus tests of all Qingdao residents, all of which came back negative. Still, residents have been asked to remain at home, flights to Beijing have been canceled and travelers from Qingdao to other parts of China must quarantine.

Health officials in Illinois on Thursday announced the largest number of COVID-19 deaths for a single day since June.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 53 new deaths, the largest daily increase since 64 people were reported as having died from the virus on June 24.

Historically, tobacco plants are responsible for their share of illness and death. Now they may help control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two biotech companies are using the tobacco plant, Nicotiana benthamiana, as bio-factories to produce a key protein from the coronavirus that can be used in a vaccine.

Wells Fargo has fired more than 100 employees, saying they personally defrauded a coronavirus relief program from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In a memo sent Wednesday and obtained by NPR, the company said it had identified employees that it believes made false representations in applying for relief funds through the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

The employees' actions were outside of their work responsibilities, the company said.

London, Birmingham and other U.K. cities are now at a high alert for COVID-19, as officials tighten restrictions on people and businesses in a huge swath of England. The alert level rose Thursday as part of a new system meant to tamp down regional outbreaks.

"Things will get worse before they get better," U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said as he announced the changes in Parliament. Europe is seeing a huge spike in new cases, Hancock said, "And here, we certainly saw the highest figure for daily deaths since early June."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the approval of a second new coronavirus vaccine in as many months – but neither has completed the kind of extensive and rigorous three-phase trials required in the U.S.

Barron Trump, the 14-year-old son of President Trump and Melania Trump, tested positive for COVID-19, after initially testing negative.

The First Lady made the announcement on Wednesday in a post called, "My personal experience with COVID-19," on the White House website, adding it was one of her greatest fears as a parent.

Coronavirus restrictions are taking effect in the Netherlands, the U.K., the Czech Republic and other parts of Europe on Wednesday as nations try to reverse an alarming wave in new cases. The continent is now seeing more new coronavirus cases – an average of 100,000 daily — than at any other time during the pandemic.

Bars, restaurants and schools are being shut down or sharply limited, and officials are working to bolster hospital capacity, to accommodate an expected influx of new COVID-19 patients.

In late March, shortly after New York state closed nonessential businesses and asked people to stay home, Ashley Laderer began waking each morning with a throbbing headache.

"The pressure was so intense it felt like my head was going to explode," the 27-year-old freelance writer from Long Island recalls.

She tried spending less time on the computer and taking over-the-counter pain medication, but the pounding kept breaking through — a constant drumbeat to accompany her equally incessant worries about COVID-19.

Updated at 4:59 p.m. ET

A Wisconsin judge has put a temporary hold on an order by Gov. Tony Evers' administration that limits the capacity of bars, restaurants and indoor spaces amid record numbers of coronavirus cases in the state.

The tools of the Internet, and a bit of public embarrassment, can go a long way in drawing attention to a cause.

Front-line workers at grocery and retail stores have used them effectively during the pandemic. Eight out of every nine American workers don't have a union to represent them in workplace disputes. So thousands of them have been flocking to the nonprofit website Coworker.org in their fight for a fairer workplace.

Lately, Zoom meetings have been hitting a nerve with CEOs.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says there's no vital "creative combustion" happening in virtual settings.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker finds Zoom meetings awful.

The United States has more than 50,000 contact tracers for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to a survey of states conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in collaboration with NPR.

Fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits have been a problem for a long time, and states have set up systems to try to prevent such fraud. But lost in that effort is arguably a bigger problem: Some of those systems have hurt millions of innocent people, keeping the benefits they deserve in limbo.

They're people like Sevy Guasch, who lost his job as a food and beverage manager at a Marriott hotel near San Jose, Calif. In March, he applied for unemployment benefits. He went online, entered his information, and waited. And waited.

During this pandemic, people in the United States are dying at rates unparalleled elsewhere in the world.

A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that in the past five months, per capita deaths in the U.S., both from COVID-19 and other causes, have been far greater than in 18 other high-income countries.

"It's shocking. It's horrible," says Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a professor of health policy and medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the authors of the study.

Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer star and one of the world's most famous athletes, has tested positive for the coronavirus, Portugal's soccer federation said Tuesday.

Ronaldo, 35, will isolate himself from teammates. Another round of testing revealed he was the only player on the team to test positive.

The federation said he "is doing well, without symptoms, and in isolation."

Administrators at Brigham Young University's campus in southeastern Idaho say they are "deeply troubled" by reports that students may have intentionally tried to contract COVID-19, lured by blood donation centers that are paying a premium for plasma with COVID-19 antibodies.

"Students who are determined to have intentionally exposed themselves or others to the virus will be immediately suspended from the university and may be permanently dismissed," the university said in a statement issued Monday.

Updated at 7:05 p.m. ET

Facebook said on Tuesday it will ban anti-vaccination ads, following widespread pressure on the social network to curb harmful content.

Under the new global policy, the company will no longer accept ads discouraging people from getting vaccines; ads that portray vaccines as unsafe or ineffective; or ads claiming the diseases vaccines prevent are harmless.

Pfizer announced this week that it has received FDA approval to enroll children as young as 12 years old in its COVID-19 vaccine trial. The expansion is aimed at understanding whether the vaccine would be safe and effective for adolescents.

Until now, children under 16 have not been included in any of the COVID-19 vaccine trials in the U.S., and the average age of participants has skewed much older.

Europe is seeing record numbers of new coronavirus cases.

The continent reported over 700,000 new coronavirus cases last week — its highest weekly total yet, according to the World Health Organization.

This surge represents a 36% increase from the week prior, in which Europe reported fewer than 520,000 cases. Europe's population is about 740 million.

On Tuesday, the New York Philharmonic announced that it has canceled all of its scheduled concerts through June 13, 2021. It is the first time in the orchestra's 178-year history that it has canceled an entire season.

Among the enormous burdens of fending off the coronavirus pandemic, many countries closed whole sectors of the economy while boosting emergency spending to keep citizens afloat. Now in Canada, momentum is building for another extraordinary measure: a basic income guarantee.

Simply put, it's when residents receive cash from the government, without conditions, to ensure they meet their basic needs.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

Two of the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan's governor took part in a discussions earlier this year with members of self-styled militia groups about potentially abducting Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.

The testimony came during a hearing Tuesday in federal court in Grand Rapids, Mich., as part of the Justice Department's case against six men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Updated at 5:38 p.m. ET

Two coronavirus studies have been put on pause by drugmakers as they investigate safety concerns.

The pauses are not uncommon or cause for undue concern, but they highlight how little is known about the combination of medications prescribed to President Trump following his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Johnson & Johnson paused all clinical trials of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine after a study participant became sick with an "unexplained illness."

In March, Dr. Achintya Moulick found himself at the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic.

He oversees three CarePoint Health hospitals in northern New Jersey and in the early days of the pandemic, they were swamped. "We had no idea what this infection was all about," he says.

One of the first challenges was screening patients for COVID-19 even before they entered the hospital.

"One day I saw a big line outside the entrance of the hospital," he says. "And they were manually checking everybody's temperature."

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