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More news from National Public Radio

Updated at 8:36 a.m. ET

The number of new people claiming unemployment benefits totaled a staggering 6.648 million last week — doubling the record set a week earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday.

In the prior week, ending March 21, a revised 3.3 million initial claims were filed. But analysts said even that lofty number was low because many states' employment websites were overwhelmed, making it difficult for applicants to get through.

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It's tempting, when assessing great creative works, to funnel all credit to a lone genius — a writer, a singer, a director, an artist, or a name that sits atop a marquee. It's so much easier to be spared the task of teasing out greatness from an interconnected web of contributors, partners, helpers, teachers and organizers. We can accept a songwriting credit that reads "Lennon-McCartney," but our icons — our geniuses, our auteurs — more often stand alone, lest their stars seem diminished.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

With government authorities warning an anxious public about scams related to the coronavirus, a California company is facing scrutiny by members of Congress and the city attorney of Los Angeles for selling COVID-19 test kits that it claimed can be used "in the home or at the bedside."

In Spain, just like the rest of the world, citizens are being asked to stay indoors. It's a tough time for musicians worldwide, but one group of roommates in Barcelona has turned their lock down into a jam session.

The group is called Stay Homas, and its members are Klaus Stroink, Guillem Boltó and Rai Benet, three professional musicians who live together in an apartment in Barcelona. They plan to release a new quarantine song every day they remain in self-isolation — which has been nearly three weeks.

Over the last month, Richard Frieson has lost two sisters to COVID-19. In normal times, Frieson's large family would have gathered in Chicago, where his sisters lived, to sing, pray, hug and mourn.

But in this time of a nationwide pandemic, the Friesons had to make do with a very different gathering.

"Today we are doing a big Zoom call," he said Sunday, referring to the video conferencing application that has become so popular recently. "It's just nice to see them and I'm glad we have this technology where we can actually look at each other."

Ellis Marsalis, jazz pianist, educator and patriarch of the Marsalis family, has died. His music students included Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Harry Connick, Jr., and 4 of his sons.

Copyright 2020 WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio. To see more, visit WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio.

The Trump administration says more tests are available every day. How hard is it to get tested for coronavirus across the U.S.? We go to three states to find out: California, Michigan and Montana?

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

President Trump last weekend raised — and then dropped — the idea of placing residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut under a quarantine to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus outside of the nation's hardest-hit region.

Not all Americans can stay home during the pandemic.

Millions of essential workers are showing up for their jobs at warehouses, food processing plants, delivery trucks and grocery checkout lines. Work that is often low-paid, and comes with few protections, is now suddenly much more dangerous.

America has a new appreciation for these workers. Bill Osborn, a dairy clerk at a Giant in La Plata, Md., says he never used to be thanked for his job. Ever.

But now that has changed.

It's been only a month since President Trump held his last campaign rally. It was March 2 when several thousand people squeezed into a North Carolina arena to cheer on a confident president seeking reelection at a time of peace and prosperity.

Trump touted the record low unemployment rate to rousing applause, repeating the theme of his 2020 campaign.

"Jobs are booming in our country, incomes are soaring, poverty has plummeted, confidence is surging," said the president.

Neilly Buckalew is a traveling doctor who fills in at hospitals when there's need. So in the midst of this pandemic, she feels particularly vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus — not just in hospitals but in hotels and on her travels.

Ellis Marsalis, jazz pianist, educator, and patriarch of the Marsalis family, has died at the age of 85. His death was announced in tweets from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Jazz at Lincoln Center, where his son Wynton is managing and artistic director.

He reportedly went into the hospital over the weekend with symptoms of pneumonia. The New York Times reports that his son Branford says the cause of death was complications from COVID-19.

President Trump was asked Wednesday why his administration hasn't reopened the healthcare.gov exchanges to help bridge the insurance coverage gap for those who do not have private insurance and who do not qualify for Medicaid.

To test for the coronavirus, you need a swab.

But only two companies in the world manufacture the specialized instrument used to collect a sample from noses.

The limited supply has led to a shortage in the U.S. and a scramble by those two manufacturers to produce more.

One of those companies, Puritan Medical Products, based in Guilford, Maine has ramped up its production to more than 1 million swabs per week, according to Timothy Templet, the company's vice president of sales.

Adam Schlesinger, one of the most prolific and decorated songwriters of his generation, died Wednesday from complications caused by COVID-19. He was 52.

His death was confirmed to NPR by his lawyer, Josh Grier.

Top U.S. Navy officials on Wednesday defended their response to a coronavirus outbreak aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, a day after a scathing letter from the warship's commander that became public, sharply questioned how the health emergency was being handled.

Mobile carrier T-Mobile announced today that it's officially completed a merger with Sprint. The deal, which was announced in 2018, means that the previously third and fourth largest wireless companies in the United States have now become the third — rivaling AT&T and Verizon. The new company, just called T-Mobile, is hoping to use its new pool of resources to expand its 5G capabilities, aiming to provide faster internet speeds to 99% of the population within the next six years.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he told President Trump on Wednesday that the United States should grant hazard pay — additional pay for hazardous duty — to frontline federal employees responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

It makes sense that some of America's biggest cities — crowded port regions closely tied to the wider world — are among those hit hardest by the coronavirus.

But smaller, landlocked areas are certainly no exception. In Albany, Ga., a small inland city of 73,000, the biggest hospital is overwhelmed. The Phoebe Putney Health System has registered 685 confirmed cases and 33 deaths related to the coronavirus.

Two years ago, science writer Ed Yong wrote an article for The Atlantic in which he warned that a new global pandemic was inevitable — and that the world would be unprepared for it when it arrived.

Third Federal Inmate Dies From COVID-19

15 hours ago

Updated 8:34 p.m. ET

A third person held at the federal prison in Oakdale, La., has died of COVID-19, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons officials. The person's name was not released while authorities notified the person's next of kin.

About six months after several major pharmacies pulled Zantac and its generic equivalents off their shelves, citing a potentially harmful contaminant in the heartburn medication, federal regulators are throwing their weight behind the drug's removal from the market. The Food and Drug Administration requested Wednesday that manufacturers immediately pull all prescription and over-the-counter versions of the drug.

City authorities in Moscow are rolling out new digital "social monitoring" tools targeting the public, after what officials say were constant violations of the city's quarantine imposed this week to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

Under restrictions in place since Monday, most of the city's 12 million residents must remain indoors, barring a few exceptions — like trips to the supermarket or pharmacy, taking out the trash or briefly walking the dog.

Imagine this: One minute you're a volunteer doing work that you find incredibly meaningful in a faraway place.

Then you get a notice – evacuate immediately. Suddenly you're back home, probably feeling down and definitely jobless.

That's the situation that over 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers found themselves in after an unprecedented evacuation order in mid-March. The reason: fear of coronavirus. The Peace Corps explains that it didn't want its volunteers stranded abroad if travel became impossible.

Italy is extending its coronavirus lockdown to April 13, as the country's death toll from COVID-19 now tops 13,000 people. The death toll rose by the smallest amount in days, but officials say it's too soon to declare the epidemic over. The number of new cases, which had been declining, was higher than the previous day.

News of the continued lockdown in Italy comes after members of the White House's coronavirus task force referred to Italy as an example of how the coronavirus could play out in the U.S.

Some devout Orthodox Jewish communities have been slow to follow lockdown orders in Israel, helping drive a surge in coronavirus cases that officials are struggling to contain.

Known in Israel as Haredim, or those who tremble in awe before God, ultra-Orthodox Jews make up about 12% of Israel's population — but they account for as much as 60% of Israel's COVID-19 cases in major hospitals, according to estimates. More than 6,000 Israelis have been infected and at least 31 have died.

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