U.S. deaths top 16,000, Boris Johnson out of intensive care

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: A woman puts cloth face masks on a string to dry before distributing it for free around the neighbourhood, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia
A woman puts cloth face masks on a string to dry before distributing it for free around the neighbourhood, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, April 9, 2020.Willy Kurniawan / Reuters

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The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. now stands at 16,527 and total cases neared half a million at 460,967, according to an NBC News tally as of Thursday night.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York state has reached 159,937 — outpacing any country except the United States as a whole.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that New York was bringing in additional funeral directors "to deal with the number of people who have passed."

Lockdowns appear set to remain in place in many European countries amid rising death tolls, as governments from Britain to France decide whether to extend restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out the intensive care unit at a St. Thomas' Hospital as he continues to recover from COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.

"Saturday Night Live" announced Thursday that it would be back on air this weekend, using remotely produced content. The sketch show tweeted a photo of its stars, including Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon, together on a video conference.

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Federal judge says Texas must allow certain abortions

A federal judge on Thursday issued an order saying the state must allow medication abortions, which involve only pills, and abortions for women who have only a few weeks of pregnancy left before hitting the 22-month mark, at which point abortion is generally illegal in the state.

Planned Parenthood is hoping this new on limit on enforcement of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning elective surgery, will conform with a federal appeals court ruling earlier this week that struck down the judge's first order that allowed abortion to continue.

“The inability to obtain abortion care in Texas as a result of the Executive Order is causing individuals with unwanted pregnancies who have the ability to travel to go to other states to obtain abortions. The record shows that these individuals are traveling by both car and airplane to places as far away as Colorado and Georgia,” said Federal District Court Judge Lee Yeakel. 

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, overturning the judge’s first order, said even though women have a constitutional right to abortion services, states can limit rights during public emergencies like the virus pandemic. But the appeals court left the door open to a revised order that would permit some abortions.

FBI warns of 'money mule' schemes exploiting pandemic

Participants use laptop computers as they take part in the Seccon 2016 final competition in Tokyo on Jan. 28, 2017.Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images file

The FBI is out with a new warning that criminals may try to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic through a a tempting scheme.

It starts off as a harmless enough request. You receive an email, maybe through an online job site or a dating website. Provide your bank account information and allow money transfers to flow through your account. You move the money for someone and they pay you a little cash for your trouble or lure you with the potential of a romantic relationship.

Read the full story here. 

#LightItBlue campaign hits the U.S. to show gratitude to essential workers

The 'Light It Blue' campaign hits the U.S. starting at 8 p.m. local time on Thursday — calling on businesses and communities across the country to shine blue lights or share messages of thanks to essential workers on the frontlines in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

Broadway theaters are set to participate in the campaign, as well as New York City landmarks Bryant Park and One World Observatory. Other participants across the U.S. include LAX Airport and the St. Louis skyline.

The #LightItBlue initiative originally started in the UK, with blue symbolizing health care workers, and is largely a volunteer effort. 

Mom of 27-year-old grocery store worker mourns the loss of her 'butterfly'

A mother is mourning the loss of her 27-year-old daughter — her "butterfly" — who died of coronavirus after refusing to miss a day working at her Maryland grocery store job because she "wanted to help anyone that she came in contact with."

But Leilani Jordan, who had disabilities, was worried about her safety at work. "She said to me 'Mom ... I have to take my own hand sanitizer because there's none available, there’s no gloves available,'" Zenobia Shepherd told MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle Thursday. 

Jordan started feeling sick in the middle of March, was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on March 26 and passed away on April 1, according to a memorial page.

Now, Shepherd is worried for other workers deemed necessary during the pandemic, and their families. 

"You know what using the proper PPE could have done for my baby?" she asked. "I'm a mother, and I have a hole in my heart for the rest of my life. My baby is gone."

Felismina Andrade, a communications director for Giant, said that Jordan's last day of work was March 16, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on PPE was different. 

"Our Giant Food family is mourning Leilani’s passing, along with her family, as she was a valued associate who has been part of our Giant Food family since 2016," said a statement from the company. "We are supporting Leilani’s family during this difficult time and have been in direct contact with her mother to address her needs."

Dow rallies as Federal Reserve announces new programs to boost economy

The Dow rallied as the Federal Reserve announced $2.3 trillion in programs to boost the economy as millions of Americans filed for unemployment. NBC's David Gura takes a look at how the news of the day shaped the markets.

Sen. Murphy, Rep.Cooper, introduce bill to protect inspectors general

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., introduced a bill Thursday that would protect inspectors general from politically motivated firings and set their terms at seven years.

The bill, which Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., also introduced in the House, aims to strengthen the independence of inspectors general to allow them to do their jobs without fear of political retribution. It comes after President Donald Trump fired Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who flagged the Ukraine whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment. Days later, Trump also removed Glenn Fine, a top Pentagon official leading the committee tasked with overseeing implementation of the $2 trillion in coronavirus relief spending that Congress passed late last month. 

“We simply cannot allow President Trump to weaponize independent oversight positions in his administration to reward his friends, punish his political enemies, and cover up wrongdoing,” Murphy told NBC News. “If recent events have shown us anything, it’s that we desperately need federal watchdogs to safeguard our system from political abuse by Trump and his allies.”

Cooper called the action against the inspectors general "reckless and appears to be political retaliation," adding, "If anything, our inspectors general need more power, not punishment, so they can hold bad actors accountable.”

Michigan creates task force to focus on racial disparity in coronavirus cases

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of a task force that would look into the racial disparity in patients who have contracted the coronavirus. 

Whitmer said Thursday that despite the fact that African Americans only make up 14 percent of the state's population, more than 40 percent of Michigan's COVID-19 deaths have been black residents. 

“This virus is holding a mirror up to our society and reminding us of the deep inequities in this country,” Whitmer said. “From basic lack of access to health care, transportation, and protections in the workplace, these inequities hit people of color and vulnerable communities the hardest.

The task force, compromised of government workers and health care professionals, will provide advice on how to address the disparity and slow the spread of the virus. 

Wisconsin voter speaks out amid reports that hundreds of absentee ballots were not delivered

Russell Yale, a Wisconsin voter residing in the Milwaukee suburbs, spoke to NBC News on Thursday about not receiving the absentee ballots he and his wife requested as reports detail hundreds of ballots in the state were never distributed to voters ahead of Tuesday's primary and down-ballot elections.

Yale said he and his wife, both over 70, requested the ballots in light of the public health crisis gripping the country and said he feels "disenfranchised" now that he is unable to vote, adding that there "needs" to be "a post-mortem" to learn what went wrong. Yale said he wanted to vote in the Democratic presidential primary and in a key race for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat.

"I just don't want this to happen again," Yale said, pointing to November's election. "I just don't want anything to keep my vote from counting."

Those Wisconsin voters who defied the state's stay-at-home order to vote on Tuesday braved extensive lines and hourslong waits after two courts ruled that the primary election couldn't be postponed. State Democrats sought to delay the contest but failed.

White House to test all reporters for COVID-19 at Thursday's briefing

All reporters planning to attend Thursday's coronavirus task force briefing will be tested for COVID-19, the White House said, in light of news that a member of the press corps who was present at the White House on Tuesday is now experiencing symptoms.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the White House Medical Unit is going to conduct a COVID-19 test on all members of the press who plan to participate in today’s task force briefing, including correspondents, photographers, and technicians," the White House said in a statement. "These test will be conducted with absolute privacy in a vacant office within lower press."

According to White House Correspondents Association President Jon Karl, test results for the person experiencing symptoms are still pending.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announces hotel vouchers and stipends for caregivers

Caregivers in California, some of whom have taken to sleeping in their cars as they balance the care of their clients with their own efforts to remain safe, will be able to receive vouchers and stipends that will cover hotel costs, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced during a news conference Thursday.

Newsom called caregivers “the real heroes of this moment.” More than 150 hotels are participating in the program, and a listing of available hotels is available at the website Caltravelstore.com.

The state has experienced 18,309 positive coronavirus cases and 492 deaths, an increase of 50 deaths since Wednesday. More than 1,100 people remain hospitalized in intensive care units.