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U.S. and global news on COVID-19

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Watch right here! Get live updates from the NBC News streaming network News Now.Angela Weiss / AFP - Getty Images

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a massive stimulus package late Wednesday night aimed at softening the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic for American workers and businesses. The bill includes billions of dollars in credit for struggling industries, a boost to unemployment insurance and direct cash payments to Americans.

The fate of the bill now rests with the House, which will not vote until Friday, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

The U.S. reached a grim milestone as the number of deaths linked to the coronavirus passed 1,000 in the country, according to a count of reports of cases and deaths by NBC News. Globally, the death toll topped 20,000, with nearly half a million reported cases.

Meanwhile at the U.N., the Trump administration is pushing the Security Council to call attention to the Chinese origins of the coronavirus, four diplomats posted to the United Nations told NBC News, triggering a stalemate as the global body seeks to cobble together a response to the pandemic.

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Photo: Awaiting cremation in Lombardy

Thirty-five coffins of the deceased are stored in a warehouse in Ponte San Pietro, near Bergamo, in Lombardy, Italy's hardest-hit region, on Thursday before being transported to another region for cremation. Lombardy reported a steep rise in fatalities Thursday compared with the day before and remains in a critical situation, with a total of 4,861 deaths and 34,889 cases.Piero Cruciatti / AFP - Getty Images

Saints quarterback Drew Brees donates $5 million to Louisiana relief efforts

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Thursday committed $5 million to Louisiana charities focused on feeding children, senior citizens and "families in need."

"The priority now is helping our communities get through this tough time," according to a statement by the Super Bowl winning quarterback. "Let’s all do our part, maintain hope, and get through this together." 

The city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Indy 500 postponed because of coronavirus

The Indianapolis 500, the world's oldest automobile race, has been postponed because of coronavirus.

The race, which was originally scheduled to occur on May 24, has been rescheduled to Aug. 23. 

The Indianapolis 500 began in 1911 and this year marks the first time it won't run on Memorial Day weekend since 1946. The race was canceled six times in the past because of the two world wars.

Nearly 3 dozen who attended Arkansas church event test positive for coronavirus

Nearly three dozen people who attended a recent children's event at an Arkansas church have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to church officials.

Donald Shipp, a deacon at First Assembly of God church in Greers Ferry, about 75 miles north of Little Rock, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that 34 people who attended the event in early March at the Cleburne County church had tested positive for the coronavirus, and that an unknown number of others were awaiting test results.

Danyelle McNeill, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Health, said a number of coronavirus cases have been associated with a church in Cleburne County, which she did not identify.

"We are still investigating newly reported cases and can’t definitively say they are all connected to one church," McNeill told NBC News on Thursday. "This is a cluster within a larger outbreak in that area of the state."

Read the full story here.

During Stephen Curry's Q&A with Dr. Fauci, a special guest follows along

NBA star Stephen Curry has been hosting a question-and-answer on Instagram live with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

As tens of thousands on social media follow along, some noticed former President Barack Obama was among them.

'League' of cybersecurity professionals band together to help hospitals

A growing group of cybersecurity professionals is volunteering their expertise to help hospitals fight off hackers while doctors and nurses fight the coronavirus.

Calling themselves the CTI League — Countering Threat Intelligence, and a nod to the superhero team the Justice League — the group has swelled from a handful of professionals to 450 members worldwide in less than two weeks.

“If some hospital gets attacked by some ransomware and wouldn’t be able to pay, people will die because they wouldn't be able to get the medical services needed," said the group's founder, Ohad Zaidenberg.

Coordinating over Slack, the CTI League identifies what types of vulnerabilities active hackers are using, then searches for hospitals and other medical facilities that might be vulnerable to them so that they can fix them first. "The first thing we want to do is neutralize attacks before they happen. The second is to help any medical organization after they are attacked," Zaidenberg said.

'Most photographed' Wall Street trader Peter Tuchman has coronavirus

Peter Tuchman at the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, 2020.Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

New York Stock Exchange trader Peter Tuchman revealed in an Instagram post on Thursday that he has the coronavirus. 

Tuchman of Quattro Securities, who has worked as a trader for 35 years, is known as the "most photographed" in his field.

In his Instagram post, he shares photos of a Corona beer and the prayer hands emoji. He writes that he is battling the virus "pretty hard" and has never felt so sick in his life.

Trader Peter Tuchman works the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 2012.Richard Drew / AP file

"Great team of doctors no breathing problems that’s a good thing all the other problems that’s a bad thing will get to the other side of this I’ll be in touch... soon ... send prayers," Tuchman writes.

At least two other floor traders tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday despite strict measures taken to prevent those infected from entering the exchange while it remained open last week, according to a memo seen by Reuters

Connecticut asks for federal disaster declaration

Connecticut on Thursday joined a growing list of states that have asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a disaster declaration to cope with the "severity and magnitude" of the coronavirus outbreak.

The state has seen at least 875 cases of the virus and 19 deaths, although officials said they believe there are "many more cases" that have not yet been confirmed. Gov. Ned Lamont said federal assistance could help residents gain additional resources, including for childcare and crisis counseling.

President Donald Trump in recent days has also declared disasters in New York, California, Washington, Louisiana, Iowa, Florida and Texas.

Pelosi says she doesn't think 'we've seen the end of direct payments,' calls for fourth aid bill

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed confidence Thursday that her chamber will pass the third coronavirus relief bill on Friday, she’s already focused on writing a fourth phase of aid and suggested that in a future measure, Congress might consider providing more direct payments to Americans.

“I don't think we've seen the end of direct payments,” Pelosi said at her weekly press conference Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Pelosi said Americans are eager to receive the direct payments provided by the third relief bill, which the Senate passed late Wednesday and the House will consider on Friday. She pointed out that the version Democrats crafted for the third legislative aid bill would have provided “bigger direct payments.”

Read the full story here.