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The U.S. suffered its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic yet, with nearly 2,000 deaths between Tuesday and Wednesday. The death toll now stands at 14,721, according to NBC News' tally Wednesday night.
The Chinese city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the outbreak, ended its 11-week lockdown early Wednesday. The city celebrated with a colourful light show. Residents will be tracked by smartphone apps to prove they are healthy and haven't mixed with anyone infected with coronavirus.
In London, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent his second night "stable" in an intensive care unit. The country has been jolted by his illness.
- Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments.
- Stay-at-home orders across the country: What each state is doing — or not — amid widespread coronavirus lockdowns.
Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.
Rio samba schools set Carnival costume aside, start sewing scrubs
RIO DE JANEIRO — Rio de Janeiro’s samba schools usually spend the year furiously sewing costumes for the city’s blowout Carnival celebration. Now, nimble fingers are working to protect lives instead, making medical outfits for hospital workers who face a surge of coronavirus patients.
Dr. Wille Baracho on Tuesday carried rolls of fabric into the Unidos de Padre Miguel samba school’s workshop in the Vila Vintem favela. Inside, seamstresses perched on plastic chairs busily transformed beige and pale yellow fabric into medical wear.
The initiative started with Baracho and one of his colleagues at a nearby hospital emergency room where they have seen a shortage of materials. Both happen to sit on Padre Miguel’s board and saw a chance to redirect labor. The city joined in, donating thousands of yards of fabric, and the seamstresses set to work Friday.
Grocery employees say they fear for their lives at work
Federal stockpile of protective equipment nearly gone, HHS says
WASHINGTON — The Strategic National Stockpile is nearly out of the N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients.
The Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that the federal stockpile was in the process of deploying all remaining personal protective equipment in its inventory.
The HHS statement confirms federal documents released Wednesday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee showing that about 90 percent of the personal protective equipment in the stockpile has been distributed to state and local governments.
HHS spokeswoman Katie McKeogh said the remaining 10 percent will be kept in reserve to support federal response efforts.
Pompeo, Netanyahu discuss efforts to contain virus
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Wednesday by phone about efforts to contain the global coronavirus outbreak, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
The two also talked about Iran and "the unwavering U.S. commitment to Israel’s security," she said in a statement.
Israel had 9,404 COVID-19 cases and 71 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the World Health Organization. Netanyahu has threatened to deploy roadblocks in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities reluctant to practice social distancing.
On Friday, police surrounded the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, which has seen a relatively high rate of spread.
Philadelphia emerging as potential hot spot
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence says Philadelphia is emerging as a potential hot spot for the coronavirus and urged its residents to heed social distancing guidelines.
Pence says he spoke to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, and he says Pittsburgh is also being monitored for a possible rise in cases.
Nevada man charged with stealing masks from VA center
A Reno, Nevada, man is accused of stealing around 200 surgical masks from a Veterans Affairs medical center last month, prosecutors said.
Peter Lucas, 35, of Reno, stole at least four boxes of masks — each containing 50 masks — from the Ioannis A. Lougaris VA Medical Center between March 19 and March 23, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada said in a statement.
He is charged with one count of theft of health care property, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
New CDC guidance for essential workers during coronavirus
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines for essential workers, such as those in the health care and food supply industries. The guidance is focused on when those workers can return to work after having been exposed to the new coronavirus.
— Do take your temperature before work.
— Do wear a face mask at all times.
— Do practice social distancing as work duties permit.
— Don't stay at work if you become sick
— Don't share headsets or objects used near face.
— Don't congregate in the break room or other crowded places.
Photos: Riding along with paramedics
Biden calls for feds to cover COBRA payments amid pandemic
Speaking at a virtual town hall on Wednesday, apparent Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said the federal government needs to step up its game to people who've been forced out of work because of the coronavirus crisis.
"We're going to have to do more," Biden said, saying future spending bills should include expanded unemployment payments and subsidies for Obamacare to make sure people can afford their health care. "The same goes for COBRA," Biden said. "The government should pick up the full cost of COBRA premiums right now."
He also repeated his calls for "a rent freeze and a moratorium on evictions during this pandemic" as well as up to $10,000 in student debt relief.
"The money and the plans that are in the CARES act won't be enough," he said. "America's long-term recovery is going to require far more investment, but it needs to be smart and effective."
Birx praises 'American people's strength' as social distancing measures appear to be working
Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the nation's top doctors, praised Americans on Wednesday for sticking to the social distancing measures as new models show a lower coronavirus death projection in the U.S. in the coming months.
"We are still in awe of the American people's strength in this in following through," Birx said during the daily White House coronavirus task force briefing, noting that the widespread behavioral change has resulted in a far lower death forecast that models initially suggested.
Birx said she hopes this will change how people think about respiratory diseases. She said Americans can continue to honor those who have died, those who are at high risk, such as seniors, and health care workers by continuing to stay indoors and follow the guidelines.
She noted that the numbers of coronavirus cases are “stabilizing,” but “there is still a significant amount of disease there and everyone needs to continue to follow the guidelines.”
Pompeo: We are still working to get thousands of Americans home amid pandemic
Secretary of State Pompeo said the State Department is still working to get thousands of Americans back to the U.S. after getting stuck abroad when the COVID-19 outbreak happened.