U.S. deaths near 15,000 as Wuhan lifts lockdown

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.

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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.

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41 MTA workers have died from coronavirus, chairman says

Among the more than 5,000 people who have died from the coronavirus in New York state are 41 MTA workers, according to chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye.

"We mourn the loss of every one of our 41 colleagues," he said on the radio station WCBS 880.

About 1,500 employees, including Foye himself, have tested positive for the virus. 

"I happen to be one of those, but the real loss is the grieving that we're doing at the MTA and the families of the 41 MTA colleagues who have been killed by the virus," he said.

Since March 1, the MTA has distributed 300,000 N95 respiratory masks and an additional 160,000 surgical masks to employees, Foye told radio host Steve Scott. More than two million gloves have also been provided to workers. 

"We're going to continue to do that, we've got enough supplies to do that on a daily and weekly basis as long as the pandemic continues, and I think that has been an important thing and protecting the health of our colleagues at the MTA," Foye said. 

Russia's Putin understands 'fatigue' of self-isolation

President Vladimir Putin urged Russians to keep up with self-isolation on Wednesday, saying that he understood the usual rhythm of daily life had been "disrupted" but that the strain of coping with the coronavirus outbreak would pass.

"I understand that we all have already accumulated fatigue...For most people, being constantly within four walls is, as they say, dreary and nauseating. But there is no choice now," he said on state television, ahead of a teleconference with regional leaders.

Some 68 people have died so far in Russia, according to an NBC News tally. Putin also called for more financial measures to support businesses during the crisis. 

U.S. and U.K. warn about coronavirus-based hacking efforts

The U.S. and U.K. governments have issued a joint warning that hackers are trying to exploit the coronavirus pandemic.

“The techniques used by attackers prey on people’s appetite for information and curiosity towards the outbreak, with phishing emails and SMS messages using the virus as a lure to trick people into revealing credentials or downloading malicious software,” Homeland Security warned in an emailed statement.

Hackers from the Chinese, Iranian and Russian governments began using coronavirus-themed emails to break into their targets from the onset of the pandemic, analysts have said. But this is the first major, formal warning from the U.S. and U.K. governments that their residents are regularly targeted with coronavirus-themed phishing attempts, both by foreign governments and criminal hackers.

Common subject lines for phishing emails include “2020 Coronavirus Updates” and “2019-nCov: New confirmed cases in your City.” The US compiled a list of more than 2,500 coronavirus-themed URLs that are potentially dangerous, with names like covid19statistics.com and iamacoronavirussurvivorof2020.info.

CDC weighs loosening guidelines for some exposed to virus

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering changing its guidelines for self-isolation to make it easier for those who have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus to return to work if they are asymptomatic.

The public health agency, in conjunction with the White House coronavirus task force, is considering an announcement as soon as Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said.

Read more. 

NBC's Willem Marx gives a global update on the coronavirus pandemic

U.K. PM Boris Johnson 'responding to treatment'

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "responding to treatment" and he remains in a stable condition in the intensive care unit where he is being treated for coronavirus, a spokesperson said Wednesday. 

Johnson continued to be in "good spirits" after spending his third night in St Thomas's Hospital in London, the spokesperson said, adding that the prime minister was not working on the advice of his doctors and receiving just the "standard oxygen treatment."

Aside from that they said, Johnson was "breathing without any other assistance."  

Tested positive for coronavirus? Health workers may share your address with police

A police officer walks toward a closed portion of South Beach, Fla., on March 19. Eva Marie Uzcategui / AFP - Getty Images file

In a growing number of cities and states, local governments are collecting the addresses of people who test positive for the coronavirus and sharing the lists with police and first responders.

Law enforcement officials say this information sharing — which is underway in Massachusetts, Alabama and Florida, and in select areas of North Carolina — will help keep officers and EMTs safe as they respond to calls at the homes of people who have been infected. 

But some public health experts and privacy advocates have raised concerns about police departments maintaining a list of addresses of confirmed coronavirus cases. They say that it could make people reluctant to seek medical care or get tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, because of a fear of profiling by law enforcement.

Read the full story here. 

White House coronavirus coordinator sees 'early signs of hope,' but warns of second wave if Americans start going out

WASHINGTON — Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Wednesday that there are encouraging signs that parts of the U.S. may be flattening their curves but she warned that people shouldn’t start going out and socially interacting.

In an interview with Savannah Guthrie on the “TODAY” show, Birx said that California and Washington state began social distancing very early and said their curves are “persistently flat and that’s very encouraging.”

Birx acknowledged a rising death toll, however, but said that those numbers reflect the people who were infected by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, two to three weeks ago, before some of the strict guidelines were implemented.

'Stop gathering ... go home.' New Jersey city will use drones to enforce social distancing

A New Jersey city hard hit by the coronavirus will use drones to enforce the governor's stay-at-home order.

Elizabeth, a city of about 128,000 across the Hudson River from New York City, had 1,403 cases of coronavirus and 32 deaths as of Monday, according to Mayor Chris Bollwage.

"Drones will be around the City with an automated message from the Mayor telling you to STOP gathering, disperse and go home," the city's police department said, following the mayor's announcement of the policy. 

The city received five drones with speaker capabilities on loan from a drone company.

"Summonses HAVE AND WILL CONTINUE to be issued to those found in violation" of social distancing orders, police said, and residents caught by the drones could face fines up to $1,000.