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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N.Y. sees deadliest day as Cuomo says 'we're flattening the curve'

New York state suffered its highest single day of deaths with 779 lives lost from the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, a grim milestone that comes as the state appears to be slowing down the virus' spread.

Cuomo warned that the number of deaths will only increase the longer coronavirus patients remain hospitalized. On Tuesday, he said New York had recorded 731 deaths, a jump from 599 from Monday.

"The bad news isn't just bad, the bad news is terrible," he said during his daily news conference in the state capital of Albany, adding that he will direct all flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the 6,268 people in New York who have died from the virus.

However, there was some good news as Cuomo said total hospitalizations are down, and hospitals are releasing more patients than new ones are being admitted.

"We're flattening the curve because we're rigorous about social distancing," he said.

The hospital system should "stabilize" over the next couple weeks and the outflow to the field hospitals minimized, he added, as long as people continue to follow social distancing guidelines.

Detroit providing 20,000 masks to bus riders after driver dies

The Detroit Department of Transportation is providing 20,000 surgical masks free to riders as part of the city's fight to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The masks will be available via a box near the back door, where riders now enter and exit the bus.

The move follows the recent death of bus driver Jason Hargrove from the coronavirus, two weeks after he posted a Facebook Live video criticizing a passenger for coughing and not covering up their mouth.

Read the full story here

Zoom bolsters security efforts with advisory board

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan announced Wednesday that his rapidly-growing videoconferencing company is creating a new advisory board to help address the security issues that have made it the target of lawsuits and political pressure.

Alex Stamos, a former chief security officer at Facebook and current NBC News contributor, has joined the company as an outside consultant. The move comes one day after Yuan told NBC News that he had to “double down on privacy, double down on security."

Many non-Zoom users have recently become aware of the distasteful practice of “Zoombombing,” or crashing an unintentionally public Zoom call for the purposes of harassing people.

'No miraculous recovery': Some ICU doctors say hydroxychloroquine isn't helping sickest patients

The federal government's guidance on emergency usage of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients may have actually set the medication up for failure.

That's because the guidance limits the drug's usage to those sick enough to be hospitalized. Many doctors suspect, however, that if the drug does turn out to be beneficial, it may work better early on in the course of the illness.

Read more.

Lights to stay dimmed on Broadway for at least 2 more months

Broadway will remain shut down at least until June 7 because of the coronavirus crisis, the head of the theaters' trade association said Wednesday.

“Our top priority continues to be the health and well being of Broadway theatergoers and the thousands of people who work in the theater industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League.

St. Martin said the decision was made in accordance with federal CDC guidelines and “the continued direction” of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Fewer than 100,000 people checked by TSA at airports on Tuesday, a record low

Fewer than 100,000 people were checked by the TSA on Tuesday at the nation's airports, a new record low for U.S. passengers, an agency spokesperson says.

In total, 97,130 people went through TSA checkpoints at U.S. airports, a fraction of the 2.09 million who went through the checkpoints on the same date in 2019.

 

Number of apartment renters who could pay this month's rent dipped 12 percent, tracker shows

The share of apartment households that paid April rent dipped 12 percent from March, a leading apartment industry trade group found in its first review of the pandemic's effect on rent payments.

According to a tracker created by the National Multifamily Housing Council, 69 percent of apartment households paid rent through April 5. That's a 12 percent decrease from the 81 percent of such households that paid by March 5, and a 13 percent decrease from the 82 percent that paid this time last year.

Doug Bibby, president of NMHC, said in a statement that despite the challenges COVID-19 poses for many renters, "it is important to note that a large number of residents met their obligations despite unparalleled circumstances, and we will see that figure increase over the coming weeks."

The NMHC tracker reflects data from 13.4 million units across the U.S. The data comes as federal, state and local governments have scrambled to enact policies to keep renters who've been hit by the outbreak's economic hardships from being evicted while treading carefully around measures that could adversely affect landlords and the real estate market at large.

Photo: Travelers fill station as restrictions lifted in Wuhan

Passengers inside Hankou Railway Station after restrictions to leave Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and the epicenter of China's coronavirus outbreak, were lifted on Wednesday. China sealed off the city of 11 million people on Jan. 23, a drastic step that came to symbolize its aggressive management of the virus.Reuters

Turkmenistan, claiming no confirmed cases, holds large-scale public workouts

In Turkmenistan, a repressive former Soviet state that claims to have zero cases of coronavirus, residents gathered on April 7 to celebrate World Health Day.

In the nation’s capital, Ashgabat, state television showed hundreds of people wearing identical tracksuits conducting coordinated exercise in close quarters. Even medical personnel took part in the celebrations, which at one point were led by President Gerbanguly Berdimuhamedow, according to Turkmen state media. 

Berdimuhamedow early in the coronavirus crisis claimed that his own writings on local flora contained a cure for the virus in the form of a local herb. There have been reports suggesting that talk of the virus has been banned in Turkmenistan, a nation that borders Iran — which has suffered from one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

A picture from the world health day celebration held in Turkmenistan.Turkmen Migration Service website

Coronavirus disproportionately killing people of color in NYC, mayor says

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday released data on the racial breakdown of coronavirus fatalities in the city, saying the numbers showed "blatant inequalities" and that the city "won’t accept it."

The Hispanic community has been hit the hardest with 34 percent of the deaths, while Hispanics make up 29 percent of the city's population; 28 percent of the deaths have been black people, while 22 percent of the city is black; 27 percent of the deaths have been white people, while 32 percent of the city is white; Asian deaths are at 7 percent of the total, while 14 percent of New York city's population is Asian. 

"The truth is, in so many ways, the pain and death tracks with other profound health care disparities that we have seen for years and decades in this city," de Blasio said. "Folks who struggled before are really being hit particularly hard by the coronavirus." 

He added that the disparities are "so often associated with poverty" and the numbers are "painful to talk about, but we have to be honest about it." 

De Blasio said the city is combatting the disturbing trend by making sure public hospitals have what they need, deploying a multi-million dollar, multi-lingual public awareness campaign focuses on communities of color, grassroots outreach, and a system in which residents can quickly get in touch with a physician from their homes. 

To equip the public hospitals, and private ones too, de Blasio said the city needs 1,450 military medical personnel and a staggering 9.2 million surgical gowns from the federal government. About 300 military personnel have arrived and been dispatched to hospitals.