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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Trump tells religious leaders: 'We're going to beat this plague'

Faith leaders pray over President Donald Trump during an "Evangelicals for Trump" campaign event in Miami on Jan. 3, 2020.Joe Raedle / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told religious leaders on Wednesday that "we have a tremendous year coming up" and that the United States would beat coronavirus "soon," while seeming to implore people of faith to support him in his re-election.

"We have a tremendous year coming up. We're going to beat this plague. We're going to beat this virus and we're going to beat it soon," Trump told the leaders on an off-the-record conference call. "We're going to get our country back."

Read the full story here. 

Prosecutors charge Florida man with 'biological weapons hoax' over coronavirus threats

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday filed what are apparently the first charges of perpetrating a biological weapons hoax to arise out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prosecutors in Tampa charged James Jamal Curry, 31, of St. Petersburg, Florida, with coughing and spitting on police officers who were responding to domestic violence calls.

Court documents say when he was arrested March 27, Curry said he was infected with the virus and coughed on the arm of one of the officers.

Read the full story here. 

Stock Market rallies after Sanders drops out of race

NBC News’ David Gura details the surge in the markets after 2020 candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders officially drops out of the race, leaving Wall Street-friendly former Vice President Biden as the apparent nominee.

What's next from Congress in coronavirus stimulus legislation?

With three coronavirus bills now signed into law, Congress is beginning to discuss their next legislative steps, including an interim bill and a second CARES Act to follow the historic $2 trillion aid package passed last month.

The interim bill, which could be considered as soon as Thursday, would address the new Paycheck Protection Program, the forgivable small-business loan program created by the first CARES Act.

That legislation provided $350 billion for the program, but less than a week after it launched, some lawmakers expressed concern that it would quickly run out of money after reports of banks and the Small Business Administration being overwhelmed by demand.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement that after the interim legislation, they would press for passage of another major stimulus and relief package that would expand on the $2 trillion aid bill passed late last month.

Read the full story here.

California governor says 68 more patients died in past day

California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom said that as of Wednesday the state has had a total number of 16,957 individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, with 1,154 in intensive care units, and 2,714 hospitalized.

He said that 68 individuals died from COVID-19 over the last 24 hours in the state, adding to a total death toll of 442 in the state of California.

Florida governor wears one glove during his presser

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to have only worn one glove during a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon.  

Last week, DeSantis issued a stay-at-home executive order in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus for the entire state after weeks of resistance. The order does not bar churches from holding services.

African Americans 'disproportionately affected' by coronavirus, CDC report finds

Severe cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, are disproportionately affecting African American communities, according to a report published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The analysis includes data from 1,482 coronavirus patients hospitalized in 14 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Utah.

Read more.

Video shows inmate pleading for help inside Ohio federal prison

A video recorded inside an Ohio federal prison where at least three inmates have died from COVID-19 has gone viral on social media, garnering hundreds of thousands of views after being posted to YouTube on April 5. 

The video, which was recorded inside the Elkton Federal Prison, was taken by an unidentified inmate inside the facility. He can be heard pleading for help, his face covered in a mask. 

“They literally leaving us in here to die,” he says. “I don’t know what to do.”

In an effort to contain the outbreak inside the prison, Governor Mike DeWine announced on April 6 that the Ohio National Guard was being deployed to the Elkton facility to provide medical assistance. 

In a statement to NBC News on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said that the video is currently under investigation. 

“We can confirm that after identifying the inmates in the video from FCI Elkton, none of them were symptomatic of COVID-19.” 

Elkton Federal Prison officials did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Jails are releasing inmates amid coronavirus. N.Y. just took a step to lock more people up.

Last week, as law enforcement officials around the country were cutting jail populations to blunt the spread of the coronavirus, New York lawmakers did something that could lead to more people getting locked up.

The state Legislature changed course on a 2019 law that restricted the use of cash bail, tucking new caveats into a last-minute budget bill signed Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The revisions are a reminder that changes to the criminal justice system remain works in progress, and still face resistance — even during a global health crisis that has drawn public attention to the conditions behind bars in the nation.

Read the full story here. 

John Prine's wife issues statement: 'Take this virus seriously'

John Prine's wife Fiona Whelan Prine issued a statement Wednesday following the death of the singer-songwriter, who Bruce Springsteen called "one of the best we had," from complications related to coronavirus. He was 73.

"We have no words to describe the grief our family is experiencing at this time," she wrote. 

"I sat with John —  who was deeply sedated — in the hours before he passed," she continued, "and will be forever grateful for that opportunity.

"My dearest wish is that people of all ages take this virus seriously and follow guidelines set by the CDC," she concluded. "We send our condolences and love to the thousands of other American families who are grieving the loss of loved ones at this time — and to so many other families across the world.

"Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the outpouring of love we have received from family, friends and fans all over the world. John will be so missed but he will continue to comfort us with his words and music and the gifts of kindness, humor and love he left for all of us to share."