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

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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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London’s iconic landmarks remain empty during stay-at-home order

Central London’s iconic landmarks remain very quiet as the government’s “stay-at-home" policy to combat coronavirus is in place. Londoners are allowed outdoors for exercise, to visit a doctor, pharmacy or food shopping. Police in London have the power to enforce the rules.

Planned Parenthood asks federal judge to let abortions continue in Texas

Planned Parenthood and a group of clinics asked a federal judge Wednesday to let some abortions resume in Texas, the only state where they've been mostly stopped during the pandemic.

As many state officials have done, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot ordered a halt to non-essential medical procedures in late March in order to conserve hospital facilities and personal protective equipment. Attorney General Ken Paxton then said it applied to "any type of abortions," including medical abortions that do not involve surgery.

A federal judge in Texas declared the order too broad and lifted the ban. But the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans put it back in place and ruled Tuesday that the governor acted appropriately. In public health emergencies, the appeals court said, a state can restrict constitutional rights including, "one's right to peaceably assemble, to publicly worship, to travel, and even to leave one's home. The right to abortion is no exception."

In its latest filing, Planned Parenthood asked the judge to permit medication abortions, which do not consume protective equipment, and surgical abortions for women who are nearing 22 weeks of pregnancy, after which most abortions in Texas are illegal. Under the current ban, clinics "have been forced to turn away hundreds of patients in need of abortion care," the court filing said.

Advocates of abortion rights have largely prevailed in courtroom battles over similar restrictions in other states. A partial ban is in effect in Alabama, but bans were invalidated or modified in Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and Oklahoma.

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.