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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Kansas lawmakers overturn order limiting religious gatherings, governor calls it 'shockingly irresponsible'

Lawmakers in Kansas overturned an executive order by Gov. Laura Kelley that restricted religious gatherings to 10 people, despite the state's spike in coronavirus cases. 

The state's Legislative Coordinating Council voted 5-2 on Wednesday to undo the order .The vote cam just hours after Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, said the order likely violate the state constitution and discouraged law enforcement from enforcing restrictions.

Kelley, a Democrat, called the decision "shockingly irresponsible" in a briefing on Wednesday, where she reported a nearly 40 percent increase in deaths in the state. Three of the 12 clusters found in Kansas have come from church gatherings, according to public health officials.  

"There are real-life consequences to the partisan games Republican leaders played today and I simply cannot stand for it," Kelley said. "Kansans are dying every day at the hands of this pandemic and there is no room or excuse for these petty political distractions." 

The governor said she was directing her administration's legal team to try to resolve the issue. As of Wednesday evening, there are 1,046 cases with 38 deaths due to coronavirus in Kansas.

Emergency hospital at Seattle Seahawks stadium shut down, to be sent to state with more need

Rows of patient beds are shown at a military field hospital on April 5, 2020, at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle.Ted S. Warren / AP

A emergency field hospital being hastily built at the home of the Seattle Seahawks will be shut down before it even opened, and materials sent to other places in need, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday.

The announcement came just two days after the Department of Defense said the temporary medical facility at the CenturyLink Field Event Center would be open this week, intended to take non-coronavirus patients and relieve the burden of hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID-19 victims.

"To be clear, this doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods. We can’t let up in our fight against COVID-19," Inslee said in a statement.

Florida deputy sheriff is state's first police coronavirus fatality

Deputy Shannon Bennett.Broward Sheriff's Office

Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Bennett of Broward County, Florida, died April 3 from COVID-19, the first coronavirus-related death of a law enforcement officer in a state that has only recently begun to grapple with the global pandemic.

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony confirmed Bennett’s death and said he had apparently contracted the coronavirus in the line of duty. Bennett, 39, left work early on March 23 due to illness and tested positive for coronavirus shortly after being admitted to the hospital.

“Deputy Shannon Bennett was a 12 year veteran of the Broward Sheriff’s Office; an out and proud gay law enforcement deputy; a school resource officer who protected and mentored the young students at Deerfield Beach Elementary; a man in love to be wedded later this year,” the department tweeted on Sunday. “Rest In Peace.”

Read the full story here. 

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.