U.S. deaths top 16,000, Boris Johnson out of intensive care

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: A woman puts cloth face masks on a string to dry before distributing it for free around the neighbourhood, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia
A woman puts cloth face masks on a string to dry before distributing it for free around the neighbourhood, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, April 9, 2020.Willy Kurniawan / Reuters

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The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. now stands at 16,527 and total cases neared half a million at 460,967, according to an NBC News tally as of Thursday night.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York state has reached 159,937 — outpacing any country except the United States as a whole.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that New York was bringing in additional funeral directors "to deal with the number of people who have passed."

Lockdowns appear set to remain in place in many European countries amid rising death tolls, as governments from Britain to France decide whether to extend restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out the intensive care unit at a St. Thomas' Hospital as he continues to recover from COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.

"Saturday Night Live" announced Thursday that it would be back on air this weekend, using remotely produced content. The sketch show tweeted a photo of its stars, including Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon, together on a video conference.

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Senate Democrats block GOP bid for $250 billion in small-business funds amid impasse over coronavirus aid

Senate Democrats blocked a Republican proposal to add $250 billion to small-business coronavirus relief funds on Thursday after demanding the inclusion of additional resources for hospitals and state and local governments.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had sought unanimous consent to pass the emergency funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, but Democrats objected, claiming McConnell was politicizing the push for more small-business money.

“I am afraid that this unanimous consent is basically a political stunt," Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said following McConnell's request. “This unanimous consent was not negotiated, there was no effort made … so it won’t get done. It's not going to be enacted.”

President Donald Trump and McConnell are pushing for the additional money for small businesses, as the new loan program passed in the $2 trillion stimulus is already in danger of running out of money.

Read the full story here.

Syrian refugee in London says he's 'honored' to clean COVID-19 hospital wards

A Syrian refugee in London who has taken a job cleaning COVID-19 wards in his local hospital says he's "honored" to have found a way to help keep his new community safe. 

"I’ve already gone through crisis — Syria, the journey here— so [lockdown] was triggering," Hassan Akkad, 32, who usually works as a filmmaker, told NBC News. "I told my fiancée I had to do something."

Akkad says he's relieved that he has the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job, and that fellow minimum wage cleaners at his hospital are being given the same protection as doctors and nurses on the ward. 

Pennsylvania extends school closings for entire academic year

Public schools in Pennsylvania will remain closed through the rest of the academic year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday, although school districts are encouraged to continue distance learning.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has created resources to help schools that are not currently offering online platforms or need additional tech support. Designated schools, Wolf added, will continue to offer meals to-go for students.

"This was not an easy decision, but closing schools until the end of the academic year is in the best interest of our students, school employees and families," Wolf said in a statement.

Half of adults online in U.K. saw coronavirus misinformation, media regulator says

Misinformation about the coronavirus continues to reach millions of people on the internet despite efforts by major tech platforms to limit its spread. 

The U.K.'s Office of Communications, which regulates the country's media, said that a weekly survey found almost of adults who use the internet saw false or misleading information about the coronavirus. 

The most common piece of misinformation was that drinking water can "flush out the infection," which the survey found was seen by 35 percent of online adults. Of people who said they'd seen false information, two-thirds said they saw some every day.

Fauci: Antibody tests are in development, could arrive in 'days to weeks'

Coronavirus antibody tests are in development and could be available within "days to weeks," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC's "TODAY" Thursday. 

An antibody test can determine whether a person has ever been infected with the virus. It can't say whether a person is currently infected. 

Antibody tests, if widely used, can provide valuable information on how many people in the population were actually infected with the coronavirus, including asymptomatic people.

They could also indicate who has developed immunity. "It is likely, though we need to prove it, that once you've been infected, and you have antibody profile, that you are very likely protected," Fauci said. That "means you may have a cohort of people who are actually protected, who have more of a chance of getting back into the normality of society, and they will be very important," he said, adding that it's particularly important for health care workers, who are the most vulnerable. 

Georgia primary delayed again, this time until June 9

Georgia is again delaying its presidential primary, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Thursday.

The presidential primary is now delayed until June 9. It had been scheduled for March 24 originally and was first pushed back until May 19 to coincide with the state's general primary. Now, both of those elections have been pushed to June 9.

Raffensperger's announcesment comes after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp extended his state's state of emergency through May 13.

"This decision allows our office and county election officials to continue to put in place contingency plans to ensure that voting can be safe and secure when in-person voting begins and prioritizes the health and safety of voters, county election officials, and poll workers," Raffensperger said in a statement. 

Wisconsin governor moves to close 40 state parks, forests

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has ordered the Department of Natural Resources to close 40 state parks, forests and recreational areas.

In a statement, the governor's office said the decision was "due to unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism and out of an abundance of caution to protect public health and safety and help flatten the curve."

Photos: From cathedral to field hospital

Volunteers place beds to construct a coronavirus field hospital at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York on Wednesday. Mary Altaffer / AP
The 600-foot long Gothic cathedral, one of the largest in the world, has partnered with Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital for staffing and will be able to care for nearly 200 patients.Spencer Platt / Getty Images
The makeshift field hospital should begin accepting patients by the week's end.Mike Segar / Reuters

Simulation shows how coughing can spread virus in indoor spaces

Researchers in Finland released a video Thursday that showed how droplets from a cough in an indoor space — such as a typical grocery store — can hang in the air for “several minutes” and travel across aisles, possibly infecting passersby with the virus.

 A digital model built by Aalto University and other Finnish research facilities was released with a warning: "It is important to avoid busy public indoor spaces."

That data and video showed that airborne particles emitted with a cough, sneeze, "or even talking" can spread in a cloud that lingers. Avoiding busy indoor areas reduces the risk of droplet infection while in close proximity to others, which is currently the main cause of coronavirus infection, the research said.

People who are infected could “cough and walk away, but then leave behind extremely small aerosol particles carrying the coronavirus. These particles could then end up in the respiratory tract of others in the vicinity,” Aalto University Assistant Professor Ville Vuorinen said in the research report.