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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Michigan creates task force to focus on racial disparity in coronavirus cases

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of a task force that would look into the racial disparity in patients who have contracted the coronavirus. 

Whitmer said Thursday that despite the fact that African Americans only make up 14 percent of the state's population, more than 40 percent of Michigan's COVID-19 deaths have been black residents. 

“This virus is holding a mirror up to our society and reminding us of the deep inequities in this country,” Whitmer said. “From basic lack of access to health care, transportation, and protections in the workplace, these inequities hit people of color and vulnerable communities the hardest.

The task force, compromised of government workers and health care professionals, will provide advice on how to address the disparity and slow the spread of the virus. 

Wisconsin voter speaks out amid reports that hundreds of absentee ballots were not delivered

Russell Yale, a Wisconsin voter residing in the Milwaukee suburbs, spoke to NBC News on Thursday about not receiving the absentee ballots he and his wife requested as reports detail hundreds of ballots in the state were never distributed to voters ahead of Tuesday's primary and down-ballot elections.

Yale said he and his wife, both over 70, requested the ballots in light of the public health crisis gripping the country and said he feels "disenfranchised" now that he is unable to vote, adding that there "needs" to be "a post-mortem" to learn what went wrong. Yale said he wanted to vote in the Democratic presidential primary and in a key race for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat.

"I just don't want this to happen again," Yale said, pointing to November's election. "I just don't want anything to keep my vote from counting."

Those Wisconsin voters who defied the state's stay-at-home order to vote on Tuesday braved extensive lines and hourslong waits after two courts ruled that the primary election couldn't be postponed. State Democrats sought to delay the contest but failed.

White House to test all reporters for COVID-19 at Thursday's briefing

All reporters planning to attend Thursday's coronavirus task force briefing will be tested for COVID-19, the White House said, in light of news that a member of the press corps who was present at the White House on Tuesday is now experiencing symptoms.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the White House Medical Unit is going to conduct a COVID-19 test on all members of the press who plan to participate in today’s task force briefing, including correspondents, photographers, and technicians," the White House said in a statement. "These test will be conducted with absolute privacy in a vacant office within lower press."

According to White House Correspondents Association President Jon Karl, test results for the person experiencing symptoms are still pending.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announces hotel vouchers and stipends for caregivers

Caregivers in California, some of whom have taken to sleeping in their cars as they balance the care of their clients with their own efforts to remain safe, will be able to receive vouchers and stipends that will cover hotel costs, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced during a news conference Thursday.

Newsom called caregivers “the real heroes of this moment.” More than 150 hotels are participating in the program, and a listing of available hotels is available at the website Caltravelstore.com.

The state has experienced 18,309 positive coronavirus cases and 492 deaths, an increase of 50 deaths since Wednesday. More than 1,100 people remain hospitalized in intensive care units.

Video shows hospital staff cheering for doctor who recovered from COVID-19

A heartwarming video shows employees at a New Jersey hospital cheering on a colleague after he recovered from COVID-19.

The video, recorded Wednesday inside St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Paterson, shows hospital staffers clapping and holding signs for Dr. James Pruden, the hospital's director of emergency preparedness, with the theme song from the movie “Rocky,” "Gonna Fly Now," playing in the background.

In a statement to NBC News released by the hospital, Dr. Pruden thanked his colleagues and healthcare workers for their support. 

“Your care made the difference for me and enabled me to beat this virus,” Dr. Pruden said. “I implore every healthcare worker across New Jersey to keep the faith and stay strong. You are giving everything – for people just like me. You are truly our heroes.”

Connecticut schools to remain closed through May 20, gov announces

U.K. PM Boris Johnson moved out of ICU, but remains hospitalized

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of the intensive care unit, where he was being treated for COVID-19, a spokesperson said Thursday.Johnson, 55, was admitted to London’s St Thomas' Hospital on Sunday and was moved into the ICU on Monday.

'Saturday Night Live' to air new content this week

The NBC comedy show will air remotely produced content at its usual Saturday time slot on the broadcast network, a surprise return from its coronavirus-induced hiatus, according to a spokesperson for NBC.

NBC is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.

The show will include a version of "Weekend Update" and other skits from cast members, though it was not immediately clear if the performances would be live. It will air at 11:30 p.m. ET.

Read the full story here.

Federal emergency grants available for college students

College students whose lives and education have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic are set to benefit from a more than $6 billion emergency grant, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday.

The funding is part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that President Donald Trump signed in March. The money will be doled out by higher education institutions to help students with necessities, including course materials, technology, food, housing, health care and childcare.

Each school will have grants made available to them based, in part, on a formula that takes into consideration how many of its full-time students are eligible for Pell Grants. The schools then determine which students will receive funding.

More information can be found here.