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Global cases top 2 million, U.S. stimulus money starts arriving

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: A staff member cleans the floor after the last patients were discharged from Leishenshan Hospital, originally built to treat people infected with COVID-19, in Wuhan on Tuesday.
A staff member cleans the floor after the last patients were discharged from Leishenshan Hospital, originally built to treat people infected with COVID-19, in Wuhan on Tuesday.AFP - Getty Images

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world topped 2 million Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins, with more than 128,000 confirmed deaths.

The IRS released an online form Wednesday that allows Americans to upload their bank account information in order to receive their stimulus money faster and a portal where they can check the status of their payment.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an executive order mandating that everyone in the state must wear a mask or face-covering in public when social distancing is not possible.

Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer faced intense opposition as thousands gathered at the state Capitol to demonstrate against her restrictive stay-at-home order. Organizers encouraged people to attend "Operation Gridlock" by using their cars to clog the streets but many ignored pleas to stay in their vehicles and broke social distancing.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 16 coronavirus news here.

L.A. Rams' Brian Allen 'on the road to recovery' after testing positive

Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen tested positive for the coronavirus illness COVID-19 three weeks ago, the team confirmed Wednesday night.

He appears to be the first NFL player confirmed to have tested positive for the illness.

Allen, 24, who was selected in the 2018 NFL draft, earlier in the day told Fox Sports' Jay Glazer that he woke up and couldn't smell anything, lost his sense of taste and had flu-like symptoms.

"He is 'feeling good, he's healthy and he's on the road to recovery,'" the Rams tweeted Wednesday night. That statement is from Rams head coach Sean McVay's comments to Glazer, according to a post on the team's website. McVay said that after the positive test the team shut down its facility immediately.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton announced in March that he tested positive for the coronavirus, and at the time he was said to be the first major figure within the league to test positive for the virus.

Students could take SAT at home if schools remain closed

The Associated Press

A home version of the SAT college entrance exam is being prepared in case schools remain closed into the fall, College Board officials said Wednesday as they announced the cancellation of June testing.

Instead of a paper-and-pencil test given under proctors’ supervision, the home version would be digital and rely on “remote proctoring.” That could include using the computer’s camera and microphone to monitor movement or talking, College Board President Jeremy Singer said on a conference call with reporters.

The rival ACT also will launch an at-home option in late fall or early winter, the exam’s administrators said Wednesday.

“We would much prefer that schools reopen but we are ready to innovate and deliver in the unlikely case we need to,” College Board Chief Executive David Coleman said.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo's wife also has coronavirus

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo's wife Cristina also has the coronavirus, he said on his program Wednesday.

Chris Cuomo, 49, announced March 31 that he had tested positive. He has been doing his shows from his basement where he is quarantined.

"It's very rare for a family to be one-and-done," Cuomo said in a discussion with his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "Cristina now has COVID. She is now positive. And it just breaks my heart."

"It is the one thing I was hoping wouldn't happen, and now it has," the anchor said. Their children are healthy, he tweeted, adding that he can't wait for his fever to end so he can help his wife as she has done for him.

Chris Cuomo earlier this month said that having the illness is "no cakewalk" even for those who don't require hospitalization, that he lost 13 pounds in three days, and he said people should not be nonchalant.

California to give $500 cash payments to immigrants hurt by virus

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California will be the first state to give cash to immigrants living in the country illegally who are hurt by the coronavirus, offering $500 apiece to 150,000 adults who were left out of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package approved by Congress.

Many Americans began receiving $1,200 checks from the federal government this week, and others who are unemployed are getting an additional $600 a week from the government that has ordered them to stay home and disrupted what had been a roaring economy.

But people living in the country illegally are not eligible for any of that money, and advocates have been pushing for states to fill in the gap. Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he would spend $75 million of taxpayer money to create a Disaster Relief Fund for immigrants living in the country illegally.

“We feel a deep sense of gratitude for people that are in fear of deportations that are still addressing essential needs of tens of millions of Californians,” said Newsom, who noted 10 percent of the state’s workforce are immigrants living in the country illegally who paid more than $2.5 billion in state and local taxes last year.

Trump threatens unprecedented move of adjourning Congress to fill vacancies


Kasie Hunt

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Sahil Kapur, Kasie Hunt and Leigh Ann Caldwell

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to adjourn Congress so he can unilaterally install nominees to federal positions that he said are pertinent to the coronavirus crisis, an admittedly unprecedented move that critics likened to a dictatorship.

Trump said the Senate should either approve his nominees or adjourn so he can “recess appoint” them. Congress holds pro forma sessions when it isn’t working, a process Republicans made common under President Barack Obama to prevent him from temporarily filling vacancies without Senate approval.

“If the House will not agree to that adjournment, I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress. The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis,” Trump said at a White House briefing. “It is a scam what they do.”

Read the full story here

Pennsylvania governor to veto bill that would immediately reopen more businesses

Matt Wargo

Maura Barrett and Matt Wargo

As the White House pushes for a plan to reopen the country’s economy, the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania statehouse passed legislation that would allow some businesses to re-open immediately, despite a statewide stay-at-home order put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

It goes to Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s desk next, who plans to veto the bill. His office tells NBC News that “reopening businesses too early will only extend the length of the economic hardships created by the pandemic.”

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine notes in a letter to the general assembly that the peak of coronavirus has not yet been reached in Pennsylvania, which as of Wednesday night has more than 26,000 cases and 774 deaths.

“The decision to shutter non-life sustaining businesses that support families across this commonwealth was a painful one,” Levine wrote, “but before we can save livelihoods, we need to save lives.”

Governor Wolf joined an alliance this week with governors across the northeast to work toward a regional approach to an economic reopening.

NY Bar Association creates task force to assist with pro bono legal work

After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called upon lawyers in the state to volunteer to assist with COVID-19- related cases pro bono, the New York State Bar Association created a task force to handle the demand. 

The initial request sought lawyers to help residents apply for unemployment benefits, however, according to the Bar Association,  “the network is quickly gearing up to handle a range of other issues from evictions to domestic violence to job and housing discrimination.”

The New York State Bar Association is working with the state court system to establish a “COVID-19 Recovery Task Force” made up of lawyers, law school deans and legal clerks to assist with the caseload.

The task force will be responsible for “setting priorities, recruiting lawyers, coordinating resources and connecting lawyers and clients."

Americans lose phone, internet service despite FCC pledge not to disconnect during pandemic

Claire Atkinson

Image: Verizon Wireless store in San Francisco
Pedestrians walk past a Verizon Wireless store in San Francisco.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

Some people who just lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic are finding that they have lost something else — phone and internet access.

Across the country, suddenly unemployed residents are getting threatening notices, despite an initiative from the Federal Communications Commission that pledged last month to "Keep Americans Connected."

"It was a surprise when my line was suddenly disconnected, because I had actually got an email saying that during this time there would be no interruptions to phone service," Aaron Joshua Perra, a hairstylist from Minneapolis, told NBC News. He had his Sprint phone shut off soon after his salon closed down last month. Sprint has since reconnected him.

Read the full story here. 

South Dakota Gov. Noem, who opposed stay-home order, now faces coronavirus hot spot

North Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks with reporters in Pierre, S.D. on March, 5, 2020.
North Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks with reporters in Pierre, S.D. on March, 5, 2020.Stephen Groves / AP file

Despite an outbreak in South Dakota's biggest city and criticism that there's no statewide shelter in place order, Gov. Kristi Noem said Wednesday the state is doing better than expected and "bending the curve."

"We have cut our peak, and that's a good thing and that is encouraging to all of us," Noem said at a news briefing. "Our health care system can handle what's coming at us."

The Republican governor made her remarks as the number of people who've tested positive for coronavirus in the state rose to 1,168, due in large part to a cluster of cases stemming from a meat processing plant in Sioux Falls. There have been six deaths in the state.

Read the full story here. 

Harry and Meghan donate more than $100k from royal wedding to charity

Image: Prince Harry Marries Ms. Meghan Markle - Procession
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, ride in the Ascot Landau carriage during the procession after getting married St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.Matt Cardy / Getty Images file

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, announced Wednesday they are donating profits made from the broadcast of their royal wedding to a charity working to feed families during the coronavirus pandemic.

The couple is giving $112,000 to Feeding Britain, an organization working to alleviate hunger, after discussing the group's work with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"The Duke and Duchess were able to speak to The Archbishop recently, and were moved to hear all about the work Feeding Britain was doing to support people during Covid-19," the couple's spokesman said in a statement Wednesday.

Read the full article here.

Los Angeles County has another record day of deaths

At least 42 more Los Angeles County residents have died from coronavirus, health officials said Wednesday, in a second consecutive day of biggest one-day spikes.

The death toll from the pandemic had reached 403 by midday, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health

The department had reported 40 new, confirmed fatalities on Tuesday, which was then the city's highest number of daily deaths in the pandemic. 

Trump threatens to adjourn Congress to make recess appointments

Dartunorro Clark

President Donald Trump threatened to adjourn both chambers of Congress on Wednesday, lashing out at lawmakers for holding up nominees to federal judgeships and key administration roles amid the pandemic.  

"The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony Pro Forma sessions is a dereliction of duty," Trump said. 

Trump said that hundreds of nominations have been stalled in the Senate, which is not slated to meet until April 20 and has been holding pro form sessions, which are generally brief meetings in the chamber.

The House is not expected to meet until May 4. Both chambers have managed to hold sessions and pass legislation related to the pandemic.

Cinemark plans to reopen its movie theaters by July

Claire Atkinson

Cinemark is developing a plan to reopen movie theaters as of July, the company said Wednesday. The company shut down theaters across the country on March 17 due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Plano, Texas-based firm, which owns 345 theaters in the U.S., told investors it was readying a rolling plan to get theaters open in time for the July 17 release of the Warner Bros. action thriller “Tenet,” followed by Disney’s delayed release “Mulan,” now scheduled for July 24. 

Theaters would either operate at 50 percent occupancy, or sell every other seat, in order to maintain any social distancing regulations that were still in place, CEO Mark Zoradi said on a call with investors Wednesday.

The return to business would also be staggered across multiple months and involve reduced operating hours, a spokeswoman told NBC News.

California says that gig workers can get unemployment benefits due to COVID-19 losses

California’s top labor official said in a letter released Tuesday that anyone in the state who has lost income and is an independent contractor can seek financial benefits from the state. This specifically includes gig workers who deliver for companies like Amazon, or drive for Uber or Lyft, among many others. 

Gig workers have existed in something of a legal limbo that left them without benefits including unemployment. Labor activists have argued that the bulk of these workers should have been misclassified as contractors rather than employees, entitling them to unemployment benefits.

Beginning in two weeks, affected workers can submit their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance application, which is funded by newly released money as allocated under the new federal CARES Act, the landmark bill recently passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the new unemployment system, affected individuals will now be able to be paid an additional $600 within 24 to 48 hours, Labor Commissioner Julie Su wrote.

Separately, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a new ordinance requiring companies to provide protective equipment for grocery, drug store, and gig economy food delivery workers in unincorporated parts of the sprawling county, covering approximately 1 million people.

Trump to announce new guidelines on Thursday for states to reopen amid coronavirus

Dartunorro Clark

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he will hold a news conference at the White House on Thursday afternoon to finalize new guidelines for "various states" to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump touted progress in cities such as Baltimore, St. Louis and New Orleans and claimed that the data suggests much of the country has "passed the peak" on new cases. 

The president has been eager to reopen the country and kick-start the economy, much to the chagrin of governors and public health officials who have pressed for more medical supplies, widespread testing and economic relief before lifting stay-at-home orders.

Photo: Protesters rage over Ohio lockdown

Joshua A. Bickel / Columbus Dispatch via USA TODAY NETWORK

Protesters shout outside the Statehouse Atrium where reporters listen to Gov. Mike DeWine's update on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Monday, April 13, 2020. About 100 people assembled outside the building to protest the state's continued stay at home order and non-essential business closures.

Her father's delirium was a first sign of coronavirus. He's not the only one.

Image: Frank Carter celebrated his 82nd birthday with his wife and daughters this past February. His daughter, Nicole, top right, noticed signs of cognitive problems in Carter about a week before he died from COVID-19.
Frank Carter celebrated his 82nd birthday with his wife and daughters this past February. His daughter, Nicole, top right, noticed signs of cognitive problems in Carter about a week before he died from COVID-19.Courtesy of Nicole Hutcherson

Nicole Hutcherson first noticed something was wrong with her father — normally a spry early-riser who enjoyed yard work and home renovation projects — earlier this month, when he wasn't getting out of bed until nearly midday.

Her dad, Frank M. Carter, 82, of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, insisted he felt fine, despite some nausea and vomiting. Hutcherson suspected he was dehydrated, so she went to his house to give him intravenous fluids. Hutcherson is a nurse, and had supplies on hand.

Read the full story here.

Private labs say demand for coronavirus tests is down and they can test more people who aren't as sick

Image:  Quest Diagnostics
Cars line up outside the Central Outreach Wellness Center, in partnership with Quest Diagnostics, on the Northside of Pittsburgh, on March 16, 2020.Gene J. Puskar / AP file

The demand for coronavirus tests at the nation's private labs, which handle the vast majority of testing for the disease, has dropped so much since its peak that the labs now have "considerable" unused capacity and can test more lower priority patients, according to the American Clinical Laboratory Association.

The number of COVID-19 tests conducted daily by private labs peaked on Sunday, April 5, at 108,000. It dropped under 100,000 per day after that.

From Sunday, April 12, to Monday, April 13, the number of daily tests fell from 75,000 to 43,000.

Read the full story here. 

Wall Street has a rough day as brutal economic data begins to pile up

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the day down by just under 450 points Wednesday, after weak manufacturing reports added to the list of grim economic data, including a record decline in monthly retail sales and ugly quarterly earnings from some of the country’s largest banks.

President Donald Trump continues to move ahead with plans to reopen the economy, announcing at a coronavirus task force briefing on Tuesday he would be speaking to "all 50 governors very shortly" in order to discuss "a very powerful reopening plan of their state at a time and in a manner as most appropriate."

Read the full story here. 

88-year-old man lifted in bucket truck during coronavirus lockdown to visit wife in nursing home

Coronavirus isolation couldn’t keep 88-year-old Nicholas Avtges Sr. from visiting his wife. The couple have been separated for weeks while Marion Avtges, 85, is under lockdown in a nursing home in Waltham, Massachusetts. Her family came up with an idea using a bucket truck to reunite the couple, who have been married for 61 years.

'Lock her up!': Anti-Whitmer coronavirus lockdown protestors swarm Michigan Capitol

Image: Michigan Conservative Coalition Holds Vehicle Rally Calling For Opening Of State's Economy
Protesters outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Mich. on April 15, 2020.Elaine Cromie / Getty Images

Demonstrators descended on the state Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's restrictive stay-at-home order, clogging the streets with their cars while scores ignored organizers' pleas to stay inside their vehicles.

The protest — dubbed "Operation Gridlock" — was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund, a DeVos family-linked conservative group. Protesters were encouraged to show up and cause traffic jams, honk and bring signs to display from their cars. Organizers wrote on Facebook: "Do not park and walk — stay in your vehicles!"

Read the full story here. 

Rihanna, Jay-Z and Twitter CEO offer more than $6M in relief grants

Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced they were co-funding more than $6 million in coronavirus relief grants to marginalized communities in areas that have been hit hard by the pandemic. 

The three entrepreneurs have co-funded $6.2 million for organizations aiding vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on New York, New Orleans and Puerto Rico, according to a news release Wednesday. 

Some of the organizations that have been chosen to receive the grants including the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, Covenant House New Orleans, the Hispanic Federation in Puerto Rico, and Doctors Without Borders. 

Jay-Z and Rihanna previously funded $2 million in grants through their foundations at the end of March for organizations that support undocumented immigrants, homeless populations and children of frontline workers. 

Viral video shows the immigrant faces behind UK's coronavirus fight

A group of key immigrant workers brought their voices together to remind the United Kingdom who it's clapping for every Thursday — in hopes of changing anti-immigrant sentiment.

Darren Smith wrote a poem after interviewing his friend and co-worker Sachini Imbuldeniya’s mother, a retired National Health Service worker and an immigrant. Imbuldeniya then decided to have first, second, and third-generation immigrants read the poem aloud line-by-line on a video to showcase the workers that the country has put its faith in during the coronavirus outbreak. 

“We ask everyone to remember that we are stronger as a nation when we welcome people of all ethnicities and backgrounds to our shores to work and live and love alongside us,” Imbuldeniya said. “That is a sentiment worth clapping for.”

911 calls falling, but New York City EMTs still responding to extra 'cardiac calls'

Calls to 911 in New York City have finally started to fall back towards pre-coronavirus levels, with about 4,000 calls per day in recent days. That's similar to the volume on a busy day prior to March.

However, the FDNY's EMTs are still responding to three times their usual daily number of "cardiac calls." On Tuesday, the FDNY responded to 205 cardiac calls; an average day in April last year brought 69 such calls. And 141 of Tuesday's calls, or 70 percent, involved a death, twice the average percentage.

As NBC News previously reported, "cardiac calls" are any calls involving fatal or near-fatal cardiac arrest. The FDNY attributes much of the increase in calls, and the higher percentage involving death, to coronavirus.

Could coronavirus deal a fatal blow to the U.S. Postal Service?

Ahiza García-Hodges

The USPS is responsible for mail delivery of prescription drugs, census reminders, mail-in ballots — and will soon be charged with delivering Treasury stimulus checks.

Yet the same agency that will help deliver those economic relief checks is in need of major financial help itself. 

In early March, when the first coronavirus cases began to appear in the U.S., the USPS experienced a 5.3 percent decline in overall mail volume. By March 30, that had plunged to 30 percent.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan estimated that the Postal Service will run out of cash by the end of September if it doesn’t receive government assistance due to the coronavirus crisis.

Read the full story here.

Photo: Nurse couple unites to fight virus

IUmage: Mindy Brock and Ben Cayer
Nurses Mindy Brock and Ben Cayer, wearing protective equipment, hold each other and look into each other's eyes, in Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Fla., on March 30, 2020. It was a lovers' gaze in the most unlikely situation. The picture, which has been shared on social media, is inspiring people around the globe. "Everybody's talking about the photo," says Cayer, 46. It strikes a chord "because we're all going through the same thing right now and it's a symbol of hope and love." Nicole Hubbard / via AP

New Yorkers must wear face masks if they can't socially distance, Cuomo says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced that he'd signed an executive order mandating that everyone in the state must wear a mask or face-covering in public when social distancing is not possible.

Fast food workers from more than 50 Chicago restaurants strike

Fast food workers from more than 50 restaurants across Chicago went on strike on Wednesday to protest unsafe working conditions, the labor rights group Fight for $15 and a union representing the workers said.

The protest comes after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 at a Chicago McDonald's and other workers at the location didn't feel adequately protected, the groups said. 

Workers from McDonald's, Burger King, Chipotle, Dunkin' Donuts, KFC, and other chains are participating in a "Zoom picket line," demanding more protective gear, hazard pay and two full weeks of paid self-isolation time if they come in contact with someone sick.

The Chicago protest comes after a wave of walk-offs from McDonald's locations across the country, where workers are sounding the alarm on working conditions.

McDonald's told NBC News in a statement it is "disappointed by today’s activities as they do not represent the feedback we are hearing," saying "99% of our Drive-Thrus are open to serve the healthcare heroes on the frontlines.”

Another 752 lose their lives in the state of New York

Another 752 people in the state of New York lost their lives to complications connected to COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

Tuesday's death toll included 707 who died in hospitals and 45 at nursing homes, according to the governor.

New York state's count of COVID-19 deaths has now reached 11,586. This state data does not include the more than 3,700 fatalities now being called "probable" COVID-19 deaths that health officials in New York City have documented.

More sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt test positive for coronavirus

Mosheh Gains

Mosheh Gains and Erik Ortiz

The U.S. Navy is continuing to test sailors stationed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt following the death Monday of a sailor who was hospitalized for coronavirus-related complications.

Military officials said Wednesday that 94 percent of the aircraft carrier's roughly 4,800-member crew have been tested, resulting in 615 positive results — up from 550 last week. Nearly 4,000 sailors have tested negative.

Five sailors from the Roosevelt were brought to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, with one of them remaining in the intensive care unit. The ship has been docked in Guam, a small island in the Pacific Ocean and an unincorporated territory of the United States, since March 27 for a scheduled port visit for resupply and crew rest.

American Nurses Association calls on Trump to reconsider 'misguided' WHO funding decision

Dan Good

One of the country's leading nurse organizations, the American Nurses Association, is urging President Donald Trump to reconsider his plans to discontinue funding to the World Health Organization.

ANA President Ernest Grant issued a statement Wednesday calling Trump's decision "misguided" and said it would "have dire implications for the U.S. and the world community."

"The decision to discontinue the United States funding for the World Health Organization at this time of the pandemic is misguided and will hinder global efforts to battle the coronavirus," Grant said. "International cooperation among governments and the scientific and health care communities is essential to halt the spread of the disease and share tools, strategies and solutions to mitigate its impact."

What are 'police powers'? Pennsylvania's Supreme Court explains

A phrase that has come up in the discussion about whether President Donald Trump can order the states to reopen is "police powers." A decision this week from Pennsylvania's Supreme Court, which rejected a challenge to Gov. Tom Wolf’s order closing certain business, has a description of the concept, included below.

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that the Constitution did not give general police powers to the federal government. The 10th Amendment says any powers not explicitly granted to the federal government are retained by the states, which have their own constitutions authorizing police powers. That's why no president has the kind of authority that state governors do to close businesses.

Here's the explanation from Pennsylvania's Supreme Court: "The broad powers granted to the governor in the Emergency Code are firmly grounded in the Commonwealth's police power," defined by the court as the power "to promote the public health, morals or safety and the general well-being of the community." In a 1980 case, the court described police power "as the state's 'inherent power of a body politic to enact and  enforce laws for the protection of the general welfare,' and thus, it is both one of the 'most essential powers of the government' and its 'least limitable power.'"

Police power "is fundamental because it enables civil society to respond in an appropriate and effective fashion to changing political, economic, and social circumstances, and thus to maintain its vitality and order," the court continued, adding that the power must therefore be "as comprehensive as the demands of society require under the circumstances." 

Watch a New Yorker pay tribute to coronavirus responders with iconic Jimi Hendrix tune

Lara Horwitz

As New Yorkers took to their balconies and fire escapes for the nightly ovation of front-line workers, one New Yorker decided to plug in his amp and pay homage to Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." 

It was a sight to behold for many shut-in neighbors — and a symbolic nod to Hendrix's famed Woodstock anthem, which expressed the hopes and fears of a nation 50 years ago. 

Photos: A caravan of cheers in Westchester, N.Y.

Image: Hospital workers cheer first responders as they pass Westchester Medical Center in a caravan of sirens and lights in Valhalla, N.Y., on April 14, 2020.
Hospital workers cheer first responders as they pass Westchester Medical Center in a caravan of sirens and lights in Valhalla, N.Y., Tuesday.John Moore / Getty Images
Image: A police officer leads a cheer for healthcare workers outside of Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y, on April 14, 2020.
A police officer leads a cheer for healthcare workers outside of Westchester Medical Center on Tuesday. John Moore / Getty Images

Advocates challenge abortion bans in Louisiana, Tennessee during coronavirus pandemic

Abortion rights advocacy groups have filed lawsuits in Tennessee and Louisiana in hopes of keeping abortions accessible during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Louisiana, the Center for Reproductive Rights is representing the Shreveport-based Hope Medical Group for Women, one of three remaining clinics in the state. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, in a news release, said the clinic was ignoring the Louisiana Department of Health’s order that suspended all elective medical procedures and surgeries.

However, the president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, said that abortion is essential health care and it cannot be delayed. “This is a shameful abuse of power,” Northup said.

The clinic’s administrator, Kathaleen Pittman, confirmed that Hope Medical Group for Women is currently seeing patients and following CDC guidelines.

IRS launches website to help people collect and track their stimulus checks

The IRS launched a website on Wednesday to help people expedite the delivery of stimulus money by providing banking details. The website also helps people track the status of their payment. 

People will need to enter their Social Security Number, date of birth and mailing address to track payments. To speed payment, taxpayers will need to enter their adjusted gross income from either 2019 or 2018, the refund or amount owed from their most recent taxes, and their banking information.

The website debuted the same day that many people reported that stimulus payments had hit their bank accounts. Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin first announced the website last week.


The number of global cases tops 2 million, according to Johns Hopkins

The number of coronavirus cases around the world topped 2 million on Wednesday, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The worldwide total of confirmed cases was 2,000,984 just before 10:30 a.m. ET, according to the university's resource center.

Meanwhile, over 128,000 global deaths have been recorded.

27,000 health care workers in Spain have tested positive for coronavirus

More than 27,000 health care workers in Spain have tested positive for coronavirus, an official at the country's Emergency Coordination Center said during a news conference Wednesday.

Fernando Simon, the director of the center, said"many of those infected have recovered and are back at work.

Spain has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus, with almost 170,000 cases and more than 18,000 deaths as of Tuesday. 


Dow opens with a loss of 550 points on brutal retail sales report and bank earnings

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by around 550 points Wednesday morning after a brutal monthly retail report and more ugly quarterly earnings reports from some of the country's largest banks.

The government's monthly retail sales report showed sales were down a record 8.7 percent for the month of March, with a 50.5 percent decline in clothing sales and a 26.5 percent drop in sales at restaurants and bars.

A rough round of bank earnings continues to weigh on markets, with Bank of America reporting a decline in profits of 45 percent for the first quarter. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo also released ugly quarterly earnings this week, as banks put aside billions of dollars as provisions for bad loans.

Read the full story here. 

Here's how millions voted in S. Korea amid coronavirus. Could the U.S.?

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — In a surprisingly high turnout, millions of South Korean voters wore masks and moved slowly between lines of tape at polling stations on Wednesday to elect lawmakers in the shadows of the spreading coronavirus.

The government resisted calls to postpone the parliamentary elections billed as a midterm referendum on President Moon Jae-in, who enters the final two years of his single five-year term grappling with a historic public health crisis that is unleashing massive economic shock.

While South Korea’s electorate is deeply divided along ideological and generational lines and regional loyalties, recent surveys showed growing support for Moon and his liberal party, reflecting the public’s approval of an aggressive test-and-quarantine program so far credited for lower fatality rates for the coronavirus compared to China, Europe and North America.

Wednesday’s voting, which comes amid a slowing virus caseload in South Korea, draws a contrast with an upended election cycle in the United States, where some states have pushed back presidential primaries or switched to voting by mail.

Read the full story here.

A free chatbot looks to help people file for unemployment benefits

Jacob Ward

State unemployment offices have been overwhelmed by a sudden influx in applications, with millions of Americans suddenly out of work and seeking relief. 

So Joshua Browder, founder of DoNotPay, a service that helps people fight parking tickets and navigate small-claims court, has built an automated way to file.

Browder and his staff of seven studied the paperwork involved in applications in all 50 states and automated the process through a chatbot. Answer some questions and the system then mails a paper application into the state office for you, and issues you a tracking number.   

The service will also find out if you are eligible for paid sick leave, contractor benefits, or additional programs from the stimulus bill. It even automatically re-applies for you — in some states that’s necessary each week — to keep your benefits active.

Husband uses bucket truck to visit wife of 61 years at nursing home window

Love reached new heights at a nursing home in Waltham, Massachusetts last week when, faced with restrictions on visiting due to coronavirus, 88-year-old Nicholas Avtges Sr. was lifted in a bucket truck to greet his wife, 85-year-old Marion, through the third-story window of the building.

Nicholas and Marion’s youngest son, Christopher, said that what was initially laughed off as a silly idea amongst family members sitting around the fire became a reality when family friend Peter Tzannos reached out to help bring the plan together and a local man, Ryan Donnellanm volunteered his bucket truck to be used.

Holding a note which read “I love you sweetheart,” Nicholas was reunited with Marion after four weeks apart due to the pandemic. The couple had celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary in February.

Cannes Film Festival will not take place in 'its original form' this year


The Cannes Film Festival will not take place this year in "its original form" due to the coronavirus pandemic, but organizers said they continue to review options for the event.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced this week that he was extending a national lockdown to curb the outbreak and that public events including festivals could not be held until mid-July.

"We acknowledged that the postponement of the 73rd International Cannes Film Festival, initially considered for the end of June to the beginning of July, is no longer an option,” organizers said in a statement. "It is clearly difficult to assume that the Festival de Cannes could be held this year in its original form."

Eurovision 2020 venue now a temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients

A picture taken on Tuesday, April 14, shows a temporary hospital for COVID-19 infected patients at indoor sports arena Ahoy in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, that was supposed to host Eurovision 2020 song contest, cancelled because of the pandemic.Pieter Stam de Jonge / AFP - Getty Images

'Downton Abbey' costume designers make medical scrubs

Dress makers and costume designers from the British television series "Downton Abbey" are turning their hands to making medical scrubs to aid health workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

"Our aim is to keep it local and to supply to the hospitals closest by. This should make things quicker, keep costs down and ideally keep any risk of contagion to a minimum," wrote costume designer Dulcie Scott on a GoFundMe page. 

Actor Hugh Bonneville, who played Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham in the popular period drama, tweeted his pride for the creative effort. 

A desperate scramble as COVID-19 families vie for plasma therapy

JoNel Aleccia, Kaiser Health News

Stephen Garcia's family is frantic.

The auto-body worker, just 32-years-old, has been on a ventilator in a Los Angeles-area hospital for nearly two weeks, gravely ill with COVID-19, unresponsive — and unaware of the battle they're waging on his behalf.

For days, Garcia's mother, his aunt and his girlfriend have pleaded with doctors at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center to try an experimental treatment — blood plasma from people recovered from COVID-19 — in hopes of saving his life.

Read the full story here. 

Image: The spread of the coronavirus disease in Erlangen
Sonja Krauthoefer of the University Hospital Erlangen checks donated blood and plasma samples in Erlangen, Germany on April 7, 2020.Andreas Gebert / Reuters

Tour de France cycling race delayed due to pandemic

Nancy Ing

Cycling's premier road race, the Tour de France, will be postponed until later in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport's ruling body, Union Cycliste Internationale, and a collection of event organizers agreed via video conference on Wednesday that the famous three-week race, originally due to start on June 27, will now take place from August 29 to September 20.

British rider Chris Froome, a four-time Tour de France winner, said on Twitter the announcement was "some light at the end of the tunnel."

NBC News

Notre Dame's bell to mark fire anniversary and sync with clap for medics

Nancy Ing and Yuliya Talmazan
Notre Dame de Paris in the sunrise on the eve of the first anniversary of the violent fire that ravaged it..THOMAS COEX / AFP - Getty Images

Parisians, on Wednesday, will mark the one-year anniversary of a fire that devastated the city's ancient Notre Dame cathedral, while they clap to acknowledge the sacrifices of medical workers battling the coronavirus epidemic.

One of the cathedral's bells will ring out over the capital city at 8 p.m. local time. That's the time when the French nightly begin clapping, cheering and banging on pots to pay tribute to their health workers. 

"It will be a signal of gathering and of resilience of a country facing obstacles," French culture minister, Franck Riester, told Le Figaro Daily on Tuesday. 

'Skipping Sikh' challenges Britain to get active while on lockdown

A 73-year-old British man armed with a jump rope, has launched a viral campaign to raise funds for the country's health care system and get people active during the coronavirus lockdown. 

Rajinder Singh, who refers to himself as the "Skipping Sikh," is challenging both young and old to go for walks, runs and, of course, skip in an effort to stay healthy during isolation. 

And the public has been meeting his challenge, posting videos and photos of their activities across social media with the hashtag #skippingsikh. Singh's Just Giving fundraiser had also collected nearly £1,000 ($1,250) by early Wednesday. 

Global criticism grows on Trump move to end WHO funding

President Donald Trump's move to halt funding to the World Health Organization has been met with severe criticism at home and abroad, with the United Nations' secretary-general saying "now is not the time" for such a drastic move while the coronavirus pandemic is gripping the globe.

Read the full story here.

Image: President Donald Trump listens during a meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House on April 14, 2020.
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House on April 14, 2020.Doug Mills / Pool via Getty Images

NBC News

Official coronavirus death tolls are only an estimate, and that is a problem

Gregory Beals

The dead, piled up around the globe, tell a tale.

When the outbreak hit Spain, coffin makers couldn’t keep up with the demand. In Italy, the bodies were stacked unceremoniously in the back of military vehicles and hauled away. As the coronavirus death toll in the United States mounts, experts can only estimate as to how high it will go.

Accusations flew across continents as governments accused each other of lying about their coronavirus casualties.

So while the official global death toll currently stands at more than 126,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, that number represents a mere estimate. Only countries with extensive testing can confirm their mortalities and, even in those with the necessary medical technologies, the simple act of counting the dead reflects the chaos that COVID-19 has wrought.

Read the full story here. 

Image: Hart Island, New York
Workers wearing personal protective equipment bury bodies in a trench on Hart Island, on April 9, in Bronx, New York.John Minchillo / AP

U.S. forces in Japan extend health emergency to all bases

Arata Yamamoto


Arata Yamamoto and Reuters

The commander of U.S. Forces in Japan extended a public health emergency to all military bases in the country, on Wednesday, effective until at least May 15 as the number of coronavirus cases there continues to rise.

The declaration ensures U.S. commanders possess "the necessary authorities to enforce compliance with health protection measures," U.S. Forces Japan said in a statement. The provision applies to anyone with access to U.S. installations or facilities and includes military, civilians, contractors and host-nation employees, the statement added. 

Japan is the United States’ key ally in Asia and hosts more than 50,000 U.S. military personnel. The country's health officials have so far reported 8,100 coronavirus cases and 119 deaths.

NBC News

U.K. opposition calls for lockdown exit strategy

Britain's opposition leader called on Wednesday for the government to release its strategy for transitioning the country out of the coronavirus lockdown, which in turn is threatening upwards of 2 million jobs

"To maintain morale and hope, people need a sense of what comes next," said Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer, in an open letter to Dominic Raab, who is leading the government while Prime Minister Boris Johnson recovers from the coronavirus

More than 11,000 people have died of the virus in hospitals so far, according to the National Health Service on Tuesday, although Britain's death toll is believed to be much higher once deaths at care homes and hospices are accounted for.

South Koreans take to the polls amid pandemic

Stella Kim

Stella Kim and Yuliya Talmazan

Voters in South Korea cast their ballots in the country's parliamentary election Wednesday, taking extra precautions in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The country is one of the first in the world to hold a general election during the outbreak, with strict social distancing measures in place. Voters had to disinfect their hands with sanitizer, get their temperatures checked on arrival and wear plastic gloves and masks when casting a ballot.

South Korea has reported more than 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 225 deaths, as of Wednesday, according to its Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bill Gates says world needs 'WHO now more than ever'

NBC News

VIDEO: Oprah speaks out on the impact of coronavirus on African American community

NBC News

New Zealand’s Ardern, other top officials taking 20 percent pay cut

The Associated Press

New Zealand’s top officials are taking a 20 percent pay cut for six months in acknowledgment of the community’s sacrifices in dealing with the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it applies to government ministers, chief executives of government organizations, and also that opposition leader Simon Bridges had volunteered to join them.

She said it wouldn’t apply to any front-line staff like doctors or nurses.

Ardern’s salary of $286,000 is a comparatively high amount for a country with only 5 million people.

Man freed from jail over COVID-19 fears killed man next day, police say

A Florida man released from jail based on fears that coronavirus could spread in corrections facilities is accussed of killing someone the next day,  authorities said Tuesday.

Edward Williams, 26, of Tampa, Florida, was arrested Monday and is facing charges of murder, gun possession, violently resisting an officer,and drug possession, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in Tampa said.

Williams was freed six days after a March 13 arrest on drug charges and is suspected in a March 20 shooting that left a man dead, sheriff's officials said. He's now behind bars with no bond.

Read the full story here.

Trump's name will appear on coronavirus relief checks

Josh Lederman

Josh Lederman and Phil Helsel

President Donald Trump's name will appear on paper coronavirus relief checks mailed to Americans as part of a massive $2 trillion package passed by Congress last month.

A U.S. Treasury Department official confirmed Tuesday that the checks will have "President Donald J. Trump" printed on the front, but it will not be a signature.

The Washington Post, which first reported the story, said the process of adding Trump's name to the checks could slow their delivery by a few days.

The Treasury Department official disputed that and said there would not be any delays. The majority of coronavirus relief payments, which includes direct cash payments of up to $1,200 for individuals, are expected to go out by direct deposit, but some people will get paper checks.

Read the full story here.

Thousands of MLB players, families to participate in coronavirus study

Major League Baseball confirmed Tuesday that 27 teams will participate in a study looking for COVID-19 antibodies among club employees and their relatives.

The Athletic first reported that 10,000 volunteers will participate in the study, which will be conducted with the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory, Stanford University and the University of Southern California.

The study will aim to measure the prevalence of COVID-19 among people across the United States by testing for a blood protein that the body creates in response to the infection, the Athletic reported.

The Athletic, citing Stanford researcher Jay Bhattacharya, reported that players, families, team staff, concessionaires, ushers and other part-time employees of all ages, backgrounds and genders will participate.