Trump puts onus on governors to reopen, stimulus chaos causes stress

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: New York City Fire Department and Emergency Medical Technicians lift a man after moving him from a nursing home into an ambulance
New York City Fire Department and Emergency Medical Technicians lift a man after moving him from a nursing home into an ambulance during an ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 16, 2020.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world topped 2 million Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with more than 143,000 confirmed deaths as of Thursday night.

President Donald Trump unveiled a three-phased plan for reopening the U.S. that puts the onus on state governors for implementing the guidelines, despite earlier assertions that he had "total authority" to direct governors how and when to reopen.

Earlier in the day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave no indication that he would "unpause" the state and extended the stay-at-home order until May 15.

Delays in stimulus payments and difficulty navigating the IRS website have left many cash-strapped Americans anxious as they struggle to pay for their homes or put food on the table.

In Europe, Germany became the latest nation to commit to cautiously reopening some businesses despite keeping a wider lockdown in place.

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

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Live coverage has ended. Continue reading April 17 coronavirus news here.

Trump questions accuracy of China's coronavirus death toll

President Donald Trump has heaped further criticism on China over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, questioning the accuracy of its official death toll and saying he was looking into an unverified theory that the infection originated in a Chinese laboratory.

"Do you really believe those numbers in this vast country called China. … Does anybody really believe that?" Trump said when asked at the White House daily news briefing Wednesday why the U.S. has the highest numbers of official coronavirus deaths and cases in the world.

"Some countries are in big, big trouble and they're not reporting the facts — and that's up to them," he said.

Read the full story here. 

President Trump at the coronavirus briefing at the White House on Wednesday.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

What life is like in locked-down Berlin

74 million people in Middle East lack sink, soap or basic water facilities, U.N. says

While hand-washing with soap and water has been advocated worldwide to keep the coronavirus at bay, some 74 million people in the Middle East lack access to a sink, soap or basic water facilities at home, a United Nations report published Thursday found.

Refugees and those in conflict areas were especially at risk, the report said, living with inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene services.

In the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, only one in 10 households has access to clean water, the U.N. said. Women and girls in rural areas and informal settlements, who usually undertake the water collection task, were being put at greater risk.

Gold stores in Bangkok's Chinatown see brisk trade because of COVID-19

99-year-old vet raises $16M to help U.K. health service fight virus

A 99-year-old war veteran has raised more than 13 million British pounds (about $16 million) for the National Health Service by walking laps around his garden.

Tom Moore, a former captain who turns 100 at the end of the month, has long surpassed his original target to raise 1,000 pounds by walking the length of his garden in Bedfordshire, England, a hundred times before his 100th birthday. 

Health care workers across the U.K. have raised concerns about the lack of safety equipment to protect them from getting infected while helping coronavirus patients. 

So far, nearly 13,000 people have died of COVID-19, the disease the virus cases, in the U.K., with the nationwide tally of confirmed cases now standing at 98,476.

Another 5 million people filed jobless claims last week, bringing total to almost 22 million in a month

Around 5 million more people filed for first-time unemployment claims last week, as the job market in every sector of the economy continues to be devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The staggering weekly total comes as President Donald Trump weighs plans to pull back on the social distancing measures that have shuttered businesses across the country, and reopen parts of the economy as soon as May 1.

State-mandated lockdowns have choked vast portions of the once-booming economy, kicking a new total of 22 million people out of work and launching the nation into the worst crisis since the Great Depression.

Read the full story here.

NBC News' Richard Engel rounds up the latest coronavirus headlines

Locked-down citizens across the world dress up to take out the trash in online meme

Danielle Askew, 47, says she has a backlog of 18,000 submissions from people who are dressing up to take out the trash.Danielle Askew

People around the world are celebrating rare opportunities to leave the house by dressing in their finest clothes to take out the trash.

Followers of the trend from New South Wales to New York are sharing photos online of themselves donning prom dresses, superman costumes and their Sunday best to make the most of a rare trip outside, during the coronavirus crisis. One woman even wore her old wedding dress for the task.

"So basically the bin goes out more than us, SO let’s dress up for the occasion!" wrote Facebook group Bin Isolation Outing founder Danielle Askew, 47, from Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia.

Read the full story here. 

Nissan to make face shields for health care workers in Japan

Japanese automaker Nissan will start making face shields for health care workers in Japan, the company said in a statement Thursday.

Nissan said it will make around 2,500 shields a month, adding that it was looking into whether it was able to support other companies that manufacture ventilators and artificial heart-lung machines. 

The company said it had also started similar initiatives in other countries including the U.K. and Spain. In the U.S., the company is making protective face shields for health care workers in Michigan, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Amazon to begin testing some frontline staff, Bezos says

Jeff Bezos, founder of online retailer Amazon, has outlined the company's aim to begin testing staff for coronavirus.

"If every person could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we fight this virus," Bezos said in his annual letter to shareholders published Thursday. "Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence."

The company, which has come under criticism for not adequately protecting workers during the crisis, has set up a team to begin incremental testing and begun assembling equipment to build Amazon's first lab to test "small numbers of our frontline employees," Bezos said.