Nearly 3 million more Americans file jobless claims

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Around 2.98 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment claims last week, more than economist expectations of 2.7 million, and the eighth straight week of numbers in the millions. More than 36.5 million unemployment claims have been filed since the COVID-19 pandemic struck two months ago.

Meanwhile, a Health and Human Services whistle blower, Dr. Rick Bright, warned Congress on Thursday that "2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history" without clear action against the coronavirus.

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

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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading May 15 coronavirus news.

Broadway stars are giving personal performances to benefit out-of-work artists

Former "Aladdin" star Telly Leung, performs a "SingforHopeGram" for nurses at Hackensack Meridian Medical Center.Sing for Hope

Following the announcement that Broadway would remain dark through the summer, the organization “Sing for Hope,” which focuses on uplifting individuals using the performing arts throughout New York City and the world, launched a new initiative called “SingforHopeGrams.”

Individuals can order personal telegrams to send to their loved ones that are sung by Broadway stars, classical artists, Grammy winners such as former "Aladdin" cast member Telly Leung, "Ain’t Too Proud" star Jelani Remy, and Heather Makalani Manley from "Emojiland."

All of the proceeds from the telegrams go towards programs that bring comfort to vulnerable members of the community as well as the working artists who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization said they created the initiative in order to “help lift the spirits and bring joy to those isolated while also benefitting artists from Broadway, opera, and more who are reeling financially due to the pandemic.”  

The telegrams can also be tailored to special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, or graduation ceremonies.

'Fewer graves if we reopen in waves': At-risk North Carolina man flies banner over anti-lockdown protest

An immunocompromised North Carolina man hired a plane to deliver a message to people who are protesting the state’s stay-at-home order. 

The message, “FEWER GRAVES IF WE REOPEN IN WAVES,” was towed by a plane over a ReOpenNC protest in Raleigh on Tuesday. Todd Stiefel, the man behind the viral stunt, told NBC affiliate WRAL that he wanted to deliver the message to protesters in person, but couldn’t because of his weakened immune system.

“They don’t care about other people’s health. If they did, they would be wearing masks and social distancing,” Stiefel told WRAL

North Carolina is currently in its first phase of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We do need to start opening the economy. We do need to do that, but we need to balance it by listening to the science, taking it slowly and not spreading this disease everywhere,” Stiefel said

110 children in New York with inflammatory syndrome

The New York State Department of Health is now looking into 110 cases of a rare inflammatory syndrome believed to be linked to COVID-19 in children.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the new cases during a media briefing Thursday. "Parents should be informed," Cuomo said, adding that three young people, ages 5, 7 and 18, have died in that state.

The condition was identified just within the past few weeks, and has been tentatively called "pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome." The illness mirrors many of the symptoms of toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, including severe inflammation of the coronary arteries.

NBC News has learned of suspected cases in at least 17 other states, as well as several European countries. 

Tesla gets clearance to move ahead in reopening

Tesla was officially given the go-ahead on Wednesday to "ramp up minimum basic operations in order to prepare for operations next week," according to a release from the Alameda County Public Health Department.

The county received on Monday Tesla's plan for reopening. The following day it responded with additional safety recommendations that needed to be included for Tesla to move forward with reopening, which it has done.

Wednesday's announcement comes after Tesla CEO Elon Musk moved to reopen his Fremont, California assembly plant on Monday in defiance of a county health order aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. The original plan discussed with the county was to open around May 18 if health conditions didn't worsen in the area.

Musk's decision to reopen early alarmed some workers, who said they didn't plan to return to work until the order was officially lifted by the county.

American missionary pilot dies in plane crash while bringing COVID-19 tests to Indonesian village

An American missionary pilot died in a plane crash while trying to deliver COVID-19 rapid test kits to a remote Indonesian village, officials said

Joyce Lin.Mission Aviation Fellowship

Joyce Lin, 40, departed the Sentani, Papua, Indonesia airport Tuesday morning in a Kodiak aircraft heading for the village of Mamit in the Papua highlands when the plane crashed into Lake Sentani. 

Lin was a missionary with the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), serving as a pilot and field IT support specialist, the organization said in a news release. The MIT graduate had been stationed in Indonesia for two years.

“The Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) family is deeply saddened by the loss of their colleague and friend, Joyce Lin,” the organization wrote. “Joyce was a light reflecting Jesus, and she will be deeply missed.”

Gov. Cuomo says central New York can partially reopen May 15

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that central New York state has now met all seven metrics to begin reopening on Friday.

On Monday the governor announced that three upstate regions are ready to begin reopening on Friday. He said the state would allow certain low-risk businesses and activities to resume operating, including landscaping, outdoor recreation activities such as tennis and drive-in movie theaters.

The governor said that the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley have met the criteria to reopen.

Photos: Murals salute front-line workers around the world

Artists are using graffiti to vent their fears and frustrations and show their support for medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. See more murals from around the globe. 

Head of WTO steps down, saying 'everything is stuck; there’s nothing happening.'

The director-general of the World Trade Organization is stepping down one year earlier than planned, according to a statement from the global trade body.

"We are doing nothing now — no negotiations, everything is stuck. There’s nothing happening in terms of regular work," Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who has headed the Geneva-based agency since 2013, told Bloomberg News.

While his decision is partly based on global trade grind to a halt, he also indicated that his decision was fueled by the stand-off between the U.S. and China, and the fact that the U.S. has blocked appointments to its governing Appellate Body, which can no longer perform its duties without enough members.

“If I stay here, will the virus go away?  The virus will not go away. If I stay here will the U.S. and China all of a sudden shake hands and say, 'OK, let bygones be bygones?' No, that is not going to happen. Nothing is going to change if I stay here,” Azevedo said.

“The WTO may not be perfect, but it is indispensable all the same. It is what keeps us from a world where the law of the jungle prevails, at least as far as trade is concerned,” he said in a statement released by the WTO.

Azevedo will step down on August 31.

NJ gov says Jersey Shore will be open by Memorial Day

The Jersey Shore will be open by Memorial Day, but “with social-distancing guidelines in place," the state's governor said Thursday.

“The Shore is central to our Jersey identity,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a tweet. “And we want to ensure that families can safely enjoy it this summer.”

But it won’t be business as usual. 

“We can’t flip a switch and open everything at once,” Murphy said earlier. “Taking incremental steps, you get to analyze what the impact is.” 

Still, the plan is to allow people back on the beach.

 “So, God willing, we’ll be in a good place by the time Memorial Day weekend comes around,” Murphy said.