The countries with the highest numbers of confirmed cases are the U.S., Russia, Brazil and the U.K., according to the WHO.
On the same day, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly published a 60-page document that recommends precautions for reopening the nation's restaurants, mass transit, schools and child care programs.
The CDC cautioned that, depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in a particular region, not all businesses and institutions should reopen just yet.
Joe Biden said Wednesday it's "totally irresponsible" for President Donald Trump to be taking and touting the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a way to prevent COVID-19.
"There's no serious medical personnel out there saying to use that drug, it's counterproductive, it's not going to help," Biden said Tuesday in a virtual Yahoo News event with chef Jose Andres.
- MAPS: Confirmed cases in the U.S. and worldwide; confirmed deaths in the U.S. and globally
- Reopening America: See what states across the U.S. have already reopened.
- The coronavirus has destroyed the job market in every state. See the per-state jobless numbers and how they’ve changed.
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This live coverage has ended. Continue to May 21 coronavirus updates.
World COVID-19 cases pass 5 million
The number of COVID-19 cases around the world has passed 5 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases. There have been more than 328,000 deaths globally, according to the university.
The cases passed 5 million after World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that more than 100,000 cases had been reported to the organization over the previous 24 hours.
Tedros said at a news conference in Geneva that the 106,000 cases reported to the WHO was "the most in a single day since the outbreak began."
In the United States, there have been more than 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 with more than 93,700 deaths, according to an NBC News count.
Guidance on church reopenings held up in dispute between CDC, White House
Guidance on reopening houses of worship has been put on hold after a disagreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House, a senior administration official confirmed.
The news was first reported by The Washington Post, which stated that the White House was resistant to putting limits on religious institutions.
"The CDC sometimes views things in an overly bureaucratic way. What we are trying to do is encourage a more federalist approach where each state is able to make decisions based on their own circumstances and individually tailored needs," the senior administration official told NBC News.
The CDC this week released recommendations for reopening restaurants, mass transit, schools and child care programs across the United States during the coronavirus pandemic.
There has been an ongoing struggle between the CDC and the White House over guidelines for reopening, with the White House expressing concerns that the CDC’s guidelines are too restrictive.
Lawmakers urge Trump administration to collect data on LGBTQ patients
Over 100 members of Congress are calling on the Trump administration to collect information on the sexual orientations and gender identities of COVID-19 patients.
A letter addressed Wednesday to the Department of Health and Human Services said a failure to track demographic data about LGBTQ identities will "make it difficult for health care providers and policymakers to clearly identify and address the prevention and treatment needs" of the community during the pandemic. A lack of data on how COVID-19 affects LGBTQ people "will exacerbate the challenges that these populations are already experiencing during the COVID-19 public health emergency," it said.
"Like other marginalized groups, the LGBTQ community faces multiple health inequities," it read. "With scarce demographic information available about the LGBTQ population, it is difficult to provide quality care and solutions."
Illinois lawmaker removed from meeting after refusing to wear mask
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A member of the Illinois General Assembly was removed from the first gathering in 10 weeks after refusing to wear a face covering.
Republican Rep. Darren Bailey of Xenia, 250 miles (400 kilometers) south of Chicago, voted “no” on a face-covering rule to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, which was adopted 97-12. Bailey said he was speaking for Illinois residents who feel “captive” and “burdened” by state-ordered restrictions on movement.
Bailey, who filed a legal challenge to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, in effect since March 21, represents growing dissent to stay-at-home rules in central and southern parts of the state, which have had far fewer coronavirus infections than Chicago.
Pritzker, who later announced another 147 Illinois deaths related to COVID-19 at his daily briefing, said, “The representative has shown callous disregard for life, callous disregard for people’s health .... The representative has no interest in protecting others.”
Macy's reopens more locations with precautions
Theodore Roosevelt returns to sea
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is returning to sea for a two-week mission, its first since being moored in Guam in late March following a coronavirus outbreak.
The Navy said that the aircraft carrier entered the Philippine Sea on Thursday local time "to conduct carrier qualification flights for Carrier Air Wing 11."
The Theodore Roosevelt, which has a crew of nearly 5,000, is underway with around 3,300 personnel on the mission, a Defense official said. Everyone aboard the ship was tested and enough personnel have been removed from quarantine to operate the vessel, the Navy said.
Former White House employee who served 11 presidents dies at 91
A former White House butler who served 11 different presidents died at the age of 91 after contracting the coronavirus, his granddaughter told Fox 5 DC.
Wilson Roosevelt Jerman was one of the White House’s longest-serving employees, remembered fondly by former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush in a statement to NBC News on Wednesday.
Expansion of mail-in voting on hold in Texas
AUSTIN, Texas — A court ruling that paved the way in Texas for a dramatic expansion of mail-in voting over fears of the coronavirus is now on hold.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals voted Wednesday to temporarily put aside any expansion of mail-in voting while the case is under review. The order came less than 24 hours after a federal judge in San Antonio ruled that Texas must give all 16 million registered voters in the state the option of casting a ballot by mail during the pandemic.
The fight in Texas is one of several nationwide over expanding access to mail-in voting during the pandemic. Texas generally limits mail-in ballots to voters 65 or older, or those with a “sickness or physical condition.”
Republican Texas Attorney General Paxton has asserted that fear of getting the virus doesn’t qualify as a disability under the law.
Tension grows as customers clash with stores over masks
White House paying huge premium for mask-cleaning machines that don't do the job
WASHINGTON — It sounded like a great deal: The White House coronavirus task force would buy a defense company’s new cleaning machines to allow critical protective masks to be reused up to 20 times. And at $60 million for 60 machines on April 3, the price was right.
But over just a few days, the potential cost to taxpayers exploded to $413 million, according to notes of a coronavirus task force meeting obtained by NBC News. By May 1, the Pentagon pegged the ceiling at $600 million in a justification for awarding the deal without an open bidding process or an actual contract. Even worse, scientists and nurses say the recycled masks treated by these machines begin to degrade after two or three treatments, not 20, and the company says its own recent field testing has only confirmed the integrity of the masks for four cycles of use and decontamination.
Nurses in several places across the country now say they are afraid of being at greater risk of acquiring COVID-19 while using N95 masks, which they say often don’t fit correctly after just a few spins through a cleaning system that uses vapor phase hydrogen peroxide to disinfect them.