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

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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:

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

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.

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

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

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. 

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

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.

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

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'

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

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.