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.

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.?

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

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

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. 

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

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."