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

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE

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:

Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

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

Watch a New Yorker pay tribute to coronavirus responders with iconic Jimi Hendrix tune

As New Yorkers took to their balconies and fire escapes for the nightly ovation of front-line workers, one New Yorker decided to plug in his amp and pay homage to Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." 

It was a sight to behold for many shut-in neighbors — and a symbolic nod to Hendrix's famed Woodstock anthem, which expressed the hopes and fears of a nation 50 years ago. 

Photos: A caravan of cheers in Westchester, N.Y.

Hospital workers cheer first responders as they pass Westchester Medical Center in a caravan of sirens and lights in Valhalla, N.Y., Tuesday.John Moore / Getty Images
A police officer leads a cheer for healthcare workers outside of Westchester Medical Center on Tuesday. John Moore / Getty Images

Advocates challenge abortion bans in Louisiana, Tennessee during coronavirus pandemic

Abortion rights advocacy groups have filed lawsuits in Tennessee and Louisiana in hopes of keeping abortions accessible during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Louisiana, the Center for Reproductive Rights is representing the Shreveport-based Hope Medical Group for Women, one of three remaining clinics in the state. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, in a news release, said the clinic was ignoring the Louisiana Department of Health’s order that suspended all elective medical procedures and surgeries.

However, the president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, said that abortion is essential health care and it cannot be delayed. “This is a shameful abuse of power,” Northup said.

The clinic’s administrator, Kathaleen Pittman, confirmed that Hope Medical Group for Women is currently seeing patients and following CDC guidelines.

IRS launches website to help people collect and track their stimulus checks

The IRS launched a website on Wednesday to help people expedite the delivery of stimulus money by providing banking details. The website also helps people track the status of their payment. 

People will need to enter their Social Security Number, date of birth and mailing address to track payments. To speed payment, taxpayers will need to enter their adjusted gross income from either 2019 or 2018, the refund or amount owed from their most recent taxes, and their banking information.

The website debuted the same day that many people reported that stimulus payments had hit their bank accounts. Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin first announced the website last week.

 

The number of global cases tops 2 million, according to Johns Hopkins

The number of coronavirus cases around the world topped 2 million on Wednesday, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The worldwide total of confirmed cases was 2,000,984 just before 10:30 a.m. ET, according to the university's resource center.

Meanwhile, over 128,000 global deaths have been recorded.

27,000 health care workers in Spain have tested positive for coronavirus

More than 27,000 health care workers in Spain have tested positive for coronavirus, an official at the country's Emergency Coordination Center said during a news conference Wednesday.

Fernando Simon, the director of the center, said"many of those infected have recovered and are back at work.

Spain has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus, with almost 170,000 cases and more than 18,000 deaths as of Tuesday. 

 

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.