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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

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.

Fast food workers from more than 50 Chicago restaurants strike

809d ago / 5:21 PM UTC

Fast food workers from more than 50 restaurants across Chicago went on strike on Wednesday to protest unsafe working conditions, the labor rights group Fight for $15 and a union representing the workers said.

The protest comes after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 at a Chicago McDonald's and other workers at the location didn't feel adequately protected, the groups said. 

Workers from McDonald's, Burger King, Chipotle, Dunkin' Donuts, KFC, and other chains are participating in a "Zoom picket line," demanding more protective gear, hazard pay and two full weeks of paid self-isolation time if they come in contact with someone sick.

The Chicago protest comes after a wave of walk-offs from McDonald's locations across the country, where workers are sounding the alarm on working conditions.

McDonald's told NBC News in a statement it is "disappointed by today’s activities as they do not represent the feedback we are hearing," saying "99% of our Drive-Thrus are open to serve the healthcare heroes on the frontlines.”

Another 752 lose their lives in the state of New York

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809d ago / 5:16 PM UTC

Another 752 people in the state of New York lost their lives to complications connected to COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

Tuesday's death toll included 707 who died in hospitals and 45 at nursing homes, according to the governor.

New York state's count of COVID-19 deaths has now reached 11,586. This state data does not include the more than 3,700 fatalities now being called "probable" COVID-19 deaths that health officials in New York City have documented.

809d ago / 4:46 PM UTC

More sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt test positive for coronavirus

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809d ago / 4:42 PM UTC

The U.S. Navy is continuing to test sailors stationed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt following the death Monday of a sailor who was hospitalized for coronavirus-related complications.

Military officials said Wednesday that 94 percent of the aircraft carrier's roughly 4,800-member crew have been tested, resulting in 615 positive results — up from 550 last week. Nearly 4,000 sailors have tested negative.

Five sailors from the Roosevelt were brought to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, with one of them remaining in the intensive care unit. The ship has been docked in Guam, a small island in the Pacific Ocean and an unincorporated territory of the United States, since March 27 for a scheduled port visit for resupply and crew rest.

American Nurses Association calls on Trump to reconsider 'misguided' WHO funding decision

809d ago / 4:41 PM UTC

One of the country's leading nurse organizations, the American Nurses Association, is urging President Donald Trump to reconsider his plans to discontinue funding to the World Health Organization.

ANA President Ernest Grant issued a statement Wednesday calling Trump's decision "misguided" and said it would "have dire implications for the U.S. and the world community."

"The decision to discontinue the United States funding for the World Health Organization at this time of the pandemic is misguided and will hinder global efforts to battle the coronavirus," Grant said. "International cooperation among governments and the scientific and health care communities is essential to halt the spread of the disease and share tools, strategies and solutions to mitigate its impact."

809d ago / 4:29 PM UTC

809d ago / 4:02 PM UTC

What are 'police powers'? Pennsylvania's Supreme Court explains

809d ago / 3:51 PM UTC

A phrase that has come up in the discussion about whether President Donald Trump can order the states to reopen is "police powers." A decision this week from Pennsylvania's Supreme Court, which rejected a challenge to Gov. Tom Wolf’s order closing certain business, has a description of the concept, included below.

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that the Constitution did not give general police powers to the federal government. The 10th Amendment says any powers not explicitly granted to the federal government are retained by the states, which have their own constitutions authorizing police powers. That's why no president has the kind of authority that state governors do to close businesses.

Here's the explanation from Pennsylvania's Supreme Court: "The broad powers granted to the governor in the Emergency Code are firmly grounded in the Commonwealth's police power," defined by the court as the power "to promote the public health, morals or safety and the general well-being of the community." In a 1980 case, the court described police power "as the state's 'inherent power of a body politic to enact and  enforce laws for the protection of the general welfare,' and thus, it is both one of the 'most essential powers of the government' and its 'least limitable power.'"

Police power "is fundamental because it enables civil society to respond in an appropriate and effective fashion to changing political, economic, and social circumstances, and thus to maintain its vitality and order," the court continued, adding that the power must therefore be "as comprehensive as the demands of society require under the circumstances." 

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

809d ago / 3:41 PM UTC

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.

809d ago / 3:25 PM UTC
Image: Hospital workers cheer first responders as they pass Westchester Medical Center in a caravan of sirens and lights in Valhalla, N.Y., on April 14, 2020.
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
Image: A police officer leads a cheer for healthcare workers outside of Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y, on April 14, 2020.
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

809d ago / 2:53 PM UTC

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

809d ago / 2:48 PM UTC

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

809d ago / 2:23 PM UTC

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

809d ago / 2:18 PM UTC

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. 

 

809d ago / 2:14 PM UTC

Dow opens with a loss of 550 points on brutal retail sales report and bank earnings

809d ago / 1:43 PM UTC

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.?

809d ago / 1:35 PM UTC

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

809d ago / 1:32 PM UTC

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

810d ago / 1:14 PM UTC

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

810d ago / 1:05 PM UTC

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

810d ago / 1:04 PM UTC
Image: NETHERLANDS-HEALTH-VIRUS
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

810d ago / 1:03 PM UTC

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

810d ago / 12:56 PM UTC

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. 

Image: The spread of the coronavirus disease in Erlangen
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

810d ago / 12:33 PM UTC

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."

810d ago / 12:11 PM UTC

Notre Dame's bell to mark fire anniversary and sync with clap for medics

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810d ago / 11:51 AM UTC
Image: TOPSHOT-FRANCE-NOTRE-DAME-ANNIVERSARY-VIRUS-HEALTH
Notre Dame de Paris in the sunrise on the eve of the first anniversary of the violent fire that ravaged it..THOMAS COEX / AFP - Getty Images

Parisians, on Wednesday, will mark the one-year anniversary of a fire that devastated the city's ancient Notre Dame cathedral, while they clap to acknowledge the sacrifices of medical workers battling the coronavirus epidemic.

One of the cathedral's bells will ring out over the capital city at 8 p.m. local time. That's the time when the French nightly begin clapping, cheering and banging on pots to pay tribute to their health workers. 

"It will be a signal of gathering and of resilience of a country facing obstacles," French culture minister, Franck Riester, told Le Figaro Daily on Tuesday. 

'Skipping Sikh' challenges Britain to get active while on lockdown

810d ago / 11:20 AM UTC

A 73-year-old British man armed with a jump rope, has launched a viral campaign to raise funds for the country's health care system and get people active during the coronavirus lockdown. 

Rajinder Singh, who refers to himself as the "Skipping Sikh," is challenging both young and old to go for walks, runs and, of course, skip in an effort to stay healthy during isolation. 

And the public has been meeting his challenge, posting videos and photos of their activities across social media with the hashtag #skippingsikh. Singh's Just Giving fundraiser had also collected nearly £1,000 ($1,250) by early Wednesday. 

Global criticism grows on Trump move to end WHO funding

810d ago / 10:54 AM UTC

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.

Image: President Donald Trump listens during a meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House on April 14, 2020.
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

810d ago / 10:44 AM UTC

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

810d ago / 10:25 AM UTC

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. 

Image: Hart Island, New York
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

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810d ago / 10:15 AM UTC

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.

810d ago / 9:33 AM UTC

U.K. opposition calls for lockdown exit strategy

810d ago / 9:10 AM UTC

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

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810d ago / 8:39 AM UTC

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'

810d ago / 8:17 AM UTC

VIDEO: Oprah speaks out on the impact of coronavirus on African American community

810d ago / 8:01 AM UTC

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

810d ago / 5:49 AM UTC

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

810d ago / 5:08 AM UTC

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.

Trump's name will appear on coronavirus relief checks

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810d ago / 4:17 AM UTC

President Donald Trump's name will appear on paper coronavirus relief checks mailed to Americans as part of a massive $2 trillion package passed by Congress last month.

A U.S. Treasury Department official confirmed Tuesday that the checks will have "President Donald J. Trump" printed on the front, but it will not be a signature.

The Washington Post, which first reported the story, said the process of adding Trump's name to the checks could slow their delivery by a few days.

The Treasury Department official disputed that and said there would not be any delays. The majority of coronavirus relief payments, which includes direct cash payments of up to $1,200 for individuals, are expected to go out by direct deposit, but some people will get paper checks.

Read the full story here.

Thousands of MLB players, families to participate in coronavirus study

810d ago / 1:15 AM UTC

Major League Baseball confirmed Tuesday that 27 teams will participate in a study looking for COVID-19 antibodies among club employees and their relatives.

The Athletic first reported that 10,000 volunteers will participate in the study, which will be conducted with the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory, Stanford University and the University of Southern California.

The study will aim to measure the prevalence of COVID-19 among people across the United States by testing for a blood protein that the body creates in response to the infection, the Athletic reported.

The Athletic, citing Stanford researcher Jay Bhattacharya, reported that players, families, team staff, concessionaires, ushers and other part-time employees of all ages, backgrounds and genders will participate.