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.

Could coronavirus deal a fatal blow to the U.S. Postal Service?

The USPS is responsible for mail delivery of prescription drugs, census reminders, mail-in ballots — and will soon be charged with delivering Treasury stimulus checks.

Yet the same agency that will help deliver those economic relief checks is in need of major financial help itself. 

In early March, when the first coronavirus cases began to appear in the U.S., the USPS experienced a 5.3 percent decline in overall mail volume. By March 30, that had plunged to 30 percent.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan estimated that the Postal Service will run out of cash by the end of September if it doesn’t receive government assistance due to the coronavirus crisis.

Read the full story here.

Photo: Nurse couple unites to fight virus

Nurses Mindy Brock and Ben Cayer, wearing protective equipment, hold each other and look into each other's eyes, in Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Fla., on March 30, 2020. It was a lovers' gaze in the most unlikely situation. The picture, which has been shared on social media, is inspiring people around the globe. "Everybody's talking about the photo," says Cayer, 46. It strikes a chord "because we're all going through the same thing right now and it's a symbol of hope and love." Nicole Hubbard / via AP

New Yorkers must wear face masks if they can't socially distance, Cuomo says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced that he'd signed an executive order mandating that everyone in the state must wear a mask or face-covering in public when social distancing is not possible.

Fast food workers from more than 50 Chicago restaurants strike

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

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.

More sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt test positive for coronavirus

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

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."

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

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."