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.

Rihanna, Jay-Z and Twitter CEO offer more than $6M in relief grants

Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced they were co-funding more than $6 million in coronavirus relief grants to marginalized communities in areas that have been hit hard by the pandemic. 

The three entrepreneurs have co-funded $6.2 million for organizations aiding vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on New York, New Orleans and Puerto Rico, according to a news release Wednesday. 

Some of the organizations that have been chosen to receive the grants including the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, Covenant House New Orleans, the Hispanic Federation in Puerto Rico, and Doctors Without Borders. 

Jay-Z and Rihanna previously funded $2 million in grants through their foundations at the end of March for organizations that support undocumented immigrants, homeless populations and children of frontline workers. 

Viral video shows the immigrant faces behind UK's coronavirus fight

A group of key immigrant workers brought their voices together to remind the United Kingdom who it's clapping for every Thursday — in hopes of changing anti-immigrant sentiment.

Darren Smith wrote a poem after interviewing his friend and co-worker Sachini Imbuldeniya’s mother, a retired National Health Service worker and an immigrant. Imbuldeniya then decided to have first, second, and third-generation immigrants read the poem aloud line-by-line on a video to showcase the workers that the country has put its faith in during the coronavirus outbreak. 

“We ask everyone to remember that we are stronger as a nation when we welcome people of all ethnicities and backgrounds to our shores to work and live and love alongside us,” Imbuldeniya said. “That is a sentiment worth clapping for.”

911 calls falling, but New York City EMTs still responding to extra 'cardiac calls'

Calls to 911 in New York City have finally started to fall back towards pre-coronavirus levels, with about 4,000 calls per day in recent days. That's similar to the volume on a busy day prior to March.

However, the FDNY's EMTs are still responding to three times their usual daily number of "cardiac calls." On Tuesday, the FDNY responded to 205 cardiac calls; an average day in April last year brought 69 such calls. And 141 of Tuesday's calls, or 70 percent, involved a death, twice the average percentage.

As NBC News previously reported, "cardiac calls" are any calls involving fatal or near-fatal cardiac arrest. The FDNY attributes much of the increase in calls, and the higher percentage involving death, to coronavirus.

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."