Coronavirus: First NFL player tests positive for COVID-19

Coronavirus outbreak: What you need to know

More than 2 million people worldwide – including more than 613,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals manage unprecedented patient surges.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here.

>> Coronavirus: Know the facts directly from the CDC

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Live updates for Wednesday, April 15, continue below:

First NFL player tests positive for COVID-19

Update 11:20 p.m. EDT April 15: Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen has tested positive for coronavirus according to FOX Sports.

Allen is the first active NFL player to test positive for the virus.

Last month, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was the first NFL employee to test positive for the coronavirus.

Navy hospital ship in Los Angeles might scale back mission

Update 11:10 p.m. EDT April 15: The USNS Mercy hospital ship docked in Los Angeles may be able to scale back its medical operation a bit over the next week as the coronavirus workload at area hospitals stabilizes, according to the ship’s captain and military documents.

The Mercy will also send about 40 medical staff to a regional skilled nursing facility on Monday, Navy Capt. John Rotruck, the ship’s commander, said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. He said elderly patients will not be brought to the ship, despite earlier suggestions that could happen.

Rotruck said a plan under discussion would reduce the number of available hospital beds on the Navy ship from 1,000 to 250. Documents reviewed by the AP said the plan could free up medical staff that could then go on to other missions.

Two weeks ago, California officials were planning for a potential crush of coronavirus cases that by mid-May that could require adding up to 66,000 additional hospital beds. The Mercy was part of the ramp-up effort, but since then, hospitalizations have leveled off and ample rooms are available.

The ship left San Diego on March 23 and arrived in Los Angeles four days later to provide relief by taking patients who were not infected with the virus.

Many of the worst outbreaks now occurring are in nursing facilities, and some are having staffing issues as workers are infected or stay home.

China reports 46 new virus cases, but no deaths

Update 9:50 p.m. EDT April 15: China reported 46 new virus cases on Thursday, 34 of them brought from outside the country, but no new deaths from the outbreak.

Of the domestic cases, three were recorded in the capital Beijing, which has been enforcing strict quarantine and social distancing measures. Four others were reported in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, where authorities have been rushing to stem a new flare-up among Chinese citizens crossing the border from Russia.

China has now reported a total of 3,342 deaths from the virus among 82,341 cases. Around 3,000 people remain hospitalized with COVID-19 or under isolation and monitoring for showing signs of the illness or testing positive but not displaying symptoms.

New Mexico governor accepts invitation for pilot program

Update 9 p.m. EDT April 15: New Mexico’s governor says the state has accepted an invitation from the White House to participate in a pilot program to improve detection and contact tracing for coronavirus infections in efforts to better isolate outbreaks.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the offer came up in a Wednesday conversation with the White House, and that it was unclear whether other states would be involved. She says the nascent effort appears to involve the CDC and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, along with coronavirus task force adviser Debbie Birx.

New Mexico has consistently been among the top U.S. states in testing per capita for COVID-19, while aggressively tracing infection sources and developing a customized forecast model in cooperation with two national laboratories in the state.

Former Blue Jays infielder Dámaso García, dead at 63

Update 8:20 p.m. EDT April 15: Former Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Dámaso García, a two-time All-Star in the mid-1980s, died Wednesday in his native Dominican Republic. He was 63.

His son Dámaso Jr. confirmed García’s death to The Associated Press. The son said he passed away at 7.15 a.m. in Santo Domingo. He was at home with his wife Haydée Benoit.

Two years after retiring with the Montreal Expos, García was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent surgery in 1991. He was told he possibly only had six to eight months live. He recovered, but had to deal with speech and mobility issues afterward.

Garcia had several health problems in recent years, including a stroke, according to his son. He was also dealing with respiratory issues, but the death is not related to COVID-19, Dámaso Jr. said.

He is survived by his wife, a daughter and son, and three grandsons.

They will have a service in Santo Domingo on Thursday morning.

White House to release guidelines for reopening the country

Update 6:20 p.m. EDT April 15: President Donald Trump says he is planning releasing guidelines on Thursday on reopening the country.

“The battle continues but the data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new cases. These encouraging developments have put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines on states for reopening the country," Trump said Wednesday.

The announcement would come after Trump and Vice President Pence speak to governors.

‘We have passed the peak,’ Trump says in COVID-19 Task Force briefing

Update 5:50 p.m. EDT April 15: President Donald Trump announced in Wednesday’s COVID-19 Task Force press briefing that the U.S. has passed the peak.

Massachusetts passes grim milestone of 1,000 virus deaths

Update 5:40 p.m. EDT April 15: Massachusetts has surged past 1,000 deaths as the state struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Wednesday.

The state Department of Public Health reported Wednesday that 1,108 people have died — including 151 who died in the past 24 hours — making it the deadliest day for the state since the start of the outbreak.

Overall, nearly 30,000 cases have been confirmed, making Massachusetts a hotspot in the Northeast. About 530 of the deaths occurred in long-term care facilities.

French aircraft carrier hit by virus outbreak

Update 5 p.m. EDT April 15: The French defense ministry says 668 members of the crew of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and accompanying vessels have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Charles de Gaulle returned to its base in the southern port of Toulon on Sunday after the outbreak broke out.

The French Defense Ministry said Wednesday that 1,767 Navy troops had been tested, a majority of them sailors from the Charles de Gaulle. Amid those infected with the virus, 31 are at a hospital, including one in intensive care.

Results of about 30% of the tests are not known yet.

The Charles de Gaulle crew members have been placed into quarantine in the military base of Toulon. The carrier and other vessels have started being disinfected.

The Charles de Gaulle cut short by about 10 days a nearly three-month mission in the central Mediterranean then in the Atlantic and North Sea.

California governor announces hardship fund to help undocumented workers

Update 3:55 p.m. EDT April 15: Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Wednesday announced a $125 million disaster relief assistance program aimed at helping undocumented workers, who make up about 10% of the state’s essential workforce, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Funds for the program will include $75 million from California and $50 million to be raised through corporations and philanthropists, Newsom said, noting that undocumented Californians are not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief offered through the $2.2 trillion economic relief package passed last month by Congress.

“Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis.” Newsom said. “We are all in this together.”

Non-essential business closures extended in Virginia

Update 3:20 p.m. EDT April 15: Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia announced the extension Wednesday of an executive order closing non-essential businesses in the state until May 8 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Northam said he decided to extend the order after seeing new projections which indicated that social distancing is having an effect on slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the state, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

“I want everyone to know the sacrifices that you have made are helping slow the spread, and giving us more time to plan and prepare,” Northam said, according to the Times-Dispatch.

Hundreds honk outside state capitol to protest Michigan’s stay-at-home order

Update 3:15 p.m. EDT April 15: Hundreds of flag-waving, honking protesters drove past the Michigan Capitol to show their displeasure with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders to keep people at home and businesses locked during the coronavirus outbreak.

As snow fell, others got out of their vehicles and raised signs, one of which read, “Gov. Whitmer We Are Not Prisoners.” Another said, “Michigander Against Gretchens Abuses.”

The protest, called “Operation Gridlock,” was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition.

State police said they would stay on the sideline unless people could get hurt. The protest made big ripples: Traffic was barely moving around 1 p.m. nearby on westbound Interstate 496.

Whitmer, a Democrat, has extended a stay-home order through April 30 and has shut down schools and businesses deemed non-essential.

Maryland governor orders most people to wear face coverings in public

Update 3:05 p.m. EDT April 15: Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland issued an executive order Wednesday mandating most people in the state wear coverings over their noses and mouths while in public.

The effort is aimed at stymieing the spread of COVID-19.

“While this order is an important step in our immediate efforts to protect public health and safety, the wearing of masks is also something that we may all have to become more accustomed to in order to safely reopen our state,” Hogan said Wednesday at a news conference, according to WBAL-TV.

The order applies to people riding or operating public transit, people over 9 years old who go inside stores or restaurants, staff members at retail stores and food service workers who interact with the public.

The order will go into effect beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Stay-at-home order extended in Washington DC

Update 2:50 p.m. EDT April 15: Even as President Donald Trump presses to have large chunks of the United States open for business by the end of this month, with White House social distancing guidelines set to expire on April 30, the city which hosts the seat of the federal government is extending its stay-at-home order through the middle of May to fight the coronavirus.

"We have a lot more work to do to flatten our curve," said District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, as the city announced five more deaths from the virus outbreak.

“I don’t know (if) that means that we are going to be open on May 16,” Bowser told reporters. “I look at that as a check-in point.”

Infection rates continue to slow in Italy

Update 2:45 p.m. EDT April 15: The daily increase in new coronavirus infections identified in Italy continued to slow Wednesday with 2,667 new cases reported, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 165,155.

The less than 1.7% increase for numbers reported the day before is the lowest reported increase in the last five weeks, The Associated Press reported.

Officials said Wednesday that 21,645 people have died of COVID-19 in Italy. The country has the third highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, behind Spain, which has more than 177,000 cases, and the United States, which has more than 613,000 cases, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Idaho governor extends stay-home order to April 30

Update 2:25 p.m. EDT April 15: Gov. Brad Little of Idaho on Wednesday announced an extension of the state’s stay-home order, which was issued March 25 and expected to remain in place for 21 days.

Little said the order will remain in effect until April 30.

Health officials have reported 1,464 cases of COVID-19 in Idaho as of Tuesday. Thirty-nine people have died of coronavirus in the state, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Officials said about 16,000 people had been tested in the state as of Tuesday, the most recent date for which numbers were available. In New York, the state with the highest rate of testing in the country, nearly 500,000 people had been tested as of Wednesday. In nearby Washington state, nearly 123,000 tests had been administered as of Tuesday.

Coronavirus infections top 71,000 in New Jersey

Update 2:10 p.m. EDT April 15: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said that as of Wednesday, 71,030 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state.

Officials also reported 351 new fatal COVID-19 cases Wednesday, slightly lower than the 365 new fatal cases reported one day earlier.

Statewide, 3,156 people have died of coronavirus.

Proposed bill would give Americans $2,000 per month amid coronavirus pandemic

Update 1:55 p.m. EDT April 15: Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill Tuesday which, if passed, would see the government sending Americans $2,000 per month until unemployment numbers return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

The Emergency Money for the People Act was introduced by Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Ro Khanna, D-Calif.

“The economic impact of this virus is unprecedented for our country," Ryan said Tuesday in a statement. "As millions of Americans file for unemployment week over week, we have to work quickly to patch the dam – and that means putting cash in the hands of hard-working families.”

The announcement came one day before the Internal Revenue Service began to disperse funds to Americans following the passage of a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill.

“A one-time, twelve hundred dollar check isn’t going to cut it,” Khanna said Tuesday in a statement. “Americans need sustained cash infusions for the duration of this crisis in order to come out on the other side alive, healthy, and ready to get back to work.”

Louisiana reports 433 new coronavirus infections

Update 1:40 p.m. EDT April 15: Officials in Louisiana reported 433 new coronavirus infections Wednesday, raising the state’s total number of infections to 21,951.

The number of new reports was slightly lower than the 502 new coronavirus infections reported Tuesday.

Officials said Wednesday that 90 more fatal coronavirus cases . Statewide, 1,103 people have died of COVID-19.

Over 130 investigations launched nationwide into coronavirus-related crimes

Update 1:30 p.m. EDT April 15: U.S. law enforcement officials said Wednesday that more than 130 investigations have been launched around the country into fraud and other crimes linked to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations said its agents have so far made nine arrests and executed seven search warrants as part of an effort with other law enforcement agencies to crack down on fake virus tests and treatments and personal protective equipment and other attempts to take advantage of the health crisis.

The agency announced the start of “Operation Stolen Promise” in response to what it called a “significant rise in criminal activity.”

Officials with HSI said it has seized more than $3 million in illicit proceeds and shut down 11,000 domain names connected to allegedly fraudulent schemes.

Agents expect the amount of fraud will increase as financial relief and federal stimulus money starts to filter through the U.S. economy in the coming weeks.

Coronavirus infections top 22,000 in Florida

Update 1:25 p.m. EDT April 15: Health officials in Florida reported 453 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the state’s total number of cases to 22,081, WFTV reported.

A vast majority of the cases -- 21,435 -- involve Florida residents, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Statewide, 591 people have died of COVID-19, WFTV reported.

New York to mandate wearing masks in public

Update 1:20 p.m. EDT April 15: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Wednesday that he will issue an executive order mandating that people wear masks or cloth face coverings while in any situation in public where social distancing may not be possible.

“If you’re going to be in a situation that is not socially distanced, you must have a mask or a cloth covering nose and mouth,” Cuomo said Wednesday at a news conference.

“We’ll give people three-day notice to allow compliance just on the off chance that somebody doesn’t have a cloth covering or a mask and we’ll go from there."

Cuomo said the mandate won’t carry any penalties for violators, as “we haven’t seen flagrant noncompliance” with social distancing measures thus far.

“If people don’t follow it, we could do a civil penalty,” he said. "You aren’t going to jail for not wearing your mask, but local gov should start to enforce it. "

As of Wednesday, nearly 500,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in New York, more than 202,000 of which have tested positive, according to the state Department of Health.

752 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in New York

Update 1:05 p.m. EDT April 15: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Wednesday that 752 more people have died in the state of coronavirus, slightly down from the 778 new fatal cases reported Tuesday.

“They are in our thoughts and prayers,” Cuomo said at a news briefing Wednesday.

The governor said admissions to intensive care units, hospitalizations and intubations were down across the state, indicating that the “health situation has stabilized.”

“You see the flattening of the curve,” he said. “We’re not out of the woods ... but we can control the spread.”

Group challenges decision to classify abortion clinics as non-essential in Louisiana, other states

Update 1 p.m. EDT April 15: An abortion rights advocacy group filed suit this week against Louisiana officials, alleging that the state government’s decision to close abortion clinics amid the coronavirus pandemic is unconstitutional.

As part of its efforts to stymie the spread of COVID-19, officials in Louisiana announced the suspension of elective medical procedures and surgeries statewide. In a statement late last month, state Attorney General Jeff Landry accused Shreveport-based abortion clinic June Medical Services of “putting their profits over the health and safety of the public” by staying open despite the order.

“Not only should June Medical and all of Louisiana’s abortion providers comply with the public safety order, but they should also follow the generous lead of other medical facilities and donate their supplies to local hospitals who are in desperate need,” Landry said.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing June Medical in the federal lawsuit filed Monday, called the decision to deem abortion clinics as non-essential “a shameful abuse of power.”

“Louisiana has been trying for decades to end abortion,” Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup said Wednesday in a statement. “We are already fighting a separate Louisiana law at the Supreme Court that would shut down nearly every clinic in the state. If the state’s latest actions are not blocked, that will become a reality before the Supreme Court even rules.”

Lawsuits arguing that abortion bans are unconstitutional, even during the coronavirus pandemic, have been filed on behalf of abortion providers in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Pennsylvania officials report 1,145 new COVID-19 cases

Update 12:20 p.m. EDT April 15: Health officials in Pennsylvania reported 1,145 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, raising the state’s total number of coronavirus infections to 26,490, WPXI reported.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health also reported 63 new deaths. According to WPXI, 647 people have died of coronavirus in the state.

Coronavirus death nears 13,000 in the UK

Update 12:10 p.m. EDT April 15: Officials in the United Kingdom recorded 761 new fatal COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the country’s coronavirus death toll to 12,868.

The number is slightly lower than the 778 new fatal cases reported Tuesday.

Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced a total of 98,476 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in the U.K. The number is 4,603 higher than the number of cases reported nationwide Tuesday.

615 USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors test positive for COVID-19

Update 12 p.m. EDT April 15: U.S. Navy officials said Wednesday that 615 sailors assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus infections.

Five sailors remained hospitalized at the U.S. naval hospital in Guam. One sailor who was experiencing shortness of breath had been admitted to intensive care, officials said.

Officials announced Monday that a sailor who tested positive for COVID-19 died after being admitted four days earlier to intensive care. The Roosevelt aircraft carrier pulled into port at the island on March 27, shortly after the first coronavirus cases on board were detected.

WHO director: ‘We regret the decision’ by Trump to withhold funding

Update 11:45 a.m. EDT April 15: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday that the group regrets President Donald Trump’s decision to halt funding to the group.

“With support from the people and government of the United States, WHO works to improve the health of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” he said Wednesday at a news conference. “The United States of America has been a longstanding and generous friend to WHO and we hope it will continue to do so."

At a briefing Tuesday in Washington, Trump said he was instructing his administration to halt funding for the WHO pending a review of its role “in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” Trump has repeatedly labelled COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” and criticized the U.N. health agency for being too lenient on China, where the novel virus first emerged late last year.

The United States is WHO’s largest single donor, contributing between $400 million and $500 million annually to the Geneva-based agency in recent years.

Do you have to repay the government for your COVID-19 stimulus check?

Update 11:30 a.m. EDT April 15: Videos and posts circulating on social media claim that Americans will have to repay money they get from the stimulus package aimed at invigorating the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic

However, officials with the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department told The Associated Press that people will not have to reimburse the government for the money.

“This is not an advance and there is absolutely no obligation to pay it back,” Treasury spokeswoman Patricia McLaughlin told the AP in an email.

139 new coronavirus infections reported in DC

Update 11 a.m. EDT April 15: Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. said Wednesday that 139 new coronavirus infections have been reported in the area, slightly higher than the 103 new infections reported one day earlier.

The new reports bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in Washington D.C. to 2,197.

Bowser said Wednesday that five people between the ages of 45 and 93 also died of COVID-19. Seventy-two Washington D.C. residents have died of coronavirus, officials said.

Fauci: Still unclear if people can be reinfected after recovering from COVID-19

Update 10:50 a.m. EDT April 15: The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, said Wednesday that it remains unclear whether people can be reinfected with COVID-19 after recovering from the infection.

“It’s likely an uncommon event and won’t have a public health impact,” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show during an interview that aired Wednesday. "We have to be humble and modest and appreciate that we don’t have all the answers.

He said that with other viruses, “When you develop an antibody after infection, it almost invariably means you’re protected.” However, he emphasized that with COVID-19 “we don’t absolutely know that for sure yet.”

“The other thing that we don’t know is the durability of protection -- so are you protected for a month, or two, or three, a half a year or a year?” he said. “we need to get experience to know that.”

More than 2 million people diagnosed with COVID-19 worldwide

Update 10:40 a.m. EDT April 15: More than 2 million people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections worldwide, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The most cases have been reported in the United States, where more than 609,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported. The reports are high above the second-most affected country, Spain, which has reported more than 177,000 cases. Italy has the third-most number of cases in the world with more than 162,000 reports.

According to Johns Hopkins, more than 128,000 people have died worldwide due to the coronavirus. In the U.S., more than 24,000 people have died.

American Medical Association president: Halting funding to WHO ‘dangerous’

Update 10:25 a.m. EDT April 15: The president of the United States’ largest association of physicians, the American Medical Association, on Wednesday called the decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization in the middle of a global pandemic a “dangerous step in the wrong direction.”

President Donald Trump announced the decision to stop funding to the United Nations’ public health organization Tuesday, accusing the WHO of failing to do enough to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China.

Patrice Harris, president of AMA, said in an interview Wednesday with CNN’s “New Day” that the WHO has been a good partner through the coronavirus pandemic and previous outbreaks, leveraging its reach to facilitate coordination between nations.

“Others -- many others -- have said that this virus knows no boundaries,” Harris told CNN. “This is a global pandemic. It certainly requires global cooperation.”

Earlier Wednesday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said the WHO has been a “long-standing partner for CDC" and insisted the organizations would continue to work together through the coronavirus pandemic. He declined to comment on how the funding decision might affect collaboration with the organization.

“Those decisions that are going to be made above relating to some of the geopolitical issues, I have to leave to those that really have that expertise,” Redfield said.

Stocks sink on Wall Street as grim economic news pours in

Update 10 a.m. EDT April 15: Stocks opened broadly lower on Wall Street as more signs emerge of how much damage the coronavirus shutdowns are causing the economy.

Major U.S. indexes fell more than 2% in the first few minutes of trading Wednesday and bond prices rose as investors sought safety.

Retail sales plunged an unprecedented 8.7% last month as the outbreak forced a near total stop to commerce across the nation. A measure of manufacturing in New York state plunged to its lowest level on record, and a global energy agency predicted that worldwide demand for oil will fall this year by the most in history.

States likely to reopen businesses on a rolling basis, Fauci says

Update 9:55 a.m. EDT April 15: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci said states will likely begin to reopen businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic on a “rolling basis.”

“There is going to be a great deal of variability,” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview that aired Wednesday.

“It probably will be a rolling entry into it, with some states doing nothing different because they’re still in a really difficult situation and you would not want to relax any of the physical separation guidelines, and others that would be doing really much better.”

He emphasized that there was no effective “one-size-fits-all” approach for reopening the economy.

“If you start pulling back on mitigation, physical separations, there will be infections,” Fauci said.

“The real proof of the pudding of the success of this reentry is how quickly and effectively you identify (infected people), you get them out of circulation, you give them care where needed and you do contact tracing so that you don’t have the beginning of a peak."

CDC ‘poised to provide assistance’ to get Americans back to work, director says

Update 9:40 a.m. EDT April 15: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing to help states as they look to reopen businesses closed by the coronavirus pandemic, according to CDC Director Robert Redfield.

“We’re poised to provide assistance,” Redfield told “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday. “It’s going to be really important to get a few things in place."

Redfield said the most important pieces to handle will be testing for early diagnostics, expanding the public health capacity to allow for that, isolating known cases and tracing their contacts.

“This is going to be fundamental to maintain and contain cases as they occur and then make sure we have the health capacity to deal with this as we work to regain the confidence of the American public that it’s safe to go back to work,” he said.

Fauci: We are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel

Update 9:10 a.m. EDT April 15: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said Wednesday that the apparent flattening out of coronavirus infection reports in some parts of the country could indicate that the worst could soon be over for some parts of the country.

“We are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” Fauci said during an interview with NBC’s “Today” show which aired Wednesday.

“There’s still a couple of cities ... right now that we’re worried about that haven’t yet peaked and turned around, but if you look at the New York metropolitan area as kind of a prototype that’s been driving this through the country and then look at the country as a whole, there’s no doubt what we’ve seen over the last several days is a flattening out.”

IRS launches stimulus check tracking website

Update 8:35 a.m. EDT April 15: Officials with the Internal Revenue Service launched a website Wednesday which allows Americans to track the status of their stimulus checks.

The “Get My Payment” site allows users to see when payments from the $2.2 trillion bailout of the American economy are expected to be deposited into their accounts.

The plan, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last month, includes $1,200 checks to Americans who filed their income taxes as “single” with an adjusted gross income below $75,000 and those who filed as “head of household” with an AGI of less than $112,500.

Married couples who filed taxes jointly and who made less than $150,000 will receive $2,400. In addition, the government will pay $500 per qualifying child.

Those who receive Social Security checks will also receive the payments as long as they fall under the income levels.

Tour de France postponed until August 29

Update 8:25 a.m. EDT April 15: Organizers on Wednesday postponed the start of the Tour de France bicycle race from July to August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials with the Union Cycliste Internationale said the race will now take place from Aug. 29 to Sept. 20.

“Holding this event in the best conditions possible is judged essential given its central place in cycling’s economy and its exposure, in particular for the teams that benefit on this occasion from unparalleled visibility,” UCI officials said in a news release.

Worldwide coronavirus cases near 2M mark, global deaths soar past 127K

Update 7:51 a.m. EDT April 15: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 127,601 early Wednesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 1,997,321 people worldwide. The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows:

• The United States has reported 609,685 cases, resulting in 26,059 deaths.

Spain has confirmed 177,633 cases, resulting in 18,579 deaths.

Italy has reported 162,488 infections, resulting in 21,067 deaths.

Germany has reported 132,210 cases, resulting in 3,495 deaths.

France has confirmed 131,362 infections, resulting in 15,750 deaths.

• The United Kingdom has reported 94,847 cases, resulting in 12,129 deaths.

China has recorded 83,355 cases, resulting in 3,346 deaths.

Iran has recorded 76,389 cases, resulting in 4,777 deaths.

Turkey has recorded 65,111 cases, resulting in 1,403 deaths.

Belgium has confirmed 33,573 cases, resulting in 4,440 deaths.

Federal judge rejects Mike Huckabee’s lawsuit over coronavirus beach closure

Update 6:40 a.m. EDT April 15: A federal judge in Florida has rejected former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s emergency motion to use the beach behind his Florida home, The Washington Post reported.

One week ago, Huckabee joined 14 other Walton County beachfront property owners in a lawsuit alleging county officials’ decision to close beaches equated to an unconstitutional seizure of private property, even though the measures were taken in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In a closed telephone hearing on Monday, District Judge Roger Vinson denied the claimants’ request for an injunction, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Russia reports single-day record of new coronavirus cases

Update 6:26 a.m. EDT April 15: Russia reported 3,388 more cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, the country’s largest single-day increase yet, its coronavirus response headquarters reported.

According to the response team, Russia has confirmed a total of 24,490 cases to date, nearly 15,000 of which are clustered in Moscow.

New cases decrease on same day Germany records highest single-day coronavirus-related deaths

Update 3:24 a.m. EDT April 15: Germany recorded its deadliest day on record Tuesday since the novel coronavirus pandemic began, logging 285 deaths in a 24-hour period.

Meanwhile, the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s center for disease control, also confirmed the number of new daily infections is declining nationwide.

According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, Germany has confirmed a total 132,210 novel coronavirus cases to date, resulting in 3,495 deaths.

Coronavirus health emergency extended to all US military bases in Japan

Update 3:05 a.m. EDT April 15: As Japan experiences a surge in reported novel coronavirus infections, the U.S. military extended its previous health emergency for the country’s eastern Kanto Plain region to include all of its bases in Japan.

According to the formal statement, the public health emergency will last until May 15 and applies to dozens of facilities comprising U.S. Forces Japan, a subset of the military’s joint Asia-Pacific operation. The order affects roughly 50,000 military personnel plus tens of thousands of their family members and civilian contractors, concentrated primarily on the southern island of Okinawa.

US coronavirus deaths hit 26,033, total cases near 610K

Update 12:38 a.m. EDT April 15: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 609,000 early Wednesday morning across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 609,240 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 26,033 deaths. Of those cases, more than 203,000 have been reported in New York, meaning the state has, itself, confirmed more cases than any other nation outside the United States, including the United Kingdom with 94,845 cases, France with 131,361, Germany with 132,210, Italy with 162,488 and Spain with 174,060.

Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 10,842 – or nearly 42% of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 2,805 in New Jersey and 1,768 in Michigan.

In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak with at least 203,348 confirmed cases – roughly three times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 68,824 and Massachusetts with 28,164.

Six other states have now confirmed at least 20,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including:

Michigan: 27,001, resulting in 1,768 deaths

Pennsylvania: 25,591, resulting in 702 deaths

California: 25,587, resulting in 786 deaths

Illinois: 23,248, resulting in 868 deaths

Florida: 21,628, resulting in 571 deaths

Louisiana: 21,518, resulting in 1,013 deaths

Meanwhile, Texas, Georgia, Connecticut and Washington state each has confirmed at least 10,000 novel coronavirus infections, followed closely by Maryland with 9,472 cases and Indiana with 8,527 cases; Colorado and Ohio each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases; Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina each has confirmed at least 5,000 cases, followed closely by Missouri with 4,784 cases; Alabama, Arizona, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Nevada and Mississippi each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Utah, Kentucky, Oklahoma and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.