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Trump reaches aid deal with Democrats as cases mount

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: Servpro workers file in to begin a third day of cleaning at Life Care Center of Kirkland
Servpro workers begin a third day of cleaning Friday at Life Care Center of Kirkland, Wash., a long-term care facility linked to several confirmed coronavirus cases. Lindsey Wasson / Reuters

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday, the most significant move yet by the U.S. government to head off the coronavirus outbreak, and House Democrats and the White House later reached a deal on an aid package.

Trump's declaration came as many public and private institutions have taken action — including canceling major events, temporarily banning large gatherings, closing schools and telling people to work from home — in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled, soared, and then closed with a gain of 1,900 points after the emergency declaration. Wall Street had reeled Thursday afternoon after coronavirus fears drove the markets to their worst day since the Black Monday crash in 1987.

The United States as of Friday afternoon had surpassed 2,000 confirmed or presumptive cases of the coronavirus, and the death toll climbed to 41.

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990d ago / 3:15 PM UTC

U.S. general 'fairly certain' North Korea has COVID-19 cases

The top American general in South Korea said Friday he is fairly certain North Korea has not been spared by the COVID-19 outbreak that began in neighboring China, although the North has not publicly confirmed a single case.

Speaking by video-teleconference from his headquarters in South Korea, Army Gen. Robert Abrams told reporters at the Pentagon that the North had halted military training for a month — including a 24-day hiatus in military flying — but has since resumed.

“It is a closed-off nation, so we can’t say emphatically that they have cases, but we’re fairly certain they do," he said. “What I do know is that their armed forces had been fundamentally in a lockdown for about 30 days and only recently have they started routine training again."

990d ago / 2:59 PM UTC

Trump to hold afternoon news conference

990d ago / 2:54 PM UTC
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990d ago / 2:53 PM UTC

Federal agencies encouraged to provide telework flexibilities to vulnerable employees

The Office of Management and Budget is encouraging federal government departments and agencies to provide more flexible telework policies for employees who are at high risk for serious complications from COVID-19 and who have weakened immune systems like pregnant women. 

The guidance was released in a memo Thursday by OMB which says that some of the vulnerable people are those who "have chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or compromised immune systems."

"Agencies do not need to require certification by a medical professional, and may accept self-identification by employees that they are in one of these populations," it says. 

The memo also instructs agencies to consult with public health officials to determine whether to extend telework flexibilities to all eligible workers in areas where the disease has spread.

990d ago / 2:42 PM UTC

U.S. Department of Defense shuts schools across Europe

The U.S. Department of Defense says it's temporarily shutting down all schools on continental European military facilities as a precaution against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, affecting tens of thousands of students.

Department of Defense Schools spokesman Stephen Smith told The Associated Press on Friday the closures as of Monday would affect 63 elementary, middle and high schools in Germany, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, and likely Ankara, Turkey. Three schools in the U.K. will remain open for the time being, he said.

In all, some 27,000 students attend the Defense Department schools in Europe, Smith said, adding that the schools will be closed through the April break and then the situation will be reassessed. 

Starting next week, a distance learning plan, already in use for the students in Italy and Bahrain, will be implemented in Europe, he said. 

990d ago / 2:42 PM UTC

Chinese-language media in U.S. are debunking coronavirus misinformation

The warning on Chinese-language social media was dire — unless you want the coronavirus, avoid the Gold City Supermarket in Flushing in the New York borough of Queens.

The report turned out to be false, one in a string of fake news stories shared widely on WeChat, a platform popular with Chinese-language speakers, many of them from mainland China.

It was eventually debunked by Chinese-language media in New York — home to the largest Chinese population of any city outside Asia.

Read the full story here.

990d ago / 2:32 PM UTC

Boston Marathon postponed until Sept. 14

The marathon, originally scheduled for April 20, will now be held on Sept. 14, the Boston Athletic Association said in a statement.

“On matters of public health and safety we take our guidance from the officials entrusted with protecting the public in this area,” said Tom Grilk, CEO of the association. “We understand our role, along with our partners, in ensuring a safe environment for all participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters that meets the standards set by those officials.”

990d ago / 2:29 PM UTC

Masters golf tournament postponed

"Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive,  Chip and Putt National Finals," said Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.

The Masters had been scheduled for April 9 through 12.

990d ago / 2:21 PM UTC

France bans gatherings for over 100

France has banned gatherings for more than 100 people to contain the outbreak of coronavirus in the country, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Friday.

The move  comes after French President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday that schools, daycare centers, and universities would close starting the following Monday.

In a televised interview, Macron called coronavirus the "most serious sanitary crisis France has ever known in a century." The country had more than 1,500 confirmed cases of the virus as of Friday.

990d ago / 2:18 PM UTC

Michigan suspends outside visits at state prisons

Michigan is halting in-person visits at its more than three dozen state prisons in an effort to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus, although officials said there have been no cases among its prison population.

The state has at least 12 cases of COVID-19. "This was not a decision we arrived at lightly, as we understand and recognize the importance of family contact with the prison population," Heidi Washington, the director of the Michigan Department of Corrections, said in a statement Friday.

990d ago / 2:17 PM UTC
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990d ago / 1:59 PM UTC

Ted Cruz extends coronavirus quarantine

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Friday he was extending his self-quarantine after coming in contact with a second person who later tested positive for coronavirus. 

Cruz was already in self-quarantine after attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland last month, where a person tested positive for COVID-19. The lawmaker said Friday he remains without symptoms and would self-quarantine until March 17. 

“On March 3, I met in my D.C. office with Santiago Abascal, the leader of the Vox Party in Spain," he said in a statement Friday. "We met for about 20 minutes, sitting together at a conference table. We shook hands twice and took pictures together."

“My understanding is that Mr. Abascal tested positive for COVID-19 last night," he said. "His staff have informed us that he was asymptomatic at the time of our meeting and that several days after our meeting he had extended interactions with another individual who has also tested positive."

 

991d ago / 1:45 PM UTC

Germany offers 'loans of any size' to struggling businesses

Germany said Friday it is prepared to make loans of any size to help companies get over liquidity issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement released by the finance and economy ministries.

German Finance Minister Olaf Sholz said the country would take on debt to help businesses avoid potential economic breakdown. He also suggested that the government could step in and take ownership stakes in German companies. 

In the U.S., President Donald Trump has promised financial stimulus such as providing loans to small businesses affected by widespread fears of the virus.

991d ago / 1:39 PM UTC

Where things stand on coronovirus aid bill

We left last night with Speaker Pelosi saying that her and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin were “close” to a deal on the coronavirus legislative package. Negotiations continue today as there are still a couple of outstanding issues.

Secretary Mnuchin said on CNBC that “negotiations are going very well. This has been a bipartisan effort,” noting he has spoken to President Trump and GOP leadership several times during this process. “I think we are very close to getting this done.”

991d ago / 1:35 PM UTC

In Manhattan, bus cleanings ramp up

991d ago / 1:34 PM UTC

Wall Street bounces back after worst day since Black Monday

Wall Street rallied on Friday, bouncing firmly back after the worst day for markets since the Black Monday crash in 1987.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared by around 1,200 points, with the S&P and Nasdaq surging by around 5 percent each.

The boost in stocks came after lawmakers and the White House appeared closed to finalizing an economic relief package to address the coronavirus pandemic.

991d ago / 1:31 PM UTC

Turkey prepares for coronavirus

Image: Turkey Prepares For Coronavirus
Workers from Istanbul Municipality disinfect a mosque to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, coronavirus ahead of Friday prayers on Friday in Istanbul, Turkey.Chris McGrath / Getty Images
991d ago / 1:23 PM UTC

First Read: Coronavirus response represents watershed week in 2020 campaign

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This has been a week that has changed the trajectory of the 2020 election, as well as the trajectory for the entire nation.

The disruption from the spread of the coronavirus — and the political reaction to it — is certainly the biggest part of that change.

An economic recession now seems almost inevitable.

Get the rest of First Read.

991d ago / 1:17 PM UTC

Italians adjust to new reality under lockdown

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Image: The deserted Spanish Steps by the Trinita dei Monti church in central Rome
The deserted Spanish Steps by the Trinita dei Monti church in central Rome on Thursday.Alberto Pizzoli / AFP - Getty Images

The local chef did not expect police to swoop in when he paused to take a picture of this city's renowned Spanish Steps, which for once were free of hordes of tourists as a result of Italy's sweeping coronavirus lockdown.

But officers handed Andrea Misseri a fine of between 60 and 80 euros (around $70 to $90) because he didn’t have the correct permission to leave his home.

“The fine now can happen if you're going anywhere without any reason, so at the moment it’s like a curfew,” he told NBC News right after the incident on Thursday. “It’s too strict.”

Italians throughout this country of 60 million are coming to terms with the new reality that has been imposed by the nationwide restrictions on movement aimed at slowing the spread of the deadly disease.

Read the whole story here.

991d ago / 1:11 PM UTC

Sen. Susan Collins meets with Maine health officials

991d ago / 1:00 PM UTC

Obama economist says coronavirus 'potentially more serious' than 2008 crash

Key Speakers At The NABE Annual Meeting
Jason Furman, professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.Sarah Silbiger / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

An unexpected crisis has sent the stock market into free fall, Congress is divided on how to respond, and experts across the political spectrum are demanding unprecedented action to stave off catastrophe.

It’s a situation that’s all too familiar for Jason Furman, who advised President Obama’s campaign during the 2008 financial crisis and went on to serve as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Read our full interview here.

991d ago / 12:57 PM UTC

Spain looks at Italy for clues to deal with outbreak

As Italy grinds to a halt in hopes of stopping its outbreak, Spain has become the next country at risk of having its health care system pushed to the brink by the global pandemic.

Image: A Catalan Police officer, Mossos d'Escuadra register a car trying to arrive to Igualada at a check-point outside the city on March 13, 2020 near Barcelona, Spain.
A Catalan Police officer registers a car trying to arrive to Igualada at a check-point outside the city on Friday near Barcelona, Spain.David Ramos / Getty Images

Over 60,000 people awoke Friday in four towns near Barcelona confined to their homes and with police blocking roads. The order by regional authorities in Catalonia is Spain's first mandatory lockdown as infections increase sharply, putting a strain on health services and pressure on the government for more action.

The situation in and around the Spanish capital, Madrid, with nearly 2,000 positive cases of the virus and hospitals rapidly filling up, is a source of particular concern for authorities. The country as a whole had more than 3,800 cases by Friday morning and at least 84 deaths, but with a rate of contagion that is skyrocketing. In some areas, cases are doubling overnight.

991d ago / 12:43 PM UTC

Nepal closes Mount Everest for climbers

Nepal has closed all of its Himalayan peaks including Mount Everest due to the coronavirus outbreak, a government minister said on Friday.

Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 highest mountains including Mount Everest, earns about $4.4 million a year in permit fees from climbers aiming to scale the world's highest peak and other mountains.

Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai said expeditions to all peaks in the March-May spring season had been suspended.

991d ago / 12:21 PM UTC

First cases reported in East Africa

Kenya has banned all major public events after confirming its first case of the coronavirus from a woman who had returned to Kenya from the United States, the health minister said on Friday.

Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary for health, told a news conference the government had suspended all public gatherings, sporting events, open-air religious meetings and "all events that are of a huge public nature."

Image: Kenya's Minister of Health Mutahi Kagwwe announces the first COVID-19 coronaviurs case in Kenya, a 27 year-old Kenyan woman came from the U.S., at the press conference in Harambee house in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya's Minister of Health Mutahi Kagwwe announces the first COVID-19 coronaviurs case in Kenya, a 27 year-old Kenyan woman came from the U.S., at the press conference in Harambee house in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday.Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP - Getty Images

Also on Friday, neighboring Ethiopia confirmed its first case of the virus.

991d ago / 12:20 PM UTC

What should you stock in your fridge and pantry?

The latest CDC recommendations call for people at higher risk of serious illness from the coronavirus to take action, including stocking up on groceries and any medications they may need.

If you’re preparing to stay home more than usual, it’s important to have healthful foods on hand. That means selecting foods that pack a nutritional punch in order to ensure you’re getting the fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other health- and immune-supporting compounds you need.

It also means shopping for food that will last for an extended period of time — about two weeks’ worth for those who are quarantined. We hope you won’t be holed up for too long, but just in case, here’s a list of foods to buy.

Here's a guide on how to stock your pantry for the long haul.

991d ago / 11:51 AM UTC

Trump condemns CDC for lack of coronavirus testing, blames Obama

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for being ill-prepared to test for the coronavirus and blamed President Barack Obama for the situation.

"For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further.....," Trump wrote.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump wrote, “.... Their response to H1N1 Swine Flu was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now. The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis. All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!"

Click here to read full story

991d ago / 11:48 AM UTC

South Korean nurses suit up to treat patients infected with COVID-19

Image: Nurses from Keimyung University hospital posing for portraits between shifts caring for patients infected with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Daegu, South Koea
Nurses from Keimyung University hospital posing for portraits between shifts caring for patients infected with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Daegu, South Koea on Friday.Ed Jones / AFP - Getty Images
991d ago / 11:33 AM UTC

U.S. cases surpass 1,700 as Congress works towards aid package

The number of cases reported in the United States has surpassed past 1,700 on Friday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll remained at 41.

Congress is nearing a deal with the Trump administration on a sweeping aid package with sick pay, food assistance, free coronavirus testing and other resources to help reassure anxious Americans and calm markets, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late Thursday.

991d ago / 11:23 AM UTC

English Premier League suspends soccer season

The English Premier League announced Friday it was suspended until April 3 due to the coronavirus, when the situation will then be reviewed.

The decision comes just a day after the league said games this weekend would continue with fans in stadiums, in contrast to decisions taken by other major sports leagues from the NBA to MLB. That appears to have changed last night after Arsenal announced coach Mikel Arteta had tested positive for COVID-19. 

The country’s top sports league has legions of fans in the U.S. and across the world. The suspension leaves the fate of the season, most of which had already been played, in doubt. Liverpool had seemed on course to seal a historic title after decades of waiting. Other English soccer leagues also said Friday they were suspended for the same period.

991d ago / 11:17 AM UTC

Japan still plans to hold a 'sound and safe' Olympics

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Japan said it was determined to hold the Tokyo Olympics on schedule on Friday, after President Donald Trump suggested a one-year delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, Trump told reporters that he "just can't see having no people there," referring to the Tokyo Games, according to Reuters. "I think if you cancel it, make it a year later that's a better alternative than doing it with no crowd."

In response, Japan Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto told reporters that among the International Olympic Committee and 2020 organizers, "There have been absolutely no discussions about a possible postponement or a cancellation either." 

"Preparations are underway for the July 24 opening ceremony, ensuring that we are able to hold a sound and safe Games," she said.

991d ago / 10:37 AM UTC

High risk of European health capacity being overwhelmed, experts warn

The risk is high that European healthcare systems will be overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreak, the E.U.'s health agency has warned.

"The risk of healthcare system capacity being exceeded in the E.U./[European Economic Area] and the U.K. in the coming weeks is considered high," the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a statement on Thursday.

The also called for a slew of measures to be implemented to halt the spread of the deadly disease — including quarantines of confirmed or suspected carriers  and prioritizing slowing demand for specialized healthcare needs, such as ICU beds.

The European Economic Area (EAA) includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.

991d ago / 10:31 AM UTC

Venezuelan migrants wear protective masks at Colombian border

Image: People coming from Venezuela with protective face masks as a precautionary measure to avoid contracting the new coronavirus, COVID-19, show hold their documents on the border at Simon Bolivar International Bridge, in Cucuta, Colombia,
People coming from Venezuela wore protective face masks as a precautionary measure against the new coronavirus as they showed their documents on the Colombian border at Simon Bolivar International Bridge on Thursday.Schneyder Mendoz / AFP - Getty Images
991d ago / 10:26 AM UTC

Melbourne F1 Grand Prix canceled amid coronavirus fears

Image: Members of the Ferrari team arrive to pack up their equipment after the Formula One Australian Grand Prix was canceled in Melbourne
After the Formula One Australian Grand Prix was canceled in Melbourne on Friday, members of the Ferrari team arrived to pack up their equipment.William West / AFP - Getty Images
991d ago / 10:00 AM UTC

Australian official who tested positive recently met with Ivanka Trump, Barr

An Australian minister who recently met with Ivanka Trump and Attorney General William Barr announced on Friday that he had the coronavirus. 

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton announced on Twitter Friday that he had "woken up with a sore throat," taken a test and "was subsequently tested for COVID-19." 

Last week, Dutton met with President Donald Trump's daughter and Barr during a meeting to "fight online child exploitation."

As of Friday, there are more than 100 confirmed cases in Australia.

Read the full story here.

991d ago / 7:37 AM UTC
991d ago / 6:44 AM UTC

Oregon, Michigan latest to order statewide school closures

Oregon’s governor on Thursday night ordered the closure of K-12 schools statewide until the end of month, citing health concerns and staffing problems related to the novel coronavirus.

Michigan’s governor Thursday night ordered all public school buildings closed to students starting Monday until April 5 in what she said was a move to slow the spread of the coronavirus illness COVID-19.

Earlier Thursday, Maryland’s governor said all public schools in the state would be closed starting Monday through March 27. Ohio's governor also announced a similar move set to begin  at the end of the school day Monday and lasts through April 3.

991d ago / 6:37 AM UTC

Jet Blue: Passenger who didn’t tell airline test was pending is now banned

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JetBlue said Thursday that a passenger who arrived at a Florida airport reportedly as a positive coronavirus case didn’t tell anyone at the airline that a test was pending.

The airline identified the plane that landed Wednesday evening as Flight 253.

That is the plane that NBC affiliate WPTV of West Palm Beach reported landed at Palm Beach International Airport from JKF in New York with a passenger who tested positive for COVID-19. That person is isolated, and people who were near the passenger are being asked to self-monitor for symptoms.

"In reviewing last night’s event, we determined the customer boarded our flight knowing he was awaiting results for a coronavirus test without disclosing it to anyone at JetBlue,” airline communications manager Derek Dombrowski said in a statement.

The airline is asking that anyone who is feeling unwell, thinks they have the coronavirus, or is awaiting testing to avoid travel. “Last night’s event put our crewmembers, customers, and federal and local officials in an unsettling situation that could have easily been avoided, and as such, this customer will not be permitted to fly on JetBlue in the future,” Dombrowski said.

991d ago / 6:17 AM UTC

NBA games on hold for at least 30 days

The National Basketball Association said Thursday that games will be on hold for at least 30 days.  

“We intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a letter to fans posted online

The suspension was announced after a player for the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus. 

991d ago / 5:28 AM UTC

American Airlines to reduce, suspend some flights

American Airlines will reduce international capacity this summer in response to customer demand amid the coronavirus outbreak, the airline said Thursday. It is also suspending some flights from some U.S. airports to Europe.

The changes will reduce international capacity for the summer season by 34 percent, the airline said.

The announcement comes after President Donald Trump said Wednesday that travel would be restricted from most of Europe for 30 days, although there are exceptions.

The airline will continue to operate flights to and from Europe for up to seven days to give people a chance to return home. But flights between Charlotte, North Carolina, Philadelphia, and Raleigh/Durham, also in North Carolina, to some European destinations would be suspended.

991d ago / 2:42 AM UTC

PGA cancels Players Championship

991d ago / 2:38 AM UTC

Alaska identifies first case

Officials in Alaska have identified the state’s first presumptive positive case of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 and said that the person is a foreign national “transiting through” the state.

“It was just a matter of time” before Alaska saw its first case, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said at a press conference.

The positive test will be sent to the CDC for confirmation. The person knew about coronavirus and had been self-monitoring, and as soon as he developed symptoms he notified officials, Dr. Anne Zink, chief medical officer of Alaska, said. He self-isolated the entire time.

991d ago / 2:30 AM UTC

Tom Hanks offers update from isolation: Taking it one day at a time

Read the full story here.