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New York mayor declares city 'epicenter'

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: An Indonesian police officer sprays disinfectant in the Baiturrahman grand mosque, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Banda Aceh
An Indonesian police officer sprays disinfectant in the Baiturrahman grand mosque, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Banda Aceh on March 20, 2020.Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP - Getty Images

Wall Street took another dive Friday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average sunk by 916 points and saw 18 percent of its value disappear over the course of the week.

The Dow saw all the gains made since President Donald Trump took office erased.

Also in New York City, the suspended presidential campaign of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg told staffers Friday there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 at its Times Square headquarters, a campaign official confirmed to NBC News.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday evening the city has 5,151 coronavirus cases and 29 deaths associated with the virus. "We are now the epicenter of this crisis" in the United States, he said.

In California the number of cases, more than 1,000, has doubled in three days. Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous, reported it now has a total of 292 cases.

There are now more than 250,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Stuck at home, many Americans turn to video games

With millions of Americans spending more time at home, video game-based internet traffic has surged. 

Steam, a computer-based gaming platform, broke a new record for online concurrent users with more than 21 million accounts online at the same time on Friday morning, according to third-party analytics platform SteamDB. 

The internet service providers are seeing increases in gaming traffic as well. Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, told Bloomberg News that gaming traffic was up dramatically. 

“We see gaming up 75 percent week over week,” Vestberg said.

In Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic, the national internet network Telecom Italia SpA said that internet usage has increased by more than 70 percent, with much of the data being used “from online gaming such as Fortnite,” the company told Bloomberg News. 

J.K. Rowling says 'Harry Potter' books can be read in online videos

Author J.K. Rowling has granted an open license to allow teachers to post videos of themselves reading aloud from "Harry Potter" books during the COVID-19 outbreak, a practice that is typically prohibited under copyright law without explicit permission from the author or publisher. 

As schools have closed down in an effort to stop the spread of the pandemic, parents and teachers have looked to the internet to keep children occupied. Entertainers, authors and teachers have started to offer craft projects, games, school classes and book readings via live streams or online videos. 

Rowling has granted these rights until the end of the school year, but teachers must only publish videos to closed educational platforms such as Google Classroom rather than public video channels such as YouTube. 

Rowling joins a list of publishers to issue open licenses for read aloud videos, including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Penguin Random House and Scholastic. 

Job losses could quickly soar into the millions as coronavirus craters U.S. economy

Goldman Sachs predicts weekly jobless claims will skyrocket to 2.25 million by next Thursday, an astonishing reversal of fortune for a labor market that had been enjoying a sustained stretch of record-low unemployment as recently as a few weeks ago.

“The job market is in free fall,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “Businesses have no choice but to reduce payrolls,” he said, adding that even those who remain employed face gloomy prospects.

“Most of those people, even if they don't lose their jobs, they're going to lose hours, they're going to lose pay,” he said.

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Cuomo orders new restrictions in New York state: Nonessential businesses must cease

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an executive order Friday calling for all nonessential businesses to cease work outside the home. He also put new requirements in place for all New Yorkers.

“Your actions can affect my health, that is where we are," Cuomo said.

Here's what's new:

  • Nonessential businesses, which had been reduced to partial workforces, must cease work.
  • Vulnerable people — those over 70 or with underlying health conditions — must follow a set of rules, including staying inside the home except for solitary exercise and avoiding public transportation.
  • All New Yorkers should practice careful social distancing, staying inside the home as much as possible.
  • Restrictions will be enforced with civil fines and mandatory closures of businesses not in compliance.

The governor also asked for people to sell or lend ventilators to the state. “Ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II,” Cuomo said.  “We need ventilators, that is the key piece of equipment. We can get the beds, we’ll get the supplies by hook or by crook.”

Cuomo said the state would pay businesses to make medical supplies. "I’ll fund a new business if you can make these products,” he said. "If you’re making clothing, figure out if you can make masks. I’ll fund it.”

Cuomo also announced that New York will implement a 90-day moratorium on evictions for residential and commercial tenants, expected to go into effect Sunday evening. He said his administration is working out what's considered essential business services and working with tech companies to lift data caps for customers at no charge. 

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Photo: Early morning shopping for seniors

Joseph Nathan loads toilet paper into the trunk of his car after shopping at a Stop & Shop supermarket that opened special morning hours to serve people 60-years and older due to coronavirus concerns on Friday in Teaneck, N.J. For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.John Minchillo / AP

What's the new deadline for filing U.S. taxes?

Tax Day is being pushed back until July while the nation copes with the effects of the coronavirus, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced Friday.

"At @realDonaldTrump’s direction, we are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties," Mnuchin said in a pair of tweets.

"I encourage all taxpayers who may have tax refunds to file now to get your money."

NYC Mayor de Blasio: City to run out of medical supplies in 2-3 weeks

In a Friday morning appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is running dangerously low on critical medical supplies amid onslaught of newly confirmed coronavirus cases. 

"We will run out of basic medical supplies because of the intense strain that's being put already on our hospitals by this crisis," de Blasio said. "We literally will not have the things we need to save people's lives."

De Blasio said New York City now has 4,000 confirmed cases and is currently an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

The mayor said he has asked the federal government for help procuring ventilators for hospitals and surgical masks for both medical professionals and first responders like police and fire fighters.

"We've been saying it over and over to the federal government," de Blasio said. "Nothing."

Tulips from Amsterdam? Not in an outbreak

Empty racks are seen at flower auctioneer Royal FloraHolland in Aalsmeer, Netherlands on Thursday.Peter Dejong / AP

It is the peak spring season as fields around the Netherlands burst into vibrant colors as tulips and other flowers bloom. But with border restrictions and lockdowns spreading around the globe to fight the pandemic, even the pope will have to go without his usual Easter donation of Dutch flowers this year. He’s not the only one.

"The coronavirus is a disaster for the Dutch flower industry ... 85% of the turnover at our marketplace … is gone,” said Michel van Schie, press officer at Royal FloraHolland — a cooperative of growers that trades some 12 billion plants and flowers each year.

That's a huge hit for the Dutch flower industry, whose exports last year were worth more than 6 billion euros (about $6.5 billion). Instead, some Dutch farmers to give away tulips to health care workers as a token of appreciation for their work.

Wall Street jumps briefly as investors hedge a nervous return to optimism

Wall Street jumped briefly on Friday for the second straight day, with investor confidence slowly returning after massive emergency action from central banks and governments across the world to shore up the global financial system.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 130 points at the opening bell, while the S&P 500 was up by just under 1 percent, before both averages began a slow descent.

The Nasdaq outperformed, notching up gains of close to 2 percent after hitting the "limit up" threshold in premarket trading, halting activity. The tech-heavy index is seeing heightened interest, with investors confident the sector can survive any economic downturn.