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.
- Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments.
- MAPS: Where cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and worldwide.
Download the NBC News app for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak.
This live coverage has ended. Continue reading March 21 Coronavirus news.
Nevada's governor orders all non-essential business to close
Days after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak shut down gambling in the state and asked non-essential businesses to close, he turned that into an order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
"Previously, I asked nonessential businesses to close, but this moment now demands more,” Sisolak said in a statement Friday. "Today, I directed ALL nonessential businesses to close. I repeat. If you are NOT an essential business, I am using my power as Governor under an emergency declaration to order you to close."
The governor on Tuesday ordered that all gaming machines, table games and other related equipment to close. He said non-essential businesses should close. He said this week that grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, hardware stores, gas stations and similar services would remain open.
The order lasts until April 16.
More than 75 million Americans under virtual lockdown
Trump approves major disaster declaration for New York
President Donald Trump on Friday approved a major disaster declaration for New York state for the coronavirus pandemic.
The move allows federal assistance to the state, which has the largest number of known positive cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 in the nation. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that the city is the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S.
Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted about the declaration and said: “FEMA needs to get to work NOW to open these MANY billions in direct aid for New York and individuals to help save lives and protect public health.”
There have been at least 7,845 positive cases reported in the state and at least 42 deaths linked to COVID-19, according to an NBC News count of reports.
Pandemic taking toll on Trump’s personal businesses
WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on President Donald Trump’s personal businesses.
Several of his golf clubs, hotels and resorts have scaled back operations or shut down entirely, the Trump Organization says. Among them is Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Florida, club where Trump spends many weekends during the winter months.
Some are open, but adopting social distancing measures — like prohibiting golfers from sharing a golf cart.
A spokesperson for the Trump Organization says: “Various facilities are temporarily closed given local, state and federal mandates. We anxiously await the day when this pandemic is over and our world-class facilities can reopen.”
No new virus cases for 3rd straight day in Wuhan
BEIJING — The virus outbreak’s epicenter of Wuhan reported no new or suspected cases again for a third consecutive day.
Overall, China on Saturday reported 41 new cases detected over the previous 24 hours, all among people traveling from overseas, and another seven deaths, six in Wuhan. China now has a total of 81,008 cases and 3,255 deaths.
A total of 71,740 people have been declared cured and released from the hospital. Wuhan must go 14 straight days without a new case in order for draconian travel restrictions to be lifted.
People are now better able to move around in the surrounding province of Hubei, although its provincial borders remain closed to the rest of the country. Beijing and other cities are increasingly vibrant as the government attempts to mitigate disastrous effects on the world’s second largest economy, but social distancing and quarantines for new arrivals remain the norm.
Navy increasing health protection measures
The Navy’s U.S. Fleet Forces Command said Friday it is elevating its health protection measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that is growing in the United States and around the world.
The Navy is going to what is called HPCON C (MINUS), which includes policies of no handshaking and wiping down areas, social distancing and other measures.
Several U.S. Navy personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes the illness COVID-19.
On Friday a staff member assigned to Navy Personnel Command in Tennessee tested positive and is in self-quarantine, and a second-class petty officer assigned to Naval Special Warfare who was training at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington state tested positive on Thursday.
Two sailors assigned to separate San Diego-based ships tested positive on Thursday, the Navy said. They are isolated off ship, personnel who had close contact were notified, and the ships are conducting deep cleaning among other steps.
'We have received zero support': Americans in Honduras struggle to get home
Amid tightened travel restrictions, Americans stranded in Honduras are calling on the United States government to help bring them home.
"People did do their due diligence to come home, but we have received zero support from our own home country and the U.S. embassies abroad," Rita Shah, a doctor from New York City, told NBC News via WhatsApp. "We would love to help and be in the hospitals and help. Unfortunately that’s out of our hands," she added.
Shah was on vacation with two other friends in Roatan but flew to San Pedro Sula earlier this week, hoping that being on the mainland would make it easier for her to get back to the U.S. But due to Honduras' tight travel restrictions, she has not been able to leave. Shah is now working with other Americans via WhatsApp chats to attempt to charter a flight from Honduras back to the U.S.
Crystal Alexander, a diving instructor from Idaho who was working in Honduras, was supposed to return to the U.S. in April after being there since October. The resort she worked at closed earlier this week, leaving her to grapple with finding a quick and safe way home. "It feels like I don't even have a government," Alexander said.
Coronavirus isolation difficult for domestic violence survivors
As people across the U.S. are told to stay home because of the coronavirus pandemic, domestic violence experts warn the isolation could be “devastating” for survivors forced to shelter somewhere unsafe.
“We know social isolation can really have devastating impacts on the safety, health and wellbeing of victims,” said Dr. Amanda Stylianou, a domestic violence expert at Rutgers University.
“Being able to wake up in the morning to leave their home to go to safe schools, workplaces, to visit family and neighbors is really critical and is a really important protective factor for them in a time where that protective factor is gone,” she said.
Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, said it was an "incredibly distressing" time for survivors, and her group had already heard ways the outbreak was impacting victims.
Staffer for Vice President Mike Pence tests positive for the coronavirus
A member of Vice President Mike Pence's staff has tested positive for the coronavirus, Pence's office said Friday night.
The staffer's name and exact position was not released, but Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, said, "Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual.
"Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines,” Miller said.
Pence, who was placed in charge of the White House coronavirus task force in late February, said earlier this week he had not been tested for the virus himself.
Click here for the full story
Florida closes gyms, restaurants
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, issued an executive order Friday that all fitness centers and gyms will be closed immediately and restaurants can only remain open for delivery or take out.
Bars and nightclubs were closed earlier in the week. Beach gatherings are restricted to 10 people.
The announcement came as Florida confirmed more than 500 COVID-19 cases throughout the state and 10 deaths.
Acting Homeland Security secretary on disinformation texts
Andy Cohen tests positive
Andy Cohen announced on Friday that he tested positive for coronavirus.
The “Watch What Happens Live” host posted on Instagram he had been self-quarantined for a few days and not feeling great.
"After a few days of self-quarantine, and not feeling great, I have tested positive for Coronavirus," he wrote to his 3.7 million followers.
“As much as I felt like I could push through whatever I was feeling to do ('Watch What Happens Live') from home, we’re putting a pin in that for now so I can focus on getting better,” he added. “I want to thank all the medical professionals who are working tirelessly for all of us, and urge everybody to stay home and take care of themselves.”
People worldwide adjust to new life amid COVID-19
In a project by NBC News’ Social Newsgathering and Video Feature teams, people from the U.S. to Europe to the Middle East share how they’ve adjusted to life in this pandemic.
An Italian resident whose family is taking extra precautions by adding social distancing lines inside their supermarket for customers speaks about the experience.
A Diamond Princess passenger talks about deciding not to travel for the time being. And a chef in the West Bank describes how he has decided to close his restaurant in response to the coronavirus.
Army Corps of Engineers scouting NYC buildings for hospital use
The head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Friday it's scouting hotels, dorms and other buildings in New York City that could be converted into field hospitals with 10,000 beds.
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite said the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave the Corps $1 million Tuesday to start the process and that FEMA said more money will be provided as needed.
Semonite said the corps has already looked at the huge Jacob Javits Convention Center on the western edge of Manhattan and some State University of New York buildings.
Corps engineers were also visiting other buildings to assess them Friday, he said.
New York mayor says city is 'epicenter' of U.S. crisis
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday the nation's largest city has recorded 5,151 coronavirus cases and 29 deaths.
"We are now the epicenter of this crisis," he said.
De Blasio calculated the city has about a third of the nation's cases overall, although a lag in testing in some areas could distort the numbers.
He criticized the federal government's response, saying, "Everything makes sense until you get to the federal government. Mobilize our armed forces - we need their ability."
De Blasio said he would ask police to enforce social distancing at crowded markets.
Rikers Island inmate details coronavirus fears
Inmates were puzzled when a flier about the coronavirus was handed out at the Rikers Island jail complex in New York City on Thursday. “It said stay six feet away from other people,” Juan Giron, 29, who is locked up on robbery charges, told NBC News. “But somebody sleeps three feet away from me in a dorm.”
That reality has prompted prison reform advocates and even jail doctors to call for the release of inmates amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak behind bars. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that he has ordered the freeing of vulnerable inmates, starting with an initial group of 40. The mayor said one Rikers Island inmate has tested positive. At least three corrections officers have also contracted the virus.
“There’s going to be a huge explosion of cases,” said Malachi Robinson, the criminal justice campaign director for the advocacy group Color of Change. “Rather than expose more people, they should start releasing them swiftly.”
Giron, who arrived at Rikers from an upstate prison on Tuesday and is awaiting a court hearing after his sentence was vacated, said the facility is crowded and filthy. His first day, he said, was spent in a packed intake room with other inmates awaiting medical testing and a transfer to a housing area. “It’s disgusting in here,” said Giron. “And people are coming in and out of Rikers from the streets. Who knows who has this stuff?”
FDA is working on treatment with blood from recovered patients
Dr. Arturo Casadevall was working from home in Baltimore on Thursday when his phone started to buzz with messages from colleagues.
The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration had just announced during a White House press briefing that the agency was investigating the possibility of using blood plasma donated by recovered coronavirus patients as a promising short-term treatment for the virus.
For weeks, Casadevall has led an ad hoc team of researchers from across the country who are working to establish a network of hospitals and blood banks that can begin collecting blood serum or plasma from coronavirus survivors, with the hopes of using it to treat critically ill patients and boost the immune systems of hospital workers.
Confirmed coronavirus case at Bloomberg campaign HQ
The Bloomberg campaign notified staffers today of a “confirmed case of COVID-19” in the campaign’s Times Square headquarters, a campaign official confirms to NBC News.
Staffers were notified by human resources that the case impacted two floors of the building and that the individual was last in the office on Monday.
It’s unclear whether the person who tested positive for coronavirus worked for the campaign or was a contractor with access to the building. The campaign declined to say.
This news comes the same day that the Bloomberg campaign announced it is laying off its staff, who will lose their health insurance at the end of April. Bloomberg ended his three-month presidential bid earlier this month.
National sports groups call for postponement of Olympics
USA Swimming published an open letter Friday calling for the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics until next year.
"Our world class swimmers are always willing to race anyone, anytime and anywhere; however, pressing forward amidst the global health crisis this summer is not the answer," it said in the letter.
Other national athletic bodies have also started raising concerns about holding the Olympics as scheduled from July 24 to August 9 and the Paralympics from August 25 to September 6. They include the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympic Association, the Norwegian Sports Federation and the Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
Photo: Drive-thru confession
America's only community centers: Your local supermarket
With most U.S. businesses shuttered in the fight to contain coronavirus, grocery stores have become the unlikely center of American society.
Recent days have been "unlike anything I’ve ever seen at work," as "stockers were getting pushed out of the way for toilet paper" and customers were "fighting over beans," said Journey Carnahan, who works at H-E-B Grocery in central Texas.
Read the full story here.
Illinois issues stay-at-home order for residents
The governor of Illinois on Friday issued a stay-at-home order, making it the latest state to make such a sweeping mandate in the fight against the spread of the new coronavirus.
California issued a stay-at-home order Thursday, and New York's governor mandated that all nonessential businesses keep workers at home. Pennsylvania's governor has also ordered that all businesses that are not "life-sustaining" close.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he did not "come to this decision easily" but believes it is necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The order is expected to become effective Saturday.
States push price-gouging measures as coronavirus fuels consumer fears
As states across the country shutter restaurants, bars and schools for the next several weeks or more to slow the spread of the coronavirus, some are looking to pass legislation to stop businesses that remain open from price-gouging fearful U.S. consumers.
Price gouging — the practice of charging exorbitant prices for essential items in times of high-demand — is prohibited during times of crisis in about two-thirds of the United States. As public panic surrounding COVID-19 heightens, consumers have been flocking to stores to stock up on supplies like face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes — to the exploitation of some retailers.
While online marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart have taken steps to prevent the practice by suspending offers from sellers charging unfair prices, brick-and-mortar stores are being closely monitored by state governments, several of which are considering legislative action.
Read the full story here.
Biden trashes Trump over coronavirus response: 'Step up and do your job, Mr. President'
Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic front-runner, slammed President Donald Trump over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic Friday, accusing him of being “behind the curve through his whole response.”
Biden, speaking on a conference call with reporters, offered a series of blunt missives for Trump, and criticized him for repeatedly providing the American people with misinformation about the virus.
“Step up and do your job, Mr. President,” Biden said.
“In times of crisis, the American people deserve a president who tells them the truth,” Biden said. “Unfortunately, President Trump has not been that president.”
Click here for the full story.
Dow closes down 900 points after New York and California curb economic activity
Wall Street took a nosedive on Friday, wrapping up another tumultuous week for all three major averages, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sinking by 916 points.
The Dow has now shed around 18 percent this week, completely erasing all the gains made since President Donald Trump took office.
The S&P 500 closed the day down 4.3 percent, capping its worst weekly performance since the financial crisis. The Nasdaq, which had started the day by hitting the "limit up" threshold in premarket trading, ended the day down by around 3.8 percent.
Production of Tom Hanks film halted
Production of an Elvis biopic featuring Tom Hanks has been officially postponed, its makers said Friday.
"Despite valiant efforts, due to current world events, production on the Elvis film cannot proceed at this time," a Warner Bros. spokesperson said. "We will commence principal photography once circumstances permit."
On March 11, Hanks said on social media that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolating themselves in Australia, where the movie was being shot at a Warner Bros. satellite studio.
Photo: Spanish hospital staff demand more equipment
D.C. mayor extends schools closures, ban on mass gatherings
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Friday that she's extending various city-wide restrictions and told residents to "stay home."
Through April 27, Washington, D.C. schools will continue distance learning, district government will continue teleworking and operating in modified status and the ban on mass gatherings will continue, she said during a news conference Friday.
"Stay home. More than everything, we need anyone who is not performing an essential service or activity to stay home. Don't treat this like a normal weekend. There will be more weekends, more nice days," Bowser said.
This comes after the first reported death of a person who tested positive for coronavirus in D.C. and confirmed cases spiked from 39 to 71 cases overnight. Cherry blossom trees in the nation's capital have reached peak bloom, a moment each spring that usually brings droves of admirers to the National Mall.
Archdiocese of Chicago churches ring bells calling for prayers
Five times a day, the bells will ring out in the Roman Catholic churches that dot the landscape in the city of Chicago as a call to prayer during the coronavirus crisis.
“Our hope is that people will have the experience of being united in prayer, especially at a time when we are so isolated,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich, who heads the third largest archdiocese in the U.S.
The archdiocese has also posted prayers on its website that could be said in the three major languages spoken in Chicago – English, Polish and Spanish.
California cases double in three days to over 1,000
The California Department of Public Health announced Friday the state now has exceeded 1,000 cases, more than doubling from just three days ago.
The new figures — 1,006 confirmed cases and 19 deaths — come a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide “stay at home” order for all of California’s 40 million residents, except for those working in critical industries, including health care, government, infrastructure and food distribution.
There were 472 cases in the state on March 17.
Los Angeles County, the country's most populous, reported 61 new cases Friday, bringing its total to 292. Ten percent of about 2,400 people tested through Wednesday have turned up positive in the county.
Two people with ties to Pentagon test positive
Two people with ties to the Pentagon have tested positive for coronavirus, Air Force officials said Friday.
A defense contractor who works for the Air Force tested positive and was last in the building on March 2. An active duty member who works for Defense Health Agency, in Falls Church, Virginia, tested positive for COVID-19. He was last in the Pentagon on Monday.
Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage
Social distancing is here to stay for much more than a few weeks. It will upend our way of life, in some ways forever. [MIT Technology Review]
WhatsApp is at the center of coronavirus response [Wired]
New coronavirus package could unravel protections for students with disabilities [HuffPost]
Open? Closed? Florida officials settle on variety of decisions on beaches
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday ordered the closing beaches in two counties: Broward and Palm Beach. But without a statewide edict, local authorities have settled on a variety of decisions on how to handle people flooding to their shores.
Many counties and cities have outright closed their beaches. Pinellas County — where Clearwater and St. Petersburg are located — was a holdout, but ordered its beaches closed before noon on Friday. (Clearwater had already voted to close its beaches.)
Meanwhile, Panama City Beach's chamber of commerce declared Thursday that beaches there aren't closed, and the town is "open for business." Beaches in the Florida Keys are also open — but its hotels, guest houses, short-term rentals in RV parks and vacation rentals will be closed to visitors starting Sunday, Monroe county's emergency management department ordered.
Trump campaign job listing asks students 'Are you looking to make the most of your quarantine?'
President Trump’s Wisconsin re-election campaign is offering high school and college students stuck at home a way to turn social distancing into a resume builder.
“Hey students!” said a job listing posted by the Trump Victory Campaign on Friday. “Are you looking to make the most of your quarantine? Team Trump WI is offering fellowships that are 100% online for the remainder of the Spring semester, perfect for high school and college students whose semester ended early due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”
“Upon completion of the fellowship, letters of recommendation will be available. This dynamic program may also earn you college credit and may provide future job opportunities. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.”
Death toll in Italy hits grim milestone
Italian officials said Friday that 627 more deaths from the coronavirus were reported from the day before, bringing the death toll to 4,032 people. It is the biggest day-to-day increase in the country during this outbreak.
Across the country, which is in the second week of its nationwide quarantine, more than 47,000 have tested positive for the virus, up nearly 6,000 more people from Thursday, said Angelo Borrelli, the chief of Italy's Civil Protection.
Meanwhile, of those who have tested positive, more than 5,100 people have also recovered, officials said.
Washington state preps for possible rationing of care and ventilators for coronavirus patients
Wednesday night, 280 clinicians in Washington state dialed into a three-hour webinar to hear about the possibility that medical professionals across the state will have to begin rationing health-care — including precious ventilators — for coronavirus patients.
Officials say the trigger for rationing care, or invoking what are known as “crisis standards,” will be when there are more COVID-19 patients than ventilators.
“If you are above a certain age and we have a shortage of ventilators, you don’t get one,” Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association explained. “This has never happened in America at this level for this sustained time. … It is unprecedented and it should not happen.”
A 2010 study found Washington state had fewer than 1,000 ventilators. As of Thursday it had more than 1,300 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and had reported 74 deaths.
Sanders turns his campaign to coronavirus relief
Bernie Sanders is shifting his focus from building political support to supporting efforts to respond to the coronavirus spread. The Vermont senator announced on Friday that he will host an online roundtable in Burlington, Vt., where he is "assessing the state of his campaign."
The roundtable will be the first public comments from Sanders since he snapped at a reporter on Wednesday for asking about his timeline for deciding on the future of his campaign. Sanders has not publicly addressed Tuesday night's primaries, which were unanimously won by former Vice President Joe Biden.
Since then, Sanders senior adviser Tim Tagaris said the campaign has used social media platforms, email and text lists to "educate and activate people around his coronavirus response and raise big-money for charities helping people impacted.” On Thursday, the campaign sent an email to supporters prompting them to use a campaign-established fundraising page to donate to up to five charities helping people during the pandemic.
Sanders also released a $2 trillion proposal on Monday that he said he would present to Democratic leadership that includes having Medicare, as it exists now, pay for all medical bills accrued during this emergency, whether or not the bill is related to the coronavirus.
U.K. prime minister says restaurants and bars must temporarily close
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Friday that all bars, pubs and restaurants in the country must close on Friday and remain close, echoing similarly drastic measures taken in other parts of the world to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Coast Guard cadet tests positive for coronavirus
A Coast Guard Academy cadet in Florida has tested positive for COVID-19, the Coast Guard announced Friday. The Florida Department of Health's lab confirmed the results of a test received Thursday.
The cadet, a 20-year-old male, traveled to Europe for spring break along with six other cadets and a civilian friend. The group was visiting Spain when they were ordered to return to the United States based on the Presidential Proclamation suspending travel from Europe.
Upon returning home to Florida, the cadet became symptomatic and sought treatment and screening. The civilian from the group also tested positive for the coronavirus. The infected cadet remains in self-quarantine and the other six cadets are in self-isolation at their homes while arrangements are made for testing. They are in daily contact with the Coast Guard Academy's medical staff.
On March 13, Rear Admiral William Kelly, the superintendent of the academy, directed cadets to remain away from the academy for an additional two weeks following spring break.
Photo: Social distancing at London mosque
'You're a terrible reporter': Trump berates NBC News reporter over coronavirus question
President Donald Trump on Friday excoriated an NBC News reporter as a “terrible reporter” after he asked the president for his message to Americans who are scared about the coronavirus pandemic.
At the Trump administration's coronavirus task force's daily briefing, NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked Trump about efforts being made to produce vaccinations for coronavirus and whether the president's “positive spin” regarding the potential drugs was giving Americans false hope.
“Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope?” Alexander asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” Trump replied. Read more on the story here.
Trump to suspend federal student loan payments for borrowers who want it
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Friday that borrowers with federally held student loans would “have the option” to suspend their payments for at least two months.
In a statement delivered as President Donald Trump was speaking at his administration’s daily coronavirus task force briefing, DeVos said she had "directed all federal student loan services to grant an administrative forbearance to any borrower with a federally held loan who requests one" and that the forbearance "will be in effect for a period of at least 60 days."
DeVos said she had also authorized an automatic suspension of payments for any borrower more than 31 days delinquent as of March 13, 2020.
Trump said the waiving of interest on all federally held student loans — something he announced days earlier — was now going into effect.
U.S. closes border with Mexico to all 'nonessential' travel
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that the U.S. and Mexico have agreed to restrict “nonessential travel across our border” due to the ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Pompeo, standing alongside President Donald Trump and other federal officials, made the announcement at the administration’s daily coronavirus task force briefing.
The restrictions go into effect on Saturday.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the restrictions will not apply to essential travel, which includes travel for medical purposes and emergency response, public health services, attendance at educational institutions and “lawful cross-border trade.”
Wolf said the U.S. will turn away all immigrants on the border who lack proper entry documentation.
Education Secretary allows states to cancel standardized tests
The students forced to stay at home due to school closures across the U.S. can bypass standard testing for the 2019-2020 school year, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Friday.
"Upon a proper request, the [Education] Department will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year," the department said in a news release.
Navajo Nation's coronavirus cases rise to 14
Two days after confirming its first case of COVID-19, Navajo Nation officials said late Thursday that 14 people have now tested positive on the reservation, making up just over half of the cases in the state of Arizona.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the community of Chilchinbeto, with a population of 500 people, was being quarantined and isolated to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The majority of the 14 cases involve individuals who initially reported their symptoms to the nearby Indian Health Service unit in Kayenta.
Nez said his order to shelter in place may also be applied to the entire Navajo Nation — the largest tribal reservation in the U.S., with 350,000 members — if reports become widespread.
Astronomy observatories will halt science operations
Several major telescopes and astronomy observatories around the world are closing and halting science operations until further notice.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO), an intergovernmental research organization made up of 16 member nations, announced Friday that its Paranal, La Silla and APEX astronomy observatories — all located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile — will reduce the number of staff on site and gradually cease science operations.
“The sites are transitioning into a safe state with a minimal team on site to ensure the safety of the facilities and the remaining people,” ESO officials said in a statement.
The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, a huge collection of radio telescopes located on Chile’s Chajnantor plateau, will also be shut down until further notice, according to ESO.
Indiana moves primary election to June 2
Indiana will postpone the state’s May 5 presidential primary amid the coronavirus outbreak, political leaders announced Friday.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said during a news conference with the state GOP and Democratic chairmen that the state's primary will be shifted to June 2.
"Hoosiers have always come together in times of crisis and today’s bipartisan announcement to move Indiana’s primary election to June 2 is yet another example of that unity," the state GOP chair Kyle Hupfer said in a statement.
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.
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.
Photo: Early morning shopping for seniors
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
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.
NBC News employee dies after testing positive for coronavirus
A longtime employee of NBC News died Thursday after testing positive for the coronavirus, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said in an email to staff.
Larry Edgeworth, who had been working in an equipment room at NBC News' 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in New York, also suffered from other health issues, according to his wife. He had previously spent 25 years at NBC News working as an audio technician, where he was well-known to many network correspondents who traveled with him around the world.
"Many of you were fortunate enough to work with Larry over the years, so you know that he was the guy you wanted by your side no matter where you were," Lack wrote Friday morning.
Morning roundup of coronavirus coverage
The doctor who helped defeat smallpox explains what's coming [Wired]
Why the coronavirus kills far more men than women [The Washington Post]
Fleeing virus for resort homes, some find welcome mat yanked [The Associated Press]
What it's like to be a college senior in the middle of a pandemic
A little over a week ago my classmates and I were huddled in libraries studying for our midterms the way we did every semester. But on the evening of March 8, the night before many of our first exams, an email from Columbia University’s president confirmed what we had previously thought to be just a rumor: The entire university would be moving to online instruction as a result of the growing threat of the coronavirus in New York City.
NY, NJ, CT, PA govs order closure of barbershops, nail and hair salons
The governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania are directing the temporary closure of barbershops, nail and hair salons, and other personal care service businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The order goes into effect on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
"All barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors, nail salons, hair removal services, and related personal care services will be closed to members," the governors said in a joint statement, "as these services cannot be provided while maintaining social distance."
Britain's changing of the guard to be postponed
Britain's ceremonial changing of the guard has been postponed until further notice in keeping with the government's guidance to avoid mass gatherings, Buckingham Palace said Friday.
The ceremony will be postponed at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Windsor Castle, and will restart "when appropriate."
The move came a day after the Queen and Prince Phillip left Buckingham Palace for Windsor Castle, west of London, due to the outbreak.
Communities rally around one another — and Google Docs — to bring coronavirus aid
Americans are using an array of digital tools — from Google docs and Facebook groups to money transfer apps, Twitter and the neighborhood-focused social network Nextdoor — to form local mutual aid groups to help their most vulnerable neighbors and anyone else who could use help as the country adjusts to self-quarantine.
Alycia Kamil, 19, organized a group with other young people in Chicago to go shopping for low-income people in their Chicago neighborhoods who were recently forced out of work.
“Our goal was to raise about $300 and be able to give about 30 families food,” Kamil said. “We ended up raising over $7,000 in just two days and more is coming. We are really excited.”
Death toll in Spain climbs above 1,000
Spanish health authorities said on Friday that 1,002 people have died in the country since the outbreak, while infections have reached 19,980 — over 3,000 more confirmed cases than the day before.
Spain is in its first week of a lockdown as its government works to reduce the rising contagion rate and give relief to its strained health care system.
Spain is the second-hardest-hit country by COVID-19 in Europe, behind Italy — whose death toll surpassed China's on Thursday.
First British arrest for failure to self-isolate on the Isle of Man
A man has been arrested on the Isle of Man for failing to comply with the island’s new rules on self-isolation, the first such arrest in the British Isles.
The rules, which came into effect just before midnight on Thursday, say that anyone visiting the island must self-isolate for 14 days, whether or not they show symptoms of the coronavirus. Noncompliance can result in up to three months' jail time or a fine of 10,000 English pounds
In a tweet, the Isle of Man Police said that the man would be detained in a specially cleaned area of custody designated for those who should be self-isolating. The island’s chief constable called the measures extraordinary, but added that “failing to follow self-isolation requirements is a serious matter."
News of the arrest came at the same time that the island’s first case of coronavirus was confirmed. The Manx Government said in a statement that the patient who tested positive had recently returned from Spain, and that the island’s Public Health Directorate would begin contact tracing.
Fauci: Americans will likely need to stay home for at least several weeks
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday that Americans will likely have to continue staying at home and practice social distancing for “at least several weeks.”
“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks and other areas, at least going to be several weeks,”Fauci said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on the “TODAY” show when asked how long he thinks Americans will have to practice social distancing.
“I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now it's going to be over. I don't think there's a chance of that. I think it's going to be several weeks.”
When speaking about whether it’s time for President Donald Trump to use the Defense Production Act to produce critical supplies, Fauci suggested that the U.S. should be doing everything in its power to slow the outbreak.
“I think we should do everything we possibly can do. I mean, in all sectors, because obviously as I've said so many times, when you think you're maybe overreacting, you probably are not acting as forcefully as you should. So as we've always said, we've got to try very much to stay ahead of the curve.”
China urges U.S. to ‘stop slandering’ and ‘play a constructive role’
China responded to President Trump's use of the term "Chinese virus," with a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that the U.S. should play a "constructive role" to safeguard international public health.
“We hope that the United States will respect objective facts, respect international public opinion, do its own thing, stop constantly shifting its attitude, stop slandering other countries, and shifting responsibilities,” Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.
The president has defended his use of term, saying in a press conference, "it's not racist at all, no. It comes from China." He was photographed on reading from notes on Thursday at a coronavirus press conference with the word "corona" crossed out and replaced with "Chinese."
Coronavirus is a 'personal nightmare' for people with OCD and anxiety disorders
Sarah Mergens showed signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder long before she was diagnosed with it as an adult. It initially took the shape of harmless quirks, like organizing dinosaur toys by shape and color.
As an adult, Mergens, 27, held her OCD symptoms at bay through exposure and response prevention therapy, supportive friends and family and internal pep talks. Then COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, began to spread and threatened to set her back on the progress she's made in convincing herself that her fear of circulating an illness is overblown. The virus, she said, is her "personal nightmare."
Over 2 million Americans are estimated to be affected by OCD, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Nearly 7 million people in the U.S. are affected by generalized anxiety disorder and about 6 million by panic disorder. While the concern about the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of Americans from all walks of life, interviews with people with mental health issues, as well as counselors who are treating them, reflect a particular chaos the virus has caused.
Pittsburgh mayor announces self-quarantine
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Thursday night that he's going to self-quarantine for 14 days after coming into contact with at least two people in Washington, D.C. who have tested positive for coronavirus.
“I have absolutely no symptoms. I feel great,” Peduto said in the video that was posted on social media.
Greta Thunberg strikes for the climate online
Climate activist Greta Thunberg urged her followers and supporters on Friday to strike for the climate online for the second week in a row, in order to "act in full solidarity with those at risk" of coronavirus.
In a post last week, Thunberg advocated for a #DigitalStrike because, "in a crisis we change our behavior and adapt to the new circumstances."
Delayed by sanctions, first medical aid trickles into North Korea
The first shipments of international medical aid are due to arrive at North Korea’s borders this week to shore up its defenses against the coronavirus, but strict border controls could mean the stream of supplies remains a trickle.
Some aid organizations had to get emergency sanction exemptions from the United Nations to clear the way for the shipments and are now navigating North Korea’s border controls imposed in a bid to shut out the virus.
North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases of the virus, though a top U.S. military official said last week he is “fairly certain” there were infections in North Korea.
North Korea is especially vulnerable to an outbreak as its health system lacks resources, in part because of international sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons programs, ,say aid organizations.
Colorado National Guard pitches in at drive-up testing station
Uncertainty bites as London pubs, restaurants consider shutting
The Northcote Arms has been a pub since 1890, surviving two world wars, several global financial crises and even the flu of 1918, which killed tens of millions of people.
Now this traditional watering hole in the east London neighborhood of Leyton is one of countless businesses around the world facing the prospect of being crushed by the spiraling pandemic.
"It's just like quicksand," said Tuesday Roberts, 39, who runs the pub. "Every time I come up with a plan, I have to scrap it two days later. The situation just gets worse and worse."
As well as attacking physical health, the virus is also threatening to trigger a huge wave of unemployment in the U.S. and across Europe as governments urge or force people to stay away from public spaces, such as bars, restaurants, theaters, sports venues and airports.
Animated map shows drop in emissions over China
Data from the European Space Agency shows a drop in nitrogen dioxide emissions over China between December and March.
As strict measures were implemented to stem the outbreak, factories closed and streets were cleared. This led to a dramatic reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions — those released by power plants, industrial facilities and vehicles — in all major Chinese cities between late-January and February.
Similar data has also shown a decline over northern Italy coinciding with its nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Wembley Stadium in London lights up to thank health workers
No new domestic cases in China for second day in row
China’s National Health Commission on Friday reported no new local coronavirus cases, which marked the second time it has done so since the epidemic began.
There were 39 new cases reported on the mainland Thursday, but all were called “new imported confirmed cases.” Deaths on the mainland rose by three, bringing the total dead to 3,248, according to the health commission’s numbers.
There have been 80,967 cases reported on the mainland in all, the national health commission said.
Italy has surpassed China in total deaths connected to the coronavirus, with the country reporting 3,405 fatalities as of Thursday afternoon Eastern Time.
The coronavirus outbreak began in China, but the World Health Organization said last week that Europe has become the new epicenter of the pandemic.
When should someone get tested for coronavirus?
Invictus Games postpones, looks ahead to 2021
The Invictus Games scheduled for May 9-16 in The Hague have been postponed until next year because of coronavirus pandemic, organizers of the international competition for veterans announced Thursday.
“We are now investigating all options to reschedule the Invictus Games, subject to the availability of key facilities and resources, to May or June 2021,” organizers said in a statement.
Prince Harry, patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, said in a video that "this was an incredibly difficult decision for all of us to have to make."
Olympic flame lands in Japan as doubts grow over Tokyo games
MATSUSHIMA AIR BASE, Japan — The Olympic flame arrived in Japan on Friday from Greece in a scaled-down ceremony at an air base in northern Japan.
The flame, carried in a special canister, touched down amid growing doubts if the Tokyo Games can open as scheduled on July 24 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers and the International Olympic Committee say it will, but postponement or cancellation is viewed increasingly as a possible option.