Team USA pushes for Olympics delay as millions more ordered to stay at home

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York
A member of Joint Task Force 2, composed of soldiers and airmen from the New York Army and Air National Guard, wears a face mask while carrying paper towels as he arrives to sanitize and disinfect the Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue in New Rochelle, New York, on March 23, 2020.Andrew Kelly / Reuters

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The United Kingdom went into lockdown Monday as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to stem the spread of coronavirus, which has infected more than 5,000 people and killed hundreds in his country.

More American states did the same, too. Officials in Louisiana, New Mexico, Washington and West Virginia issued stay-at-home orders. “Right now, every time you leave your house, you are putting yourself, your family and your community at risk,” New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham said.

Team USA's Olympic and Paralympic Committee called for the International Olympic Committee Summer Games in Tokyo.

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Pompeo: Iran supreme leader's 'fabrications' about coronavirus put lives at risk

Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s "fabrications" about the coronavirus are dangerous and put the lives of Iranians and people around the world at greater risk, the U.S. State Department said Monday. The comment came after Khamenei characterized the U.S. offer to help Iran fight coronavirus as strange, describing U.S. leaders as “charlatans and liars."

In a statement released Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Iranian regime of ignoring repeated warnings from its own health officials, and denying its first death from the coronavirus for at least nine days. More than 1,800 people have died from the virus in Iran so far, with the total number of cases now over 23,000. 

"The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths, which are unfortunately far higher than the regime admits," Pompeo said.

He also added that the United States has offered over $100 million in medical assistance to foreign countries, including Iran, but Khamenei rejected the offer because "he works tirelessly to concoct conspiracy theories and prioritizes ideology over the Iranian people."

 

Angela Merkel tested for coronavirus, remains in self-imposed quarantine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was tested for the coronavirus Monday as she remains in self-imposed quarantine after coming into contact with a coronavirus-infected doctor. 

Germany’s government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters Merkel, 65, is doing well and that she led the cabinet by phone today from home. “She was tested today and we’re waiting for the results,” he said, adding that she received many messages of support. 

The empty chair of German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin. Merkel participated by video conference. She went into a self-imposed home quarantine on Sunday after a doctor who she saw on Friday tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend.Fabrizio Bensch / AFP - Getty Images

Seibert said they do not know when the test results would be back.

Last week, Merkel received a vaccine shot against pneumococcus, a pneumonia-causing bacteria, from a doctor who later tested positive for coronavirus, her office said Sunday. 

Asked for further details on how the chancellor was set up to work from home and if her husband was in quarantine as well, Seibert refused to comment, only adding that “the chancellor is in a position to conduct business.” 

CVS to hire 50,000 workers, including those furloughed from other companies

CVS Health plans to immediately hire 50,000 new workers, with many roles filled by people who were furloughed from other companies because of the coronavirus, the company announced Monday.

The drugstore chain said it will hire temporary, part-time and full-time store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center workers and customer service representatives.

It plans to hire employees from major clients who have had to furlough workers, including Hilton and Marriott.

CVS Health employees will also receive $150 to $500 bonuses and an additional 24 hours of paid sick leave in addition to 14 days of paid leave for any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 or needs to be quarantined as a result of potential exposure.

Photo: The scene in Cairo

A worker disinfects the Royal Mummies Hall at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on Monday.Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images

Global infections on track to reach 350,000; over 15,000 deaths worldwide

The number of global coronavirus infections is on track to reach 350,000 on Monday, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

The number of deaths worldwide has climbed to 15,308 after big overnight increases in Italy and Spain. 

Italy is the hardest-hit nation in the world in terms of total number of deaths, with its death toll reaching 5,476 deaths Monday as its health care system struggles to cope with outbreak. 

Numbers provided by the World Health Organization, which slightly differ, suggest more than 292,000 global infections and 12,784 deaths. 

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma donates supplies to Africa

A plane carrying 6 million face masks and other life-saving equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma arrived in Ethiopia on Sunday as Africa scrambles to contain a growing number of coronavirus cases, Ethiopia's prime minister tweeted.

The shipment also includes over a million coronavirus testing kits, and 60,000 protective suits and face shields. Ma's foundation said the supplies would be distributed across Africa, going first to countries that were particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

For several days, governments across the continent have imposed tough measures to restrict travel and close public spaces to curb the spread of the virus. 

The African region has so far registered 739 cases of coronavirus and 20 deaths, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization, but there are concerns about how well health care systems in Africa's developing nations could handle the coronavirus pandemic.

Harvey Weinstein tests positive for coronavirus

Convicted rapist and disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein tested positive for coronavirus, the head of the New York state corrections officers union told NBC News.

Weinstein, 68, was transferred to Wende Correctional Facility, a maximum-security state prison east of Buffalo, NY, on Wednesday. There, he tested positive for coronavirus, Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, learned on Sunday and told NBC News Monday.

Weinstein is currently in isolation at the prison, Powers said, and several staff at the facility have also been quarantined.

Read the full report here.

Federal Reserve pledges asset purchases with no limit to support markets

The Federal Reserve said Monday it will launch a barrage of programs aimed at helping markets function more efficiently in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Among the initiatives is a commitment to continue its asset purchasing program “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy.”

Others include an unspecified lending program for Main Street businesses and the Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility implemented during the financial crisis. Markets reacted positively to the moves, cutting most of the losses in stock market futures that had once been “limit down” in overnight trading.

Read the full story here.

Baghdad's coronavirus travel ban extended

The Iraqi government has extended a ban on travel in and out of Baghdad to March 28 as it tries to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

The move comes after hundreds of thousands of people defied coronavirus restrictions and attempted to visit a shrine sacred to Shiite Muslims in Baghdad over the weekend, forcing the Iraqi government to deploy troops to close the area. 

The government has also extended its ban on all flights in and out of the country’s airports.

Iraq has so far recorded 233 cases and 20 coronavirus deaths, according to the country's heath officials.

'This week, it's going to get bad'

WASHINGTON — U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams warned Monday that the coronavirus outbreak will worsen this week and said that people across the country are not taking the threat seriously enough.

“I want America to understand this week, it's going to get bad,” Adams said in an interview on the “TODAY” show.

The disease is spreading, he said, because many people — especially young people — are not abiding by guidance to stay at home and practice social distancing.

“Right now, there are not enough people out there who are taking this seriously,” he said.

Read full story here.