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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

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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Washington residents ordered to ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’

Washington has joined other states in issuing a "stay home" order that urges residents to shelter in place. 

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the order Monday, telling residents they must stay home unless they are "pursuing an essential activity." The governor also asked that people resist the urge to hoard goods during their grocery shopping, which is deemed essential under the order. 

"If each of us maintains our normal shopping habits, we will avoid the problem of empty shelves," Inslee said.

Nearly 2,000 cases have been confirmed in Washington state, where 95 deaths have been blamed on the coronavirus. 

Team USA urges IOC to postpone Olympics

Team USA's Olympic and Paralympic Committee released a statement urging the International Olympic Committee to postpone the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo.

Team USA surveyed more than 1,700 athletes, just under half of the country's Olympic and Paralympic competitors, about continuing with the games as planned. Nearly 70 percent of the athletes said their training has been severely impacted by public health restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, and about 68 percent said they don't believe the games could be fairly competed if they continue as scheduled. 

"To that end, it’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising, and we encourage the IOC to take all needed steps to ensure the Games can be conducted under safe and fair conditions for all competitors," the USOPC statement said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged Monday that the Tokyo Games could be delayed due to the coronavirus as countries began threatening to keep their athletes from traveling to Japan.

Trump jokingly walks away as doctor says she had fever over weekend

The Trump administration's coronavirus task force had a moment of levity on Monday when President Donald Trump playful walked away from panel member Dr. Deborah Birx after she revealed she had a fever over the weekend and was tested for the virus.

She was negative.

Read the full story here.

Trump postpones REAL ID deadline over coronavirus

The October 2020 deadline for compliance with the federal REAL ID program is postponed indefinitely, President Trump announced Monday.

The REAL ID Act was passed after the 9/11 attacks and sought to make all state-issued identification cards more secure with uniform national standards.

Just before the coronavirus epidemic began to sweep the United States, NBC News reported that airports warned of “chaos” if Trump did not postpone the October 2020 deadline because so few Americans had obtained the new type of identification, which usually are marked with a star on the front of the card.

Trump on Monday said the new deadline would be announced “in a very short moment.”

New York first state to test treatment with blood from recovered patients

Army Spc. Reagan Long and Pfc. Naomi Velez register people at a coronavirus mobile testing center in New Rochelle, N.Y., on March 14.U.S. Army National Guard / via Reuters file

Hoping to stem the toll of the state’s surging coronavirus outbreak, New York health officials plan to begin collecting plasma from people who have recovered and injecting the antibody-rich fluid into patients still fighting the virus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the plans during a news briefing Monday. The treatment, known as convalescent plasma, dates back centuries and was used during the flu epidemic of 1918 — in an era before modern vaccines and antiviral drugs.

Some experts say the treatment, although somewhat primitive, might be the best hope for combating the new coronavirus until more sophisticated therapies can be developed, which could take several months.

Read the full story here.

Trump, slammed for calling coronavirus 'Chinese virus,' says it's important to 'protect' Asian Americans

President Donald Trump, accused of fueling racism by labeling the coronavirus the "Chinese virus," tweeted Monday that the country must "protect our Asian American community."

"They are amazing people, and the spreading of the Virus is NOT their fault in any way, shape, or form. They are working closely with us to get rid of it. WE WILL PREVAIL TOGETHER!" the president tweeted.

NBC News has previously reported that Asians across the globe have reported experiencing xenophobia as a result of coronavirus fears, with several incidents involving physical harassment. Republican lawmakers and Trump have referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese virus,” which experts say could be fueling real-life acts of discrimination. 

The president defended his use of the term, saying last week he did not believe it was "racist at all" to call coronavirus the "Chinese virus."

Man dies after ingesting chloroquine in attempt to prevent coronavirus

An Arizona man died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate in an attempt to protect himself from becoming infected with the coronavirus. The man's wife also ingested the drug, and is currently under critical care.

The drug chloroquine is used to treat malaria, and some early research suggests it may be useful in treating COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

There are no drugs approved to prevent or treat the coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

Local officials call for 'substantial' election stimulus funding

More than 30 election officials are calling for Congress to include "substantial" increases to a proposed $140 million in election funding in the coronavirus stimulus bill.

In an open letter published by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, state and municipal officials charged with administering elections said the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic are stark — and have already forced the postponement and rescheduling of primary and local elections.

"Our colleagues have been forced to make last-minute changes to polling places, and conduct elections without sufficient staff or poll worker support, as we work to balance public safety and the sacred right to vote," the officials wrote. "$140 million is a start but it is simply not enough."

A report by the Brennan Center found that a thorough election funding package could cost up to $2 billion and would appropriate funds to ensure that all Americans could vote by mail or in person at a COVID-19-safe election facility, as well as fund online registration and voter registration efforts to let people know about coronavirus-related changes. 

FDNY boss: Our supply of personal protective equipment 'dangerously low'

New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told NBC News that supplies of personal protective equipment are “dangerously low” and the department has weeks—not months—worth of the gear its members don every time they respond to a call for a person with flu-like symptoms.  

Nigro said that 46 FDNY members, which include EMS workers, have tested positive for COVID-19 and two are currently hospitalized. A FDNY spokesperson said none of the cases were acquired through interaction with a patient.

"All that we can hope for is that the pleas from the governor and the mayor have been heard in Washington and that a supply stream will open and that we will get the equipment that our members need to operate safely," Nigro said.

Progressive tax group targets GOP senators over corporate stock buybacks

A progressive group is launching a $1.2-million ad campaign targeting Republican senators in four battleground states for their votes supporting the 2017 tax bill that included billions in tax relief to large corporations now poised to receive billions more in bailout money from proposed coronavirus legislation.

The group, Tax March— whose goal is to push for the closing of tax loopholes for large corporations — will run radio, television and digital ads in Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, starting later this week. 

President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax bill, which Republicans said would help raise wages and spur hiring, actually ended up funding record stock buybacks by corporations. Progressive groups, as well as several Democrats in Congress, say they oppose the current coronavirus stimulus package because the language allows for corporations to keep bailout money while still firing workers — and because there are very weak stock buyback restrictions in the current proposal.

Read more on the story here.