WHO declares COVID-19 disease to be a pandemic

The coronavirus crisis continues to unfold across the globe as the World Health Organization uses the word for the first time.
Image: Slovakia
A worker wearing protective clothes disinfects the inside of a public bus in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Wednesday.Vladimir Simicek / AFP - Getty Images

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For the first time, the World Health Organization called the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, a pandemic. Meanwhile, the United States now has more than 1,000 people infected with the coronavirus — but testing in the country is still ramping up, meaning that number could continue to climb.

WHO defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease for which most people do not have immunity.

On Wednesday, the governor of New York questioned the number of people who have been tested for the virus in the U.S.

“When they do the retrospective on this one, they are going to say, 'Why did it take the Unites States so long to bring up the testing capacity?'” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on "TODAY." On Tuesday, Cuomo announced that he was implementing a "containment area" around a one-mile radius in the city of New Rochelle, home to one of the largest clusters of coronavirus cases in the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that more than 8,500 specimens have been tested for the coronavirus across the U.S. Because multiple specimens are required from each individual, the number of actual patients who have been tested is likely far lower.

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TV show 'Riverdale' suspends production over coronavirius

“Riverdale” has suspended production after a team member on the television show recently came into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus illness and is "currently receiving medical evaluation," COVID-19, Warner Bros. said Wednesday.

The show is produced in Vancouver.  “We are working closely with the appropriate authorities and health agencies in Vancouver to identify and contact all individuals who may have come into direct contact with our team member,” the company said.

“Riverdale” is a drama based on the characters from Archie Comics. 

Fears of the spread of the coronavirus has prompted several shows to no longer record in front of live studio audiences for the time being.

Beauty retailer Sephora suspends in-store makeup services

Beauty retailer Sephora said Wednesday it is suspending all paid and free in-store services, makeup and skincare applications until further notice to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the disease from coronavirus.

Its enhanced safety measures include disinfecting all high-touch areas, work stations, product displays and hygiene stations with hospital-grade disinfectant and cleaning all display testers with disinfectant multiple times a day, as well as increasing weekly deep cleanings of its stores and distribution centers, the company said in a statement.

Las Vegas movie exhibition CinemaCon canceled

LOS ANGELES — The annual movie exhibition and trade show CinemaCon has been canceled in Las Vegas due to coronavirus, scuttling one of Hollywood's premier hype machines.

The week-long conference, which brings together everyone from Hollywood studio executives and celebrities to movie theater owners and equipment and concession manufacturers, had been scheduled to begin March 30 at Caesar’s Palace.

The cancellation was announced Wednesday in a joint statement by John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, and CinemaCon's managing director, Mitch Neuhauser.

“While local outbreaks vary widely in severity, the global circumstances make it impossible for us to mount the show that our attendees have come to expect," they said. "After consultation with our attendees, trade show exhibitors, sponsors, and studio presenters, NATO has decided therefore to cancel CinemaCon 2020.”

Senate staffer tests positive

A staff member in the Washington, D.C., office of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease from coronavirus, her office said Wednesday.

The person has been in isolation since starting to have symptoms, and on the advice of an attending physician, Cantwell has closed the office this week for deep cleaning, the office said in a statement. Staff will be teleworking, and her offices in Seattle and Washington, D.C., will continue to serve constituents remotely, it said.

The person who tested positive has had no known contact with Cantwell or other members of Congress, the statement said.

Dow futures plunge nearly 1,000 points as Trump speech disappoints investors

Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes fell on Wednesday night after an address from President Donald Trump failed to quell concerns over the possible economic slowdown from the coronavirus. 

The move comes after the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended its historic 11-year bull market run by closing in a bear market. As of 10:17 p.m. Wednesday, Dow futures were down 1,032 points, indicating a loss of about 992.22 points at Thursday’s open. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were also sharply lower.

In his address, Trump announced travel from Europe will be suspended for 30 says as part of the government’s response to the coronavirus. Trump also said the administration would provide financial relief for workers who are ill, caring for others due to the virus or are quarantined. 

These announcements were not enough for investors who were looking for a more robust fiscal response to curb potentially slower economic growth.

Read the full story.

Trump suspends travel from Europe amid coronavirus pandemic, cancels events

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he would be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.

"The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots,” Trump said, speaking from the Oval Office Wednesday night. “As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.”

The travel ban goes into effect Friday at midnight. The restrictions only apply to foreign nationals and not U.S. citizens, green card holders or the family of U.S. citizens, the Department of Homeland Security said. U.K. citizens are also exempt.

In addition to the travel restrictions, Trump also offered a series of economic relief actions meant to help workers and companies deal with the outbreak. He did not offer any new rules aimed at preventing the spread domestically, including expanding access to testing kits, increasing funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, restricting travel within the U.S. or providing resources to state health departments.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement on Wednesday that Trump is also canceling upcoming trips to Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin amid concern over the pandemic.

Read more here.