Trump reaches aid deal with Democrats as cases mount

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Image: Servpro workers file in to begin a third day of cleaning at Life Care Center of Kirkland
Servpro workers begin a third day of cleaning Friday at Life Care Center of Kirkland, Wash., a long-term care facility linked to several confirmed coronavirus cases. Lindsey Wasson / Reuters

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President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday, the most significant move yet by the U.S. government to head off the coronavirus outbreak, and House Democrats and the White House later reached a deal on an aid package.

Trump's declaration came as many public and private institutions have taken action — including canceling major events, temporarily banning large gatherings, closing schools and telling people to work from home — in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled, soared, and then closed with a gain of 1,900 points after the emergency declaration. Wall Street had reeled Thursday afternoon after coronavirus fears drove the markets to their worst day since the Black Monday crash in 1987.

The United States as of Friday afternoon had surpassed 2,000 confirmed or presumptive cases of the coronavirus, and the death toll climbed to 41.

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Apple closing all stores outside China

Apple is closing all its retail stores outside China until March 27 in order to protect workers and help stop the spread of the coronavirus illness COVID-19, the company announced early Saturday. The company is also committing $15 million to help with the worldwide response to the crisis, CEO Tim Cook said. 

Apple’s stores in China have already re-opened. The company said it learned lessons about best practices and the situation in China, which is where the coronavirus outbreak began.

“One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance,” Apple said.

"All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations," Apple said.

Montana has first presumptive cases

Four people in Montana have presumptively tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the governor said Friday.

The four people – three men and a woman, in Gallatin, Yellowstone, Silver Bow, and Lewis and Clark counties – appear to be the first reported within the state. They were described as being in their 40s and 50s.

Montana’s health department previously said that a Montana resident had tested positive but that the patient got the coronavirus illness COVID-19 out of state and has not yet returned.

Tests are considered presumptively positive until they are confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Montana's cases mean that 49 out of 50 states and Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have reported confirmed or presumptively positive cases, according to an NBC News count of reports. As of Friday, West Virginia's health department has not reported any positive cases, but said tests were pending for five people.

President's doctor says Trump doesn't need to be tested

The president does not need to take a test to determine if he's positive for coronavirus because two interactions he had with known patients were "low risk," a White House doctor said in a memo released Friday.

The memo was made public hours after Trump said he would be tested.

"Not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway," the president said Friday when asked about his interaction at his Mar-a-Lago resort last weekend with an aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Fabio Wajngarten, who turned up positive.

Physician to the president, Sean P. Conley, argued that because Trump's interaction was minimal, including a handshake, and because Wajngarten and another patient were not exhibiting symptoms at the time they socialized with the president, Trump's unlikely to get the virus.

Read more here. 

Pentagon halts all domestic travel starting Monday

In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Pentagon is imposing new travel restrictions on employees, including service members and their families. The limits will start Monday, the Department of Defense announced Friday night.

All domestic travel will be stopped as of next week. This includes domestic travel, permanent change of station and temporary duty. Civilian hiring at Department of Defense installations will also be halted.

Read more here.

Roundup of coronavirus coverage

They survived the coronavirus. Then they tested positive again. Why? [The Los Angeles Times]

Why do we touch strangers so much? A history of the handshake offers clues [National Geographic]

Las Vegas books scramble for content day after sports stopped [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

Social distancing: This is not a snow day [Medium]

Everybody ready for the big migration to online college? Actually, no [The New York Times]

The coronavirus is creating a huge, stressful experiment in working from home [The Atlantic]

Denver moves to limit police contact with public

Denver police will limit contact with the public when possible in order to limit the spread of coronavirus, the mayor announced Friday.

Mayor Michael Hancock said residents with low-level complaints would be directed to make them online or over the phone "to further reduce person-to-person interactions." 

 "To be clear, this change will not impact the dispatching of officers to high-priority emergency incidents," he said.

In a statement, the city said low-priority reports could include a property crime that previously occurred, theft, vandalism, lost property or identity theft. It said the policy would begin "immediately on a small scale."

D.C. Metro reduces subway, bus service starting Monday

D.C. Metro announced Friday that services on subway and bus lines will be reduced to weekend schedules to help slow the spread of coronavirus starting Monday. 

Trains will run every 12 minutes Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, trains will run every 15 minutes.

Click here for more details.

NCAA to extend eligibility of spring sports athletes

The NCAA is planning to extend the eligibility of athletes on spring sports teams by one year to make up for the season lost to the new coronavirus.

The details of how the extra eligibility will work are being ironed out.

All three NCAA divisions would potentially allow another year for athletes in the 14 spring sports, which include baseball, softball, lacrosse and golf. The decision comes after the NCAA announced Thursday that its winter and spring championships would be canceled as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.

Some, but not all, conferences have announced that their spring sports teams would not continue their regular seasons.

Sixth death reported in California

Santa Clara County, California, health officials on Friday announced a second death from the coronavirus illness COVID-19, bringing the state's death toll to six. 

Nationwide, there have been at least 50 deaths, according to an NBC News count of official reports.

The latest Santa Clara County death was a woman in her 80s who was hospitalized Monday, the county health department said.

Santa Clara County has had at least 79 cases of coronavirus as of Friday afternoon. The county’s health department on Monday announced the first COVID-19 death in the county, an adult woman in her 60s who had been hospitalized for several weeks.