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Florida issues stay-at-home order as cases grow

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
Image: Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
A person stands in line to be tested for the coronavirus at Elmhurst Hospital in New York on April 1, 2020.Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

After weeks of resistance, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday to stem the spread of coronavirus, reversing a previous position that left closures up to local officials.

The state has reported nearly 7,000 confirmed cases and 86 deaths.

In Connecticut, a 6-week-old baby who died at a Hartford hospital is thought to be one of the youngest deaths linked to coronavirus. Gov. Ned Lamont said the newborn was brought to the facility last week and couldn’t be revived.

And in Guam, 93 sailors aboard the USS Teddy Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19. Nearly a quarter of the more than 4,000 crew members on the ship have been tested, and nearly half of those results have been reported. The vast majority are negative.

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Examining the etiquette of social distancing from shopping to traveling

Jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis, 85, dies while fighting coronavirus

Jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis died in New Orleans after contracting coronavirus, his son told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

The 85-year-old developed pneumonia and ultimately succumbed to that pulmonary infection, which was triggered by the virus, Ellis Marsalis III said. 

Marsalis was a jazz pianist and educator whose sons include trumpeter Wynton, saxophonist Branford, trombonist Delfeayo and drummer Jason.

In 2006, after Hurricane Katrina tore through his hometown, Marsalis joined the effort to build Musicians' Village, a community of 72 homes in the Upper Ninth Ward neighborhood. The nonprofit Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a performance and education space, is now a centerpiece of the community.

Read the full story here.

Number of infected UT spring breakers grows to 44

The number of students at the University of Texas at Austin who went on a spring break trip to Mexico and later tested positive for the coronavirus illness COVID-19 is now 44, a university spokesperson said.

About 70 young adults traveled together on a chartered plane to Cabo San Lucas a week and a half ago, the Austin Public Health Department said.

On Tuesday, the city of Austin and the university said 28 students had tested positive but dozens more from the group that traveled were under public health investigation. The 28 were self-isolating and others were under quarantine and being tested, officials said then.

Some of the travelers returned to the U.S. on commercial flights, the health department said. Four of the initial 28 who tested positive did not present any symptoms, the city said. The coronavirus can be dangerous to anyone, but a major concern for health officials is that the young and healthy will spread it to others.

UT Austin officials tweeted Wednesday that they are concerned about the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the student body and told students to take the pandemic seriously and follow social distancing and other guidelines. UT Austin has moved classes online amid the pandemic.

Leaders in Hawaii ask Trump to halt inbound travel

A trio of Hawaiian mayors asked President Donald Trump on Wednesday to halt nonessential out-of-state travel to the islands.

In a letter to the president, Kirk Caldwell of Honolulu, Derek Kawakami of Kauai and Mike Victorino of Maui argued the move would slow the spread of coronavirus, which has caused one death in a state with 258 cases. Caldwell said a majority of those cases were "travel-related."

"Now is not the time for leisurely travel," Kawakami said.

On Tuesday, Gov. David Ige ordered those traveling between islands to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Health care workers share struggle of caring for patients, family, themselves

Los Angeles mayor tells residents to wear face masks

LOS ANGELES — The mayor of Los Angeles on Wednesday told everyone in the nation’s second-largest city to start wearing masks to combat the coronavirus, but California’s governor isn’t ready to take that idea statewide.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday he’s focused instead on keeping people inside. He also announced the state may need 66,000 additional hospital beds, 16,000 more than previously forecast, to handle the crush of illnesses expected during the second part of May.

At an afternoon news conference, Mayor Eric Garcetti said all 4 million residents who are performing essential tasks such as food shopping should wear homemade, non-medical face coverings, or even bandannas, as people in other COVID-19-struck countries have done.

YouTube viewership up, but creators wonder if money will follow

Tyler Hoover is known for buying the least expensive versions of some of the world's most exclusive cars. His used "hooptie fleet" includes a modern Rolls-Royce, an orange Lamborghini and a six-figure BMW that has been reduced to near-junkyard status by an engine part about the size of a fingertip.

His attempts at reviving neglected chariots on the cheap are riveting for his nearly 1 million YouTube subscribers. So when self-isolation started for much of the country in mid-March, his "Hoovies Garage" channel, like those of many video creators, saw an increase in viewership.

"We are doing better with the captive audience," Hoover, 32, said by email from his home in Wichita, Kansas.

Read the full story.

Americans stranded overseas warned time is running out

More than 24,000 Americans remain stuck overseas and need help to get home, but assistance may be increasingly hard to come by, authorities said Wednesday.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the State Department has helped more than 30,000 Americans stranded in 60-plus countries board 375 U.S.-bound flights, officials said.

While Washington will continue working to bring Americans home, Ian Brownlee, who leads the State Department's repatriation task force, signaled for the first time Wednesday that the clock's ticking for U.S. citizens to seek help.

Read the full story.

Inmates file lawsuit against jail in Washington, D. C.

Four inmates at a jail in Washington, D.C., filed a class-action lawsuit this week alleging staff members are not taking proper safety precautions and putting the inmates at risk.

The lawsuit claims that inmates at the Central Detention Facility and a treatment center next door were showing symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, but were denied tests and had to wait days before they could get medical treatment.

It also accuses the jail of failing to provide free soap to inmates and moving the hand sanitizer so only staff can use it. The suit against the Corrections Department was filed Monday in U.S. District Court by the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Defender Service.

Read the full story.

How to stay healthy when bringing home groceries

NYC medical workers fearful, confused as protective equipment rationed

Medical workers at New York City hospitals describe fear, desperation and confusion as the coronavirus creates chaos in the health care system, with facilities rationing protective equipment and changing the playbook in unprecedented ways.

"You have all these things that keep changing every single day," said a medical resident who works at multiple public hospitals in Brooklyn. "It's very terrifying to be flying the plane at the same time you're building it."

There were nearly 45,000 coronavirus cases in New York City with more than 1,100 deaths as of early Wednesday. Some hospitals are overwhelmed as the state projects that the peak could be weeks away at the end of April.

Read the full story.

Social Security recipients won't have to file tax return to get stimulus check

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration backtracked Wednesday evening on new rules for getting stimulus checks, saying Social Security recipients won't have to file a tax return to receive a payment.

The move is a response to pressure from elderly Americans and senators to rescind guidance issued Monday that said seniors needed to file a return to get the checks of up to $1,200, even if they weren't ordinarily required to file taxes.

"We want to ensure that our senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and low-income Americans receive Economic Impact Payments quickly and without undue burden," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. 

Read the full story here.

Feds charge man with intentionally derailing train near USNS Mercy

LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors charged a locomotive engineer who worked at the Port of Los Angeles with intentionally derailing a train at full speed near the Navy hospital ship Mercy because of suspicions over its activities surrounding COVID-19, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro, California, was charged with one count under a little-known train-wrecking statute that carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in the incident Tuesday, according to the 10-page criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Moreno, who was held overnight, was turned over to FBI agents Wednesday morning.

Read the full story. 

Domestic violence calls up 21 percent, Seattle police say

Over the last month, the Seattle Police Department has seen a 21 percent increase in reported domestic violence cases, the department said Wednesday, while also urging people who need help and resources to seek them. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a "stay home, stay healthy" order on March 23 that requires residents to stay home as much as possible to slow the spread of the illness caused by the new coronavirus. 

Isolation from such orders can be devastating for domestic abuse survivors forced to shelter somewhere unsafe, experts have warned. 

"Life as we know it, has come to a halt, but #DomesticViolence has not," Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted Tuesday. He warned that there is no excuse for violence, which could escalate because of increased stress.

The NYPD has also warned that survivors of domestic violence may be experiencing increased isolation and danger while at home during the pandemic and assured people that the department is there to help. 

Trump admin orders suspension of personal protective gear shipments abroad

President Donald Trump at Wednesday's briefing denied that the U.S. Agency for International Development was ordered to suspend shipments of protective equipment, or PPE, abroad, saying it was “not true.”  But a USAID email obtained by NBC News makes clear that the administration has ordered a freeze on all shipments of personal protective gear overseas and that agency staff were told not to make public references to those shipments or post about them on social media.

The March 23 email titled, "Worldwide Pause on PPE Shipments and Outreach," from a senior USAID official sent out to communications officers and other staff members at the agency states: “There is a worldwide pause on PPE shipments. As such, we have been directed to hold on all communications (events, press releases, and social media) about PPE and USAID. Therefore, please do not post any further PPE photos on social media (either people in PPE or of our PPE shipments) given that many U.S. hospitals lack PPE.”

The hold on shipments comes amid desperate appeals from hospitals and state and local officials for protective equipment and accounts of shortages as the number of infections from the coronavirus continues to rise across the country.

The suspension described in last week's email still stands, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Tekashi 6ix9ine should be considered for early release because of coronavirus, judge says

The judge who sentenced the rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine to prison said Wednesday he would have ordered home confinement instead if he had known about the coronavirus in December.

U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer commented in a written order even as he rejected a lawyer's request that the 23-year-old performer, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, be confined at home for the remaining four months of his two-year prison term.  He cited Tekashi 6ix9ine's heightened vulnerability to the virus because he has asthma.

He said he didn't have legal authority to change the sentence, which prosecutors pointed out when they opposed the request.

Tekashi 6ix9ine's testimony against members of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang earned him leniency from charges that could have subjected him to a mandatory minimum 37 years in prison for crimes that included orchestrating a shooting in which an innocent bystander was wounded.

Read the full story here. 

George Washington University converts dorms to housing for healthcare workers fighting coronavirus

The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is packing up student belongings this week to free up dorm buildings, which will be used as temporary housing units for medical professionals treating COVID-19 patients.

According to an email sent to students on Friday, students are not allowed to pack up their own belongings.  Dorms will re-open by May to GW Medical Faculty Associates and GW Hospital staff who are unable to return home to their families during the pandemic. 

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced new temporary federal rules on Monday that allow hospitals to transfer patients and staff to outside facilities, such as dormitories or hotels, while still receiving hospital payments under Medicare.

George Washington University students have also received housing reimbursement credit in their student accounts, with the alternative option of a direct refund.

White House reporters block conservative network from coronavirus press briefings

The White House Correspondents' Association said Tuesday it's removing a news organization, reportedly a conservative outlet friendly to President Donald Trump, from rotation in the daily coronavirus press conferences in the White House briefing room.

The association cooperatively organizes coverage and last month began limiting reporters as a result of social distancing guidelines. The association made its announcement on Twitter, saying its board voted to remove a news outlet — which it did not name — from the room after its reporter twice violated rotation protocol.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Chanel Rion, a correspondent for San Diego-based One America News Network, was the reporter asked to leave. She said she was a guest of White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, according to the publication.

Rion was known for asking questions framed in a way that defended the administration and attacked critics of Trump. In March she asked the president, criticized for calling #coronavirus the "Chinese virus," if he thought using the term "Chinese food" is "racist because it is food that originated from China?"

Ohio health care company donating 2.2 million medical gowns to national stockpile

With demand for protective equipment in huge demand because of the coronavirus pandemic, Cardinal Health is donating 2.2 million medical gowns to the U.S. national stockpile, Sen. Rob Portman announced Wednesday.

The gowns are now being sent to coronavirus hots pots around the country, Portman's office said.

The gowns were recalled by the company in January because they were supposed to be surgical grade, but were made in a non-compliant plant in China. “Approximately 2.2 million gowns remain in our inventory from the voluntary recall, which was announced because the sterility of the gowns could not be assured for use in a surgical setting," Cardinal Health said in a statement.

Portman, R-Ohio, worked with the Trump administration to get waivers allowing the gowns to be used as non-surgical isolation apparel to help protect health care workers on the frontline.  

These devices can monitor coronavirus symptoms at home — but do you need one?

For many people who develop symptoms of the coronavirus, it's better to stay home than seek health care in person. But when you have a disease with so many unknowns, not having a nurse or doctor to monitor your condition can be nerve-wracking.

"Watch What Happens Live" host Andy Cohen told TODAY anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb the self-isolation and illness are enough to drive you "crazy." Cohen, 51, who has asthma, tested positive for COVID-19 almost two weeks ago.

Because of his underlying condition, he said his experience was "a little scary" before talking about a device his doctor recommended to help him track the severity of his symptoms. It's called a pulse oximeter.

Read the full story here.

More than 1,600 veterans test positive for coronavirus at VA, 53 deaths

Image: Robert Wilkie
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie speaks in the Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on Nov. 8, 2019.Andrew Harnik / AP file

As of Wednesday evening, the Department of Veterans Affairs has administered nearly 17,000 coronavirus tests, with 1,602 positive results.

The VA health system has recorded 53 deaths, an increase of 12 over Tuesday.

The VA location with the highest number of veteran deaths to date is New Orleans, with 13. The location with the second-highest number is New York City, with 12.

U.K. man charged by U.S. prosecutors with selling bogus coronavirus 'treatments'

This "cure" - later rebranded as "Trinity Mind, Body and Soul" - allegedly contained vitamin C, an enzyme mix, potassium thiocyanate, and hydrogen peroxide.
This "cure" - later rebranded as "Trinity Mind, Body and Soul" - allegedly contained vitamin C, an enzyme mix, potassium thiocyanate, and hydrogen peroxide.United States Attorney Central District of California

A British man was formally indicted by American prosecutors on Wednesday on charges of illegally smuggling a purported treatment for COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus. He was arrested in London on March 20 and remains in custody there. 

The suspect, Frank Richard Ludlow, hawked so-called “Trinity Remedy” kits, repackaging them as “Trinity COVID-19 SARS Antipathogenic Treatment.” Los Angeles-based federal prosecutors said in a statement that Ludlow sold these questionable “cures,” which allegedly contained “vitamin C, an enzyme mix, potassium thiocyanate, and hydrogen peroxide.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there are no federally-approved “drugs specifically for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.”   

According to the criminal affidavit, buyers were told to add 18 ounces of water, “say a prayer, drink half of the solution, take a probiotic along with bee pollen, and then ingest the remainder of the solution.” United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in the same statement that federal authorities are “aggressively investigating all types of criminal activity associated with the current health emergency.”

Trump says cartels exploiting pandemic, announces new counter-drug operation

The Trump administration's coronavirus task force announced Wednesday a counter-narcotics operation to combat drug trafficking amid the pandemic. 

President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House briefing that Defense Secretary Mark Esper will lead the effort. Esper said that the operation will begin immediately in the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. He said additional ships, aircraft, and forces will deploy to the region. 

Esper said criminal organizations are attempting to “capitalize” on coronavirus outbreak. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said U.S. intelligence came upon information “some time ago” that drug cartels are trying to take advantage of the pandemic. 

“We’re at war with COVID-19, we’re at war with terrorists, and we’re at war with the drug cartels as well," Milley said.

Attorney General Bill Barr said the Justice Department has had “successful visits and discussions” with Mexican officials about joint work towards combatting the cartels. Last week the department unsealed charges against the former president of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro Moros and several former members of his regime.

Arizona mayors slam stay-at-home order that allows hair salons to remain open

Image: Leslie Leach chose to shut down her salon, Styles by Leslie, two weeks ago amid her concerns about operating during the coronavirus outbreak.
Leslie Leach shut down her salon, Styles by Leslie, two weeks ago, concerned about operating during the coronavirus outbreak.Leslie Leach

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, is facing criticism from some of the state's mayors after the stay-at-home order he issued this week allowed hair salons, barbershops and golf courses to stay open. 

“There are gaping holes that you could drive a freight train through in this order,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, a Democrat, said. “This is not a stay-at-home order that encourages aggressive social distancing.”

Some hair salon owners have shut down their businesses anyway, worried that remaining open would endanger their clients' health as well as their own. 

Read the full story here. 

Watch: NBC News reporter reunites with young son after China quarantine

NBC News' Janis Mackey Frayer shared her heartwarming reunion with her young son after being away for 49 days covering the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Adam Schlesinger, Fountains of Wayne and 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' musician, dies of coronavirus at 52

2009 SXSW - Music And Media Conference - Day 4
Adam Schlesinger performs in concert at SXSW on March 21, 2009, in Austin, Texas.Jay West / WireImage file

Adam Schlesinger, a musician and songwriter highly regarded for his work as a member of Fountains of Wayne and an Emmy-winning songwriter for TV’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” has died as a result of coronavirus complications. He was 52.

Schlesinger had previously been reported Tuesday morning as “very sick and heavily sedated” by his attorney of 25 years, Josh Grier. Schlesinger has been in an upstate New York hospital for more than a week at that time, Grier said.

Read the full story here.

Death of 6-week-old baby in Connecticut linked to coronavirus

A newborn's death in Hartford, Connecticut, is believed to be to one of the youngest coronavirus-related deaths.

The 6-week-old baby from the Hartford area was brought to a hospital late last week and could not be revived, according to Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday. Lamont called the death heartbreaking, noting that it could be the youngest death globally due to complications with COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.

"This is a virus that attacks our most fragile without mercy," Lamont said on Twitter. "This also stresses the importance of staying home and limiting exposure to other people." 

Russian plane with coronavirus medical gear lands in U.S. after Trump-Putin call

MOSCOW/WASHINGTON - Russia sent the United States medical equipment on Wednesday to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, a public relations coup for Russian President Vladimir Putin after he discussed the crisis with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump, struggling to fill shortages of ventilators and personal protective equipment, accepted Putin's offer in a phone call on Monday. A Russian military transport plane left an airfield outside Moscow and arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy airport in late afternoon on Wednesday.

Russian plane carrying medical equipment lands in New York City
A Russian Aerospace Forces plane carrying medical equipment lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport on April 1, 2020.TASS / TASS


Emergency aid to Washington was a striking development. Usually, the United States donates supplies to embattled countries rather than accepting them. The origin of the gift was bound to revive criticism from Democrats that Trump has been too cozy with the Russian leader.

"Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was cited as saying by the Interfax news agency on Tuesday. Trump himself spoke enthusiastically about the Russian help after his call with Putin.

Click here for the full story.

'South Dakota is not New York City': Governor defends lack of shutdown measures

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Wednesday defended not implementing tougher shutdown precautions in her state, saying "South Dakota is not New York City."

Noem said the rural nature of the state - which has 129 cases of coronavirus and two deaths as of Wednesday - means residents don't have to follow a "herd mentality."

"Don't get focused on national news. Focus on what you see in your communities," the first-term Republican said, adding the social distancing practices already in place mean “we have been able to bend the curve a great deal” and “we’ve been able to slow down the spread significantly.”

Noem has encouraged, but not ordered, residents to follow the CDC's coronavirus guidelines and cautioned the state likely won't hit its peak infection rate until August. "We are slowing it down," she said. 

Joe Exotic from Netflix's 'Tiger King' is in coronavirus quarantine, his husband says

Joe Maldonado,Joe Schreibvoge Maldonado
Joseph Maldonado answers a question during an interview at the zoo he runs in Wynnewood, Okla. on Aug. 28, 2013.Sue Ogrocki / AP file

Joseph Maldonado-Passage — better known as Joe Exotic, the subject of Netflix’s wildly popular “Tiger King” docu-series — is in self-isolation on a coronavirus quarantine, his husband said in an interview Wednesday.

Speaking to Andy Cohen on SiriusXM, Dillon Passage said Maldonado-Passage, who is serving 22 years in prison in a murder-for-hire scheme, was placed in isolation because inmates at a jail where he’d been held tested positive for the virus.

Read the full story here. 

Mississippi and Georgia issue shelter-in-place orders

The governors of both Mississippi and Georgia announced new shelter-in-place orders for their states as the number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. nears 4,000. 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that he plans to sign an order requiring residents to shelter-in-place from Friday through April 13 and another closing public grade schools for the rest of the academic year. Kemp is expected to sign both orders Thursday, according to NBC affiliate WXIA.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a similar order that will go into effect beginning Friday evening. Reeves said Wednesday that he understands many fear what this will mean for their livelihoods, but the short term goal is to reduce the impact on the healthcare system and prevent the virus' spread.

"We are here for you and working hard to help," Reeves said. "Mississippi will not allow you to fall without a hand to help you back up.”

Netanyahu tells Israelis to limit Passover celebrations, wear masks in public

Image: FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he delivers a statement during his visit at the Health Ministry national hotline, in Kiryat Malachi, Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Health Ministry on March 1.Amir Cohen / Reuters file

All Israelis should wear face masks while in public as a precaution against the coronavirus, and upcoming Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays should be marked only with immediate family, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

In televised remarks, Netanyahu also announced curbs on movement around an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town that has experienced a disproportionately large outbreak.

"We ask you, citizens of Israel, all of you, to wear masks in the public sphere,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu said the government would give Israeli families 500 shekels per child, up to a maximum of four children. The elderly would also receive 500 shekels, Netanyahu said, terming all the payments a "Passover gift."

Those stipends would cost the state a total of 1.5 billion shekels, public broadcaster Kan estimated.

Netanyahu also said Israel's majority Jews must mark Passover "with the nuclear family only," adding that including elderly relatives in celebrations "would be to endanger them".

Warren calls on UberEats, Instacart and others to reclassify workers as employees

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Wednesday called on the CEOs of major online food delivery services to reclassify its workers as employees rather than independent contractors to expand access to benefits amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Warren sent letters DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and Instacart stating that by "continuing to misclassify these workers as independent contractors, the food delivery companies exclude their workers from critical labor rights and protections." 

"Delivery workers are experiencing serious health and economic vulnerabilities as a result of their jobs, and your company is failing to provide appropriate and necessary protections," Warren wrote. "I urge you to reclassify your delivery workers as employees, rather than independent contractors, and ensure they are provided a full suite of employee protections and benefits." 

Warren said each company should guarantee at least 14 days of paid leave time, provide protective equipment at no cost to all delivery workers, pay delivery workers a guaranteed minimum wage including additional hazard pay for working during the outbreak and share driver wage data with states so workers can access unemployment benefits. 

Dow closes with decline of 950 points as coronavirus continues to shake markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down by around 950 points on Wednesday, as markets continued to reel from President Donald Trump's stark warning that the U.S. could be facing "hell."

All three major averages saw sell-offs on the first trading day of the second quarter, with the S&P and Nasdaq lower by around 4.4 percent. Wednesday’s performance comes on the heels of one of the worst quarters in stock market history.

Attention now turns to Thursday's jobless claims, which last week showed a staggering 3.28 million Americans had filed for unemployment.

Read the full story here. 

13 deaths at Massachusetts veterans home under investigation

Image: The Holyoke Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Mass.
The Holyoke Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Mass., in 2018.Patrick Johnson / The Republican via AP file

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday he hired an attorney to investigate the deaths of 13 residents at a veterans home hit by coronavirus.

"The investigation will focus both on the events inside the facility that led to the tragic deaths of veterans in the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, and on management and organizational oversight of the COVID-19 response in the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home," Baker said in a statement. 

Six of the residents who died at the facility tested positive for the coronavirus, according to state health officials.

Test results for five other residents who have died at the soldiers' home in Holyoke, about 90 miles west of Boston, are pending, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse said Tuesday. Morse said every employee and resident of the facility will be tested for the virus.

The superintendent of the facility has been placed on administrative leave, Morse said. 

U.S. Navy: 93 sailors positive for COVID-19 on aircraft carrier; 2,700 will disembark ship

Ninety-three sailors have tested positive for COVID-19 on the USS Teddy Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, senior Navy officials announced Wednesday. Eighty-six of the 93 sailors have symptoms.

The ship’s leadership is testing all of the more than 4,000 sailors on board. So far they have tested 24 percent of the crew (over 1,200 people) and received just under half the results, the vast majority of them negative. No sailors have required hospitalization.

More than 1,000 sailors have departed the ship and are in isolation in Guam. The Navy expects to have 2,700 off the ship in the next few days likely by Friday, most going to hotels in Guam. Officials said they need to keep some sailors on the aircraft carrier to maintain it, especially the nuclear reactor and the weapons systems.

The USS Teddy Roosevelt remains the only navy ship at sea with a coronavirus outbreak.

N.J. may need refrigerated trucks due to rising death toll

The governor of New Jersey said Wednesday they may need refrigerated trucks to store bodies after 91 people died in the last 24 hours from the coronavirus, the biggest one-day jump since the crisis began.

“The fact that we’re having this conversation folks, this is real,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

As of Wednesday, the death toll in the Garden State was 355 with a total of 22,255 cases reported. Murphy said they were worried about running out of morgue space if this death toll continues to rise at this rate.

FEMA announced on Tuesday is was sending refrigerated truck to neighboring New York State.

Nursing homes overwhelmed by coronavirus

Image: Nursing homes are struggling with a lack of personal protective equipment as they care for vulnerable residents.
Nursing homes are struggling with a lack of personal protective equipment as they care for vulnerable residents.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; AP; Reuters

At five nursing homes in the New York area run by ArchCare, staff are running out of protective gear, stretching single-use masks for days and wearing rain ponchos and beautician gowns. 

More than 200 of ArchCare’s 1,700 nursing home residents are infected with the coronavirus, and more than 20 have died, said  Scott LaRue, president and CEO of the company. At least 10 staff members are also infected, with one in the hospital on a ventilator.

The risks are so serious that LaRue is advising family members to pull residents out if feasible. “If you have the ability to take your loved one home, and that’s possible, I would encourage you to do so,” he said. “There will be better isolation and better limited contact in a home than there would be in a nursing home.”

Read the full story here. 

Central Park tent hospital admits first COVID-19 patient

field hospital built in Central Park for people with coronavirus admitted its first COVID-19 patient on Wednesday as the death tolls in New York City continue to climb.

The 14-tent, 68-bed hospital in Central Park, near Mount Sinai Hospital, is staffed by 60 to 70 medical professionals from Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian humanitarian organization. It will include a makeshift intensive care unit with 10 beds, each with its own ventilator, and is one of at least three temporary medical facilities planned for New York City landmarks amid the pandemic.

Samaritan's Purse was praised for building an overflow hospital for Mount Sinai’s overcrowded Manhattan facilities in just a few days, but has drawn concerns because it is run by an antigay evangelist, Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham.

In New York City, 47,439 people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, and the state has reported 1,941 deaths.

Major Cities In The U.S. Adjust To Restrictive Coronavirus Measures
A temporary hospital in Central Park's East Meadow on March 31, 2020 in New York.Noam Galai / Getty Images

'Wicked' and 'Minions' movies delayed

“Wicked” fans are going to have to wait even longer to see Stephen Daldry's film adaptation of the popular Broadway musical. Universal Pictures on Wednesday announced that another handful of theatrical release dates are shifting due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has bumped “Wicked” off the calendar entirely for the moment.

The studio said that “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” which was unable to be finished for its planned summer 2020 release because of the outbreak, is being pushed back a year to July 2021. "Sing 2" will now come out on “Wicked's” original date of December 22, 2021.

Universal says that “Wicked” will be restored to the release calendar at a later time. NBC News and Universal Studios are both owned by NBCUniversal. 

Justin Bieber postpones all 2020 'Changes' tour dates

Singer Justin Bieber today announced he is postponing all 2020 tour dates for his "Changes" tour in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"The health and safety of my fans, team, cast and crew is the most important thing for me," Bieber wrote on Twitter. "The world is a scary place but we will all figure this out together. We held on to these dates as long as we could and I cannot wait to see all of you in person as soon as I can."

Bieber asked fans in a statement to hold on to their tickets and that information on rescheduled dates will come soon.

10 people in New Jersey charged for violating coronavirus order with engagement party

Ten adults, including a 99-year-old man, were charged Tuesday after police in New Jersey shut down an engagement party that violated the state's order against social gatherings, authorities said.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., police in Lakewood Township, near the Jersey Shore, were called to a residence on a report of a social gathering, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and police Chief Gregory Meyer said in a joint statement.

The homeowners who hosted the gathering, an engagement party, Yaakov Kaufman, 47, and Eti Kaufman, 45, were charged with six counts of child endangerment for each of their children who was in attendance and with violating any rule or regulation adopted by the governor during a state of emergency. 

Eight other Lakewood residents at the engagement party were also charged with violating any rule or regulation adopted by the governor during a state of emergency.

Read the full story here. 

157 crew members for Royal Caribbean ship docked in France test positive for coronavirus

More than 150 crew members on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in France tested positive for coronavirus.

The French prefecture of Loire-Atlantique announced that 157 crew members on board the Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Apex cruise ship have tested positive for COVID-19. No passengers were on board the ship, and it was set to make its maiden voyage in March.

Not all crew members have been tested yet, and complete numbers are expected next week. The ship carried 28 American crew members and 15 non-crew Royal Caribbean employees. The number of Americans who have tested positive is unclear, and Loire-Atlantique did not disclose the number of crew members who were hospitalized.

The ship has been divided into four groups: people who are sick and have tested positive, people who have come in contact with sick people, people who came in contact with those who have had contact with sick people and people who have had no contact in that chain. Those on the ship who exhibit symptoms or have tested positive are confined to their cabins, and everyone else on board remains on the ship. The Celebrity Apex has been disinfected. 

West Virginia presidential primary delayed until June

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday the state's primary will be delayed until June because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The primary, which was scheduled for May 12, will now be held on June 9, Justice told reporters. He said President Donald Trump's "very, very grim" remarks at the White House on Tuesday that over 200,000 Americans could die from the virus influenced his decision. 

"I was absolutely hopeful and very supportive of trying to do our election on May the 12th," but now it's become "ever so apparent that that's just absolutely the wrong thing to do," Justice said.

"At the end of the day I want this to be the biggest turnout of all time because all of us should treasure the opportunity and privilege to vote."

The state, which was the last in the country to report a confirmed case of the virus, had 191 positive cases as of Wednesday, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.  

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Wednesday confirmed 29 new cases of COVID-19 have been officially reported to the state, making the total positive case count 191.


After weeks of resistance, Florida governor issues stay-at-home order

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state as it grapples with a rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The order goes into effect Thursday at midnight and will last for at least 30 days, DeSantis said at a briefing on Wednesday. DeSantis had been previously criticized for refusing to implement statewide social distancing guidelines, particularly as beach-goers and students on spring break continued to gather in large groups.

The governor said "it makes sense to do this now" after President Donald Trump announced earlier this week that the administration is extending its social distancing guidelines another 30 days. DeSantis, a Republican, said he took that as a "signal" from the president that this need to be done in the state.

The state has seen nearly 7,000 coronavirus cases and 87 deaths, according to the state health department.

Pennsylvania placed under statewide stay-at-home order

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf placed his entire state under a stay-at-home order on Wednesday in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The move, which now includes all 67 counties, comes as state health officials reported its largest single-day increase of more than 960 new cases, bringing Pennsylvania's total to 5,805. At least 74 people have died.

Wolf, a Democrat, has called for residents to remain home except for essential trips. The Pennsylvania State Police also said it will no longer respond in person to some types of calls, including for lost and found items, littering, identity theft and general requests to speak to a trooper.

Cuomo closes NYC playgrounds, says more than 83,000 test positive

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said he would be closing playgrounds in New York City since people in those spaces were continuing to violate social distancing guidelines. Open spaces in parks would remain open so that people could "walk around and get some sun," while keeping six feet apart, Cuomo said. 

Other announcements by Cuomo include:

  • New York hospitals would be working together to share equipment and staff, and even shift patients when need be. 
  • 83,172 people have tested positive for coronavirus, an increase of 7,917 statewide since Tuesday. More than 47,000 of those cases are in New York City. 
  • Nearly 400 more people have died in the state since the day before, bringing the toll to 1,941 deaths. 
  • The number of hospitalized people increased from 10,929 to 12,226. About 300 more people were in intensive care, but 1,167 were discharged.

Senators urge people to wear homemade face masks

A pair of senators are urging Americans to begin wearing homemade masks to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in order to flatten the curve and buy the U.S. more time to develop an effective treatment.

“If people need to be out in public, and they're likely to interact with other people, some kind of base covering will help to reduce the rate of transmission. It'll reduce the risk of infecting someone,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., told reporters on a conference call Wednesday with Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo.

They said that people should wear homemade face masks like a scarf or bandana and to leave N95 masks to medical professionals. 

People who have no symptoms should wear a face mask because the virus can be transmitted by asymptomatic people, added Toomey, who said he spoke to President Donald Trump Tuesday about their push for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue new guidance on masks. The current guidance advises that only sick people or those caring for a sick person wear masks.

Bennett added, "it is awkward to walk around wearing a mask when everybody else is not wearing one. I think that's part of the reason why it's important for the CDC to weigh in here because it'll give everybody a sense of what their responsibility is to each other."

San Francisco Bay Area health officers extend stay-at-home order through May 3

Seven San Francisco Bay Area jurisdictions will extend their stay-at-home orders through May 3, Santa Clara County said in a press release.

The prior order would have expired April 7, but health officers said in a press release that while it had helped reduce the rate of transmission, coronavirus cases in the area have risen and are straining healthcare resources. 

“Extending the stay-at-home order should reduce the number of sick patients seeking care at one time, giving us time to acquire more medical supplies for providers who will be providing care to people sick with COVID-19,” Contra Costa County health officer Chris Farnitano said in the press release.

The order indicates that people in the Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties and the city of Berkeley must stay home, but can leave for essential needs such as grocery shopping. Non-essential businesses must remain closed.

Restaurant owners demand insurance companies pay up

A group of chefs including Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Wolfgang Puck is calling for insurance companies to pay out to help prevent hundreds of small businesses and restaurants from closing.

While some business interruption insurance clearly states that insurers "will not pay for loss or damage caused by or resulting from any virus, bacterium or other microorganism that induces or is capable of inducing physical distress, illness or disease," even restaurants whose coverage does not contain that specific disclaimer say their claims are being denied. 

Without an insurance payout, a vast number of restaurants across the country will not be able to reopen  and rehire staff, and some owners say they may have to close for good. 

“We need insurance companies to do the right thing and save millions of jobs," said Keller, who oversees a dozen restaurants.

6,100 NYPD officers call out sick

The number of New York City police officers calling out sick continues to climb, with about 6,100 of them, or about 17 percent of the entire department, staying home on Wednesday, officials said.

The NYPD has been hampered by the coronavirus, and Chief of the Department Terrance Monahan said more than 1,400 of its members, mostly uniformed and some civilian, have tested positive for COVID-19. Four civilian employees and one detective have died after contracting the virus so far.

The nation's largest police force is now implementing their plan to have administrative and narcotics officers out in patrol cars to fill the void.

Man wanted cops to shoot him because he may have coronavirus, NYPD says

Police shot a New York City man after he advanced on them with a gun early Wednesday morning in the Bronx, according to senior New York Police Department officials. The man later told investigators in a post-shooting interview at the hospital he was positive for COVID-19 and wanted the cops to shoot and kill him, according to the NYPD.

"This was apparently attempted suicide by police officer," Chief of Department Terence Monahan said. "He is overweight, has diabetes, he thought he was gonna die so he wanted the cops to shoot and kill him."

The man advanced on officers in the Bronx just before 4:00 a.m. with a black powder pistol. He was shot and struck in the hip and back after officers repeatedly told him to drop his weapon, according to police. The incident was recorded on police body cameras and the man, who has not been identified, is expected to survive.

'Star Wars' actor Andrew Jack dies of coronavirus at 76

SYDNEY — "Star Wars" actor Andrew Jack has died in Britain as a result of coronavirus, his agent said on Wednesday. He was 76.

The actor, who also worked as a dialect coach, died in a hospital in Surrey on Tuesday, Jack’s agent Jill McCullough said in a statement.

Jack appeared in “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” as General Ematt, as well as “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.”

Image: Andrew Jack
Andrew Jack in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.Lucasfilm / Disney

Photo: British Spider-Man entertains kids stuck at home

Jason Baird performs for local children dressed as Spider-Man in Stockport, Britain.
Children watch Jason Baird from their window in Stockport, Britain, on Wednesday. Phil Noble / Reuters

Wimbledon canceled over coronavirus concerns

This year's Wimbledon tennis tournament was cancelled on Wednesday due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic. 

Organizers announced that the tournament, which was scheduled to take place in London, U.K., between Jun. 29 and Jul. 12, will instead be staged next summer. 

A number of major sporting events and matches had to be cancelled or postponed in recent weeks over coronavirus concerns, the biggest being the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo

Second federal inmate dies after contracting coronavirus at Louisiana prison

A second federal inmate has died after contracting the coronavirus at a prison in Louisiana grappling with a surge of cases among prisoners and staffers, officials said.

The Bureau of Prisons confirmed the death of an inmate who was held at a low-security prison in Oakdale, but a spokesman said he was unable to provide further information pending family notification.

The death comes four days after another Oakdale inmate, Patrick Jones, succumbed to COVID-19. Jones was the first federal inmate to die after contracting the virus.

According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Prisons, seven Oakdale inmates and three staffers have tested positive for the virus. But earlier this week officials said Oakdale inmates presumed to have COVID-19 are no longer being tested in order to conserve resources. Prison union leaders say at least nine inmates and 10 staffers have tested positive. 

The Bureau of Prisons on Tuesday said it will keep all federal inmates locked up in their cells for the next 14 days in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

Pennsylvania county facing the coronavirus crisis without a health department

When the Democrats swept into power in November in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, for the first time since the Civil War, one of the first things on their agenda was to create an agency the county has never had — a health department.

With a population of more than 560,000, this densely packed collection of towns west of Philadelphia is one of the largest counties in the country without its own health department, and it has to rely on nearby counties and the already overextended state services headquartered two hours away in the state capital, Harrisburg.

Monica Taylor, who is vice chair of the County Council and holds a doctorate in exercise physiology, said that because the county doesn't have a health department, it is limited in its ability to help people who suspect that they caught the coronavirus or test them for it or to track down people who were in contact with them.

Read the full story here

Richard Engel on the biggest coronavirus headlines

Surgeon general says coronavirus death toll projections are 'sobering'

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday that projections presented by the White House a day earlier estimating that coronavirus could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans are “sobering.”

In an interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show, host Savannah Guthrie referred to the projection that, at the low range of the estimate, 100,000 people in the U.S. could die by mid-June, adding that 4,000 have succumbed to the illness so far. She asked Adams whether the country could see 96,000 people dying over the next several weeks.

“Those projections are definitely sobering, but they don’t have to be our reality,” Adams said in response.

Read the full story here.

Tracking coronavirus cases in hot spots across the United States

As U.S. authorities and medical personnel work to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the number of total cases is growing across the country at different rates. The factors are many, from when the disease first broke out in a place to the testing capabilities and the different stay-at-home orders in each state.

With thousands of cases being confirmed every day in New York, the state is the epicenter of the nation’s crisis and on a different scale from the rest of the country. NBC News will be updating the data in these charts, which show the per-day count of confirmed cases in each state, between 6 and 7 p.m. ET every day.

Read the full story here.

U.K. registers 563 new deaths

The U.K. registered another spike in the number of new deaths on Wednesday.

Health officials reported 563 new deaths from the coronavirus, 182 more than the day before, bringing the toll to 2,352. 

More than 4,300 new infections were recorded, with the cumulative number of cases now standing at 29,474. 

Global Update on the coronavirus pandemic with Willem Marx

Global death toll jumps significantly in past 24 hours

The global death toll from the coronavirus has jumped significantly in the past 24 hours. 

Shortly before 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, the global death toll was nearing 38,000. On Wednesday at around the same time, it was more than 43,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Italy and Spain account for nearly half of the global total fatalities, recording more than 21,400 deaths combined.

Cruise ship passengers desperately plead with Florida to allow them in

Andrea Anderson and others aboard the MS Zaandam are begging Florida officials to let them dock after having been rejected by by Chile, Peru and Argentina, which all sealed their ports amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“I don’t know if they are going to accept us, I hope they do,” said Anderson, 63, a fiber artist from Maineville, Ohio. “We need to get off this ship.”

Four people have died on the ship, at least two from the coronavirus, nine others have tested positive and 179 others are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Read the full story here.

Home of the U.S. Open turns from tennis court to hospital

The home of the U.S. Open, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (NTC) in New York City, is preparing to turn into a 350-bed hospital, the U.S. Tennis Association said on Wednesday. 

The 12 courts at the NTC's indoor training center will provide almost 100,000 square feet of supplemental hospital space, officials said.

“It’s an incredibly small part, but it’s the least we can do,” Danny Zausner, the NTC's Chief Operating Officer, said in a statement. New York City continues to be among the hardest-hit places in the United States during the coronavirus outbreak.

New York cancels spring break, orders remote learning to continue

The New York education department has canceled spring break for all public school districts in the state, ordering remote learning to continue during the scheduled time off.

“Districts must continue to provide remote instruction for students, meals for students, and child care for essential workers every weekday between April 1, 2020, and April 14, 2020, even if the district is scheduled to be on spring break during that time,” the education department said in a statement.

In New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, public schools have been shuttered through at least April 20. Spring break was scheduled to take place between April 9 and April 17; it will now only span April 9 and April 10, covering part of Passover and Good Friday.

The move was made to help keep families at home and avoid the spread of the coronavirus, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said in a video posted on Tuesday night.

Sounds of our time? People around the world share recordings during coronavirus lockdowns

Birds chirping in New York City, rainfall in India and clapping for health care workers in Belfast — those are just a few of the sounds collected on a website that is crowdsourcing audio of the coronavirus lockdowns from across the globe. 

Cities and Memories, run by U.K.-based sound artist Stuart Fowkes, is undertaking a global collaborative project to document a unique social moment and has received contributions from people staying home in more than 70 countries.

"The world hasn’t sounded quite like this during our lifetimes," writes Fawkes on the site. "Whether it’s something simple like less traffic, or how you can hear more birdsong and wildlife, through to how people are coming together through song and music."

The project has sparked interest online with #StayHomeSounds garnering support and organizers urging people to submit their recordings but cautioning avid listeners not to defy lockdown rules to go outside.

For China's overworked IT professionals, coronavirus lockdown means longer days

For Chinese information technology workers who already had to grapple with punishing work schedules, coronavirus lockdowns across the country have meant increased workloads, higher expectations from bosses and colleagues and ever more blurred boundaries between work and personal life.

China's IT industry already had a notorious "996" work culture, in which people work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. But some describe the current working-from-home mode as closer to "007" — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And the extra overtime is unpaid.

Read the full story here.

Swedish airline crews retrain to help hospitals fight coronavirus

Airline crews in Sweden, grounded by the coronavirus outbreak, are training in basic hospital duties to help plug gaps in the Swedish healthcare system, Reuters reports. 

Cabin crew from the crisis-hit Scandinavian airline SAS, are learning new skills such as sterilizing equipment, making hospital beds and providing information to patients and their relatives.

Sweden is among the few European countries that has defied lockdown trends but healthcare officials in Stockholm have scrambled to set up a temporary hospital in a convention center and warned of a lack of staff and safety equipment to meet the crisis.

New London hospital opens to treat thousands of COVID-19 patients

Putin works from home after possible coronavirus exposure

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now practicing social distancing and working remotely after a doctor who met with him last week tested positive for coronavirus, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Dr. Denis Protsenko met Putin for a tour of the Kummunarka Hospital, Moscow's main coronavirus treatment center. On Tuesday, he said had tested positive for coronavirus and was working remotely from his isolated office. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters said that Putin would conduct his first teleconference meeting Wednesday afternoon, and that the meeting would be live streamed for all to see.

Humanitarian bodies push for protection of refugees, stateless during crisis

International humanitarian organizations warned that the health of refugees, migrants and stateless people must be protected during the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. 

As countries close down borders, migrants and refugees must be ensured equal access to health services and be included in national responses to COVID-19, the United Nations' refugee agency, the World Health Organization and the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.

The organizations said that unsanitary conditions in overcrowded camps, makeshift shelters and detention centers, is a cause for worry.

Spain sets grim record for daily death toll as cases top 100,000

Spain reached two grim milestones on Wednesday as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections passed 100,000, and the number of deaths in one day reached a new high, the Health Ministry reported. 

The spike of 864 fatalities has brought the country's death toll to 9,053, while the total confirmed cases have risen to 102,136. Spain's death toll is second highest in the world following Italy, while the number of people infected is behind only the U.S. and Italy.

The rate of new infections had slowed from the previous day, suggesting that the spread of the virus is stabilizing.

Loss of smell, taste strong predictors for COVID-19, U.K. researchers find

The loss of smell and taste has been reported by as many as 59 percent of coronavirus patients in the United Kingdom, signaling it could be a strong predictor of the disease, according to research by King's College London. 

The findings shared with NBC News on Wednesday are based on data submitted between March 24 and 29 to a tracking app launched by the university to better understand COVID-19. Loss of smell and taste has been increasingly reported by patients worldwide, but are not yet considered key symptoms by the World Health Organization pending more evidence.

Other indicators of the virus include tiredness and fatigue that was reported by 53 percent of people, a persistent cough among nearly 29 percent of respondents, shortness of breath among 28 percent of respondents and fever among 10.5 percent of respondents.

Strong social distancing on display at Japan's Defense Ministry

Image: New employees of Japan's Defense Ministry sit on chairs spaced apart for social distancing as they watch a video message of Defense Minister Taro Kono during a ceremony in Tokyo on Wednesday.
New employees of Japan's Defense Ministry sit on chairs spaced apart for social distancing as they watch a video message of Defense Minister Taro Kono during a ceremony in Tokyo on Wednesday.Jiji Press / AFP - Getty Images

Saudi Arabia urges Muslim pilgrims to put off making plans for Hajj

Image: Muslim worshipers in March circled the sacred Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site.
Muslim worshipers in March circled the sacred Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site.AFP - Getty Images

Saudi Arabia has told Muslim pilgrims around the world to hold off on making arrangements to attend the annual Hajj pilgrimage, set to take place in July, while the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

"Saudi Arabia cares for the health of all Muslims coming to the Kingdom therefore we have asked Islamic countries not to issue Hajj contracts yet until the situation becomes clear," the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah tweeted on Tuesday.

The annual pilgrimage to Mecca last year attracted about 2.5 million people from countries around the world.

Wuhan shoppers find new ways of buying food as COVID-19 restrictions ease

China releases data on coronavirus patients with no symptoms

China reported 130 new coronavirus cases who aren't showing symptoms but risk spreading the disease, as part of new data being released as of Wednesday on asymptomatic patients.

There are a total of 1,367 asymptomatic patients under clinical observation, which despite the new cases, is down by 174 people from the previous day, according to health officials. There were also 36 new confirmed cases of people infected with COVID-19, 35 of which had traveled abroad. 

The new data comes as China begins to lift lockdown measures at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, where residents fear a resurgence of the disease.

Sweden defies lockdown trend, bets on citizens acting responsibly

Image: Stockholm residents out in the city on Saturday.
Stockholm residents out in the city on Saturday.Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP - Getty Images

Sweden has bucked with the government leaving it up to individuals to act responsibly and decide whether to stay home or not. Restrictions that are in place are far more liberal compared with those of the nation's neighbors.

Public gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited but there are no restrictions on private meetings, meaning parties and corporate events can still go ahead. Libraries and swimming pools remain open.

The authorities have instead advised the public to practice social distancing and to work from home, where possible, and urged those over the age of 70 to self-isolate as a precaution. In other words, the country has staked its bets on people acting responsibly.

Read the full story.

Coronavirus greatest test since creation of U.N., says Guterres

Image: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in February at the opening of the U.N. Human Rights Council's main annual session in Geneva.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in February at the opening of the U.N. Human Rights Council's main annual session in Geneva.Fabrice Coffrini / AFP - Getty Images file

The head of the United Nations António Guterres warned on Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic is the "greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations.”

The U.N. Secretary-General called for "global solidarity," underscoring that developed countries must help less developed ones bear the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 or “face the nightmare of the disease spreading like wildfire in the global South." 

“Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world”, he said, launching a report on Tuesday. The U.N. was "fully mobilized" to support countries with issues from unemployment, debt alleviation to health systems, he added.

Russia sends plane loaded with medical supplies to the U.S.

A Russian military transport plane departed Moscow this morning for the U.S., loaded with medical supplies to assist in the fight against coronavirus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered the supplies in a phone call with President Donald Trump on Monday, the U.S. president said at a press conference later that day. On Wednesday Russia loaded up a large An-124 cargo plane — the Russian military’s largest — and dispatched it to the U.S.

The move is seen by some as a propaganda stunt amid reports of mask shortages in stores across Russia as new case numbers continue to grow and cities go into lockdown. As of Tuesday, Russian health officials had reported 2,337 cases and 17 deaths.

Italy's epidemic approaching 'plateau,' health official says

Italy's coronavirus outbreak is approaching a plateau, proving lockdown measures to stop the spread of the virus are working, the head of the country's National Institute of Health said on Tuesday.

“The plateau is the stage in which the contagion remains stable for a certain period," Silvio Brusaferro said in a press conference on Tuesday. "Today the contagion index is at 1. It means that every person infects another one. We have to wait for this index to go under 1 and to approach the zero level."

Brusaferro warned it doesn't mean that the nation, which has seen more than 12,000 deaths from the virus, can lower its guard, adding that it's "difficult to imagine a cancelation of the restrictive measures in the short term”.

CNN's Chris Cuomo completes show from basement after testing positive

A bleary-eyed Chris Cuomo, saying he wanted to be a cautionary tale for his audience, anchored his CNN show from his basement Tuesday after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Via remote link, he interviewed Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, an emergency room nurse and CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who expressed worry about one of Cuomo’s symptoms.

“Brace yourself,” Cuomo told viewers, “not for a hoax. But for the next few weeks of scary and painful realities. This is a fight. It’s going to get worse. We’re going to suffer.”

Cuomo looked pale, his eyes watery and red-rimmed. He took a few deep breaths to compose himself. He repeated himself. Even Gupta said he didn’t look good, and said he’d call later to talk about a tightness Cuomo was feeling in his chest.

Read the full story here

In Turkmenistan, people who talk about coronavirus face arrest

MOSCOW — An international media freedom watchdog says the autocratic ex-Soviet nation of Turkmenistan has banned the media from using the word “coronavirus.”

Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday the word also has been removed from health information brochures distributed in schools, hospitals and workplaces. The gas-rich Central Asian nation that neighbors Iran so far has reported no cases of the new coronavirus. Iran has reported more than 44,000 cases.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said people wearing face masks or talking about the coronavirus are liable to be arrested by plainclothes police. Ranked last in the group’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, Turkmenistan is one of the world’s most closed countries.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has ruled the country since 2006 through an all-encompassing personality cult that styles him as Turkmenistan’s “arkadaq,” or protector.

Biden suggests there may not be physical Democratic convention

There may not be a physical Democratic national convention this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden suggested Tuesday.

"It's hard to envision that," Biden told MSNBC's Brian Williams when asked whether he could see prominent Democrats from around the county gathering in an arena for the convention, which is scheduled for July.

Conventions, primaries and elections have been held during times of national crisis in the past, said Biden, who said officials should listen to the scientists when making decisions. 

"The fact is, it may have to be different," Biden said. "My guess is, there's going to be a great deal more absentee balloting, we used to call it, but paper ballots." He also said that the situation could change by then.

Biden has had a surge of primary victories, but his rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is still in the race.  Sanders earlier this week told "Late Night" host Seth Myers that "there is a path" to the nomination, though "admittedly a narrow path."