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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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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

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

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.

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.

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'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

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

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.