Americans warned not to travel, Italy death toll surpasses China's

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Image: A woman walks through the nearly empty Times Square subway station in New York on Thursday.
A woman walks through the nearly empty Times Square subway station in New York on Thursday.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

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The U.S. State Department on Thursday warned Americans to no longer travel abroad, and urged those already abroad to return, for fear they may become stranded as other countries increasingly lock down in the coronavirus pandemic.

Italy has surpassed China in total deaths connected to the coronavirus, with the country reporting 3,405 fatalities as of Thursday afternoon Eastern Time.

For the first time since the global coronavirus outbreak began, China has reported no new domestic cases of the illness.

Only eight deaths were reported for Wednesday, all of which occurred in Hubei province, which includes the city of Wuhan where the pandemic started. Globally, the number of coronavirus cases has topped 200,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Efforts to contain the spread of the virus in the U.S. and Europe have brought life in many major cities to a standstill, and governments are launching a variety of aid packages meant to alleviate the worst of the economic impact.

Markets were calmer on Thursday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing slightly up by around 200 points.

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Up to 20,000 U.K. military personnel to go on standby

The U.K.’s Ministry of Defense will double the size of the military’s civil contingency unit to create a 20,000-strong “COVID Support Force,” the defense secretary announced on Wednesday.

An additional 10,000 troops will be added to the already 10,000 held at "higher readiness" in case of a civil emergency, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said. Reserves are also on standby to support public services.

The U.K. will also close schools until further notice starting Friday, and new measures were introduced Thursday across London's transport network in an attempt to contain the spread.

"People should not be traveling, by any means, unless they really, really have to," London Mayor Sadiq Khan said. There were more than 2,600 confirmed cases in the U.K. as of Thursday.

San Francisco, ordered to shelter in place, faces uneasy life in lockdown

San Francisco’s tourism industry has ground to a halt and some restaurants closed as residents wondered about the future amid orders to “shelter in place.” 

"Everything is out of our control," Trish Tracey said in her shuttered restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. She does not know when it will reopen.

San Francisco and surrounding counties are days into the restrictions, which involve millions of people being told to stay home and stay put except for essential needs such as shopping for groceries, getting medications, caring for others and exercising.

San Francisco is an early test of what the rest of the U.S. may see in the coming days as mayors and governors curtail daily life to try to slow the spread of the virus.

Read the full story here.

Las Vegas airport tower closed after controller tests positive

The air traffic control tower at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport has been temporarily closed after a controller tested presumptively positive for the coronavirus, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said.

The Las Vegas Terminal Radar Approach Control assumed control of the airspace and the airport remains open, but operations will continue at a reduced rate until the situation is resolved. 

The air traffic controller tested presumptively positive for the virus, which causes the illness COVID-19, on Wednesday. Presumptively positive is a term often used when a local test comes back positive but before that result is confirmed by the CDC.

The presumptive positive at McCarran comes a day after the air traffic control tower at Chicago’s Midway International Airport was closed after several technicians tested positive. That airport remained open but at reduced operations.

Critical care nurse: Lack of supplies causing 'fear and insecurity'

Playboy, citing coronavirus, says next issue last for print this year

Playboy magazine says that due to supply challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic, its spring issue will be the last to hit newsstands this year.

"Last week, as the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic to content production and the supply chain became clearer and clearer, we were forced to accelerate a conversation we've been having internally: the question of how to transform our U.S. print product to better suit what consumers want today,” Playboy Enterprises CEO Ben Kohn said in an open letter posted online Wednesday.

The Spring 2020 Issue, which is set to hit newsstands this week, will be its last printed publication for the year in the United States, Kohn wrote.

Kohn said the company will move to a “digital-first publishing schedule" for all of its content. It will publish print materials next year but those were described as new forms like "special editions, partnerships with the most provocative creators, timely collections and much more."