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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California governor says projections show almost 26 million residents will be infected

Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday that California has projected that almost 26 million residents will be infected by the coronavirus.

“We project that roughly 56 percent of our population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the virus over an eight week period,” Newsom wrote in a letter sent to President Donald Trump

Newsom added that the state has seen 126 new cases of the virus in the past 24 hours with the rate of infections detected doubling every four days. Newsom urged the president to “immediately deploy” the USNS Mercy hospital ship to the port of Los Angeles in response to the expected influx of patients, though, that ship may already be on its way to Seattle.

State Department warns Americans against traveling

The U.S. State Department raised the global travel advisory Thursday to Level 4: Do Not Travel, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

Americans should consider returning to the U.S. immediately through whatever commercial means are available, the advisory warned. The guidance comes as Americans traveling abroad struggle to make their way home amid widespread border closures and nationwide quarantines as countries scramble to contain the outbreak.

"If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe," the advisory said.

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Senate Republicans unveil massive coronavirus bill that would include cash payments

WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitch McConnell on Thursday released the Republican proposal for a massive emergency coronavirus stimulus bill, which includes direct cash payments for some Americans.

The proposal, expected to cost around $1 trillion, calls for direct payments on a tiered scale. Individuals making $75,000 based on a 2018 tax return would be eligible for $1,200 payments, or $2,400 for couples filing jointly.

The payments would decrease for those making more than $75,000, with an income cap of $99,000 per individual or $198,000 for couples. The payments will also increase $500 for each child a person or couple has.

However, tax payers with little or no income tax liability, but at least $2,500 of qualifying income, would only be eligible for $600, or $1,200 for couples.

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Millennials and Gen Xers can become extremely ill from coronavirus

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention echo what doctors on the front lines of treating the coronavirus have been reporting anecdotally: Younger adults who become infected aren't just getting mild illnesses. Many in their 20s, 30s and 40s are sick enough from the coronavirus to be hospitalized and need intensive care.

The CDC analyzed reports of 4,226 patients in the U.S. with confirmed COVID-19, the illness that results from the coronavirus infection, between mid-February and mid-March. Of those, 508 were known to be hospitalized.

While it's true that the oldest patients were most likely to end up in the hospital or die from the infection, more than half of the hospitalized patients in the study were under 65.

Read the full story here. 

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton tests positive

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton announced on Thursday he has coronavirus, becoming the first major figure within the NFL to test positive for the virus.

 

Photo: Christ the Redeemer

The statue of Christ the Redeemer is lit up in the colors of countries affected by the coronavirus outbreak Thursday in Rio de Janeiro.Sergio Moraes / Reuters

  

Tesla shuts down its Fremont factory

Tesla will temporarily suspend production at its Fremont factory beginning March 23. 

It will also temporarily suspend production at its New York factory except for operations to manufacture parts and supplies necessary for service, infrastructure and supply chains, the company said Thursday in a statement.

"Despite taking all known health precautions, continued operations in certain locations has caused challenges for our employees, their families and our suppliers," the company said.

It will continue with basic operations at its Fremont factory to support our vehicle and energy services and charging infrastructure. Its factory in Nevada will remain open.

1.4 percent of people in Wuhan, China, with coronavirus died, study finds

A medical worker embraces a member of a medical assistance team in Wuhan, China, on March 19, 2020.AFP - Getty Images

About 1.4 percent of people in Wuhan, China, who became ill with the coronavirus died, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Nature.

The finding is consistent with a study from last month which also found the case fatality rate — or the number of deaths divided by the number of diagnosed cases — to be 1.4 percent, based on statistics across China.

The new paper focuses specifically on the city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated.

The death rate is much higher than that of the influenza, which infects millions of people each year but only kills about 0.1 percent of those who get it.

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U.S. restricts visas for farmworkers, raising concerns about food supply

To reduce coronavirus transmission, the federal government has stopped conducting visa interviews for temporary farmworkers from Mexico who want to work in the United States — a move that could disrupt America’s supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, industry groups say.

“An interruption to the processing of agricultural worker visas will undoubtedly cause a significant disruption to the U.S. food supply,” a coalition of agriculture trade groups wrote in a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the federal government to process all H-2A applications as emergency visas. Two House Republicans also sent a letter to Pompeo voicing concerns.

Despite empty shelves and panic-buying, there are not broad signs of disruption to America’s food supply chain because of the coronavirus; over half of all fresh fruit and a third of fresh vegetables are now imported, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

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Richard Engel on China's report of no new coronavirus cases