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Over 80 million Americans under virtual lockdown as restrictions tighten

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: Surfside
A beach entrance is cordoned off in Surfside, Fla., on March 21, 2020.Wilfredo Lee / AP

The number of Americans under virtual lockdown grew Saturday to over 80 million, with New Jersey joining the list of states issuing a stay-at-home order or other sweeping mandates to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We must flatten the curve and ensure residents are practicing social distancing," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said, adding, “Even with this order in effect … life in New Jersey does not have to come to a complete standstill.”

New Jersey's stay-at-home order applies to nearly all of its 9 million residents. It comes after Illinois issued a similar mandate Friday for its 13 million residents and following California's stay-at-home order for its population of 40 million.

In New York, with a population of over 19 million, the governor has ordered that all nonessential businesses keep their workers home. Pennsylvania's governor has also ordered that all businesses that are not "life-sustaining" close.

New York also announced Saturday that the number of coronavirus cases there now tops 10,000.

Worldwide, there are now more than 275,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Trump sends letter to Kim Jong Un claiming to be impressed by North Korea's coronavirus response

North Korea on Saturday said that President Donald Trump sent Kim Jong Un a letter in which Trump said he was impressed by the North Korean leader's ability to defend his people from the coronavirus outbreak. 

North Korea has insisted that they have had no cases of COVID-19, but many experts say that Kim’s claim that the outbreak has not touched his country is almost certainly false.  

The letter also says Trump "expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work."

“President Trump sent a letter to Chairman Kim of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, consistent with his efforts to engage global leaders during the ongoing pandemic. The President looks forward to continued communications with Chairman Kim," a senior administration official confirmed to NBC News. 

Apple to donate millions of masks to health care workers

Most cases in New York City are of people under 50

Most people who have tested positive for coronavirus in New York City are younger than 50, according to figures released by the city Saturday.

This does not reflect the ages of those who have died, only people confirmed to be infected with the virus.

Overall, 57 percent of those who have tested positive in the city are 49 or younger. People 18 to 49 years old make up the majority, 54 percent, the city said. The next largest group are those age 50 to 64, who account for 23 percent of positive test results so far.

The accounting reflects data known to the city through 5:30 p.m. Friday. 

On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "We are now the epicenter of this crisis" in the United States.

Coronavirus briefly halts flights to all NYC-area and Philadelphia airports

An air traveler prepares to board a Delta flight to San Francisco at JFK International Airport, in New York, on March 17, 2020.Shannon Stapleton / Reuters file

Flights to all New York City-area and Philadelphia airports were briefly halted Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The agency temporarily grounded flights after it said Saturday that an air traffic controller trainee tested positive for the coronavirus. The trainee worked out of the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center in Ronkonkoma, on Long Island.

Read the full story here

Over 2K retired medical workers volunteer to help, NYC mayor says

Retired medical providers in New York are offering their help to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

"Over 2,000 retired medical personnel have answered the call to come back out of retirement to protect people," the mayor said Friday.

The number of coronavirus cases in New York state increased by more than 3,000 and now tops 10,000. New York City alone has 6,211 cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

White House won't say when healthcare workers can expect to have additional supplies

The White House did not provide a concrete timeline Saturday about when healthcare professionals can expect to have much-needed supplies, such as masks and ventilators.

Vice President Mike Pence told reporters at a press briefing that “companies would be producing millions of masks within a matter of weeks” and said that President Donald Trump “expanded liability protections to industrial masks so that they could now be used in hospitals.”

Trump, Pence and other members of the coronavirus task force were asked by reporters when healthcare workers could expect to have the supplies. No one was able to provide a timeline. 

Trump instead criticized reporters and insisted that, despite having been in office for over three years now, any slow response or lack of preparedness was because of a broken system he inherited.

'What do we have to lose?': Trump continues to promote untested drug treatments for coronavirus

President Donald Trump insisted Saturday that there was cause for optimism about drug therapies for coronavirus, despite caution from his top government scientists that the treatments’ effectiveness was not proven.

“Look, I feel, as the expression goes: what do we have to lose?,” Trump said, making the case for offering different drugs, which he also tweeted  about earlier in the day, that have been used in other countries to combat the coronavirus but have not been proven to work in any controlled studies.

"I feel very confident. I've seen things that surprise me frankly,” Trump said, speaking at a press briefing at the White House.

Trump’s director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, reminded the public during the same briefing that there is not evidence to claim that the drugs work.

“Many of the things that you hear out here are what I had called anecdotal reports. They may be true, but they are anecdotal,” Fauci said. “The president is talking about hope for people.” 

Italy's death toll continues to soar, with 793 in one day

A nurse at the Cremona hospital pushes an emergency trolley, on March 11, 2020m in Lombardy,I taly.Paolo Miranda / AFP - Getty Images

Italy's death toll from coronavirus continues to soar, with 793 fatalities in the last 24 hours.

Deaths from COVID-19 in the country now stand at 4,825.

The total number of cases in the state also shot up by 6,557 since Friday to a total of 53,578 coronavirus cases, officials said Saturday.

Angelo Borrelli, chief of civil protection, said 6,072 people have recovered after contracting the disease.

Vice President Mike Pence says he will get tested for the coronavirus

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence said he and his wife, Karen Pence, would get tested for the coronavirus Saturday afternoon after a member of Pence's staff tested positive for the virus Friday night.

“I am pleased to report he's doing well,” Pence said of the staffer. “He had mild cold-like symptoms for about a day and a half. He has not been to the White House since Monday. Neither the President nor I had direct contact with that staff person."

Pence said that both him and his wife felt fine and were not displaying any symptoms.

But given his “unique position” as vice president and as head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, Pence said he would go ahead and get tested.

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New Jersey issues stay-at-home order for nearly all 9 million residents

Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey has issued a stay-at-home order for nearly all of the state's 9 million residents.

New Jersey now joins the list of other states ordering such sweeping restrictions in the bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Read the full story here.