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New York mayor declares city 'epicenter'

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: An Indonesian police officer sprays disinfectant in the Baiturrahman grand mosque, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Banda Aceh
An Indonesian police officer sprays disinfectant in the Baiturrahman grand mosque, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Banda Aceh on March 20, 2020.Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP - Getty Images

Wall Street took another dive Friday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average sunk by 916 points and saw 18 percent of its value disappear over the course of the week.

The Dow saw all the gains made since President Donald Trump took office erased.

Also in New York City, the suspended presidential campaign of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg told staffers Friday there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 at its Times Square headquarters, a campaign official confirmed to NBC News.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday evening the city has 5,151 coronavirus cases and 29 deaths associated with the virus. "We are now the epicenter of this crisis" in the United States, he said.

In California the number of cases, more than 1,000, has doubled in three days. Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous, reported it now has a total of 292 cases.

There are now more than 250,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading March 21 Coronavirus news.

Crowds gather to see Washington's cherry blossoms

Despite warnings from public health officials to maintain at least a 6-foot distance from other people, hundreds of visitors crowded onto the National Mall Saturday to see the cherry blossoms. 

This prompted the National Park Service, which oversees the grounds, to issue warnings throughout the day to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In one tweet, the National Park Service said it was becoming "increasingly difficult to maintain effective social distancing and keep an appropriate space from other people."

Several hours later, NPS tweeted again, announcing access to parking near the cherry blossoms would be restricted on Sunday as result of Saturday's crowds.

'It's not enough': Inside an Italy hospital struggling to contain COVID-19

California tests out strict limits on daily life

Nick Nguyen noticed that, for once, the traffic didn’t seem so bad in Southern California. Then he got closer to the entrance of a Costco store in San Diego.

“It was over a mile long,” said Nguyen, 25, who shared a video of the grocery line on Reddit. “It was insane.”

Though it was Friday and the weekend was approaching, not many other cars were on the road.

“It’s a ghost town everywhere except grocery stores right now,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like Friday at all.”

Californians, uncertain but generally calm, were hurrying to prepare for a month-long period of near-isolation after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide stay-at-home order was needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.

Read the full story here.

What to do if you think a family member has coronavirus?

3 Georgia inmates have virus, 3 more being observed

Three Georgia inmates have tested positive for coronavirus, officials announced Friday.

The three, housed at Lee State Prison in Leesburg, were hospitalized Sunday and Monday after exhibiting flu-like symptoms, the Georgia Department of Corrections said in a statement.

Three other prisoners at the facility had similar symptoms and were "under observation," the department said.

"Measures have been taken to screen and quarantine the entire inmate population at that facility," it said.

On Thursday U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., called on federal prisons to release low-risk offenders so that facilities don't become hot spots for the virus, which spreads by person-to-person contact.

The sheriff of Los Angeles County on Monday said he was granting early release to those with less than 30 days on their sentences.

Maker of Purell accused of 'misleading' customers

GOJO, the maker of Purell hand sanitizer, is facing two class-action lawsuits accusing it of "misleading claims" that it can prevent "99.9 percent of illness-causing germs."

The most recent lawsuit, filed by four people March 13 in federal court for the Northeastern District of Ohio, comes as retailers scramble to keep hand sanitizer in stock.

Purell's label states the product can kill "99.9 percent of illness-causing germs. The suit claims that it's misleading because it implies "sound scientific support when none exists."

GOJO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the full story here.

Arizona reports first death

Arizona has had its first death from the coronavirus illness COVID-19, health officials said Friday.

The patient was described as a man in his 50s who had underlying health conditions.

Officials said the Maricopa County Department of Public Health is in the process of notifying close contacts and will ask them to self-monitor for any symptoms.

There have been 63 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Arizona as of Friday, according to the state health department.

Overall more than 18,000 people in the United States have been confirmed or have presumptively tested positive, and there have been at least 237 deaths linked to COVID-19, according to an NBC count of reports.

Nevada's governor orders all non-essential business to close

Days after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak shut down gambling in the state and asked non-essential businesses to close, he turned that into an order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

"Previously, I asked nonessential businesses to close, but this moment now demands more,” Sisolak said in a statement Friday. "Today, I directed ALL nonessential businesses to close. I repeat. If you are NOT an essential business, I am using my power as Governor under an emergency declaration to order you to close."

The governor on Tuesday ordered that all gaming machines, table games and other related equipment to close. He said non-essential businesses should close. He said this week that grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, hardware stores, gas stations and similar services would remain open.

The order lasts until April 16. 

More than 75 million Americans under virtual lockdown

Trump approves major disaster declaration for New York

President Donald Trump on Friday approved a major disaster declaration for New York state for the coronavirus pandemic.

The move allows federal assistance to the state, which has the largest number of known positive cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 in the nation. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that the city is the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S.

Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted about the declaration and said: “FEMA needs to get to work NOW to open these MANY billions in direct aid for New York and individuals to help save lives and protect public health.”

There have been at least 7,845 positive cases reported in the state and at least 42 deaths linked to COVID-19, according to an NBC News count of reports. 

Pandemic taking toll on Trump’s personal businesses

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on President Donald Trump’s personal businesses.

Several of his golf clubs, hotels and resorts have scaled back operations or shut down entirely, the Trump Organization says. Among them is Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Florida, club where Trump spends many weekends during the winter months.

Some are open, but adopting social distancing measures — like prohibiting golfers from sharing a golf cart.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization says: “Various facilities are temporarily closed given local, state and federal mandates. We anxiously await the day when this pandemic is over and our world-class facilities can reopen.”

No new virus cases for 3rd straight day in Wuhan

The Associated Press

BEIJING — The virus outbreak’s epicenter of Wuhan reported no new or suspected cases again for a third consecutive day.

Overall, China on Saturday reported 41 new cases detected over the previous 24 hours, all among people traveling from overseas, and another seven deaths, six in Wuhan. China now has a total of 81,008 cases and 3,255 deaths.

A total of 71,740 people have been declared cured and released from the hospital. Wuhan must go 14 straight days without a new case in order for draconian travel restrictions to be lifted.

People are now better able to move around in the surrounding province of Hubei, although its provincial borders remain closed to the rest of the country. Beijing and other cities are increasingly vibrant as the government attempts to mitigate disastrous effects on the world’s second largest economy, but social distancing and quarantines for new arrivals remain the norm.

Navy increasing health protection measures

Mosheh Gains

The Navy’s U.S. Fleet Forces Command said Friday it is elevating its health protection measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that is growing in the United States and around the world.

The Navy is going to what is called HPCON C (MINUS), which includes policies of no handshaking and wiping down areas, social distancing and other measures.

Several U.S. Navy personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes the illness COVID-19.

On Friday a staff member assigned to Navy Personnel Command in Tennessee tested positive and is in self-quarantine, and a second-class petty officer assigned to Naval Special Warfare who was training at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington state tested positive on Thursday.

Two sailors assigned to separate San Diego-based ships tested positive on Thursday, the Navy said. They are isolated off ship, personnel who had close contact were notified, and the ships are conducting deep cleaning among other steps.