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Coronavirus updates: 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

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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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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

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

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

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.

'We have received zero support': Americans in Honduras struggle to get home

Amid tightened travel restrictions, Americans stranded in Honduras are calling on the United States government to help bring them home. 

"People did do their due diligence to come home, but we have received zero support from our own home country and the U.S. embassies abroad," Rita Shah, a doctor from New York City, told NBC News via WhatsApp. "We would love to help and be in the hospitals and help. Unfortunately that’s out of our hands," she added.

Shah was on vacation with two other friends in Roatan but flew to San Pedro Sula earlier this week, hoping that being on the mainland would make it easier for her to get back to the U.S. But due to Honduras' tight travel restrictions, she has not been able to leave. Shah is now working with other Americans via WhatsApp chats to attempt to charter a flight from Honduras back to the U.S. 

Crystal Alexander, a diving instructor from Idaho who was working in Honduras, was supposed to return to the U.S. in April after being there since October. The resort she worked at closed earlier this week, leaving her to grapple with finding a quick and safe way home. "It feels like I don't even have a government," Alexander said. 

Coronavirus isolation difficult for domestic violence survivors

As people across the U.S. are told to stay home because of the coronavirus pandemic, domestic violence experts warn the isolation could be “devastating” for survivors forced to shelter somewhere unsafe.

“We know social isolation can really have devastating impacts on the safety, health and wellbeing of victims,” said Dr. Amanda Stylianou, a domestic violence expert at Rutgers University.

“Being able to wake up in the morning to leave their home to go to safe schools, workplaces, to visit family and neighbors is really critical and is a really important protective factor for them in a time where that protective factor is gone,” she said.

Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, said it was an "incredibly distressing" time for survivors, and her group had already heard ways the outbreak was impacting victims.

Read the full story here.

Staffer for Vice President Mike Pence tests positive for the coronavirus

A member of Vice President Mike Pence's staff has tested positive for the coronavirus, Pence's office said Friday night.

The staffer's name and exact position was not released, but Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, said, "Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual.

"Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines,” Miller said.

Pence, who was placed in charge of the White House coronavirus task force in late February, said earlier this week he had not been tested for the virus himself.

Click here for the full story

Florida closes gyms, restaurants

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, issued an executive order Friday that all fitness centers and gyms will be closed immediately and restaurants can only remain open for delivery or take out. 

Bars and nightclubs were closed earlier in the week. Beach gatherings are restricted to 10 people.

The announcement came as Florida confirmed more than 500 COVID-19 cases throughout the state and 10 deaths