All 50 states report coronavirus cases, U.S. death toll crosses 100

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: A worker wearing a mask watches a road in New York on March 17, 2020.
A worker wearing a mask watches a road in New York on Tuesday. Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

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The United States and European nations are stepping up measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus and counteract its economic impact, as the numbers of deaths and infections continue to grow.

The U.S. death toll surpassed 100 on Tuesday as all 50 states have now reported cases, and the E.U. announced sweeping restrictions on most travel within the 27-country bloc.

The White House announced Tuesday that it is looking to send checks directly to Americans in order to soften the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement comes as many parts of the U.S. have taken extraordinary measures to health the spread of the coronavirus. California officials announced a complete lockdown of the Bay Area, including San Francisco, that requires people to stay home except for essential needs.

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Macy’s to temporarily close all stores

All Macy’s stores will temporarily close by the end of business on Tuesday through March 31 in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the company announced in a press release.  

The temporary store closures include all Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bluemercury, Macy’s Backstage, Bloomingdales the Outlet and Market by Macy’s stores. The company’s ecommerce sites will remain open and impacted workers will receive benefits and compensation. 

Macy’s joins dozens of retailers including Nike, Nordstrom and PVH Corp that have announced they will temporarily close their stores in response to the outbreak.

Effects of social distancing won't be seen for at least one week

Efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus — such as travel restrictions and closures of business and schools — won't result in lower case counts any time soon, experts said Tuesday. But social distancing measures are expected to help in the long term.

"Any change that we make now is not going to show up in the data for probably seven to 10 days," Caitlin Rivers, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said during a webcast Tuesday.

That's because the virus's incubation period is around five days. That's the time from when a person gets infected until symptoms show up. Rivers said it would take a few additional days for that person to go to the doctor and get tested.

"We need to maintain vigilance," she added.

CEO of internet infrastructure company says no worries about increased traffic

The head of one of the biggest internet infrastructure companies said his company has seen a surge in traffic as people work from home — but consumers should not worry.

Matthew Prince, CEO of internet company CloudFlare, said usage in Seattle is up 40 percent in the last week.  

"Want to make sure it’s clear: this is not a risk to the functioning of the Internet," Prince said in an email. "There is increased usage, but the internet was designed to accommodate spikes like these. It’s not dissimilar levels of traffic to what we’d see during the Super Bowl or World Cup."

"The Internet was literally designed to be a network robust enough to survive a nuclear war," he added. "It is holding up exactly as designed during the additional load caused by people working from home during the Coronavirus emergency."

Can the federal government order a national quarantine?

It's abundantly clear that governors and mayors, not the federal government, have the broadest quarantine and isolation authority. That's because the constitution leaves that kind of police power in the hands of the states.

Longstanding federal laws, and rules put in place at the end of the Obama administration, give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authority to quarantine people to stop disease outbreaks. The beefed up rules were imposed after the experience of the outbreaks of Ebola and MERS six years ago.

Broadly speaking, the CDC has the power to detain people suspected of having a communicable disease, without getting approval from state and local officials. It comes under the public health laws that allow the federal government to impose restrictions either on people coming into the country or traveling from one state to another.

However, that authority is rarely used, and when it has been invoked, it was directed at individuals and small groups.

Click here for the full story.

The scene in New York

People wait to enter the City Clerk's Office in New York to get married on Tuesday.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

NYC mayor says 'shelter in place' decision coming in next 48 hours

The City That Never Sleeps could be shutting down in 48 hours.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that he was considering whether to impose a shelter in place order which would essentially require residents to stay in their homes and keep outside social contact to a minimum to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the nation's largest city.

"Be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter in place order," de Blasio. "The decision will be made in the next 48 hours."

If imposed, the New York City order would be following the lead of several counties in the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Oakland, which are now prohibiting anyone from leaving their homes "except for essential needs."

Read the full story here.

Gun sales soar as coronavirus fears trigger personal safety concerns

Anxious shoppers are snatching up guns and ammo to gird for potential chaos related to the coronavirus pandemic, leading in some cases to long lines, short supplies, and purchase limits.

Businesses say some customers are feeding a self-fulfilling prophecy of artificial shortage, buying up firearms for protection because they’re afraid others will empty the shelves first.

“Worst day on the stock market since 1987 and shelves getting bare apparently have got everyone’s attention,” said one gun shop owner.

Read the full story here.

In need of comfort in Italy

ICU health professionals comfort each other in Cremona, Italy, on March 13, 2020.Paolo Miranda / via Instagram

With sports seasons on ice, Vegas sports book starts taking bets on weather

The NBA season is on hiatus. March Madness cancelled. The NHL is on thin ice. And there’s a delay of game for Major League Baseball. So what’s left to bet on?

In a sign of the times, at least one Las Vegas sports book, Bovada, is offering an alternative genre for those looking to wager: the weather. Doppler radar not included.

The bets focus on specific temperatures in 11 North American cities. High or Low. Fahrenheit or Celsius. Over or under. This could expend although no word yet on dew points, snowfall amounts or formation of bomb cyclones. 

Pat Morrow, Head Oddsmaker at Bovada Sports Book, told NBC NEWS they introduced the weather props and other non traditional areas like politics to keep some semblance of normality amid the massive social disruption caused by coronavirus. “With the fallout from the sports cancellations, Bovada is also taking props on primaries results and debates – i.e. how many times will 'coronavirus' come up," he added.

Washington Post, WSJ editors condemn China for expelling reporters

The top editors of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have denounced China for expelling journalists form several major U.S. media outlets, including reporters from both newspapers as well as The New York Times and Time magazine.

Broadcaster Voice of America and Time magazine were also asked to detail their operations in China. 

Marty Baron, executive editor of the Post, wrote in a comment shared with NBC News: “We unequivocally condemn any action by China to expel US reporters. The Chinese government’s decision is particularly regrettable because it comes in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis, when clear and reliable information about the international response to covid-19 is essential.”

Matt Murray, editor-in-chief of the Journal, said China's move "comes at a time of unparalleled global crisis."

"We oppose government interference with a free press anywhere in the world," Murray wrote. "Our commitment to reporting fully and deeply on China is unchanged.”

The moves come after the U.S. government declared journalists at several Chinese outlets to be government operatives.