2 members of U.S. Congress test positive, New York City cases double

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Image: People walk in Times Square as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Manhattan, New York City
People walk in Times Square as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues in New York City on March 18, 2020.Andrew Kelly / Reuters

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The number of coronavirus cases globally topped 200,000 Wednesday, as people in the United States and in countries across the world adjusted to life under lockdowns and isolation.

The concern about the economic consequences of the pandemic spurred another widespread decline in stock prices, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down over 1,300 points on Wednesday. Many major stock indexes around the world were down more than 4 percent.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are currently more than 201,000 confirmed cases and 8,000 deaths related to the coronavirus around the world.

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NYC mayor calls for military help

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for military assistance Wednesday morning as the city grapples with the coronavirus crisis.

"The military has extraordinary medical capacity," de Blasio said on the "TODAY" show. "It's needed in places like New York right now."

He also said that any decision to impose a "shelter in place" order on the city could only be made in agreement with the state. But he added that the idea should be "considered seriously starting today."

Dow sinks by 1,300 points at opening bell, despite trillion-dollar economic stimulus plans

Wall Street remained in the red on Wednesday, continuing a grim week that has seen all three major indices sink despite a series of drastic economic measures intended to address the growing fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened with a loss of around 1,300 points, or 6 percent, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq down by around 5 percent each.

The losses come after the White House announced on Tuesday that it is seeking a $1 trillion fiscal stimulus package that would help small businesses and certain industry sectors and put cash directly in the hands of Americans.

While that temporarily boosted market morale, it has so far not been enough to stop a massive market sell-off. 

Read the full story here. 

Albania reports 2nd coronavirus death

Albania reported its second death from COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The 66-year-old patient, who died at a hospital, suffered from underlying diseases including cardiac problems and pulmonary edema, authorities said. 

Albania also reported that to date it has confirmed 59 cases of coronavirus infection out of 665 tested.

Britain's 50th annual Glastonbury Festival cancelled

Savannah Guthrie anchors TODAY from her home in 'abundance of caution'

Savannah Guthrie joined much of the country in working from home on Wednesday.

She co-anchored "TODAY" from her basement for precautionary reasons after feeling a little under the weather.

"Here's what happened: I wasn't feeling my best, a little sore throat, some sniffles, I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but we are in different times, aren't we?" she said on-air. "So in an abundance of caution, and also to really model the vigilance the CDC is asking of all of us right now, we followed the advice of NBC's medical team."

Savannah joins Al Roker and Craig Melvin in working from home out of an abundance of caution in the wake of the news that a staffer for the 3rd hour of "TODAY" tested positive for coronavirus this week.

Read full story here

Pope encourages 'small gestures of attention' amid coronavirus crisis

Pope Francis walks in a deserted Rome to pray at two shrines for the end of the coronavirus pandemic, in Rome, Italy on Sunday. Vatican Media / Reuters

Pope Francis urged Italians to commit “gestures of affection” Wednesday as millions have been forced to stay inside their homes as part of a nationwide lockdown that has entered its second week. 

“We must rediscover the concreteness of little things, small gestures of attention we can offer those close to us, our family, our friends,” the Pope told Italian newspaper La Repubblica. 

"These gestures of tenderness, affection, compassion, are minimal and tend to be lost in the anonymity of everyday life, but they are nonetheless decisive, important,” he added.

The pope walked Rome’s empty streets on Sunday to pray for the epidemic to end at two churches, as the Vatican said his Easter services will be held without the public for the first time.

Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, has more than 31,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus. More than 2,500 people have died, the highest number of deaths outside mainland China.

Trump administration warns of 20 percent unemployment rate

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials warned Senate Republicans Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. could cause the unemployment rate to reach 20 percent, according to two sources familiar with the discussion.

The warning came during a closed-door lunch on Capitol Hill in which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin presented a White House stimulus plan that could cost at least $1 trillion. The prediction was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Read full story here.

Number of global coronavirus cases tops 200,000

The number of global coronavirus cases topped 200,000 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The number of cases worldwide now stands at 201,634, with more than 8,000 deaths recorded. 

Meanwhile, the number of new cases in mainland China has slowed, with just 13 new confirmed infections on Tuesday, 12 of which were imported. Chinese officials are now focusing on stopping the virus from coming back into the country from abroad. 

The World Health Organization's differ slightly, and stand at 179,111 confirmed cases and 7,426 deaths globally, the organization said a report released Tuesday

The WHO called earlier this week on all countries to ramp up their testing programs as the best way to slow down the advance of the virus.