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

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
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

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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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading March 19 Coronavirus news.

10 more dead in and around Seattle

Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaks during a press conference in Seattle on Jan. 29, 2020.Jason Redmond / AFP - Getty Images file

At least 10 more people who had tested positive for coronavirus in and around Seattle have died, bringing that local death toll to 56,  authorities said Wednesday.

Seattle & King County Public Health also reported 44 new cases on Wednesday, spiking the area's total count to 562.

Meanwhile in nearby Pierce County, that jurisdiction reported its first coronavirus death, a woman from Puyallup in her 50s, the county health department said.

VA says 44 patients have tested positive for coronavirus

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Veterans Affairs had administered more than 322 tests for coronavirus nationwide, and recorded 44 positive test results. That represents an increase of eight positive test results since Tuesday. 

The VA has recorded one death in its hospital system from coronavirus, which occurred in Portland, Oregon on March 14.

The Veterans Health Administration serves 9 million military veterans each year at its 1,255 health-care facilities.

Senate approves House coronavirus aid bill for Trump's signature

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell following a news conference on Capitol Hill on March 17, 2020.Susan Walsh / AP

WASHINGTON — The Senate passed the House's emergency coronavirus bill Wednesday, sending the aid package to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

The legislation would provide for free coronavirus testing, paid family and sick leave, food assistance and unemployment benefits.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called for passage of the bill Wednesday in remarks on the chamber floor, saying, "This is the time for urgent, bipartisan action, and in this case, I do not believe we should let perfection be the enemy of something that would help even a subset of workers.”

Read the full story here. 

Dow closes with another four-digit loss as markets get pummeled

Wall Street took yet another hammering on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing with a loss of just over 1,300 points, or 6 percent, as investors continue to flee financial markets.

After some volatile swings in trading, all three major indices closed sharply lower, propelled by a slew of negative economic news as companies and government wrestle with the mounting fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P was down by 5 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 6 percent, with trading halted for 15 minutes earlier in the day after S&P losses accelerated past 7 percent, the point at which a "circuit breaker" is triggered.

Read the full story here.

Chase to close nearly 1,000 branches

Chase Bank reportedly plans to shut down about 1,000 branches across the nation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are planning to temporarily close about 20% of our branches,” CNBC reported the bank telling  employees Wednesday. “This will help us protect our employees as we provide essential services to our customers and the communities we serve.”

New York-based JP Morgan Chase & Co. operates 4,976 branches with 256,981 employees. 

Some kids could experience severe coronavirus symptoms, study says

A man carries a toddler on his shoulders as both wear protective face masks to help prevent the coronavirus outbreak walk on a street in Beijing, on March 18, 2020.Andy Wong / AP

The majority of children infected with the coronavirus experience mild to moderate symptoms, although a small percentage have severe complications, according to a study published Monday.

The study examined 2,143 confirmed or suspected pediatric cases of the coronavirus in China, where the pandemic started, and is the largest analysis yet of the illness in children. For the most part, it confirms what doctors have already noticed: that the coronavirus seems to mostly be sparing children, for reasons that are not entirely understood.

Read the full story here. 

Refugee admissions to U.S. suspended due to coronavirus, official says

The Trump administration has suspended refugee admissions until April 6 due to the coronavirus outbreak, a State Department spokesperson says.

The decision was taken after the U.N. refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration on Tuesday announced a temporary halt to resettling refugees. The international organizations cited border closures and travel restrictions prompted by the epidemic, and concerns the refugees could be exposed to the coronavirus.

Due to the temporary suspension by international aid organizations, “we notified our implementing partners to expect a refugee arrivals pause from March 19 through April 6,” a State Department spokesperson said in an email.  “We will work with our implementing partners to plan for a resumption of refugee arrivals on or after April 7.”

The Trump administration already drastically cut the number of refugees admitted to the United States to record low levels before the coronavirus outbreak.

Sick staff spread coronavirus in Seattle nursing home

Staff members who worked while sick at multiple long-term care facilities contributed to the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable elderly in the Seattle area, federal health officials said Wednesday.

At least 30 coronavirus deaths have been linked to Life Care Center in Kirkland. A report Wednesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided the most detailed account to date of what drove the outbreak.

For full story 

NYC mayor slams Nets over testing, Trump weighs in

New York Mayor City Bill de Blasio ripped the Brooklyn Nets after the team announced three of its players who showed no symptoms were tested for the coronavirus. The three were among four players who tested positive for the virus, the team said.

"We wish them a speedy recovery. But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested," de Blasio tweeted Tuesday. "Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick."

President Donald Trump weighed in Wednesday when he was asked about who gets priority in testing for the virus.

NBC's Peter Alexander asked the president at a news conference if professional athletes should get expedited testing.

"No, I wouldn’t say so," the president said. "But perhaps that’s the story of life. That does happen on occasion, and I’ve noticed where people have been tested fairly quickly. "

Read full story here.

Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage

Inside the National Quarantine Center, there is no fear of coronavirus. There is only urgency. [Esquire]

Hospital workers make masks from office supplies amid U.S. shortage [Bloomberg]

Amazon’s warehouse workers sound alarms about coronavirus spread [The Washington Post]

Hollywood production has shut down. Why thousands of workers are feeling the pain [The Los Angeles Times]