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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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Rep. Ben McAdams is second member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus

Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, announced Wednesday night he has tested positive for coronavirus, little more than an hour after Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart became the first member of Congress to test positive.

"On Saturday evening, after returning from Washington, D.C., I developed mild cold-like symptoms," McAdams said in a statement. "My symptoms got worse and I developed a fever, a dry cough and labored breathing and I remain self quarantined."

He said he has self-quarantined and conducted all meetings by phone since Saturday.

"On Tuesday, my doctor instructed me to get tested for COVID-19 and following his referral, I went to the local testing clinic," McAdams said. "Today I learned that I tested positive."

McAdams says he's still working from quarantine and urges his constituents "to take this seriously and follow the health recommendations we're getting from the CDC."

Italy reports deadliest day of coronavirus outbreak

New York City cases double in a day, now over 1,800

More than 1,800 people in New York have tested positive for coronavirus, City Hall announced on Wednesday night, more than double what had been reported just 24 hours earlier. 

There are 1,871 confirmed cases in the five boroughs of America's largest city, according to the New York City Health Department.

Just one day earlier the count had been 923 cases and 10 dead.

Tenants face eviction uncertainty

A countless number of tenants and homeowners nationwide are walking financial tightropes when it comes to their economic security during the global pandemic. With the national unemployment rate potentially rising to 20 percent and high traffic crashing some states' unemployment benefits websites, the threat of soaring evictions across the country is real, housing advocates and researchers say.

If city, state and federal governments don't step in now, they warn, at stake are people's homes and health if they're evicted and thrown out onto the street, which would only exacerbate a deepening public health crisis.

"We're in an unprecedented historic position," said Alieza Durana, a writer and spokeswoman for the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, which compiles nationwide eviction data. "I think the current moment in history is unique, but it's also giving us a moment to question what our human rights are and not take for granted: Do we really have to force people out of their homes?"

Read the full story.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart first member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., announced he has tested positive for coronavirus, the first member of the U.S. Congress to do so in the pandemic.

"On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms, including a fever and a headache," a statement from Diaz-Balart's office read. "Just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19."

Diaz-Balart is now in quarantine in Washington, D.C., and will avoid his South Florida home to protect his wife, who is at high risk due to pre-existing conditions.

"I am feeling much better," Diaz-Balart said. "However, it's important that everyone take this seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus."

Guard and inmate at Rikers Island jail in New York City test positive

A guard and inmate at New York City's Rikers Island jail have tested positive for coronavirus, a union representing corrections officers said Wednesday. 

Michael Skelly, spokesman for the New York City Corrections Officers' Benevolent Association, told NBC News that his members believe this is just the start of "what we fear to be more." 

The union is demanding the city order special masks and more gloves and hand sanitizer. Union president Elias Husamudeen spoke to the quarantined corrections officer on Wednesday and said they're "doing pretty OK given the circumstances," according to Skelly.

A representative for the city's Department of Corrections could not be immediately reached for comment.

Photo: Festival cancelled, but blossoms still on

Tourists continue to visit the Tidal Basin on Wednesday as peak bloom for the cherry trees approaches in Washington, D.C. The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and related events were cancelled.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Two federal prison staffers test positive for coronavirus

There are no known cases of coronavirus among the 175,000 inmates currently in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, according to a BOP spokesperson, but two staffers had tested positive as of Wednesday.

The spokesperson did not say whether the infected staffers worked directly with inmates.

BOP has already suspended all inmate transfers from facility to facility for 30 days.

The agency employs more than 35,000 staff at correctional facilities and agency offices across the country.

Celebrities turn to social media to entertain fans

For many celebrities, the show must go one, pandemic or not.

Famous faces, including singers Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber, John Legend and his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, rapper Cardi B, actor Hilary Duff and others have flocked to Instagram Live to entertain fans while they isolate themselves from crowds amid the outbreak.

Performers like Legend, Coldplay's Chris Martin and Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard have even used the hashtag #TogetherAtHome to promote their streams meant to entertain millions stuck at home.

Read the full story.

Italy's health care system at a breaking point

Northern Italy has one of the best public health systems in the Western world, but the coronavirus pandemic is pushing to the breaking point.

“I have never seen so many people die together before my eyes,” said a nurse from one of the main hospitals in Bergamo, a city in northern Italy that is at the center of the worst outbreak in Europe. “It feels like we are crossing in the middle of a battlefield.”

More than 2,500 people have died in about four weeks in Italy, and cities in country’s northern Lombardy region are among the hardest hit. With over 31,500 confirmed cases, the country’s doctors and nurses are struggling to keep up. They’re running out of beds, equipment and even people, particularly as more health care workers catch the virus.

Read the full story here.

Missouri and Connecticut announce first coronavirus deaths

Missouri and Connecticut each announced their first coronavirus deaths on Wednesday.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said the patient who died in his state had tested positive in a travel related case. As of Wednesday afternoon, Missouri had 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said the patient who died in his state was a man in his 80s who was in an assisted living facility. As of Wednesday afternoon, Connecticut had 96 confirmed cases of coronavirus.