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Over 3,000 cases in the U.S.; airport chaos due to new screenings

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: People wait in line to go through customs at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas, on March 14, 2020.
People wait in line to go through customs at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas, on March 14, 2020.Austin Boschen / via AP

Americans are racing to cut vacations short and re-book flights home this weekend as Europe continues to lock down towns and cities amid the spread of coronavirus.

The CDC said Sunday that all events of 50 people or more should be canceled for the next eight weeks, guidance that advocates for people to engage in "social distancing" through early May.

New York City announced it would close public schools, and many cities around the country ordered bars and restaurants closed, with some even issuing curfews, to encourage social distancing. Meantime, brick-and-mortar retailers began shutting down stores.

Stock futures plunged Sunday night, despite unprecedented emergency action from the Federal Reserve, which announced a rate cut.

The United States has surpassed 3,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and the death toll climbed to at least 61, with 25 of the deaths associated with the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington.

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Luxury goods company that owns Dior, Luis Vuitton to make free hand sanitizer for France

One of the world's largest luxury fashion and beauty companies will now direct its cosmetic factories to manufacture hand sanitizer gel to be distributed at no cost in France. 

LVMH, home to brands such a Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, will prepare its production sites to manufacture the antibacterial gel to be given over to French authorities at the direction of its CEO and Chairman, Bernard Arnault. The moves comes amid a fear of sanitizer shortage in the country.

"Through this initiative, LVMH intends to help address the risk of a lack of product in France and enable a greater number of people to continue to take the right action to protect themselves from the spread of the virus," the company said in a press release. 

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe ordered the country's restaurants, cafés, cinemas and clubs to close as coronavirus spreads quickly in the country. 

Travelers face airport chaos as U.S. tries to implement coronavirus screening

People wait to check in their luggage at Los Angeles International Airport on March 14, 2020.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Those who came to the U.S. from abroad Saturday were met with chaos as new coronavirus screenings snarled airports around the country, forcing travelers into overcrowded lines for hours.

Beth Kander, 38, returned from France to a "madhouse" at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, where she spent about five hours going from line to line. Kander told NBC News Sunday that her flight was only alerted to the screenings about an hour before landing.

"When we were an hour out from landing, the captain made an announcement, and it created a lot of anxiety," Kander said. "He said you will not be allowed to get off a plane, a U.S. official will board and there will be a coronavirus update."

O’Hare airport was only one of many airports where passengers returning from abroad were forced into packed lines, antithetical from the call for “social distancing” in an effort to slow the spread coronavirus. Travelers also reported overcrowding at airports in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth upon their returns.

Read more here.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpasses 3,000

The U.S. now has more than 3,000 reported cases of coronavirus, according to NBC News tallies.

As of Sunday afternoon, there have been at least 61 deaths in the U.S. due to coronavirus and 3204 reported cases. 

The numbers in the U.S. are rising as people around the country are increasingly practicing social distancing in an effort to stop the virus' spread. Currently Washington state and New York have the highest concentration of cases, each with more than 600.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo asks businesses to voluntarily close, announces third New York death

An empty street in Manhattan on March 15, 2020.Jeenah Moon / Reuters

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged businesses to consider density control measures in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus before confirmed cases overwhelm the state’s hospital system. He also announced the third coronoavirus death in New York.

“I want private businesses to aggressively consider work from home and voluntary closings,” Cuomo told reporters Sunday. “Depending on what businesses do on a voluntary basis, we could consider mandatory actions later on.” 

The governor said that the state is working to expand capacity of beds and ventilators in the state but is concerned that the system might be overwhelmed in the coming weeks if measures aren’t taken to prevent disease spread, including social distancing. Cuomo urged the federal government to step in to create nationwide policies and offer its resources to states that need the support.

New York has the highest number of confirmed cases, with 729 patients who have tested positive of 5,272 total tests, according to Cuomo. He said the new death was a 78-year-old woman with underlying health issues.

National Institutes of Health employee tests positive for COVID-19

An employee at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has tested positive for COVID-19, the agency announced in a Sunday press release.

The employee is not involved in patient care and works for the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

The NIH, the nation's medical research agency, said its Occupational Medical Service tested the employee and the result was positive.

"While this is an unfortunate development, it is not surprising, and NIH expects that there will be more cases of infection among NIH staff," the agency said in a press release.

Puerto Rico enacts curfew, business closures as coronavirus fears rise on the island

The Celebrity Summit cruise ship, carrying 2,000 passengers, is held off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 14, 2020.Ricardo Arduengo / AFP - Getty Images

In an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus, Puerto Rico is enacting a curfew and closing non-essential businesses. 

Governor Wanda Vazquez ordered residents to stay home between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. in a Sunday address, and said only stores that sell groceries and medical equipment should stay open. 

Puerto Rico announced the island's first three cases on Friday. Gov. Vasquez said on Saturday the public school system on the island will close for two weeks and that no cruise ships will be allowed to dock in San Juan.

Germany tries to stop Trump from luring away firm working on coronavirus vaccine

A biopharmaceutical employee at CureVac demonstrates research for a coronavirus vaccine at a lab in Tuebingen, Germany, on March 12, 2020.Andreas Gebert / Reuters

BERLIN — Berlin is trying to stop Washington from persuading a German company seeking a coronavirus vaccine to move its research to the United States, prompting German politicians to insist no country should have a monopoly on any future vaccine.

German government sources told Reuters on Sunday that the U.S. administration was looking into how it could gain access to a potential vaccine being developed by a German firm, CureVac.

Earlier, the Welt am Sonntag German newspaper reported that U.S. President Donald Trump had offered funds to lure CureVac to the United States, and the German government was making counter-offers to tempt it to stay.

Read the full article here.

Fauci: Americans are 'going to have to hunker down significantly more' to fight coronavirus

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that Americans "should be prepared that they're going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing" to fight the growing COVID-19 outbreak.

Asked if the U.S. should consider a 14-day national shutdown similar to those in Europe, he said, "I would prefer as much as we possibly could ... I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for over-reacting."

Fauci said that the goal now is to "blunt" the curve of confirmed cases, keeping the number of those infected low enough so as to not overwhelm the U.S. hospital system.

"If you let the curve get up there, then the entire society is going to be hit," he said.

Read more here.

Second coronavirus death reported in Louisiana

A 53-year-old Orleans Parish resident with underlying medical conditions died on Sunday, becoming Louisiana's second COVID-19 death.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell mourned the man's loss in a Sunday morning statement, saying he was her friend. 

“The news this morning of a second death in Orleans Parish is deeply heartbreaking to me, personally — and is additional tragic news for the people of our City,” Mayor Cantrell said. “The patient in this instance was a friend of mine, but every one of those impacted by this outbreak is someone’s friend, someone’s father, someone’s loved one. 

As of Sunday morning, Louisiana had 78 reported coronavirus cases.

'Thanks to the Helpers': Tom Hanks posts coronavirus update to Instagram

Actor Tom Hanks posted a short update to his Instagram account early Sunday morning days after he and wife Rita Wilson tested positive for coronavirus in Australia.

Read the full article here.

First coronavirus death reported in Oregon

Oregon officials announced the state's first official death due to coronavirus.

A 70-year-old man in Multnomah County, which includes Portland, died from COVID-19 on Saturday, the Oregon Health Authority announced.

The individual had underlying health conditions and tested positive for COVID-19 on March 10. He had not traveled internationally and had no known contact with a confirmed case. 

There were 36 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Oregon as of Sunday morning. Its neighbor to the north, Washington, has seen 646 cases and 40 deaths. The national death toll from coronavirus now stands at 60.