Trump reaches aid deal with Democrats as cases mount

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Image: Servpro workers file in to begin a third day of cleaning at Life Care Center of Kirkland
Servpro workers begin a third day of cleaning Friday at Life Care Center of Kirkland, Wash., a long-term care facility linked to several confirmed coronavirus cases. Lindsey Wasson / Reuters

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President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday, the most significant move yet by the U.S. government to head off the coronavirus outbreak, and House Democrats and the White House later reached a deal on an aid package.

Trump's declaration came as many public and private institutions have taken action — including canceling major events, temporarily banning large gatherings, closing schools and telling people to work from home — in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled, soared, and then closed with a gain of 1,900 points after the emergency declaration. Wall Street had reeled Thursday afternoon after coronavirus fears drove the markets to their worst day since the Black Monday crash in 1987.

The United States as of Friday afternoon had surpassed 2,000 confirmed or presumptive cases of the coronavirus, and the death toll climbed to 41.

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ISIS publishes advice on how to avoid coronavirus

ISIS has issued “advice” to its followers on how to avoid the coronavirus, although the tips are mainly religious as opposed to scientific.

Publishing the guidelines in the 225th edition of its weekly newsletter al-Naba, the terror group urged people to pray to avoid diseases, but stressed “the importance of believing that diseases themselves are not infectious and the everything is destined by God,” according to a translation by global security firm and NBC News analyst, Flashpoint Intelligence.

On a more practical level, it said that people should cover their mouths when yawning or coughing, wash their hands and avoid going into contaminated areas and vice versa.    

Trump plans to declare national emergency to combat coronavirus

President Donald Trump plans to declare a national emergency Friday to allow more direct relief to Americans affected by the coronavirus, two administration officials told NBC News.

The move could help open up tens of billions of dollars to help fight the rapidly spreading pandemic.

Trump announced earlier in the day that he will hold a 3 p.m. press conference Friday afternoon about the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has come under increasing fire in recent weeks over his response to the pandemic while his administration weathered criticism for the lack of coronavirus testing being done compared with other countries.

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Chinese official suggests U.S. Army to blame for outbreak

Chinese officials have sidestepped questions about whether Beijing blames Washington for the coronavirus outbreak after a foreign ministry spokesman suggested it could have been planted by the U.S. Army.

"When did patient zero begin in U.S.? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” Zhao Lijian tweeted in both Chinese and English on Thursday. “Be transparent! Make public your data! U.S. owe us an explanation!"

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UPS workers see holiday shopping-level volume

Online shopping has risen sharply around the country as people are encouraged to social distance because of coronavirus, say retail analysts. Delivery volume is up around the country and has reached holiday season-levels in some places, according to UPS workers in several states, with one describing it as “like Christmas.” During what they say is normally a slower time of year, UPS drivers and union representatives in Florida, Georgia and New York told NBC News they are seeing volumes they normally only see during the holiday season, with some working 12-hour days or longer to keep up with demand.

“We had a guy this morning go out with an entire truck with just toilet paper on it,” a driver in Wisconsin said.

G7 leaders to meet on videoconference on Monday, Macron says

Why the coronavirus is different from the flu

They spread in similar ways and share many of the same symptoms — but the flu and the coronavirus have key differences.

While President Donald Trump has repeatedly compared the coronavirus to seasonal influenza, experts say the coronavirus can be more insidious for several reasons: It is more contagious; it has a higher mortality rate; and, unlike the flu, currently there is no vaccine for it.

"We have much more capability and expertise to treat and prevent the flu that we don't yet have with coronavirus," said Dr. Sankar Swaminathan, an infectious diseases expert and virologist at the University of Utah Health.

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Rep. Joe Kennedy temporarily suspends Senate campaign activities for a week

Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., is temporarily suspending his Senate campaign at close of business Friday, his campaign manager Nick Clemons said in a statement.

"We don't believe it is appropriate or wise to continue political activities given the reality that  Massachusetts families and communities are facing. Our top priority is ensuring our staff, supporters, community, and the general public are safe," Clemons said. 

The suspension, he said, will last a week and they will reassess the situation by close of business on March 20. Kennedy is challenging incumbent Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., in the state's primary. 

Sen. Ron Johnson weighing decision to self-quarantine after meeting with Spanish official who tested positive

A spokesman for Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said Friday the lawmaker is deciding if he needs to self-quarantine after meeting with an official who tested positive for COVID-19. 

“Senator Johnson is consulting with doctors about the need to self-quarantine, but he feels healthy and well," the spokesman said. 

Johnson, the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, met with a member of the Spanish parliament on March 2, who later tested positive for coronavirus, the spokesman said. His office did not disclose the name of the official. Spain had more than 3,800 cases by Friday morning and at least 84 deaths.

Johnson, who is also chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, regularly meets with European government officials and diplomats in his Washington office, the spokesman said.

How long does coronavirus live on surfaces?

Touching any surface suddenly seems dangerous in the era of the coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates it could be viable for “hours to days.”

A preliminary study published this week found the virus could be detected in the air for up to three hours after it was aerosolized with a nebulizer, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The newest research, which has not yet been peer reviewed, was conducted by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, Princeton University, the University of California and the CDC.

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Bitcoin plunges nearly 50 percent in one day amid market sell-off

The price of bitcoin plunged Thursday from about $9,000 per coin to $4,000, with roughly $93 billion wiped from the broader, highly volatile cryptocurrency market within a 24-hour period, according to data from coinmarketcap.com

The price of bitcoin recovered slightly within minutes, and as of late morning Friday the digital currency was trading at about $5,700.

The swift drop occurred around 10 p.m. ET, following a broader market sell-off that saw the stock market enter “bear market” territory, a 20 percent drop from recent highs amid broader pessimism.

Spain declares a state of emergency

A couple pose for a selfie outside the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona on March 13, 2020.Joan Mateu / AP

Spain has declared a state of emergency for the next 15 days to better combat the coronavirus, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Friday, in a dramatic increase to the policy response that will allow authorities to confine people and ration goods.

The state of emergency, which Sanchez said will formally be decided by a cabinet meeting on Saturday, will give the government power to take wide-ranging measures including temporarily occupying factories or any other premises except private homes.

"The government of Spain will protect all its citizens and will guarantee the right life conditions to slow the pandemic with as little inconvenience as possible," Sanchez said.

He did not spell out what specific measures the government will take, but schools have already shut down across the country and many cinemas, theatres and playgrounds have also closed. Court cases have also been suspended in several regions as normal life came to a halt in the euro zone's fourth-largest economy.