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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Los Angeles, San Diego closing public schools to 750,000 students for two weeks
Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts will close for instruction to their combined 750,000 students for two weeks beginning Monday to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Friday morning.
Beutner had forestalled making the decision, citing the district's high rate of families living in poverty. "Our schools provide a social safety net for our children," Beutner said in an email to parents announcing the closing. "The closing of any school has real consequences beyond the loss of instructional time. This is not an easy decision and not one we take lightly."
Los Angeles' school district announced a partnership with two local public television stations, PBS SoCal and KCET, to offer educational programming during the closure, and Beutner said family resource centers would be open beginning Wednesday.
Canada moves to restrict travel, suspend House of Commons
Canada has moved to reduce the number of airports accepting overseas travelers, increased screenings of travelers, advised against non-essential foreign travel and suspended cruises until July in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The country's House of Commons will also be suspended.
"The agreement we reached with other parties to suspect the House gives us the flexibility to do the things we need to do in order to protect Canadians," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from Rideau Cottage, where he is in self-isolation after his wife tested positive for coronavirus. Trudeau said he is not symptomatic.
He urged Canadians not to worry about the economy as officials are planning to unveil a "significant fiscal stimulus package" in the coming days. "These are significant steps, and we will do more," Trudeau said. "We are pulling out all the stops." The Canadian government has also allocated $1 billion to fight the spread of the virus.
Norwegian Air lays off half its staff after Trump travel ban hits transatlantic flights
Low-cost international airline Norwegian Air announced Thursday it was canceling over 4,000 flights and temporarily laying off almost half its workforce.
The move follows President Donald Trump’s announcement this week that the U.S. is restricting visitors from certain European countries.
“This is an unprecedented situation and our main priority continues to be the care and safety of our customers and colleagues,” Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said in a statement. “We urge international governments to act now to ensure that the aviation industry can protect jobs and continue to be a vital part of the global economic recovery.”
The cutbacks will last until the end of May, the announcement said.
Broadband companies offer price cuts on internet service
Internet service providers are beginning to advertise temporary discounts, including for students whose schools are closed because of the coronavirus.
Charter Communications said Friday it would offer free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 or college students who do not already have a broadband subscription. Cox Communications said it was offering one month free to new customers of its low-income service beginning Monday, and increasing the service’s speed beginning Tuesday.
AT&T said Thursday it was waiving internet data overage fees for customers who did not already have unlimited home internet access. Comcast said it would give its Internet Essentials service away for free for 60 days (Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News).
Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, parent company of NBC News, made a number of new customer commitments late Friday, including opening its Xfinity WiFi hotspots to anyone around the country that wants to use them free of charge.
The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that Chairman Ajit Pai was “calling on broadband and telephone service providers to promote the connectivity of Americans impacted by the disruptions caused by the #coronavirus pandemic.”
U.K's Johnson postpones English local and mayoral elections for a year
The U.K.'s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has postponed May's local and mayoral elections in England for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
His office made the announcement after Britain's Electoral Commission watchdog said the polls should be put off until the autumn to "mitigate" the impact of the virus.
The elections were due to appoint some 120 English local councils, eight directly elected mayors including in London and 40 police and crime commissioners in England and Wales.
Ten people have died with the virus in the U.K. and 798 cases have been confirmed across the country.
New Rochelle lockdown
Sign of the times, cont'd
Schumer: Trump 'must not overstep his authority'
New York Public Library to close through the end of month
The New York Public Library announced Friday that it would be closing through at least March 31, starting Saturday.
New York City's library system, which services Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, is a vital resource for the city's most vulnerable populations including the elderly and homeless, especially during the coldest and hottest months of the year.
"While we have been proud to stay open to serve the public amid storms and other emergencies, the best way we can serve our patrons now is to help contain the virus, especially as our patrons include many seniors and others at high risk," it said in an email sent out to library card holders.
'Make-or-break days' in U.S. fight against coronavirus, Los Angeles mayor says
These are "make-or-break" days in America's fight against the new coronavirus, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday.
The mayor of the country's second-largest city spoke to MSNBC on Friday, a day after announcing stringent protective measures such as banning all events or conferences for more than 50 people on city-owned properties.
Garcetti said he is impressed by state and local officials across the country taking similar steps to try to slow the spread of the virus.
They "know that these are the most critical days we have. We will look back on this period and this will be the make-or-break days," the mayor said.
The novel coronavirus has killed 41 people in the United States and surpassed 1,700 confirmed or presumptive cases as of Friday morning. Los Angeles County has 32 confirmed cases and 1 death so far from coronavirus. A total of four people have died from the virus in California.