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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Italy records 250 deaths in one day
Italy recorded 250 deaths in the space of 24 hours, the country's Civil Protection Agency said Friday.
The 25 percent rise — the largest rise in absolute terms since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy— brought the total number of dead to 1,266, it added.
The total number of cases in the country, the worst hit in Europe, has gone up by 17 percent, from 15,113 to 17,660, it said.
West Virginia closing schools starting Monday
The state of air pollution
Separate the sick from the healthy: Why social distancing works
In the past 48 hours, America has stepped closer to lockdown: Several states have closed schools, professional sports leagues have suspended their seasons, and companies across the U.S. have asked employees to work from home. These measures are all intended to limit social interactions, and hopefully, slow the spread of the coronavirus.
And while the response may seem extreme, one of the best methods in public health to slow the spread of a virus and minimize its effects on the most vulnerable populations is this very strategy, called social distancing.
Massachusetts governor announces ban on large gatherings
The office of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has issued a recent order that will prohibit large gatherings of 200 people or more in the state, effective immediately. The annual Boston Marathon that was slated to take place in April has been postponed until mid-September.
Similarly, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that he is also instituting a ban on gatherings of 500 people or more starting Friday at 5 p.m. ET.
Louisiana becomes first state to postpone election due to coronavirus
WASHINGTON — Louisiana became the first state Friday to postpone an election due to the coronavirus outbreak, saying it will push back its April 4 primary, in which Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will face off, until June 20.
The action comes as election officials across the country are taking steps to mitigate voters' exposure to the virus in upcoming votes in the Democratic presidential primary and local races.
"The two-month delay of this election will continue to allow our office to procure necessary supplies to put our state in best possible posture for the time when this election is conducted," Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said at a press conference Friday, adding that municipal general elections, previously scheduled for May 9, will now take place on July 25.
Ardoin said the decision was made especially with local election commissioners in mind. Over half of them are 65 or older, he said, a population that is at heightened risk for the COVID-19 disease.
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WHO head says Europe is now epicenter of coronavirus outbreak
Europe is now the epicenter of the global coronavirus outbreak, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.
Tedros said that Europe is more reporting more cases on a daily basis than China reported at the height of its outbreak.
Italy has been particularly hard hit by the virus, while Spain, Germany and France have also confirmed thousands of cases.
Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage
The coronavirus is creating a huge, stressful experiment in working from home [The Atlantic]
Some kids in New York’s coronavirus containment zone are worried their 'Corona Break' will set them back [BuzzFeed News]
Movie theaters battle to stay open despite shelved films, but for how long? [The Hollywood Reporter]
Miami mayor tests positive
Miami mayor Francis Suarez said Friday he has tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation to protect his family and contacts. "I feel completely healthy and strong," the 42-year-old mayor said in a statement,
"If we did not shake hands or you did not come into contact with me if I coughed or sneezed, there is no action you need to take whatsoever. If we did, however, touch or shake hands, or if I sneezed or coughed near you since Monday, it is recommended that you self-isolate for 14 days, but you do not need to get tested."
Suarez provided contact information for guidelines on testing for Florida residents: Floridahealth.gov or the state health department at 866-779-6121 or Miami’s COVID-19 call center, 305-960-5027.
Cases ramping up in Africa as six new countries confirm infection
Cases of the new coronavirus are ramping up in Africa, with six new countries announcing confirmed infections in the past 24 hours.
Across Africa, 18 of the continent's 54 countries have now registered COVID-19 cases. The majority of these cases are imported, authorities say.
On Friday, Kenya, Guinea and Ethiopia reported their first cases, while Gabon and Ghana did so late Thursday. Sudan also reported its first case, a person who had already died.
Experts warn that on the booming continent of more than 1.3 billion people, containment is key as Africa's already strained health systems could likely lead to a higher mortality rate and deeper crisis that would have global impact.
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.