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Trump reaches aid deal with Democrats as cases mount

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
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

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

844d ago / 5:45 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 5:41 PM UTC

The state of air pollution

844d ago / 5:34 PM UTC

Separate the sick from the healthy: Why social distancing works

844d ago / 5:33 PM UTC

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.

Read more here.

Massachusetts governor announces ban on large gatherings

844d ago / 5:24 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 5:21 PM UTC

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.

Click here to read more.

WHO head says Europe is now epicenter of coronavirus outbreak

844d ago / 5:18 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 5:14 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 5:12 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 5:10 PM UTC

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.

Canada moves to restrict travel, suspend House of Commons

844d ago / 5:03 PM UTC

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. 

Los Angeles, San Diego closing public schools to 750,000 students for two weeks

844d ago / 5:03 PM UTC

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.

Norwegian Air lays off half its staff after Trump travel ban hits transatlantic flights

844d ago / 4:59 PM UTC

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

and

844d ago / 4:56 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 4:51 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 4:43 PM UTC
Image:
Medical personnel wait for motorists at a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at Glen Island Park on Friday in New Rochelle, N.Y. State officials have set up a "containment area" in the New York City suburb, where schools and houses of worship are closed within a 1-mile radius of a point near a synagogue where an infected person with coronavirus had attended events.John Minchillo / AP

 

Sign of the times, cont'd

844d ago / 4:42 PM UTC

Schumer: Trump 'must not overstep his authority'

844d ago / 4:39 PM UTC

New York Public Library to close through the end of month

844d ago / 4:33 PM UTC

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.

844d ago / 4:16 PM UTC

'Make-or-break days' in U.S. fight against coronavirus, Los Angeles mayor says

844d ago / 4:15 PM UTC

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.

ISIS publishes advice on how to avoid coronavirus

844d ago / 4:09 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 4:08 PM UTC

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.

Click here to read more

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

and

844d ago / 4:06 PM UTC

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!"

Read the full story here.

UPS workers see holiday shopping-level volume

844d ago / 4:03 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 3:52 PM UTC

Why the coronavirus is different from the flu

844d ago / 3:43 PM UTC

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.

Read the full story here.

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

844d ago / 3:39 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 3:34 PM UTC

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?

844d ago / 3:34 PM UTC

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.

Read the full story here.

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

844d ago / 3:30 PM UTC

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

844d ago / 3:25 PM UTC
Image: People take a selfie outside the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona, Spain
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.

U.S. general 'fairly certain' North Korea has COVID-19 cases

844d ago / 3:15 PM UTC

The top American general in South Korea said Friday he is fairly certain North Korea has not been spared by the COVID-19 outbreak that began in neighboring China, although the North has not publicly confirmed a single case.

Speaking by video-teleconference from his headquarters in South Korea, Army Gen. Robert Abrams told reporters at the Pentagon that the North had halted military training for a month — including a 24-day hiatus in military flying — but has since resumed.

“It is a closed-off nation, so we can’t say emphatically that they have cases, but we’re fairly certain they do," he said. “What I do know is that their armed forces had been fundamentally in a lockdown for about 30 days and only recently have they started routine training again."

Trump to hold afternoon news conference

844d ago / 2:59 PM UTC

844d ago / 2:54 PM UTC
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Federal agencies encouraged to provide telework flexibilities to vulnerable employees

844d ago / 2:53 PM UTC

The Office of Management and Budget is encouraging federal government departments and agencies to provide more flexible telework policies for employees who are at high risk for serious complications from COVID-19 and who have weakened immune systems like pregnant women. 

The guidance was released in a memo Thursday by OMB which says that some of the vulnerable people are those who "have chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or compromised immune systems."

"Agencies do not need to require certification by a medical professional, and may accept self-identification by employees that they are in one of these populations," it says. 

The memo also instructs agencies to consult with public health officials to determine whether to extend telework flexibilities to all eligible workers in areas where the disease has spread.

U.S. Department of Defense shuts schools across Europe

844d ago / 2:42 PM UTC

The U.S. Department of Defense says it's temporarily shutting down all schools on continental European military facilities as a precaution against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, affecting tens of thousands of students.

Department of Defense Schools spokesman Stephen Smith told The Associated Press on Friday the closures as of Monday would affect 63 elementary, middle and high schools in Germany, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, and likely Ankara, Turkey. Three schools in the U.K. will remain open for the time being, he said.

In all, some 27,000 students attend the Defense Department schools in Europe, Smith said, adding that the schools will be closed through the April break and then the situation will be reassessed. 

Starting next week, a distance learning plan, already in use for the students in Italy and Bahrain, will be implemented in Europe, he said. 

Chinese-language media in U.S. are debunking coronavirus misinformation

844d ago / 2:42 PM UTC

The warning on Chinese-language social media was dire — unless you want the coronavirus, avoid the Gold City Supermarket in Flushing in the New York borough of Queens.

The report turned out to be false, one in a string of fake news stories shared widely on WeChat, a platform popular with Chinese-language speakers, many of them from mainland China.

It was eventually debunked by Chinese-language media in New York — home to the largest Chinese population of any city outside Asia.

Read the full story here.

Boston Marathon postponed until Sept. 14

844d ago / 2:32 PM UTC

The marathon, originally scheduled for April 20, will now be held on Sept. 14, the Boston Athletic Association said in a statement.

“On matters of public health and safety we take our guidance from the officials entrusted with protecting the public in this area,” said Tom Grilk, CEO of the association. “We understand our role, along with our partners, in ensuring a safe environment for all participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters that meets the standards set by those officials.”

Masters golf tournament postponed

844d ago / 2:29 PM UTC

"Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive,  Chip and Putt National Finals," said Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.

The Masters had been scheduled for April 9 through 12.

France bans gatherings for over 100

844d ago / 2:21 PM UTC

France has banned gatherings for more than 100 people to contain the outbreak of coronavirus in the country, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Friday.

The move  comes after French President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday that schools, daycare centers, and universities would close starting the following Monday.

In a televised interview, Macron called coronavirus the "most serious sanitary crisis France has ever known in a century." The country had more than 1,500 confirmed cases of the virus as of Friday.

Michigan suspends outside visits at state prisons

844d ago / 2:18 PM UTC

Michigan is halting in-person visits at its more than three dozen state prisons in an effort to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus, although officials said there have been no cases among its prison population.

The state has at least 12 cases of COVID-19. "This was not a decision we arrived at lightly, as we understand and recognize the importance of family contact with the prison population," Heidi Washington, the director of the Michigan Department of Corrections, said in a statement Friday.

844d ago / 2:17 PM UTC
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Ted Cruz extends coronavirus quarantine

844d ago / 1:59 PM UTC

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Friday he was extending his self-quarantine after coming in contact with a second person who later tested positive for coronavirus. 

Cruz was already in self-quarantine after attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland last month, where a person tested positive for COVID-19. The lawmaker said Friday he remains without symptoms and would self-quarantine until March 17. 

“On March 3, I met in my D.C. office with Santiago Abascal, the leader of the Vox Party in Spain," he said in a statement Friday. "We met for about 20 minutes, sitting together at a conference table. We shook hands twice and took pictures together."

“My understanding is that Mr. Abascal tested positive for COVID-19 last night," he said. "His staff have informed us that he was asymptomatic at the time of our meeting and that several days after our meeting he had extended interactions with another individual who has also tested positive."

 

Germany offers 'loans of any size' to struggling businesses

844d ago / 1:45 PM UTC

Germany said Friday it is prepared to make loans of any size to help companies get over liquidity issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement released by the finance and economy ministries.

German Finance Minister Olaf Sholz said the country would take on debt to help businesses avoid potential economic breakdown. He also suggested that the government could step in and take ownership stakes in German companies. 

In the U.S., President Donald Trump has promised financial stimulus such as providing loans to small businesses affected by widespread fears of the virus.

Where things stand on coronovirus aid bill

844d ago / 1:39 PM UTC

We left last night with Speaker Pelosi saying that her and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin were “close” to a deal on the coronavirus legislative package. Negotiations continue today as there are still a couple of outstanding issues.

Secretary Mnuchin said on CNBC that “negotiations are going very well. This has been a bipartisan effort,” noting he has spoken to President Trump and GOP leadership several times during this process. “I think we are very close to getting this done.”

In Manhattan, bus cleanings ramp up

844d ago / 1:35 PM UTC

Wall Street bounces back after worst day since Black Monday

844d ago / 1:34 PM UTC

Wall Street rallied on Friday, bouncing firmly back after the worst day for markets since the Black Monday crash in 1987.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared by around 1,200 points, with the S&P and Nasdaq surging by around 5 percent each.

The boost in stocks came after lawmakers and the White House appeared closed to finalizing an economic relief package to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Turkey prepares for coronavirus

844d ago / 1:31 PM UTC
Image: Turkey Prepares For Coronavirus
Workers from Istanbul Municipality disinfect a mosque to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, coronavirus ahead of Friday prayers on Friday in Istanbul, Turkey.Chris McGrath / Getty Images

First Read: Coronavirus response represents watershed week in 2020 campaign

, and

844d ago / 1:23 PM UTC

This has been a week that has changed the trajectory of the 2020 election, as well as the trajectory for the entire nation.

The disruption from the spread of the coronavirus — and the political reaction to it — is certainly the biggest part of that change.

An economic recession now seems almost inevitable.

Get the rest of First Read.

Italians adjust to new reality under lockdown

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844d ago / 1:17 PM UTC
Image: The deserted Spanish Steps by the Trinita dei Monti church in central Rome
The deserted Spanish Steps by the Trinita dei Monti church in central Rome on Thursday.Alberto Pizzoli / AFP - Getty Images

The local chef did not expect police to swoop in when he paused to take a picture of this city's renowned Spanish Steps, which for once were free of hordes of tourists as a result of Italy's sweeping coronavirus lockdown.

But officers handed Andrea Misseri a fine of between 60 and 80 euros (around $70 to $90) because he didn’t have the correct permission to leave his home.

“The fine now can happen if you're going anywhere without any reason, so at the moment it’s like a curfew,” he told NBC News right after the incident on Thursday. “It’s too strict.”

Italians throughout this country of 60 million are coming to terms with the new reality that has been imposed by the nationwide restrictions on movement aimed at slowing the spread of the deadly disease.

Read the whole story here.

Sen. Susan Collins meets with Maine health officials

844d ago / 1:11 PM UTC

Obama economist says coronavirus 'potentially more serious' than 2008 crash

844d ago / 1:00 PM UTC
Key Speakers At The NABE Annual Meeting
Jason Furman, professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.Sarah Silbiger / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

An unexpected crisis has sent the stock market into free fall, Congress is divided on how to respond, and experts across the political spectrum are demanding unprecedented action to stave off catastrophe.

It’s a situation that’s all too familiar for Jason Furman, who advised President Obama’s campaign during the 2008 financial crisis and went on to serve as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Read our full interview here.

Spain looks at Italy for clues to deal with outbreak

844d ago / 12:57 PM UTC

As Italy grinds to a halt in hopes of stopping its outbreak, Spain has become the next country at risk of having its health care system pushed to the brink by the global pandemic.

Image: A Catalan Police officer, Mossos d'Escuadra register a car trying to arrive to Igualada at a check-point outside the city on March 13, 2020 near Barcelona, Spain.
A Catalan Police officer registers a car trying to arrive to Igualada at a check-point outside the city on Friday near Barcelona, Spain.David Ramos / Getty Images

Over 60,000 people awoke Friday in four towns near Barcelona confined to their homes and with police blocking roads. The order by regional authorities in Catalonia is Spain's first mandatory lockdown as infections increase sharply, putting a strain on health services and pressure on the government for more action.

The situation in and around the Spanish capital, Madrid, with nearly 2,000 positive cases of the virus and hospitals rapidly filling up, is a source of particular concern for authorities. The country as a whole had more than 3,800 cases by Friday morning and at least 84 deaths, but with a rate of contagion that is skyrocketing. In some areas, cases are doubling overnight.

Nepal closes Mount Everest for climbers

844d ago / 12:43 PM UTC

Nepal has closed all of its Himalayan peaks including Mount Everest due to the coronavirus outbreak, a government minister said on Friday.

Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 highest mountains including Mount Everest, earns about $4.4 million a year in permit fees from climbers aiming to scale the world's highest peak and other mountains.

Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai said expeditions to all peaks in the March-May spring season had been suspended.

First cases reported in East Africa

844d ago / 12:21 PM UTC

Kenya has banned all major public events after confirming its first case of the coronavirus from a woman who had returned to Kenya from the United States, the health minister said on Friday.

Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary for health, told a news conference the government had suspended all public gatherings, sporting events, open-air religious meetings and "all events that are of a huge public nature."

Image: Kenya's Minister of Health Mutahi Kagwwe announces the first COVID-19 coronaviurs case in Kenya, a 27 year-old Kenyan woman came from the U.S., at the press conference in Harambee house in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya's Minister of Health Mutahi Kagwwe announces the first COVID-19 coronaviurs case in Kenya, a 27 year-old Kenyan woman came from the U.S., at the press conference in Harambee house in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday.Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP - Getty Images

Also on Friday, neighboring Ethiopia confirmed its first case of the virus.

What should you stock in your fridge and pantry?

844d ago / 12:20 PM UTC

The latest CDC recommendations call for people at higher risk of serious illness from the coronavirus to take action, including stocking up on groceries and any medications they may need.

If you’re preparing to stay home more than usual, it’s important to have healthful foods on hand. That means selecting foods that pack a nutritional punch in order to ensure you’re getting the fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other health- and immune-supporting compounds you need.

It also means shopping for food that will last for an extended period of time — about two weeks’ worth for those who are quarantined. We hope you won’t be holed up for too long, but just in case, here’s a list of foods to buy.

Here's a guide on how to stock your pantry for the long haul.

Trump condemns CDC for lack of coronavirus testing, blames Obama

844d ago / 11:51 AM UTC

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for being ill-prepared to test for the coronavirus and blamed President Barack Obama for the situation.

"For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further.....," Trump wrote.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump wrote, “.... Their response to H1N1 Swine Flu was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now. The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis. All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!"

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South Korean nurses suit up to treat patients infected with COVID-19

844d ago / 11:48 AM UTC
Image: Nurses from Keimyung University hospital posing for portraits between shifts caring for patients infected with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Daegu, South Koea
Nurses from Keimyung University hospital posing for portraits between shifts caring for patients infected with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Daegu, South Koea on Friday.Ed Jones / AFP - Getty Images

U.S. cases surpass 1,700 as Congress works towards aid package

844d ago / 11:33 AM UTC

The number of cases reported in the United States has surpassed past 1,700 on Friday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll remained at 41.

Congress is nearing a deal with the Trump administration on a sweeping aid package with sick pay, food assistance, free coronavirus testing and other resources to help reassure anxious Americans and calm markets, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late Thursday.

English Premier League suspends soccer season

844d ago / 11:23 AM UTC

The English Premier League announced Friday it was suspended until April 3 due to the coronavirus, when the situation will then be reviewed.

The decision comes just a day after the league said games this weekend would continue with fans in stadiums, in contrast to decisions taken by other major sports leagues from the NBA to MLB. That appears to have changed last night after Arsenal announced coach Mikel Arteta had tested positive for COVID-19. 

The country’s top sports league has legions of fans in the U.S. and across the world. The suspension leaves the fate of the season, most of which had already been played, in doubt. Liverpool had seemed on course to seal a historic title after decades of waiting. Other English soccer leagues also said Friday they were suspended for the same period.

Japan still plans to hold a 'sound and safe' Olympics

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844d ago / 11:17 AM UTC

Japan said it was determined to hold the Tokyo Olympics on schedule on Friday, after President Donald Trump suggested a one-year delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, Trump told reporters that he "just can't see having no people there," referring to the Tokyo Games, according to Reuters. "I think if you cancel it, make it a year later that's a better alternative than doing it with no crowd."

In response, Japan Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto told reporters that among the International Olympic Committee and 2020 organizers, "There have been absolutely no discussions about a possible postponement or a cancellation either." 

"Preparations are underway for the July 24 opening ceremony, ensuring that we are able to hold a sound and safe Games," she said.

High risk of European health capacity being overwhelmed, experts warn

845d ago / 10:37 AM UTC

The risk is high that European healthcare systems will be overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreak, the E.U.'s health agency has warned.

"The risk of healthcare system capacity being exceeded in the E.U./[European Economic Area] and the U.K. in the coming weeks is considered high," the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a statement on Thursday.

The also called for a slew of measures to be implemented to halt the spread of the deadly disease — including quarantines of confirmed or suspected carriers  and prioritizing slowing demand for specialized healthcare needs, such as ICU beds.

The European Economic Area (EAA) includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.

Venezuelan migrants wear protective masks at Colombian border

845d ago / 10:31 AM UTC
Image: People coming from Venezuela with protective face masks as a precautionary measure to avoid contracting the new coronavirus, COVID-19, show hold their documents on the border at Simon Bolivar International Bridge, in Cucuta, Colombia,
People coming from Venezuela wore protective face masks as a precautionary measure against the new coronavirus as they showed their documents on the Colombian border at Simon Bolivar International Bridge on Thursday.Schneyder Mendoz / AFP - Getty Images

Melbourne F1 Grand Prix canceled amid coronavirus fears

845d ago / 10:26 AM UTC
Image: Members of the Ferrari team arrive to pack up their equipment after the Formula One Australian Grand Prix was canceled in Melbourne
After the Formula One Australian Grand Prix was canceled in Melbourne on Friday, members of the Ferrari team arrived to pack up their equipment.William West / AFP - Getty Images

Australian official who tested positive recently met with Ivanka Trump, Barr

845d ago / 10:00 AM UTC

An Australian minister who recently met with Ivanka Trump and Attorney General William Barr announced on Friday that he had the coronavirus. 

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton announced on Twitter Friday that he had "woken up with a sore throat," taken a test and "was subsequently tested for COVID-19." 

Last week, Dutton met with President Donald Trump's daughter and Barr during a meeting to "fight online child exploitation."

As of Friday, there are more than 100 confirmed cases in Australia.

Read the full story here.

845d ago / 7:37 AM UTC

Oregon, Michigan latest to order statewide school closures

845d ago / 6:44 AM UTC

Oregon’s governor on Thursday night ordered the closure of K-12 schools statewide until the end of month, citing health concerns and staffing problems related to the novel coronavirus.

Michigan’s governor Thursday night ordered all public school buildings closed to students starting Monday until April 5 in what she said was a move to slow the spread of the coronavirus illness COVID-19.

Earlier Thursday, Maryland’s governor said all public schools in the state would be closed starting Monday through March 27. Ohio's governor also announced a similar move set to begin  at the end of the school day Monday and lasts through April 3.

Jet Blue: Passenger who didn’t tell airline test was pending is now banned

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845d ago / 6:37 AM UTC

JetBlue said Thursday that a passenger who arrived at a Florida airport reportedly as a positive coronavirus case didn’t tell anyone at the airline that a test was pending.

The airline identified the plane that landed Wednesday evening as Flight 253.

That is the plane that NBC affiliate WPTV of West Palm Beach reported landed at Palm Beach International Airport from JKF in New York with a passenger who tested positive for COVID-19. That person is isolated, and people who were near the passenger are being asked to self-monitor for symptoms.

"In reviewing last night’s event, we determined the customer boarded our flight knowing he was awaiting results for a coronavirus test without disclosing it to anyone at JetBlue,” airline communications manager Derek Dombrowski said in a statement.

The airline is asking that anyone who is feeling unwell, thinks they have the coronavirus, or is awaiting testing to avoid travel. “Last night’s event put our crewmembers, customers, and federal and local officials in an unsettling situation that could have easily been avoided, and as such, this customer will not be permitted to fly on JetBlue in the future,” Dombrowski said.

NBA games on hold for at least 30 days

845d ago / 6:17 AM UTC

The National Basketball Association said Thursday that games will be on hold for at least 30 days.  

“We intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a letter to fans posted online

The suspension was announced after a player for the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus. 

American Airlines to reduce, suspend some flights

845d ago / 5:28 AM UTC

American Airlines will reduce international capacity this summer in response to customer demand amid the coronavirus outbreak, the airline said Thursday. It is also suspending some flights from some U.S. airports to Europe.

The changes will reduce international capacity for the summer season by 34 percent, the airline said.

The announcement comes after President Donald Trump said Wednesday that travel would be restricted from most of Europe for 30 days, although there are exceptions.

The airline will continue to operate flights to and from Europe for up to seven days to give people a chance to return home. But flights between Charlotte, North Carolina, Philadelphia, and Raleigh/Durham, also in North Carolina, to some European destinations would be suspended.

PGA cancels Players Championship

845d ago / 2:42 AM UTC

Alaska identifies first case

845d ago / 2:38 AM UTC

Officials in Alaska have identified the state’s first presumptive positive case of the coronavirus illness COVID-19 and said that the person is a foreign national “transiting through” the state.

“It was just a matter of time” before Alaska saw its first case, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said at a press conference.

The positive test will be sent to the CDC for confirmation. The person knew about coronavirus and had been self-monitoring, and as soon as he developed symptoms he notified officials, Dr. Anne Zink, chief medical officer of Alaska, said. He self-isolated the entire time.

Tom Hanks offers update from isolation: Taking it one day at a time

845d ago / 2:30 AM UTC

Read the full story here.