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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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Senator tweets letter he sent Trump about pandemic team more than 600 days ago

Trump says he will probably get tested soon for the coronavirus

President Donald Trump said Friday that he would "most likely" get tested for coronavirus but denied it was because he interacted with a man who later tested positive.

Trump was asked about the testing issue in the White House Rose Garden, where he declared a national emergency.

"Not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway," Trump said, when questioned by a reporter about standing next to an aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at his Mar-a-Lago resort last weekend. Later, the aide, Fabio Wajngarten — who is seen in photos with Trump on social media — tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

'I didn't do it': Trump claims no knowledge of White House pandemic unit's disbanding

President Donald Trump said Friday that he did not know anything about the elimination of jobs addressing global pandemics at the White House National Security Council.

Veterans of past disease outbreaks have said the downsizing of staff at the NSC's Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense — a unit sometimes referred to as the White House pandemic office — in 2018 was likely to hamper the U.S. government's response to the coronavirus.

"I didn't do it," Trump said when asked about the unit at a news conference to announce a national emergency declaration in response to the coronavirus outbreak. "We have group of people. I could ask perhaps — my administration — but I could perhaps ask Tony [Fauci] about that because I don't know anything about it." He added, "It's the administration, perhaps they do that. You know, people let people go." 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stood alongside Trump and other administration and business officials during the new conference. Fauci commented at a House hearing this week on the scrapping of the NSC unit, saying, "We worked very well with that office. It would be nice if the office was still there."

University of Texas president in isolation after wife tests positive

The president of the University of Texas' main campus said Friday he was in isolation after his wife tested positive for coronavirus.

Gregory L. Fenves said in a statement that the Austin, Texas, institution was closed and classes have been canceled after the first case of the virus was reported in "our UT community."

"It is difficult for me to write this because the person who tested positive is my wife Carmel," he said. "And a second member of my family (who works at UT) is presumed to have COVID-19 as well. I have now been tested for the virus, and the three of us are in self-isolation."

Fenves said he and his wife recently traveled to New York City for alumni and student events and returned Saturday.

Boston archdiocese suspends Catholic masses

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, suspended all weekend masses in the city until further notice. 

The directive is effective as of 4 p.m. Saturday and applies to all archdiocesan parishes, missions and campus ministries.

Baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals will be allowed to go on as planned with attendance limited to only immediate family, according to the Archdiocese of Boston.

People are encouraged to participate in daily mass via broadcast using the Catholic TV channel. Click here for more details.

Europe now 'the epicenter of the pandemic,' WHO says

More coronavirus cases are reported each day outside of China than China reported at the peak of its epidemic, the World Health Organization said Friday.

"Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said during a media briefing.

Read more here.

Washington's statewide school closures extended until end of April

 

Colorado announces first death

Colorado announced its first coronavirus death on Friday, bringing the national death toll to 43.

The patient was a woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions who lived in El Paso County.

The state now has 72 cases. 

Movie theaters remain open, but AMC cuts capacity

With few exceptions, movie theaters across North America are remaining open while Broadway theaters, sports arenas and museums close their doors to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

While Hollywood studios have canceled most upcoming films, this weekend is going forward with a slate of new releases and holdovers. The largest chains, AMC, Regal and Cinemark, are all operating, though some theaters are taking extra precautions.

AMC Theaters announced Friday that it would cut audience capacity by 50 percent starting Saturday through April 30. The chain based in Leawood, Kansas, said it would do so by capping ticket sales.

It also said it would limit its larger theaters to a maximum of 250 people. "AMC is taking aggressive, nationwide steps to provide additional space between guests within all its U.S. theatres," the company said in a statement.