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Restrictions on daily life grow as U.S. death toll climbs

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
A traveler talks with a security officer at Washington Union Station, a major transportation hub in the nation's capital, on March 16, 2020.
A traveler talks with a security officer at Washington Union Station, a major transportation hub in the nation's capital, on March 16, 2020.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Dow Jones plunged nearly 3,000 points as U.S. states and major cities are following European nations and capitals in shutting down schools, bars and theaters to try and delay the spread of coronavirus.

California officials announced a complete lockdown of the Bay Area, including San Francisco, that requires people to stay home except for essential needs, and the governor of Ohio is recommending postponing the state's primary elections originally scheduled for Tuesday.

New York, Los Angeles and Washington state have all announced public buildings will be shut temporarily, amid fears that the number of cases will continue to grow beyond the confirmed 4,000. The National Security Council stressed Sunday night that there is no U.S.-wide shutdown or national quarantine.

A long list of European nations that have enacted severe countrywide lockdowns, including France, Spain, Denmark, Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland. Italy, the worst affected European country, has recorded more than 1,800 coronavirus-related deaths so far and expects some 90,000 infections by the end of April.

The U.S. death toll climbed to at least 85, with 25 of those deaths associated with the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington.

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934d ago / 2:48 PM UTC

N.Y., N.J. and Connecticut announce widespread closures Monday night to combat coronavirus

Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Ned Lamont of Connecticut announced in a conference call that starting Monday night at 8 p.m., all restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms and casinos will be ordered closed, while no events of more than 50 people will be permitted in their states.

Bars and restaurants will still be able to provide takeout and delivery services after the 8 p.m. closure.

Cuomo told reporters on the call that they felt it necessary to agree "to a common set of rules that will pertain in all of our states" so that people wouldn't "even think about going to a neighboring state because there's going to be a different set of conditions."

Speaking at a press conference with reporters, Cuomo called on the federal government to create national guidelines so that different states aren't each doing their own measures, saying that creates the appearance that the country is in "chaos" and "out of control."

934d ago / 2:46 PM UTC

Norwegian airline temporarily lays off 7,300 staff

A European airline plans to temporarily lay off more than 7,000 staffers as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the aviation industry.

The airline, Norwegian, said in a statement Monday that around 90 percent of its workforce would be laid off for an unspecified amount of time as the majority of its flights are grounded. The airline operates mainly out of the United Kingdom and carried 6 million passengers from there last year.

“What our industry is now facing is unprecedented and critical as we are approaching a scenario where most of our airplanes will be temporarily grounded,” CEO Jacob Schram said.

“It is indeed with a heavy heart we have to temporarily lay off more than 7,300 of our colleagues, but we unfortunately have no choice. However, I want to emphasize that this is temporary, because when the world returns to normalcy my goal is to keep as many of our dedicated colleagues as possible,” Schram added.

934d ago / 2:45 PM UTC
934d ago / 2:30 PM UTC

The scene in Italy

Hospital personnel look out the window of the Gemelli hospital where coronavirus patients are being treated in Rome on Monday. 
Italy on Sunday reported its biggest day-to-day increase in infections — 3,590 more cases in a 24-hour period — for a total of almost 24,747. And 368 more deaths brought its toll to 1,809, more than a quarter of the global death toll.
Hospital personnel look out the window of the Gemelli hospital where coronavirus patients are being treated in Rome on Monday. Italy on Sunday reported its biggest day-to-day increase in infections — 3,590 more cases in a 24-hour period — for a total of almost 24,747. And 368 more deaths brought its toll to 1,809, more than a quarter of the global death toll.Cecilia Fabiano / AP
934d ago / 2:27 PM UTC

Italy to spend $28 billion on coronavirus measures

Italy's government announced Monday its plans to spend 25 billion euros ($28 billion) to tackle a growing coronavirus epidemic.

The money will allow the hiring of more doctors and nurses and provide legal and economic incentives for businesses producing medical devices.

It will also be used to boost the country's economy by placing a moratorium on both businesses and personal mortgage repayments, deferring tax and bill payments and providing economic support for all workers facing temporary layoffs.

“We were the first country to put in place 25 billion euros in support of our economic system," Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said after the injection of funding was announced Monday. "This is a powerful package. We don’t think we can fight this flood with rags."

The hardest-hit country in Europe, Italy has nearly 25,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 1,809 deaths. 

934d ago / 2:19 PM UTC

White House cancels Easter Egg Roll amid coronavirus fears

The White House has canceled its annual Easter Egg Roll as a precaution against the coronavirus, first lady Melania Trump's office announced Monday. 

“The health and safety of all Americans must be the first priority, especially right now,” the first lady said in a statement. “I deeply regret this cancelation, but we need to make difficult decisions in the short term to ensure a healthy country for the long term. During this time, I encourage everyone to listen to state and local officials, and follow CDC guidelines in order to help protect the health and well-being of everyone.”

The annual event, which officially dates back to the administration of President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878, was scheduled to take place on April 13.  

934d ago / 2:18 PM UTC

Dow now trading at same level as it was when President Trump took office

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now trading at almost the same level as it was when President Donald Trump took office.

After a brutal week for all three major averages, the Dow plunged again just minutes into Monday's trading session, falling 10 percent to around 20,600. When Trump was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017, the Dow was at around 20,000 points.

934d ago / 2:18 PM UTC
934d ago / 2:01 PM UTC

Checking temperatures at the White House

White House Continues To Check Temperatures Of Press Members In Response To Coronavirus Spread
Workers from the White House Physician's Office check the body temperatures of people entering the White House with a forehead temperature scanner on Monday. The White House is now routinely checking the temperatures of people who may be in close contact with President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence. Win McNamee / Getty Images
934d ago / 1:55 PM UTC

Wall Street plunges again, despite unprecedented crisis response package from Fed

Wall Street plunged again on Monday, despite emergency action from the Federal Reserve over the weekend to shore up the economy by infusing markets and Main Street with easier access to cash.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank by 2,200 points at the opening bell, with the S&P 500 falling by 7 percent, triggering a circuit breaker that halted all trading on the exchange floor for 15 minutes. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by around 6 percent. When trading resumed, all three major averages extended their losses.

The chaos came just over 12 hours after the Fed unleashed a series of crisis response measures, slashing rates to almost zero on Sunday night, injecting cash into Treasurys, and announcing coordinated efforts with central banks across the world to ensure liquidity as the coronavirus pandemic takes a hold on the global economy.

934d ago / 1:45 PM UTC

How Native American tribes are bracing for the coronavirus

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, center.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, center, meets with other Navajo Nation officials to discuss the coronavirus crisis.Navajo Nation

The normal sound of students shuffling through the hall has been replaced by silence this week at Marty Indian School, a kindergarten to grade 12 facility on the Yankton Sioux Tribe's reservation in South Dakota.

It comes after an Indian Health Service patient in Charles Mix County, where the school and reservation are, tested positive last week for COVID-19, health officials said.

Leaders of Native American tribes across the country acknowledge that it's only a matter of time before they may be thrown into a similar situation as the Yankton Sioux, and have begun banning forms of travel and declaring a state of emergency.

Read more here.

934d ago / 1:28 PM UTC

Grocery delivery app downloads surge

Grocery delivery apps are seeing a major uptick in downloads as people turn to alternative ways to stock their pantries. Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt have set records for downloads in each of the past three days, according to data from app tracking firm Apptopia

"Comparing average daily downloads in February to yesterday's (Sunday, March 15), Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt have seen surges of 218%, 160%, and 124% respectively," Adam Blacker, Apptopia's vice president of insights, wrote in a blog post.

Notably, food delivery apps are not seeing a similar spike. 

"Even with the promise of non-contact delivery from these providers, people are starting to understand that consistently ordering delivery is both expensive and, quite frankly, not as safe as cooking meals within your own home," Blacker wrote.

934d ago / 1:27 PM UTC

Opinion: America's sports blackout may be just beginning

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers
Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11, 2020Abbie Parr / Getty Images

The leagues and the executives of the sports world have done their best to stay calm and let us know that they will be back soon. But if you'll forgive the fatalism here, I do not believe them. I think we are in for many, many more weekends like this one, something that's even more clear in the wake of the CDC's recommendation Sunday night for no events with more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

Read the full opinion piece here.

934d ago / 1:21 PM UTC

De Blasio warns outbreak could bring something like another Great Depression

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Monday that the coronavirus outbreak could result in something as bad as the Great Depression.

"We have the historical playbook, and this, if you want to know what this whole thing is going to play out as, one part the Great Recession we went through a few years ago, one part the Great Depression, one part the 1918 flu epidemic," he said in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," saying those are three models to use in considering how to manage the outbreak.

De Blasio said it's going to take "massive direct relief to Americans" to replace lost paychecks because of the crisis.

"We're going to have to recreate economic capacity," he said. "If you don't have money, you can't pay the rent, you can't buy food, you can't buy medicine. So, we have to understand this as a pure war footing, right down to rationing if you need it."

934d ago / 1:17 PM UTC

A Barcelona supermarket shows how Spain is getting used to the new social distance

Spain To Impose Nationwide Lockdown To Combat The Coronavirus
People keep their distance as they wait their turn at a supermarket in Barcelona, Spain, Monday.David Ramos / Getty Images
934d ago / 1:12 PM UTC

Connecticut couple spends 67th anniversary separated after nursing home visits banned

Bob Shellard held a sign outside his wife's nursing home in Stafford Springs, CT, on Saturday that read "I've loved you 67 years and still do. Happy Anniversary."

The couple had to celebrate their 67th anniversary on Saturday separated by a window because the governor temporarily banned nursing home visits due to coronavirus.

Bob used to visit his wife, Nancy, at the nursing home everyday before the new rules went into place, and told NBC Connecticut they haven't spent a single one of their 66 previous anniversaries apart.

"It makes me feel bad because I want her down with me and I know she can't be," Bob said of Nancy.

Nancy waved blew kisses to Bob from her window, according to the local affiliate.

The couple got married in their early-20s and have four children together.

"I can only hope that I have half as much as what they have shared over the years," their daughter Laura Mikolajczak said.

934d ago / 12:52 PM UTC

'Disaster waiting to happen': Cuomo warns 'major crisis' at hospitals could be weeks away

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Monday that he needs the U.S. military to step in and help expand hospital capacity because otherwise "this is a disaster waiting to happen." 

Cuomo said in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he needs the Army Corps of Engineers to retrofit old building and dorms to create more intensive care units beds; about 80 percent of New York's hospital ICU beds are already occupied, he said. 

"My priority is turning to the hospital system, because that's where we're going to have a major crisis, and it's weeks away," said Cuomo, who added that he plans to announce additional measures Monday.

In a separate interview on "Morning Joe" after Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed that the military must get involved to create emergency ICUs all over the country. "If we don't have those medical facilities, if we don't have those ventilators and those supplies, you're going to be losing thousands and thousands of lives that could have been saved," he said. 

934d ago / 12:26 PM UTC

Another prominent political figure dies of coronavirus in Iran: state media

Iran's state media reported Monday another senior political figure has died of coronavirus.

Isna news agency said Grand Ayatollah Hashem Bathaie Golpayegani has died of COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, Sunday night. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts, a body tasked with choosing the country's supreme leader.

Iran has been one of the global hotspots of the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 15,000 cases and 853 deaths. The virus has sickened and killed several members of the country's political elite.

934d ago / 12:17 PM UTC

Paris is quiet as France shuts down to curb coronavirus

Image: Public transport remains quiet in Paris
Public transport was quiet in Paris on Sunday as France shut shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities with its 67 million people told to stay at home. Veronique de Viguerie / Getty Images
934d ago / 12:09 PM UTC

Arnold Schwarzenegger encourages people to stay at home 'as much as possible'

934d ago / 12:09 PM UTC

Brothers donate 17,700 hoarded bottles of hand sanitizer after officials open probe

Matt and Noah Colvin went viral after a New York Times article detailed a 1,300 mile trip they took around their home state of Tennessee and neighboring Kentucky to buy 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packages of antibacterial wipes to sell them on Amazon for between $8 and $70.

The brothers were dragged on social media for hoarding the products necessary to fight the coronavirus, and the Tennessee Attorney General's Office opened a price gouging investigation.

Colvin stopped selling the in-demand antibacterial supplies at a markup after Amazon got wise to COVID-19-related price gouging and moved to stop it. Over the weekend, he wrote on his seller's page that he would be donating his remaining stock "to a local church and first responders."

A reporter with NBC affiliate WRCB was on the scene of one of the Colvins' at least three storage areas filled with the crucial goods as they were collected Sunday. 

Read the full story here.

934d ago / 11:57 AM UTC

'TODAY' staffer tests positive for coronavirus

A "TODAY" employee working at 30 Rockefeller Plaza has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, NBC News announced Monday.

"Last night we learned a colleague of ours on the Third Hour of 'TODAY' has tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus," Savannah Guthrie, an anchor of the show, said. "So, out of an abundance of caution, Craig [Melvin] and Al [Roker] have taken the morning off."

The employee is experiencing mild symptoms and receiving medical care, according to an email sent from NBC News President Noah Oppenheim.

"As you know, we have been preparing for this possibility and are taking all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of our teams," Oppenheim wrote in the email.

NBC News has identified employees in close contact with the affected employee and has asked them to self-isolate. The entire staff of the 9 a.m. editorial team was asked to work from home on Monday, according to Oppenheim's note.

"We are just trying to play exactly by the rules," Hoda Kotb, another anchor of the show, said on air. "We hope and wish they come back soon."

934d ago / 11:54 AM UTC

'Very frustrating': Impeachment attorney Daniel Goldman explains coronavirus testing ordeal

Attorney Daniel Goldman, who was counsel to House Democrats during the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, said Monday that it was "very difficult" and "very frustrating" to try to get tested for the coronavirus. 

Goldman revealed Sunday on Twitter that his test returned positive and said in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he had what felt like a "medium-strength flu" for three days. He went to both urgent care and a New York hospital, both of which said they couldn't do anything for him. 

"I had not been in contact with anyone who I knew to be positive for coronavirus, and now, basically, that meant I could not get tested," said Goldman, a former MSNBC legal analyst.

Other tests, for the flu and a full viral panel, came back negative, Goldman said, and he decided to drive from New York to Connecticut last Friday to get tested for the coronavirus at a curbside clinic. After he tested positive, his wife and children had to get tested over the weekend and are awaiting the results.

Goldman said he suspected that he contracted the virus during a trip to London the previous weekend and said he did not take the threat of the illness seriously.

"I didn't take it seriously enough, but everybody really needs to take this seriously," he said. "Anybody can get it anywhere. Whatever we hear about the limited number of cases, we just don't know. There's way insufficient testing to know how many people have it."

934d ago / 11:45 AM UTC

Petition demands U.K. schools and colleges closure

An online petition to close public schools and colleges in the U.K. to help stop the spread of the coronavirus epidemic gained nearly 600,000 signatures as of Monday morning.

The petition calls on the British government close schools and colleges in the coming weeks or as soon as possible to prevent further spread.

Unlike other European nations that have already entered nationwide lockdowns, shutting down places of mass gatherings to curb the spread of the virus, the U.K. government has yet to shut down educational institutions, bars, restaurants and shops.

It’s expected to provide an update on its next steps Monday afternoon. So far, 1,391 cases of coronavirus have been identified in the U.K., including 35 deaths. 

934d ago / 11:35 AM UTC

Moscow builds temporary hospital for coronavirus patients

A temporary hospital to be used for coronavirus patients is being constructed near Moscow.

In a post on messenger app Telegram, officials with Moscow’s Coronavirus Crisis Response Center shared a video showing the construction of the hospital that the post says will have room for 500 patients. 

The video published on March 16 claims to have been taken during the second day of construction.

The hospital is being constructed along a highway leading out of the city to supplement two existing facilities that have been designated to treat coronavirus cases in Moscow.

Russia has recorded 63 coronavirus cases as of Sunday.

934d ago / 11:07 AM UTC

Wuhan doctors warn Western counterparts over COVID-19

934d ago / 11:01 AM UTC

934d ago / 10:58 AM UTC

European airline Ryanair to ground majority of fleet

Ryanair, the massive Irish budget airline, announced on Monday it will ground the majority of its fleet across Europe over the next seven to 10 days due to coronavirus.

The airline said in a stock market announcement Monday it expects to reduce its seat capacity by up to 80 percent in April and May, and a "full grounding" of its fleet is possible.

"At the Ryanair Group Airlines, we are doing everything we can to meet the challenge posed by the Covid-19 outbreak, which has over the last week caused extraordinary and unprecedented travel restrictions to be imposed by National Governments, in many cases with minimal or zero notice," CEO Michael O'Leary said in a statement.

The company cited flight bans of varying degrees enacted in the past week in Italy, France, Morocco, Spain, Denmark, and other countries as part of the reason for its decision. Poland and Norway banned all international flights over the weekend, while others have banned flights from highly infected countries.

934d ago / 10:36 AM UTC

Italy expects more than 90,000 people to get sick with coronavirus by end of April

and

Image: An empty Saint Mark's square in Venice on Sunday with an unprecedented lock down across of all Italy imposed to slow the outbreak of coronavirus
An empty Saint Mark's square in Venice on Sunday. Dylan Martinez / Reuters

The Italian government anticipates more than 90,000 people to get sick with coronavirus by the end of April.

It estimates 360,000 will be quarantined, adding that March 18 could be the peak of the contagion.

“We are facing a never known emergency since the end of Second World War," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in an interview to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera Monday.

“Scientists are telling us that we have not peaked yet, these weeks are the most important and we need  to urge caution. We must never lower our guard," Conte added. 

As of Sunday, Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, has confirmed 24,747 cases of coronavirus.

More than 1,800 people have died of the virus, the most outside mainland China, where the virus is believed to have originated. 

934d ago / 10:25 AM UTC

934d ago / 10:16 AM UTC

Germany imposes border controls over coronavirus

and

Germany has reintroduced border controls with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark Monday, only allowing goods and cross-border commuters through, to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

The country is facing an aggressive progression of the illness, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Sunday, adding that the virus was progressing “rapidly and aggressively” and that “we must assume that the peak of this development has not yet been reached.”

Germany has confirmed more than 4,800 cases and 12 deaths. 

934d ago / 9:45 AM UTC

Australian casinos turn off half of poker machines in “social distancing” measure

Australia’s two biggest casino companies said they would shut off half their poker machines to force gamblers to engage in “social distancing” and slow the spread of the coronavirus as concerns about their future revenue sent shares tumbling.

The measures show the pressure on the tourism sector to keep operating amid a widespread shutdown of entertainment and sporting events as authorities limit public gatherings to curtail the spread of the illness.

Melbourne-based Crown Resorts and Sydney rival Star Entertainment Group said they would keep gamblers apart by switching off every second electronic machine, and restrict the number of players at gambling tables.

Crown said its “social distancing policy” was approved by the chief health officer of Victoria state, while Star said its measures were in line with Federal Government policy.

934d ago / 9:10 AM UTC

Pope Francis walks through empty Rome, prays for pandemic to end

Image: Pope Francis walks in a deserted Rome to pray at two shrines for the end of the coronavirus pandemic, in Rome
Pope Francis walks in a deserted Rome to pray at two shrines for the end of the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday. Vatican Media / Reuters

Pope Francis left the Vatican to walk over to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome on Sunday through empty streets as Italy remained under strict quarantine to ward off a growing coronavirus outbreak. 

The Holy See said the Pope prayed for the Virgin Mary, then walked along one of Rome’s main streets to the Church of San Marcello al Corso, near the Spanish Steps, where he prayed for the pandemic to end. 

The church contains a crucifix which was carried around Rome during a procession to invoke the end of the great plague in 1522, the Holy See said. 

A Vatican picture showed the pope and a small security detail walking on an empty Via del Corso, which is usually packed with shoppers and people taking strolls on Sunday.

All Papal Easter services in April will be held without the faithful attending due to coronavirus. 

934d ago / 9:07 AM UTC

935d ago / 4:15 AM UTC

National Security Council says 'no national lockdown'

935d ago / 3:38 AM UTC

Peace Corps suspends global operations

935d ago / 3:31 AM UTC

L.A. mayor on restaurants, bars and gyms

935d ago / 2:55 AM UTC

Washington governor orders restaurants takeout, delivery only

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee said Sunday that he will temporarily limit restaurants to take-out and delivery services and close entertainment venues and recreational facilities across the state.

The emergency proclamation, which aims to stem the spread of coronavirus, will go into effect Monday, he said.

Inslee also prohibited gatherings with more than 50 people unless they’ve met social distancing and public health guidelines.

“These are very difficult decisions, but hours count here and very strong measures are necessary to slow the spread of the disease,” Inslee said. “I know there will be significant economic impacts to all our communities and we are looking at steps to help address those challenges.”

935d ago / 2:10 AM UTC

NYC mayor Bill de Blasio to close theaters, limit restaurants to takeout

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday ordered the temporary closing of movie theaters, nightclubs and concert venues.

In an executive order that will go into effect on Tuesday morning, de Blasio also said restaurants, bars and cafes will be limited to takeout orders and deliveries.

“The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together,” de Blasio said. “We have to break that cycle.”