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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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France goes on lockdown, President Macron says nation is 'at war' with coronavirus

Children watch French President Emmanuel Macron during a televised address to the nation on the coronavirus outbreak on March 16, 2020.Damien Meyer / AFP - Getty Images

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday ordered stringent restrictions on people's movement that would last at least two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus and said the army would be drafted in to help move the sick to hospitals.

France had already shut down restaurants and bars, closed schools and put ski resorts off limits, but Macron said measures unprecedented in peacetime were needed as the number of infected people doubled every three days and deaths spiraled higher.

In a somber address to the nation, the president said that from Tuesday midday people should stay at home and only go out for essential activities. Anyone flouting the restrictions would be punished.

"I know what I am asking of you is unprecedented but circumstances demand it. We are at war," Macron said. Macron also said he was postponing the second round of local elections on Sunday and was suspending the government's reform agenda, starting with his overhaul of the pension system.

U.S. airlines seek more than $50 billion in government help as coronavirus roils business

U.S. airlines are seeking government assistance of more than $50 billion, including a mix of direct aid and loan guarantees, as the industry reels from the coronavirus outbreak, a lobbying group that represents 10 U.S. passenger and cargo airlines said Monday.

The aid, if received, would be the industry’s first bailout since the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the largest ever. It is also the clearest sign yet of the financial damage coronavirus and the draconian measures governments are taking to stop it are having on American businesses.

Read the full story here.

Schumer proposes $750 billion coronavirus package

Senate Minority Leader Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday he'll introduce a proposal for coronavirus legislation that would provide “at least $750 billion to wage war against COVID-19."

 “We will need big, bold, immediate federal action to deal with this crisis,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “The proposal will get money directly into the hands of families that need it most, and among other priorities, include federal funding to address hospital and treatment capacity issues, expand unemployment insurance and increase Medicaid funding."

The measures would also include funding emergency child care, help for schools with remote learning and mortgage and student loan protections, Schumer said. 

Schumer's statement comes as the Senate awaits other emergency coronavirus legislation from the House

The first coronavirus legislation was an $8.3 billion package signed into law on March 6.

As coronavirus spreads, immunocompromised young people spread the word about safety using #HighRiskCovid19

As a self-described extrovert, Evelyn Lebel says she finds social distancing difficult. But as a 27-year-old woman with Alpha-1 antitryspin deficiency, a genetic disorder that can result in lung and liver complications, she knows self-quarantine is necessary.

Yet even as bars, schools, places of worship and other seemingly formidable establishments like Broadway have closed down in the past few days amid the spread of coronavirus, some young people ignored warnings to "flatten the curve" — instead opting to gather with friends in crowded locales for boozy brunch as if it were any other weekend.

As posts deriding these young people as "selfish" began populating online, so has a trending movement #HighRiskCovid19, whereby their immunocompromised peers, like Lebel, are sharing their stories in an attempt to bring greater awareness to those under 60 years old with ailments that make them more vulnerable to coronavirus.

Read more here.

Some states have seen a 'phenomenal increase' in coronavirus tests — but U.S. still lags far behind

Some states have seen a desperately needed increase in their bandwidth to test for the coronavirus in recent days — but the United States' testing capacity still lags far behind other nations.

"We have had a phenomenal increase in testing," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday at a press conference where he announced there were 950 cases of the virus statewide, the highest of any state in the country.

When the outbreak first came to New York, the state set a target goal of running 1,000 tests a day. By the end of this week, the state expects to be able to perform 7,000 tests per day — an "exponential increase of what we have done," Cuomo said. Along with the uptick in tests, Americans should expect to see a rise in confirmed cases, he added.

Read more here.

NYC mayor orders officials to seek facilities for medical use

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s ordered his team to “identify all facilities that can be utilized for medical use.”

He reiterated that 80 percent of people with the coronavirus won’t need to be hospitalized but said, “we will need massive medical capacity at a level this city has never seen before.”

Dow slides 3,000 points in worst day since 1987

Wall Street had a grisly start to the week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average sliding by 3,000 points to end the day at 20,186, just a few hundred points above where it was when President Donald Trump took office in 2017.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down by around 12 percent by Monday's closing bell. It was the worst day ever for the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index, and the worst points drop since 1987 for the S&P.

The massive sell-off came despite emergency action from the Federal Reserve on Sunday to shore up the economy by infusing markets and Main Street with easier access to cash.

The Dow closed at 19,732 on Jan. 19, 2017, the day before Trump was sworn in. 

CDC worker tests positive

An employee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The CDC confirmed the case Monday, and said the patient is in good condition and is "isolated to prevent spread of infection to others."

The staff member had not been directly involved with the response to the coronavirus, and had not been at work since March 6, the CDC said. It's not clear how the employee became infected.

Social distancing at the drive-thru

Stephanie Barkert uses a cell phone to communicate with a driver before testing him for the coronavirus at a drive-thru station in the hospital's parking garage on Monday in Westminster, Maryland. Not open to the general public, the station was set up to take samples from people who had spoken with their doctors and received explicit direction to get a test for the coronavirus. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Coronavirus vaccine test opens with 1st doses

SEATTLE — U.S. researchers gave the first shot to the first person in a test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine Monday — leading off a worldwide hunt for protection even as the pandemic surges.

A pharmacist gives Jennifer Haller the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 on Monday at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.Ted S. Warren / AP

With a careful jab in a healthy volunteer’s arm, scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle begin an anxiously awaited first-stage study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed in record time after the new virus exploded from China and fanned across the globe.

Read more about the vaccine trial.

Pennsylvania shuts down all non-essential businesses

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday that he would order all non-essential businesses and services across the state to shut down as part of the effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

"This isn't a decision I take lightly at all," Wolf told reporters. "It's one that I'm making because medical experts believe it is the only way to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients." 

Wolf's order does not apply to municipal services such as trash collection or businesses deemed essential, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.

"For example, if you need to go to the pharmacy, go to the pharmacy,” Wolf said. “But don’t stop at several other stores or places on the way in and make contact with a dozen other people.”