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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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Texas's first death was elderly patient

A Texas hospital district said Monday that a patient in his 90s who died Sunday tested positive for the coronavirus illness COVID-19. It appears to be the state's first death linked to the disease.

The Matagorda County Hospital District said the death was its second positive case, and that the state “launched an extensive investigation into this second positive case.” There have been at least 86 deaths linked to the illness in the United States, according to an NBC News count.

There were 57 coronavirus cases in the state as of noon Monday, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services’ website.

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California governor halts evictions and foreclosures

California Gov. Gavin Newsom halted evictions and foreclosures statewide Monday in an executive order aimed at protecting businesses and residents from the coronavirus’ economic impact.

The order also protects Californians from utility shutoffs. Newsom tasked the state’s utility regulator with making sure electric, gas, water, internet and phone service remain functional if a customer’s payment is late.

“People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19,” Newsom said in a statement.

The protections will remain in effect through May 31.

In a briefing, Newsom said that 392 people in the state have tested positive for the disease — an increase of 57 people from Sunday. Six people have died, he said.

Los Angeles sheriff releasing inmates, urging fewer arrests

The Los Angeles County sheriff said Monday that his department had reduced the number of inmates in his custody by about 600, in part by granting early release, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Police departments are also being asked to cite and release offenders when possible, and that average daily arrests have dropped by around 300 a day to 60 a day.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that inmate populations are vulnerable and the moves are designed to help protect them. There have been no confirmed cases among inmates, but 35 are in isolation housing or quarantine, he said.

Read the full story here.

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S. Carolina's first death brings U.S. toll to 85

South Carolina’s health department on Thursday announced the state’s first death related to the coronavirus illness COVID-19, an elderly resident of a nursing home.

“DHEC is working with the facility to identify all contacts and is providing guidance about infection control measures to prevent spread,” South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said in a statement.

Coronavirus cases have been reported in 49 of the 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., as well as Puerto Rico, according to an NBC count of reports. West Virginia has reported no cases. As of Monday night, there have been 4,424 including 85 deaths across the U.S., according to that count, which includes presumptive positive and confirmed cases, people who have recovered and those repatriated from outside the country.

Staffing firm sees 'unprecedented' demand for nurses

A New York City-based staffing firm is looking to hire thousands of nurses and other hospital staff amid “unprecedented” demand across the country, the company’s president, Michael Fazio, told NBC News.

Fazio said Prime Staffing NYC, which operates in 15 states, has seen a 95 percent increase in job openings for nurses in the last two weeks — and he’s trying to hire 750 for the New York tri-state region alone.

“More nurses are needed in this crisis time,” he said. “We’re trying to take care of nurses, to protect them and their families so that they and their families feel comfortable going to work and providing  care.”

The company is offering incentives like car service with screened drivers, paid childcare, sealed, prepared meals and access to a private lab for testing.

Such perks are cutting into the company’s margins “significantly,” Fazio said, but he believes they’re necessary to get nurses “the care they deserve” and to “keep the system running.”

Ohio polls will remain closed amid 'emergency,' governor says

Ohio's Democratic primary election was thrust into chaos Monday night as Gov. Mike DeWine said the state would not open polls Tuesday because of the coronavirus outbreak after a judge declined to postpone the contest until June.

"During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus," DeWine said in a statement posted to Twitter.

He said Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton would "order the polls closed as a health emergency. While the polls will be closed tomorrow, Secretary of State @FrankLaRose will seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity."

Read the full story here.

Dental association wants 3-week delay on elective procedures

The American Dental Association said Monday that all elective procedures should be delayed three weeks to help alleviate the burden on emergency rooms.

In a statement, the group called on its 163,000 members to focus on emergency patients who might otherwise visit a hospital ER.

The association said the move is necessary to help combat the “unprecedented” circumstances posed by COVID-19.  

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