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U.S. coronavirus cases top 1,000

The coronavirus crisis continues to unfold across the world as Italy begins a country-wide lockdown.
Image: Naples
A worker sprays disinfectant in a museum in Naples, Italy, on Tuesday.Alessandro Pone / LaPresse via AP

With new coronavirus cases confirmed Tuesday, the United States now has more than 1,000 infected people.

Turbulent trading continued to roll Wall Street, and anxieties over the coronavirus failed to subside with an increase in U.S. deaths and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ratcheting up protective measures in his state.

Cuomo deployed National Guard troops to a health department command post in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City where health officials have reported at least 108 cases of COVID-19 in the area. While there have been no reported deaths in New York, neighboring New Jersey announced its first one: a man in his 60s in Bergen County.

The markets remained volatile a day after the Dow Jones shed 2,000 points — Wall Street's worst day since the financial crash of 2008. The Dow rallied before giving up most of its gain Tuesday afternoon.

The coronavirus outbreak has continued to rattle Italy, which extended the containment measures already in place in northern regions to the entire country, which has confirmed more than 10,140 cases. The death toll in the country stands at more than 630 people.

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'We are 10 days away from the hospitals getting creamed,' warns former homeland security adviser

The U.S. is a little more than a week away from a health care crisis related to the new coronavirus, according to the man who once advised President Donald Trump on how to respond to pandemics.

"We are 10 days from the hospitals getting creamed,” Tom Bossert, who was Trump’s homeland security adviser until he was ousted in 2018, told NBC News. Bossert was never replaced, and Trump eliminated the national security council jobs related to disease outbreaks.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post published Monday, Bossert said that unless the U.S. closes schools, halts public gatherings and takes other steps to reduce community transmission, the country is headed for the sort of crisis Italy is now facing, with hospitals overwhelmed by elderly people in need of critical care. 

“Simply put, as evidence of human-to-human transmission becomes clear in a community, officials must pull the trigger on aggressive interventions,” Bossert wrote. “Time matters. Two weeks of delay can mean the difference between success and failure. Public health experts learned this in 1918 when the Spanish flu killed 50 million to 100 million people around the globe. If we fail to take action, we will watch our health-care system be overwhelmed.”

Wuhan temporary hospitals start to close

Image: Wuhan Works To Contain Spread Of Coronavirus
Medical professionals pose for a photo as the last batch of COVID-19 patients are discharged from Wuchang Fang Cang makeshift hospital on Tuesday in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. As the number of Coronavirus patients drops, the city has closed 11 temporary hospitals.Getty Images

Wall Street rally fades as questions arise about Trump's stimulus plan

Wall Street rallied Tuesday morning before sinking back into the red, as sentiment waned that President Donald Trump would introduce a robust economic package in time to shore up the growing financial impact from the coronavirus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank to a loss of almost 100 points just hours after a surge of 945 points. That, in turn, came just one day after a historic rout that saw the blue-chip index drop by 2,013 points, the most ever.

While Trump said Monday he would be meeting with congressional Republicans on Tuesday to discuss a stimulus package, White House officials and analysts threw cold water on that idea, noting that there was no evidence such a plan had been floated.

Ivy League cancels postseason basketball tournaments

The Ivy League on Tuesday cancelled its men's and women's postseason basketball tournaments, citing fears of the new coronavirus.

Under ordinary circumstances, winners of the Ivy League competitions, dubbed "Ivy Madness," would go to the men's and women's NCAA Tournaments.

Instead, the regular season champions —  the Yale men and Princeton women — will be sent to their NCAA  competitions. Harvard has already said it's going to remote instruction and asked students not to return from spring break later this month.

Disinfecting Parliament

Workers disinfect the desks and chairs of the Lebanese Parliament in central Beirut on March 10, 2020.
Workers disinfect the desks and chairs of the Lebanese Parliament in central Beirut on Tuesday. Lebanon has 41 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus — most of them linked to Iran.Anwar Amro / AFP - Getty Images

Ohio ordering polling stations in senior centers and nursing facilities be relocated

Ohio will move polling places from senior housing facilities to address fears of exposure to the coronavirus, Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Tuesday.

"Yesterday I ordered all 88 counties to relocate any polling locations from senior residential facilities to alternate locations. Obviously, that's a big step and requires a lot of work, and our county boards of elections are working to do that as we speak," Rose said in a press conference. At least 128 polling locations across the state will have to be relocated by Ohio's primary vote on March 17, a spokesperson told NBC News.

All registered voters in Ohio can vote early or request an absentee ballot, and LaRose also encouraged registered voters to use those options to avoid further exposure. The state is also working to provide hand sanitizer and wipes for polling locations, LaRose said. Voters have until Saturday at noon to request an absentee ballot.  

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday that Ohio had three confirmed cases of coronavirus, and declared a state of emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that older people are at greater risk of developing a serious illness from viral infections.

Italians wake up to empty streets after country put into quarantine

Image: A waitress in downtown Milan
A waitress looks on by a sign advising clients to keep distance on a cafe's window in downtown Milan on Tuesday.Miguel Medina / AFP - Getty Images

MILAN — Millions of Italians woke up to a virtual standstill on Tuesday after the government extended quarantine measures across the entire country in an attempt to curb Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

"We are normally serving offices, school students, tourists but without them around we're losing 70 percent of our income,” said Fabrizio Ticozzi, 60, who owns a bakery on one of the busiest streets in central Milan.

"We don’t know how long all this is going to last," added his wife, Carla.

Milan, Italy's usually humming fashion and financial capital, stood quiet. Those who did leave their homes to open their cafes and store fronts kept their distance, conscious of contracting the disease or running afoul of the government's quarantine rules.

Read the full story here.

Mayor of small French town defends Smurf gathering

While many parts of Europe are canceling large gatherings, the mayor of Landerneau, a small city on the western tip of France, recently allowed a group to host a gathering of 3,500 people dressed as Smurfs — a world record.

The mayor, Patrick Leclerc, told Agence France-Presse that he does not regret his decision. "We must not stop living... it was the chance to say that we are alive," he said.

Many major events in Europe have already been canceled. Italy has banned all large gatherings including sporting events.

People dressed as Smurfs attend a world record gathering of Smurfs on March 7, 2020, in Landerneau, western France.
People dressed as Smurfs attend a world record gathering of Smurfs on March 7, 2020, in Landerneau, western France.Damien Meyer / AFP - Getty Images
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How do I pick the right song for hand washing?

With people focusing on better hand-washing technique, the guidance is to sing "Happy Birthday" twice to ensure a good, thorough cleaning.

But that song gets old. So am enterprising developer created WashYourLyrics.com, which will put the words to your favorite song to proper hand-washing routine.

Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" works particularly well.

Capitol should close its doors to visitors: Congressman

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-NY, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had a one-word response when asked if it was time the Capitol be closed to visitors as a preventative measure against the coronavirus. 

"Yes," he said.  

Dutch prime minister fails to follow his own coronavirus advice

De Blasio: New York can't shut down over undue fear

Catalonian leaders meet amid coronavirus outbreak

Spain has emerged as another coronavirus hotspot, spurring leaders in the country to meet in an effort to stave off a widespread outbreak.

Miquel Buch, minister of the interior of Catalonia, an autonomous region in northeastern Spain, tweeted a picture of a meeting with President Quim Torra from a meeting held to discuss and monitor the coronavirus outbreak.

Harvard to move classes online

Harvard University announced on Tuesday that it would begin transitioning undergraduate and graduate classes online amid coronavirus fears.

In a statement to the school community, school president Larry Bacow said the school is hoping to have everyone transitioned to virtual learning by March 23, and is asking students to not return to campus after spring break. Students who must remain on campus will also take their classes remotely and should expect "severely limited on-campus activities and interactions," Bacow said.

Harvard is also banning non-essential gatherings of more than 25 people until the campus begins to clear out. 

China's President Xi Jinping in Wuhan

Image: Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, is briefed about the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province
Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, is briefed about the Huoshenshan Hospital as he visits Wuhan, where the coronavirus epidemic is believed to have started, on Tuesday. Xie Huanchi / AP

Iran sees as spike of almost 900 new coronavirus cases

Almost 900 new coronavirus cases were reported by health officials in Iran Tuesday.

Health ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said there have been 881 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 8,042.

Meanwhile, the death toll reached 291, with 54 new deaths registered overnight.

Iran is one of the global hot spots of the coronavirus epidemic, along with Italy and South Korea. 

Delta to make deep cuts as airline bookings decline sharply

Delta Air Lines said Tuesday that it will make deep cuts throughout its network to cut costs as coronavirus drives down demand for air travel.

The carrier’s announcement follows similar measures taken by AmericanUnited and JetBlue.

The Atlanta-based carrier said it is reducing its international flying by as much as 25 percent and domestic capacity between 10 percent and 15 percent. 

Coronavirus is hard on older people — and scientists aren't sure why

Older adults appear to be more severely at risk from the new coronavirus, while young children seem to be largely spared — and understanding why could be crucial to treating people with the illness it causes, according to scientists.

Much remains unknown about COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that is rapidly spreading around the world, but researchers have seized on a factor that seems to influence the severity of infections: the patient's age.

While that is not particularly surprising, the statistics show that young children have made up very few of the confirmed cases so far, a divergence that isn't true for every illness. Understanding that question could help researchers figure out how to treat the illness, particularly in the older populations that appear to be more susceptible to it.

Read the full story here.

E.U. Parliament president in self-isolation after travel to Italy

Davide Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament, said Tuesday he was in self-isolation at his Brussels home after recent travel to Italy. 

"I have decided after having been in Italy over the last weekend, as a precaution, to follow the indicated measures and to exercise my function as president from my home in Brussels in compliance with the 14 days indicated by the health protocol," Sassoli said in a statement. 

The European Parliament on Monday decided to shorten its monthly gathering due to coronavirus concerns. “COVID-19 obliges everyone to be responsible and to be cautious," Sassoli said, adding that the parliament will continue to exercise its duties.

The whole of Italy, which reported more than 9,000 coronavirus cases Tuesday, is on an unprecedented lockdown to help curb the spread of the virus. 

New York City confirms 5 more coronavirus cases

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that the city has confirmed five new coronavirus cases, with broader New York tri-state area cases now totaling more than 160.

The increase comes as the city takes action in hopes of halting community spread of the new coronavirus, including a request for people to stay off public transportation if possible. 

The mayor, along with Governor Andrew Cuomo, have been vocal critics of the federal government's response to the coronavirus. 

Image: Rome's Spanish Steps, virtually deserted after a decree orders for the whole of Italy to be on lock down in an unprecedented clampdown aimed at beating the coronavirus
Rome's Spanish Steps have been virtually deserted Tuesday after the whole of Italy went into lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. Remo Casilli / Reuters

British Airways cancels all flights to and from Italy amid lockdown

U.K. carrier British Airways has cancelled all flights to and from Italy as the country moved into full lockdown amid its growing coronavirus epidemic Tuesday. 

"In light of the Italian government's announcement and the U.K. government's official travel advice, we have contacted all customers who are due to travel today," the airline said in a statement.

On Monday, the whole of Italy was placed under lockdown until next month in an unprecedented attempt to beat coronavirus in Europe’s worst-affected country. The same day Britain's Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to Italy. 

International students are still trapped in Wuhan six weeks on

Image: Patience Dalieh, a student currently in Wuhan.
Patience Dalieh, a student currently in Wuhan.

BEIJING — On Jan. 27, days after the Chinese city of Wuhan began its lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Hafsa Tayyab appeared in an online video alongside a group of fellow Pakistani students appealing to their government to get them out.

"We were hopeful," Tayyab told NBC last week. She thought her plea might be answered.

But almost six weeks on, she is among the hundreds of students still stranded in the quarantined city, desperate to return home — long after classmates from other nations were airlifted away from the coronavirus outbreak's ground zero.

Read the full story here

French minister caught coronavirus after Parliament visit

Image: French Culture Minister Franck Riester leaves the Elysee Presidential Palace, in Paris, after attending a weekly cabinet meeting,
French Culture Minister Franck Riester leaves the Elysee Presidential Palace, in Paris, after attending a weekly cabinet meeting, last month.Alain Jocard / AFP - Getty Images

France’s culture minister has become the latest politician to contract the coronavirus, a government colleague said on Monday, after several lawmakers came down with the COVID-19 illness.

Franck Riester is doing well and resting at home, health minister Olivier Veran said on BFM Television.

Five French parliamentarians have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to media reports on Monday, along with a worker in the National Assembly cafeteria where some or all of the lawmakers may have picked it up.

The stricken minister last met President Emmanuel Macron several days ago, they added.

What Taiwan can teach the world on fighting the coronavirus

TAIPEI, Taiwan — As countries around the world grapple with the coronavirus, Taiwan may offer valuable lessons on how to curb its spread.

Just 81 miles away, the island is a short flight to mainland China, where COVID-19 is believed to have originated in the city of Wuhan. As the outbreak took hold in January, many Taiwanese business people and their families based in China were returning to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and up to 2,000 Chinese tourists a day visited the island, potentially bringing the virus with them.

And yet, Taiwan has had only 47 cases of COVID-19 and one death as of Tuesday — far fewer than China’s 80,754 cases and 3,136 deaths, a stark contrast even when taking into account the enormous population difference: Taiwan’s 23 million to China’s 1.4 billion. Taiwan’s numbers are also much lower than neighboring countries such as South Korea, which has had more than 7,500 cases, and Japan, with 530. It’s also faring better than countries much farther away from China, such as Italy, with more than 9,000 cases, and the United States, which has over 700.

So what can Taiwan teach the world so other countries can stem the spread of the virus?

Read the full story here.

Stock futures hint at market surge after worst day since financial crisis

Stock futures rallied early Tuesday morning after the S&P 500′s worst day since the financial crisis.

Around 5:30 a.m. ET Tuesday, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicated an opening surged of more than 1,000 points on Tuesday. S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq-100 futures also pointed to a sharply higher open for the two indexes on Tuesday.

Stock futures erased big losses and turned positive after President Donald Trump floated the idea of “a payroll tax cut or relief” to offset the negative impact from the coronavirus. The potential tax incentives come on top of an $8.3 billion spending package Trump signed last month.

Read the full story here

Oil jumps 5 percent after rout on stimulus hopes, slowing virus in China

Oil prices jumped by five percent Tuesday after the biggest one-day rout in nearly 30 years, as investors eyed the possibility of economic stimulus, although early gains were pared on demand concerns over the global spread of the coronavirus.

Brent crude futures rose by $1.76, or 5.1 percent, to $36.12 a barrel by Tuesday early morning, paring back earlier gains that saw prices touch a session-high of $37.38 a barrel.

Both benchmarks plunged 25 percent on Monday, dropping to their lowest since February 2016 and recording their biggest one-day percentage declines since Jan. 17, 1991, when oil prices fell at the outset of the first Gulf War.

President Donald Trump on Monday said he will be taking "major" steps to gird the U.S. economy against the impact of the spreading coronavirus outbreak, while Japan's government plans to spend more than $4 billion in a second package of steps to cope with fallout from the virus.

Growing number of universities cancel face-to-face instruction

A growing number of colleges, including The Ohio State University and San Francisco State University, have suspended face-to-face classes amid fears of growing coronavirus cases in the United States.

OSU in a statement noted that while there are no campus-associated cases of COVID-19, "we know that there are at least three confirmed cases in the state of Ohio, and we expect that there will be more." It is suspending face-to-face instruction and moving to virtual interactions through at least March 30.

San Francisco State said that all face-to-face courses will be suspended, but the campus is not being closed. The city and county of San Francisco on Thursday announced two presumptive positive cases. UC San Diego said Monday that starting in Spring Quarter all lecture and discussion courses will be delivered remotely. UC Berkeley said starting Tuesday it is suspending most in-person classes and will be offering classes remotely.

Rice University in Houston this week announced in-person instruction is canceled this week and it is preparing for the possibility of delivering most of its classes remotely. Princeton said Monday that it will move to virtual instruction after spring break and will decrease the number of gatherings on campus. Stanford also said it will move in-person classes to an online format for the last two weeks of winter quarter.

'Jeopardy!' and 'Wheel of Fortune' won't tape in front of audiences over coronavirus fears

Game shows "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune" will not tape in front of studio audiences amid the spread of coronavirus, a source close to the shows told NBC News.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website that "social distancing" is one way to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19, in communities.

Santa Clara County, California, banned mass gatherings of more than 1,000 people in an effort to prevent transmission, officials said Monday.

California's Santa Clara County bans gatherings with more than 1,000 people

Santa Clara County, California, public health officials, citing an increase in the number of coronavirus cases that could be community spread, announced an order banning gatherings of more than 1,000 people for three weeks.

The order does not apply to airports, offices, grocery stores or shopping malls. But it could affect the San Jose Sharks hockey team, which said in a statement Monday night that it was aware of the new guidelines and would adhere to them.

Xi makes first visit since outbreak to China's epicenter Wuhan

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping visited China's virus epicenter Tuesday for the first time since cases of a then-unidentified respiratory illness emerged in the city of Wuhan in December.

The visit came as people gradually began to return to work in other parts of China while the virus spreads to most of the world, seriously impacting travel, markets and the global economy. He is expected to inspect epidemic prevention and control work and visit medical workers, community volunteers, patients and others on the front lines.

The disease's spread in China cast scrutiny on Xi’s leadership, as he was conspicuously absent from the public eye during the early days of the crisis. Initial failures to react quickly were pegged on municipal and provincial-level officials who have since been replaced.

State media reported Xi arrived in the morning in Wuhan, which has been under lockdown along with several nearby cities since late January in a disease-containment measure. The city has the bulk of the country’s more than 80,000 confirmed cases, and authorities sent thousands of medical workers and built several prefabricated isolation wards to deal with its mass of COVID-19 patients.

SXSW lets go third of staff after cancellation because of coronavirus

Organizers for the South by Southwest annual conference, which was canceled by Austin officials over coronavirus fears, said Monday that they had let go of about one-third of its full-time staff.

"Due to the City of Austin’s unprecedented and unexpected cancellation of the SXSW 2020 events in March, SXSW has been rigorously reviewing our operations, and we are in the unimaginable position of reducing our workforce. Today we said goodbye to approximately one-third of our full-time staff," a spokesperson for South by Southwest, commonly known as SXSW, said.

"Those of us in the business of live events know the level of trust required to execute an event of SXSW’s scale, and we are deeply sad to let people go this soon. We are planning for the future and this was a necessary, but heartbreaking step," the spokesperson said.

Austin's mayor on Friday declared a state of emergency, which resulted in the cancellation.