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Americans face dramatic limits on public life as schools, theme parks, events shut down

The crisis continues to unfold across the globe as the World Health Organization uses the term "pandemic" for the first time.
Medical workers at Kaiser Permanente French Campus test a patient for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at a drive-thru testing facility in San Francisco on March 12, 2020.
Medical workers at Kaiser Permanente French Campus test a patient for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at a drive-thru testing facility in San Francisco on Thursday.Josh Edelson / AFP via Getty Images

The United States on Thursday surpassed 1,600 confirmed or presumptive cases of the coronavirus, and the death toll climbed to 41. Kansas reported its first death Thursday.

Wall Street recorded historic losses as fears intensified over the economic fallout from the pandemic, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling by 10 percent, and the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 both down by 9 percent.

It was the worst point drop ever for the Dow and its worst performance since the market crash in 1987.

Disruptions in the sports world continued, with March Madness canceled, the suspension of MLB's spring training and a pause on the National Hockey League season.

Health and government officials continue to call for the end of large gatherings, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suspended public gatherings worldwide, the Smithsonian announced it will close indefinitely all museums in Washington, D.C. and New York City and Broadway theaters canceled performances through April 12.

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Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to self-isolate amid outbreak

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be self-isolating amid the outbreak after his wife showed “mild flu-like symptoms” following a trip to London, according to a statement from his spokesperson.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is being tested for the coronavirus and self-isolating, the statement said. The prime minister is not exhibiting any symptoms, according to the statement.

'Fast & Furious 9' delayed a year

The release of the ninth installment in the popular "Fast & Furious" movie franchise has been pushed back about a year amid the outbreak, Universal Pictures announced Thursday.

"F9" will now debut on April 2, 2021, instead of May 22, 2020, the studio said in a news release. (Universal Pictures, like NBC News, is a unit of the Comcast-owned NBCUniversal.)

What laws let U.S. officials ban travel and large gatherings?

Laws such as those that give the president, governors and mayors authority to impose travel restrictions and quarantines and to ban large public gatherings as a way to slow the transmission of disease are common worldwide. They're also some of the oldest on the books, stemming from the experiences of past pandemics, especially the plague in the mid-1300s and the 1918 Spanish flu.

President Donald Trump imposed the European travel ban by invoking his general authority to restrict immigration. Federal law says he can suspend the entry of any noncitizens "whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States." This is the same provision Trump has invoked, with varying degrees of success, to limit travel from mostly Muslim countries and to restrict immigration at the southern border.

Separately, federal public health laws give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the power to detain and examine anyone arriving in the U.S. suspected of carrying a communicable disease. All states and the District of Columbia have laws, as part of their general police powers, authorizing quarantine, which is a restriction on people who may have been exposed to see if they become sick, and isolation, which is intended to stop people known to be sick from spreading a disease. 

As far as banning large public gatherings, states give governors and mayors broad authority to act in emergencies.

“It’s going to all bounce back and it’s going to bounce back very big,” says Trump as markets dive

“It’s going to all bounce back and it’s going to bounce back very big,” President Donald Trump said Thursday, after Wall Street took another beating.

Trading on the New York Stock Exchange was halted twice Thursday, as concerns mount about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak and the U.S. government's response to the pandemic.

The S&P 500 fell briefly into bear market territory Thursday morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by more than 2,200 points, or 9 percent, and the Nasdaq index fell by 8 percent.

Italy deepens lockdown as coronavirus spreads

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MILAN — Normally packed tourist sites, shops and restaurants stood deserted across Italy on Thursday, a day after authorities drastically tightened a nationwide lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Milan, the country’s financial capital, was a ghost town as residents woke up to an order to close all shops except supermarkets, food stores and pharmacies. In a city center normally bustling with shoppers, a handful of people mingled at a street market that had just one stand open.

In the university area of the city, almost all shops were closed and people, most wearing masks, lined up to get into a drug store. Inside, pharmacist Andrea De Leo, 26, said they were running out of masks but were expecting a new delivery at the end of the week. Despite the most severe restrictions since World War II, De Leo said that the city would persevere.

“We are getting used to this,” he said. “We will resist.”

Read the full story here.

GOP senator McSally urges cancellation of congressional break

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who’s up for re-election in November, said Thursday that congressional leaders should cancel recess until the House and Senate address the outbreak. 

“Americans all over the country are looking to us to lead on mitigating the impact of this virus,” McSally said in a statement. “It is totally unacceptable for us to leave Washington, D.C., and recess without further acting to support our constituents.”

The House and Senate are on recess next week and there’s no guarantee Congress will pass an aid package before leaving for the break, although the House was scheduled to vote on a sweeping aid package Thursday.

Hillary Clinton weighs in

Pelosi calls travel ban 'strange,' questions why the U.K. is excluded

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Anthony Fauci called her the night earlier to brief her on the travel ban that was announced by President Donald Trump in his Oval Office address.

Pelosi said that Fauci said it was a "scientific medical decision."

"It’s just strange because they’re saying it’s easy to travel among these countries but they’re separate from the U.K. Well you can just get on the Chunnel and you’ll be in the U.K.," she said. 

Two more people die in the U.K.

Two more people have died from COVID-19 in the U.K., Britain's Department of Health and Social Care said Thursday.

A total of eight people have now died in the country from the respiratory illness and 590 people from the 29,764 tested, have been found to be carrying the disease.