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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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NHL suspends play over coronavirus

A skater is alone on the ice prior to a scheduled game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Capitals in Washington on Thursday. The NHL announced Thursday it has suspended their season, joining the NBA, MLS, and other sporting leagues around the world suspending play because of the coronavirus outbreak.Patrick Smith / Getty Images

The National Hockey League said Thursday that it has paused its season, beginning with games set to take place on Thursday, over concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said the news from the NBA that a player had tested positive had influenced the NHL's decision.

“[F]ollowing last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time,” Bettman said in a statement.

Trump: Restricting travel in U.S. a 'possibility' if coronavirus pandemic gets 'too hot'

President Donald Trump said Thursday that it's a "possibility" the administration could impose travel restrictions within the United States to limit exposure to the coronavirus if certain areas get "too hot."

"We haven't discussed that yet," Trump continued when asked about the option at a bilateral meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. "Is it a possibility? Yes. If somebody gets a little bit out of control, if an area gets too hot."

"You see what they're doing in New Rochelle, which is good frankly," Trump said, referring to the city just north of Manhattan where there is a growing cluster of coronavirus cases. "It's the right thing, but it's not enforced, it's not very strong. But people know they're being watched. New Rochelle, that's a hot spot."

Imposing travel limits in the U.S. interior would a significant step in the effort to mitigate cases as coronavirus fears roil the economy and cripple various industries.

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'Everyone's losing': College campus closures a stark reality for students

This week, University of California, Santa Barbara, University of Michigan, and dozens of others schools moved classes online. Like Amherst, Wesleyan College, Grinnell College, and Harvard University, took it a step further, ordering students to leave campus for the remainder of the semester. 

The universities say the decision to close is meant to stem the spread of the virus on campuses where students live in close quarters and aren’t too likely to heed public health warnings. But telling students to head home and take classes online for the rest of the semester isn’t as simple as it sounds, and for many students, it feels more devastating than contracting the virus itself.

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Fed to feed $500 billion into markets as stocks continue to crater

The stock market pared losses Thursday afternoon after the Federal Reserve made a surprise announcement that it would be injecting $500 billion into Treasury markets choked by the coronavirus.

The move is intended to "support smooth functioning of funding markets as market participants implement business resiliency plans in response to the coronavirus," the Fed said in a statement posted on its website Thursday afternoon.

Treasury bonds have fallen to historic lows of 0.3 percent in the past week, but rallied to 0.68 percent Thursday afternoon.

Wall Street also rallied after the Fed announcement, with all three major averages down by just 6 percent, from their earlier losses of more than 9 percent.

Brazilian official who met Trump at Mar-a-Lago tests positive for coronavirus

A Brazilian official President Donald Trump met with over the weekend has tested positive for the coronavirus, but Trump said Thursday he's "not concerned" about their interaction.

Fabio Wajngarten, press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, posed for a picture with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Bolsonaro at Trump's Florida resort over the weekend that he posted on Instagram. The press office at Brazil's presidential palace confirmed to NBC News Thursday that Wajngarten had tested positive for the coronavirus.

His condition was not immediately clear. The office said he is in home quarantine. Bolsonaro is being monitored as well, the press office said in a statement.

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McConnell says Senate will cancel recess

Coronavirus could 'wreak havoc' on U.S. jails, experts warn

An outbreak of coronavirus inside the walls of a U.S. prison or jail is now a question of when, not if, according to health experts. And interviews with several jail staffers, prisoner advocates and former correctional medical personnel revealed deep concerns over the potential for the illness to wreak havoc behind bars.

The U.S. has roughly 5,000 adult detention facilities — a mix of jails, which house inmates awaiting trial or serving short sentences, and prisons, where people convicted of serious crimes go to serve time. No cases have yet been reported in any of the facilities.

But the environments, with inmates packed together in often grimy spaces with limited ventilation, provide a prime breeding ground for the spread of infectious diseases, experts say.

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Library of Congress to be closed to the public

All Library of Congress buildings and facilities will be closed to the public beginning 5 p.m. Wednesday until April 1 to reduce the risk of coronavirus as the disease continues spreading across the U.S., the library said in a statement Thursday.

Employees, authorized visitors and credentialed Capitol Hill staff will continue to have access to the facilities, the library said.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott plans to self-quarantine

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., plans to self-quarantine after coming into potential contact with a member of Brazilian President Bolsonaro's delegation in Miami, the lawmaker said in a statement."

"While I do not believe I interacted with the infected person, that individual was in the same room as me. The Embassy said the person had no symptoms leading up to or the day of the conference," Scott said.

"After consulting with the Senate’s attending physician and my personal doctor, I have been told that my risk is low, and I don’t need to take a test or quarantine," Scott added. "However, the health and safety of the American people is my focus and I have made the decision to self-quarantine in an abundance of caution. I am feeling healthy and not experiencing any symptoms at this time."

Prayers in Gaza City

Palestinian workers wearing protective gear pray in the courtyard of al-Omari mosque, after spraying disinfectant products as a means of prevention against the spread of COVID-19, in Gaza City on Thursday.Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images