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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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Kansas reports first death, declares state of emergency

Gov. Laura Kelly announced the first coronavirus death in Kansas and announced a state of emergency.

"Unfortunately, today we learned of the first COVID-19 related death in our state," Kelly said at a press conference Thursday night. "The death was of a male in his 70s in Wyandotte County who lived in a long term care facility. He had other underlying health conditions and was receiving care at a local hospital at the time of his death."

"Every effort is being made to mitigate the spread of the virus, including quarantining all who are known to have been in contact with this individual," Kelly said.

"The situation also demanded that I declare an emergency, which will grant my administration the ability to activate state resources and mobilize personnel where needed in the state."

As of Thursday, Kansas had seven confirmed cases of the virus. The death in the state brings the national coronavirus death toll to 41.

Behind Trump's coronavirus shift

President Donald Trump speaks about the U.S response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic during an address to the nation from the Oval Office on March 11, 2020.Doug Mills / Pool via Reuters

WASHINGTON — As President Donald Trump jetted back to Washington on Monday after a weekend of golfing and fundraising in Florida, an intervention was awaiting him back at the White House.

Administration officials, increasingly concerned about the messaging and response to the coronavirus, had spent the weekend scrambling to craft a strategy to shift the president’s response, which had been focused on downplaying the threat and accusing the media of creating undue concern, according to people involved in the effort.

Read the full article here.

San Francisco and Houston closing all public schools

The cities of San Francisco and Houston both announced on Thursday that all public schools would be temporarily closed due to coronavirus concerns.

San Francisco Unified School District said schools would close for three weeks starting Monday, March 16.

“Health officials have advised that it is likely our community will be seeing many more cases of COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months and this will require a measured, sustained response,” SFUSD Board President Mark Sanchez said in a statement.

The Houston Independent School District announced it was closing schools starting Friday, March 13. Classes will resume on Tuesday, March 31.

Mormon Church calls off all public gatherings around the world

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, announced on Thursday that it was suspending public gatherings worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We continue to monitor the changing conditions related to COVID-19 throughout the world," the church said in a statement on its website. "We have considered the counsel of local Church leaders, government officials and medical professionals, and have sought the Lord’s guidance in these matters."

"Beginning immediately, all public gatherings of Church members are being temporarily suspended worldwide until further notice."

Smithsonian to close museums and zoo in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian announced on Thursday that all museums in Washington, D.C. and New York City, as well as the National Zoo in D.C., will be closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The closures will begin on Saturday, March 14.

"Due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, we are not announcing a reopening date at this time and will provide updates on a week-to-week basis on our websites," the Smithsonian Institution said in a statement.

New York to Alex Jones: Stop pushing fake coronavirus cures

Conservative commentator Alex Jones on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 11, 2018.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images file

New York State Attorney General Letitia James has warned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to stop selling fake coronavirus cures, according to a statement from her office released Thursday. 

James sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding Jones stop selling products such as toothpaste, dietary supplements and creams that make coronavirus claims via the website for InfoWars, Jones' media company. The letter refers to claims made on the site on March 7. 

There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine or treatment for the disease caused by the coronavirus. 

“As the coronavirus continues to pose serious risks to public health, Alex Jones has spewed outright lies and has profited off of New Yorkers’ anxieties,” James said in a statement. 

James also sent cease and desist letters to two companies in New York that claim their products are coronavirus treatments. Alex Jones was not immediately available for comment.

Disney postpones release of 'Mulan,' 'The New Mutants' and 'Antlers'

A still from the new Disney trailer for "Mulan."Disney

Disney has postponed the theatrical release of "Mulan" amid growing concerns over coronavirus.

The studio has also removed "The New Mutants" and "Antlers" from its slate. All three movies have been delayed indefinitely as Disney looks for new release dates. Disney said in a statement the move was out of "an abundance of caution."

For now, Disney's "Black Widow" is still expected to hit theaters May 1. Since so many big movies are vacating their release dates, Universal's "Trolls: World Tour" is the only film from a major Hollywood studio that's still opening until May. But that could change if movie theaters are forced to close.

"Mulan" is the latest high-profile tentpole to shift its release date as Hollywood grapples with the novel virus that's rapidly spread across the world. On Thursday, Universal pushed "Fast 9" back a year, while Paramount indefinitely shelved "A Quiet Place 2." Earlier in the month, James Bond entry "No Time to Die" was delayed from April until November.

Maryland to close all public schools

Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Thursday that all public schools in the state of Maryland will be closed starting Monday, an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus.

“It is crucial that we take immediate measures to slow the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in school communities around the State,” said Dr. Karen Salmon, superintendent of schools for Maryland. “During the time of school closure, all public school buildings and school buses should be cleaned and disinfected to prevent spread of the virus upon the return of students and staff to school.”

Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage, cont'd

The FDA is forcing the CDC to waste time double-testing some cases [ProPublica]

What happens when a new pandemic hits an ancient city? [National Geographic]

Labs rush to study coronavirus in transgenic animals. Some are in short supply. [Nature]

11 things to stream if you're stuck at home [The Hollywood Reporter]

Utah Jazz player confirms he caught coronavirus

Congresswoman Katie Porter presses CDC director to confirm coronavirus testing will be free