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Trump ponders return to normal life by Easter as death toll climbs

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: New York City Hospital Adds New Protocols And Triage To Address Coronavirus
Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus (COVID-19) in set-up tents to triage possible COVID-19 patients outside before they enter the main Emergency department area at St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on March 24, 2020 in New York.Misha Friedman / Getty Images

The number of coronavirus cases continued to accelerate in the United States on Tuesday, and early Wednesday Senate leaders announced they had reached a deal on a massive $2 trillion spending bill aimed at alleviating the economic impact of the outbreak.

The White House coronavirus coordinator asked people who have recently been in New York, where the death toll continues to climb, to quarantine themselves for 14 days, because they may have been exposed before leaving.

President Donald Trump is pushing for the country to get back to business by April 12, Easter Sunday, when he said he would like to see churches full of people.

And after growing international pressure, Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the 2020 Tokyo games until next year but said they would happen no later than summer 2021.

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914d ago / 1:01 PM UTC

France enters two-month state of emergency

Image: A message reading "I love you but from far" is posted in the windows of an apartment building in Rennes on Tuesday.
A message reading "I love you but from far" is posted in the windows of an apartment building in Rennes on Tuesday.Damien Meyer / AFP - Getty Images

France will be under a state of health emergency for two months, the French government announced Tuesday. 

The new emergency law, passed by the Senate and the Parliament last week, gives the government special powers to enforce the lockdown, which first began two weeks ago. 

Local officials will determine in each city if a curfew is necessary, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said. Health officials said France has confirmed 19,856 cases of coronavirus, more than 2,000 of which are in intensive care, and 860 have died.

The tighter measures rolled out Monday night by Philippe allow residents to leave their homes for only one hour to do only essential tasks, and for physical exercise within 0.6 miles of their residence. They will also need to mark the time they leave home on a special form they need to carry when venturing outside.  

914d ago / 12:55 PM UTC

Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponed

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday.

Abe said Japan and the International Olympic Committee came to an agreement during a phone call with the head of the IOC, Thomas Bach, following growing calls for the games to be delayed or canceled because of the concerns around coronavirus pandemic.

The Japanese leader said they have agreed that the games would not be canceled and will be held by the summer of 2021, his office said on Twitter.

The Olympics was set to run from July 24 through Aug. 9, and the Paralympics from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.

Read the full story here.

914d ago / 12:50 PM UTC

Spanish doctor warns situation in hospitals likely to become 'unsustainable'

A doctor in Spain has warned that unless the number of new coronavirus infections decreases, the situation in Madrid's hospitals will be "almost unsustainable" in a few days. 

"One of the worst shifts I can remember," Miguel Guirao, 27, a Spanish anesthesiologist, wrote on Twitter, posting a photo of his face marked with red lines from his protective mask after a 19-hour shift. "And they said it was like the flu."

Guirao told NBC News that staff at the Hospital Universitario La Paz where he works have "literally just enough" personal protective equipment, but not enough ventilators for patients.

Doctors need to decide which patients can be admitted to their critical care units, taking into account medical history and prognosis. "There is even an age limit: Above it, you do not enter, because there isn't a bed for everyone," explained Guirao. 

Madrid has been the city worst affected by the pandemic in Spain, with a total of 10,575 cases and 1,263 deaths reported in the capital so far, according to officials on Tuesday.  

914d ago / 12:42 PM UTC

FEMA to use Defense Production Act for test kits, chief says

FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said Tuesday that his agency planned to use its authorities under the Defense Production Act “to get our hands on” coronavirus test kits. 

“We're going to use it for about 60,000 test kits, and so we're really going to use the allocation portion of the DPA, and again many different levers and options in that,” he said in an interview on CNN. 

Gaynor said that they were also going to insert “DPA language” into contracts for 500 million masks. 

President Donald Trump has come under fire in recent days for not using the powers of the DPA to authorize the mass production of critical supplies.

914d ago / 12:41 PM UTC

'Fine line' to balance economy, public health, White House official says

The White House coronavirus response coordinator on Tuesday suggested that "there's a fine line" between balancing the economic needs of Americans and the fight against the pandemic.

Dr. Deborah Birx in an interview on "TODAY" on Tuesday responded to questions about President Donald Trump's assertion at a press conference Monday that the shutdown of many businesses around the country would last weeks, not months. "America will again and soon be open for business," he said.

Birx said officials are carefully evaluating data, including from Italy where after two weeks of a national lockdown the number of deaths has begun to decline.

The question is, Birx said, "Can we be laser-focused rather than generic across the country" in the fight against the spread of virus?

Read the full story here. 

914d ago / 12:30 PM UTC
914d ago / 12:25 PM UTC

'This is only the beginning,' says New York City mayor

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that "April will be much worse than March" as coronavirus spreads through the city. New York now accounts for 35 percent of all cases across the United States, he said in an appearance on NY1.

"This is only the beginning of a much bigger crisis. I take no joy in saying that, but April will be much worse than March, and I fear that May will be worse than April. We are just beginning on a very difficult road," he said, according to the remarks released by his office.

There are more than 13,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City and 125 people have died, according to city statistics. A state-wide lockdown took effect Monday as authorities rushed to set up thousands of hospital beds.

De Blasio, who has criticized President Donald Trump's response to the outbreak, said on Monday that he had "hopeful" conversations with the White House and had seen some "movement" on getting protective gear and medical support. 

914d ago / 11:56 AM UTC
914d ago / 11:51 AM UTC

Most of India under lockdown as prime minister set to address nation

Image: People wait for transportation along the Delhi-Meerut Expressway following a lockdown order by Delhi's government and some districts of Uttar Pradesh.
People wait for transportation on Monday along the Delhi-Meerut Expressway following a lockdown order by Delhi's government and some districts of Uttar Pradesh.Prakash Singh / AFP - Getty Images

Police enforced lockdowns across large parts of India on Tuesday, with curfews in place in some areas, as domestic air travel was set to end at midnight.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepared to address the nation on Tuesday for a second time in a week on the risks that coronavirus poses to the country of 1.3 billion people.

India has already severed international flight links and Indian states have imposed their own lockdowns, suspending train and bus services and ordering traffic off the roads. Health officials have warned that the coronavirus is spreading out of big cities where it first appeared and into smaller towns.

914d ago / 11:45 AM UTC

Egypt announces 2-week, night-time curfew

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Egypt has announced a two-week, 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for its over 100 million people to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly told a news conference on Tuesday that the 11-hour curfew would go into effect Wednesday across the country and last for two weeks. He says all kinds of transportation will be halted during the curfew.

Egypt, the Arab World most populous country, has 366 confirmed cases and 21 fatalities, including two senior military officers.

914d ago / 11:45 AM UTC

Mnuchin, Schumer optimistic on coronavirus stimulus package, say deal is close

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said late Monday that they were nearing a deal on a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package to help American workers and businesses survive the coronavirus outbreak.

"I think we've made a lot of progress," Mnuchin told reporters on Capitol Hill just before midnight after emerging from negotiations. "There's still a couple of open issues, but I think we're very hopeful that this can be closed out (Tuesday)."

Mnuchin said that he and Schumer had consulted with both President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Monday about the progress made on the legislation. Though no deal was reached, staff was expected to continue drafting the massive package overnight.

Read the fully story here.

914d ago / 11:35 AM UTC

NBC News' Richard Engel rounds up the latest coronavirus headlines

915d ago / 11:04 AM UTC

Madrid ice rink set to become morgue

Image: Members of the Spanish Army's Military Emergency Unit outside Madrid's Palacio de Hielo shopping mall on Monday where an ice rink is being turned into a temporary morgue to help deal with the city's surge in coronavirus-related deaths.
Members of the Spanish Army's Military Emergency Unit outside Madrid's Palacio de Hielo shopping mall on Monday where an ice rink is being turned into a temporary morgue to help deal with the city's surge in coronavirus-related deaths.Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP - Getty Images

An ice skating rink in Madrid will become a makeshift morgue for coronavirus victims, a city spokesperson said Monday.

The rink will be re-purposed by Madrid's regional government and military emergency units, which have been deployed across Spain over the past week to help deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Spain is the hardest-hit European country after Italy with 35,120 confirmed cases and 2,297 total deaths. Madrid alone has 10,575 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,263 deaths, according to local authorities.

The normally bustling streets of Madrid have fallen quiet since Spain enacted a partial lockdown Saturday night as the country tries to stem the outbreak. The government expects a state of emergency to be in place for at least another 15 days with people only allowed to leave their homes to go to work, the pharmacy or for medical attention.

915d ago / 10:15 AM UTC

Planes stand parked in Frankfurt as air traffic shuts down

Image: Lufthansa planes stand on a closed runway in Frankfurt, Germany on Tuesday.
Lufthansa planes stand on a closed runway in Frankfurt, Germany on Tuesday as the spread of coronavirus caused air traffic to largely shut down. Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters
915d ago / 9:25 AM UTC

Commuters squeeze into London Tube, despite lockdown measures

Image: Commuters squeeze into an Underground train in London on Tuesday morning.
Commuters squeeze into an Underground train in London on Tuesday morning.Emma Wilson

The morning after the U.K. government announced a three-week lockdown and asked the British public to limit their movements to curb the spread of coronavirus, London's Underground was still full. 

Videos shared by commuters on social media show train cars and platforms rammed with people standing in close proximity to each other. 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan implored city residents to stop all non-essential use of public transport.

"Ignoring these rules means more lives lost," Khan said in a tweet. 

He also warned that a growing number of public transport staff are off work sick or self-isolating, limiting the city's capacity to run more services.

915d ago / 9:21 AM UTC

915d ago / 9:16 AM UTC

Wuhan travel restrictions set to end on April 8

Image: A staff member sprays disinfectant at Wuhan Railway Station on Tuesday.
A staff member sprays disinfectant at Wuhan Railway Station on Tuesday.AFP - Getty Images

Travel restrictions in and out of Wuhan, the city in central China where the coronavirus is believed to have originated, will lift on April 8, local authorities announced Tuesday.

Life in Wuhan ground to a standstill in January after the Chinese government moved to completely shutter public transportation, highways, airports and businesses as the number of coronavirus infections rose. The city's 11 million residents were told to stay at home and leave only in cases of emergency.

Dozens of countries, including the United States, evacuated their nationals from Wuhan after the outbreak began. In recent weeks, China has seen a steep drop in the number of new infections in Wuhan and across the country, and officials are now shifting their attention to battling cases of the virus that are coming in from abroad.

915d ago / 7:32 AM UTC

915d ago / 5:10 AM UTC

Hospitals limiting visitors in delivery rooms

Mothers-to-be spend months perfecting their birth plans. And while births often don't go according to those plans, most women find comfort in knowing they have support — and at least one person advocating for their wishes. Yet thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, this may not be the case for women delivering babies in the next few months.

Hospitals across the country are limiting visitors and the number of people who can be in a room with a woman while she gives birth.

One hospital in New York City has enacted the strictest policy yet: Banning partners from delivery rooms.

Read the full story here.

915d ago / 3:52 AM UTC

Department of Homeland Security delays 'Remain in Mexico' hearings

The federal government on Monday delayed upcoming hearings for asylum-seekers who have been detained and are awaiting U.S. court proceedings in Mexico.

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that detainees who have hearings within the next month under the Migrant Protection Protocol program — also known as “Remain in Mexico” — will be rescheduled.

The department said that migrants should present themselves to border agents on their previously scheduled dates to get a new court hearing.

A coalition of lawyers and judges called on the government last week to shutter immigration courts and delay hearings for migrants in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

915d ago / 3:32 AM UTC
915d ago / 3:23 AM UTC

More inmates released from Rikers Island

915d ago / 2:48 AM UTC

Hawaii, Alaska close businesses, tell residents to stay home

Hawaii and Alaska ordered businesses shuttered and told residents to stay home on Monday, becoming the latest states to implement sweeping measures in an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus.

In Hawaii, where 77 cases have been confirmed, Gov. David Ige said that beginning Wednesday, people should leave their homes only to go to the grocery store, bank or another “essential” business. He said outdoor exercise is allowed as long people remain six feet apart from each other.

“The threat of COVID-19 is unprecedented, and it requires even more actions,” he said.

In Alaska, officials closed hair salons, barbershops and other businesses where people gather. Visitors from out of state will also be required to self-quarantine for two weeks. The orders go into effect Tuesday and Wednesday, Alaska Department of Health Commissioner Adam Crum told reporters.