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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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How countries around the world are working to flatten the curve

Senate agrees to $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill

WASHINGTON — The White House and Senate leaders reached an agreement early Wednesday on a massive $2 trillion coronavirus spending bill aimed at alleviating the economic impact of the outbreak.

“At last, we have a deal," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday. "In effect, this is a war-time investment."

Although the full text of the bill is not yet known, lawmakers indicated on Tuesday that the Republican’s initial proposal for direct cash payments would be included.

Read the full story here. 

Brazil president says coronavirus is overblown

The Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jair Bolsonaro is sticking with his contention that concern about the new coronavirus is overblown and has accused Brazilian media of trying to stoke nationwide hysteria.

Bolsonaro said in a nationally televised address that the media had seized on the death toll in Italy, which he said is suffering so severely because of its elderly population and colder climate.

“The virus arrived, we are confronting it, and it will pass shortly," he said. "Our lives have to continue, jobs should be maintained.”

Bolsonaro added that certain Brazilian states should abandon their “scorched earth” policy of prohibiting public transport, closing business and schools, and calling for mass confinement at home for their residents.

About 2,200 people in Brazil have been infected so far, with 46 dead.

Trump approves disaster declarations for Louisiana, Iowa

President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved disaster declarations for the states of Iowa and Louisiana, the White House said.

The approvals follow declarations for New York, California and Washington state. Emergency declarations allow federal aid. Those three states have some of the highest number of cases in the country.

Iowa has 124 cases and reported its first death associated with COVID-19 on Tuesday. Louisiana has more than 1,300 cases and 46 deaths, according to its state health department.

Video diaries around the world: What it's like living in quarantine

Key medical glove factories cutting staff 50 percent

The Associated Press

Malaysia’s medical glove factories, which make most of the world’s critical hand protection, are operating at half capacity just when they’re most needed, The Associated Press has learned.

Health care workers snap gloves on as the first line of protection against catching COVID-19 from patients, and they’re crucial to protecting patients as well. But medical-grade glove supplies are running low globally, even as more feverish, sweating and coughing patients arrive in hospitals by the day.

Malaysia is by far the world’s largest medical glove supplier, producing as many as three out of four gloves on market. 

The Malaysian government ordered factories to halt all manufacturing starting March 18. Then, one by one, those that make products deemed essential, including medical gloves, have been required to seek exemptions to reopen, but only with half of their workforce to reduce the risk of transmitting the new virus, according to industry reports and insider sources. The government says companies must meet domestic demand before exporting anything. The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association this week is asking for an exception.

New Orleans getting ambulance backup as cases rise

Louisiana is sending a “surge” of ambulance services to areas hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, including New Orleans, as officials in the city said a number of EMS workers have been exposed.

Twenty-eight employees of New Orleans Emergency Medical Services are being isolated at home after becoming symptomatic. No one has tested positive for COVID-19, but there are numerous test results pending, the city EMS said. The agency said that of 170 total employees, 94 have been exposed to the virus and meet the parameters for quarantine.

“However, according to CDC guidelines for health care providers, non-symptomatic medics may continue to work as long as they wear a mask and are monitored for fever and other symptoms,” the agency said.

New Orleans has 675 of the state’s more than 1,300 cases reported, according to state and local agencies. There have been 46 deaths in the state, and 26 of those happened in Orleans Parish. 

President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved a disaster declaration for the state.

California couple surprised with virtual 'wedding'

Suzanne Ciechalski and Jareen Imam

When Daniel Cheung and Jenn Chan had to postpone their March 21 wedding because of shelter-in-place requirements, their friends knew the San Francisco-area couple would be upset. So, rather than wasting the day, they banded together to throw a virtual "wedding." 

"We decided to throw a surprise virtual wedding for them on Zoom video conferencing and invite all of the guests on their guest list," Victor Kao, Cheung's best man, told NBC News. "We all dressed up, had a ceremony with vows, toasts, cake cutting. ... We had people drop off champagne and cake to their house and everything." 

Kao estimated that about 35 people celebrated. Cheung and Chan were both caught off-guard and pleased by their friends' gestures. 

"[I was] surprised and really grateful to see we were able to get together virtually," Chan said. 

The couple postponed their wedding to October 31. 

5 members of Missouri family infected

Five members of a Missouri family have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including a woman who works at a preschool where several other teachers have also been infected.

Jane Weinhaus, 63, and her St. Louis-area family, including her husband, two adult children and a daughter-in-law, have all tested positive.

Weinhaus, a teacher at Deutsch Early Childhood Center at Congregation Temple Israel in Creve Coeur in St. Louis County, was on a ventilator for more than a week, her son told NBC affiliate KSDK.

Read the full story here

New ad targets Trump's handling of coronavirus

A political ad launching nationwide Wednesday argues that Donald Trump has failed the presidential test of leadership and allowed the coronavirus to “spread unchecked across America.”

The 30-second ad from Unite The Country, a super PAC formed to support Joe Biden’s candidacy, never mentions the former vice president by name. It is the first significant move by any Democratic entity to use the pandemic in a significant paid advertising campaign.

“Crisis comes to every presidency. We don't blame them for that. What matters is how they handle it,” a narrator says against a montage of black-and-white images of Presidents Bush, Obama, Bush and Reagan. "Donald Trump didn't create the coronavirus, but he is the one who called hoax. Who eliminated the pandemic response team. And who let the virus spread unchecked across America. Crisis comes to every president. This one failed.”

Biden himself stepped forward Tuesday with his first three national television interviews since his campaign has been essentially sidelined by the national response to the pandemic. 

Vermont issues “stay home, stay safe" order

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott issued a stay-at-home order for the state that included the closure of all non-essential businesses to try and halt the spread of coronavirus. 

The order restricts residents to only leaving their homes for essential reasons, critical to health and safety, according to a press release Tuesday. Those who do leave their home will be forced to adhere to social distancing policies of staying at least six feet apart. 

“I fully recognize the emotional, financial and economic impact of these decisions, but based on the best science we have available, these measures are necessary," Scott said.

Malaysian police use drones to urge citizens to stay home

Iowa reports first coronavirus death

Iowa’s health department said Tuesday that it has learned of the state’s first death associated with the coronavirus illness, COVID-19.

The person who died was identified as a Dubuque County resident between the ages of 61 and 80.

"Our hearts are heavy with the first loss of an Iowan to COVID-19. The thoughts and prayers of our state are with the family during this difficult time," Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement. 

As of Tuesday night, there have been 124 confirmed coronavirus cases in Iowa, according to the state health department’s website.

Miami mayor, still in quarantine, announces shelter-in-place order for city

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced Tuesday on Twitter that the city will be enacting a shelter-in-place order to keep residents at home as coronavirus cases increase. 

Suarez is still under quarantine nearly two weeks after he tested positive for the virus and made the announcement through a video on his account.

“We are putting a shelter-in-place order, or stay-at-home order, in place today," he said. "I’ve been trying to do it for the last week, unfortunately I’ve been getting resistance internally." 

The mayor also announced that he was retested on Monday and was still positive. He said he would continue to quarantine until he met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for release.

Number of Americans testing positive skyrockets as states struggle to contain outbreak

In New York, the number of confirmed cases statewide is doubling every three days, and Los Angeles reported its first death in a patient under 18 years old. 

White House press secretary tests negative

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has tested negative for COVID-19, she told NBC News. 

Her deputy, Judd Deere, said Grisham," who has been quarantined since coming in contact with Brazilian officials almost two weeks ago and working from home, has received negative COVID-19 test results and will be back to work tomorrow," said Deputy press secretary Judd Deere. 

Person in Kentucky who attended 'coronavirus party' tests positive

A person in Kentucky who recently attended a "coronavirus party" has now tested positive for the virus, Gov. Andy Beshear said. 

Beshear at press conference on Tuesday chided Kentuckians who are not taking the pandemic seriously.

"We have a positive coronavirus case today from someone who attended a coronavirus party," Beshear told reporters. "Anyone who goes to something like this may think they are indestructible, but it is someone else's loved one that they are going to hurt."

"We are battling for the health and even the lives of our parents and our grandparents," Beshear warned. "Don't be so callous as to intentionally go to something and expose yourself to something that can kill other people. We ought to be much better than that."

As of Tuesday evening, at least 163 people have tested positive and four people have died from coronavirus in Kentucky. 

Florida customers angered by Home Depot social distancing rules

NCAA denies shutting down Clemson quarterback's coronavirus fundraiser

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU
Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers warms up before the College Football Playoff National Championship game against the LSU Tigers at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on Jan. 13, 2020 in New Orleans.Alika Jenner / Getty Images file

The NCAA denied shutting down a fundraiser started by Clemson University’s star quarterback for families affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Trevor Lawrence started a GoFundMe for families with his girlfriend Marissa Mowry, who plays soccer at Anderson University, and raised more than $2,500 before it was shut down. Mowry said on her Instagram page Monday that the couple was forced to take down the crowdfunding page and would be donating the money to Meals on Wheels and No Kid Hungry.

“Unfortunately, Trevor can not be a part of this because of compliance and some rules, so he can’t help out anymore,” Mowry said.

Read the full story here. 

White House: Leaving New York? Quarantine for 14 days.

The White House asked people who have been in New York recently to quarantine themselves for 14 days if they leave the state, which has become an epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.

"To everyone who has left New York over the last few days,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator. “You may have been exposed before you left New York. Like Gov. DeSantis put out today, everyone who is in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered visitors from the tri-state area to self-isolate for two weeks. Birx said if people left a few days ago, they should start the quarantine clock from the point they left the city.

“It’s a very serious situation,” added Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert.

Fauci said that 1 in 1000 New Yorkers are infected with the virus and that isolation was required to prevent seeding the rest of the country with outbreaks of the virus.

"What we’re seeing now is that understandably, people want to get out of New York. They’re going to Florida, they’re going to Long Island, they’re going to a different place," he said.

Los Angeles County sheriff urges social distancing at strip clubs

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Tuesday that, during the coronavirus pandemic, too many businesses are still not keeping customers and employees at a safe distance from each other — such as at strip clubs.

"From the law enforcement operation, we've received complaints from particular businesses who have not been adhering to the social distancing" orders from the state and county, Villanueva told reporters.

"Chief among them have been gun shops, nightclubs, bars and strip clubs. So we've fanned out. We're making sure that all these businesses are complying."

The sheriff has ordered gun shops to be closed because they're not an essential service.

Photo: Serbian field hospital in fair hall

Serbia hospital
A Serbian soldier walks through beds set up in one of the halls at the Belgrade Fair to accommodate people suffering from mild symptoms from the coronavirus on Tuesday. Vladimir Zivojinovic / AFP via Getty Images

VA nearly doubles number of tests administered in a day, invites retired medical workers to return

Rich Gardella

The Department of Veterans Affairs has administered over 2,726 tests for coronavirus nationwide, a jump of 1,202 tests from the number reported just the day before, the VA announced Tuesday.

Of the tests administered, 296 have been positive. The highest concentration of positive cases is in the New Orleans region of Louisiana, where the Louisiana Veterans Health Care System has seen 63 positive cases.

The agency is also now waiving a section of federal law about retired VA workers to make it easier to rehire retired VA health care workers as facilities work to increase staffing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Americans stock up on Campbell's pantry staples

Claire Atkinson

Campbell Soup Company said that demand for its products increased dramatically this month, as Americans stocked up on staples during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company reported soup sales rose 59.3 percent in the last four weeks, ending March 15, compared to a year ago. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers increased 22.7 percent while Prego pasta sauce sales rose by 52.9 percent.

The New Jersey-based company also said that its "meals and beverages" segment saw more sales in a week than for the entire month of March last year. Weekly case orders rose by 366 percent for the week ending March 21. The company said its plant in Richmond, Utah, made more than two million pounds of Goldfish and cookies in the week through March 21. 

Fact checker Snopes says it's overwhelmed by coronavirus misinformation

Claire Atkinson

Fact-checking website Snopes told readers that the “magnitude of misinformation spreading in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming our small team,” and is demanding social media companies Facebook and Google “do more right now to shut down misinformation on their platforms.”

The site said it is scaling back routine content production to focus on coronavirus stories that can provide a “significant impact.” The shift comes weeks after the World Health Organization said that unreliable information circulating on the web is contributing to an “infodemic” worldwide.

“Facebook and Google are absolutely failing their users and the fact checking industry isn't really doing anything about it despite having so much leverage,” Snopes vice president of operations Vinny Green said.

Over 1,000 claims about coronavirus on Google have received fact checks from the company’s verified fact checking network since January.

D.C. mayor announces the district will close all nonessential businesses

ICE detainee tests positive for coronavirus

An immigrant detained at a New Jersey facility operated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has tested positive for COVID-19, the agency said Tuesday, marking the first coronavirus case of an ICE detainee.  

The agency said in a statement the individual has been “quarantined and is receiving care" and intake at the Bergen County facility is temporarily suspended

NBC News has previously reported extensive problems with the quality of health care in ICE detention facilities, including the deaths of 24 detainees since the start of the Trump administration.

Earlier Tuesday, the ACLU filed three lawsuits against ICE demanding that vulnerable inmates be released from three different detention centers.  


Biden on Trump's Easter timeline: 'Let's be realistic'

Joe Biden on Tuesday dismissed President Donald Trump’s desire to have the country back to business by Easter Sunday — even as the coronavirus pandemic worsens — as unrealistic and “bizarre.”

“I would like to open up the government tomorrow if it were possible,” Biden told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace on “Deadline: White House." “Let’s be realistic.”

“This curve is going up and up and up because we did not act when we should have acted," Biden said. “It just seems, to me, bizarre.”

Public health experts and local and state leaders have cautioned against easing coronavirus restrictions too early, saying it could put an enormous strain on hospitals and lead to even more deaths and economic damage.

Minor, under the age of 18, dies of coronavirus in Los Angeles County

Another four people have died in Los Angeles County from coronavirus, including a minor, according to Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.  

“Tragically, one the people who died was a person under the age of 18," Ferrer said. "A devastating reminder that COVID-19 infects people of all ages."

Ferrer did not expand on the patient's age or whether they had any underlying conditions, but a press release from the department said the minor was a resident of the city of Lancaster.

Los Angeles County has seen a total of 11 deaths due to COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus. The county has a total of 662 positive cases, including more than 250 that were confirmed in the last two days.

Why science matters in finding coronavirus treatments

In Nebraska, researchers are studying whether an experimental drug, remdesivir, can treat COVID-19, the illness that results from coronavirus infection. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state would begin trials looking at the drug combination hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax.

All told, more than 100 clinical trials of dozens of potential treatments have already begun in multiple countries.

Read more. 

Watch people crowd London subways, despite calls for social distancing

Apple may re-open some stores in April — but not necessarily in the U.S.

Dylan Byers

Apple may start to reopen some of its retail stores in the first half of April, according to a person at the company who is familiar with the matter but was not authorized to speak publicly.

Re-opening stores will depend on the state of the coronavirus pandemic at that time and will not necessarily include U.S. stores, the person said.

The iPhone maker announced earlier this month that it was closing all retail stores outside of China due to the global spread of the coronavirus. It had initially planned to start reopening stores on March 27.

FDA will allow doctors to treat coronavirus patients with blood from survivors

Image: New York City Hospital Adds New Protocols And Triage To Address Coronavirus
Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for COVID-19 outside of St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on March 24.Misha Friedman / Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration will allow doctors across the country to begin using plasma donated by coronavirus survivors to treat patients who are critically ill with the virus, under new emergency protocols approved Tuesday.

The treatment, known as convalescent plasma, dates back centuries and was used during the flu pandemic of 1918.

“Just based on its track record with a number of other viruses, I think it has a very good chance of working,” Dr. Jeffrey Henderson, of the Washington University School of Medicine, said.

Read the full story here. 

Dow ends the day up 2,000 points as $2T stimulus bill takes shape

Wall Street roared back on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average surging by over 2,000 points for its biggest daily points gain ever.

It was a strong day for all three major averages, with the Dow ending the day up by more than 11 percent. The S&P 500 rallied by over 9 percent, while the Nasdaq notched up gains of just over 8 percent.

Trader optimism was focused on the $2 trillion stimulus bill, which lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say is close to approval.

ACLU sues ICE over detention of immigrants vulnerable to coronavirus

The ACLU filed three lawsuits against Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tuesday demanding that the law enforcement agency release immigrant detainees in Pennsylvania, Maryland and California who are vulnerable to COVID-19.  

In Maryland, the ACLU cited a pregnant detainee who was diagnosed with tuberculosis in February 2020 as being at risk. “ICE’s needless detention of immigrants has always been cruel and excessive, but today, it also recklessly endangers their lives,” said Sirine Shebaya, executive director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

An ICE spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about the lawsuits but the ICE website says vulnerable detainees “are housed separately." ICE says on its site that if a detainee developed coronavirus symptoms the person would be put into a “single medical housing room” “depending on available space.” 

The agency says it has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in ICE detention facilities. The agency owns or operates 900 facilities housing an average of 42,000 detainees per day as of 2018.


'Wonder Woman' sequel and 'In The Heights' postponed

The superhero sequel "Wonder Woman 1984" and the musical adaptation "In The Heights" have joined the growing list of movie releases to be pushed back due to coronavirus.  

Warner Bros. released a statement Tuesday announcing that the anticipated "Wonder Woman" follow-up will be moved back to August instead of June, while the screen version of Lin-Manuel Miranda's "In The Heights" will be postponed indefinitely. 

Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich said that pushing the release of "Wonder Woman" would allow fans to enjoy the film on the big screen. "We hope the world will be in a safer and healthier place by then," Emmerich said. 

Miranda addressed the "In The Heights" delay on Twitter, saying the cast and crew had "the best summer of our lives" filming in the Washington Heights area of New York City. "When we can safely gather again, flags in hand, we will be there, enjoying this movie in theaters," Miranda said. "We'll have the premiere uptown. The best summer of our lives, together." 

Celebrated playwright Terrence McNally dies from coronavirus complications

Gwen Aviles

The award-winning playwright Terrence McNally died at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida from complications due to coronavirus Tuesday, according to his publicist. He was 81.

McNally, who was a lung cancer survivor with chronic COPD, was frequently described as the "bard of American theater" and was known for writing "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Ragtime" and a number of farcical plays throughout his sixty-year career. 

He is survived by his husband, Tom Kirdahy, and his brother, Peter McNally.

Photo: Livestreaming funerals in Vienna

Undertakers Offer Livestreaming For Funerals Following Coronavirus Restrictions
Deacon Otmar Gindl and undertakers rehearse the livestreaming of a funeral Tuesday in Vienna. Because the Austrian government has temporarily banned all gatherings of more than five people, undertakers are offering the livestreaming service to mourners who can't attend the funerals in person.Thomas Kronsteiner / Getty Images

Judge slaps down Michael Cohen's coronavirus-based bid to get out of prison

Michael Cohen’s effort to have his sentence reduced or to serve the balance of his sentence in home confinement has been tossed by the judge overseeing his case.

The former personal lawyer to President Donald Trump is currently serving a three-year sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty to several crimes in late 2018, including making secret payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump and lying to Congress about the president's business dealings with Russia.

“Apparently searching for a new argument to justify a modification of his sentence to home confinement, Cohen now raises the specter of COVID-19,” Judge William Pauley III wrote in a court order denying Cohen's reduction requests.

"Ten months into his prison term, it’s time that Cohen accept the consequences of his criminal convictions for serious crimes that had far reaching institutional harms.”

Los Angeles County gun shops drew a barrage of buyers before lockdown

Los Angeles County residents rushed to gun stores as the coronavirus spread across the U.S. last week, forming long lines in a fit of panic-buying, a top law enforcement official told NBC News.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the gun buying bonanza came just before a stay-at-home order was put in place. Gun shops, like other nonessential businesses, are now closed across the county.

"You can't shoot a virus," Villanueva told NBC News. “But if we ever get to the point of a foreign invasion or zombie apocalypse, I’ll make sure they are open.”

Transit systems in free fall beg for federal help over coronavirus

Mansee Khurana

An empty New York subway car on Monday.
An empty New York subway car on Monday.Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

The nation's public transit systems are asking for federal help as ridership plummets because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As more and more states and major urban centers call upon residents to work from home and shelter in place to slow the spread of the virus, public transit systems around the country are taking a major hit, with declines in ridership of up to 90 percent.

In New York, an epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has seen a 60 percent decline in ridership on its subways, while in San Francisco, where residents have been ordered to stay home, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system has seen a decline of almost 90 percent and is losing millions per week, forcing it to reduce service times.

The steep drops in riders, plus the added costs of safety measures such as disinfecting subway cars and cleaning the stations, could have catastrophic financial consequences for public transit systems even after the crisis is over.

Read the full story here.

Coronavirus cases surpass 50,000 in the U.S.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has now risen to more than 50,000. New York has the biggest number of cases by far, at over 25,000. That's largely due to increased testing for the virus. 

California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Washington have all reported more than 1,000 cases each.

Nationwide, 637 people have died from the coronavirus. 

Liberty University's Jerry Falwell Jr. welcomes students back

Image: The sun sets over the Liberty University campus in Lynchburg, Va., on May 3, 2017.
The Liberty University campus in Lynchburg, Va.Julia Rendleman / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Liberty University in Virginia welcomed students back to campus Monday amid criticism of its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., for allowing them back during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 1,100 students returned Monday following spring break, according to Scott Lamb, a spokesman for the university in Lynchburg. Falwell Jr. said he met with many of them.

At least one professor at the university has criticized the move, writing in an op-ed that "Falwell's lack of concern" about the pandemic puts faculty, staff and others in the city of Lynchburg at risk. In addition, an online petition seeks Falwell's removal over his alleged failure to take COVID-19 seriously.

Read the full story here.

Trump says he wants to ease coronavirus restrictions by April 12

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he wants to have the country getting back to business by the Easter holiday, April 12, saying the country isn’t built to sustain a longterm shutdown.

Public health experts and local and state leaders have cautioned against easing restrictions too early, saying it could put an enormous strain on hospitals and lead to even more deaths and economic damage.

A White House official clarified that the president views Easter as a date by which the economy is speeding again, meaning the loosening of restrictions would happen even sooner. 

Grassroots team launches website to get protective equipment to health care workers

Emmanuelle Saliba

A newly launched website “Get Us PPE” aims to unite medical workers, engineers, marketers, and manufacturers to get frontline healthcare workers the necessary protection they need to stay safe and take care of coronavirus patients.

Over the last couple weeks, hundreds of health care workers across the country have been flooding social media with disturbing accounts of shortages of basic equipment like masks, gowns and hand sanitizer.

Many have responded to their calls offering to donate supplies, sew masks, or retool their factories. Until Tuesday, these real-time donations efforts were decentralized, but now a  “passionate grassroots team” from across the country has unified the effort into one website  More than 566 hospitals have already asked for supplies and the number is growing, organizers told NBC News. 

Greta Thunberg self-isolates after experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms

Thunberg and her dad experienced coronavirus-like symptoms after traveling in Central Europe and are now isolating themselves for 2 weeks in a separate apartment, the climate activist said in an Instagram post Tuesday.

Last week, Sweden's Public Health Agency stopped testing all possible cases and advised that anyone who experienced symptoms to stay at home and practice social distancing.

Thunberg reported that she did not get tested for coronavirus, but has since fully recovered.

"Follow the advice from experts and your local authorities and #StayAtHome to slow the spread of the virus," she said. "And remember to always take care of each other and help those in need.#COVID #flattenthecurve"

Poland unleashes vodka on the virus

The Polish government has deployed a weapon in the fight against the coronavirus: confiscated black market vodka.

Known locally as “bimber,” some 500,000 liters of the high-powered liquid will be used as a disinfectant, the National Office of the Public Prosecutor said. It's worth noting, however, that vodka is generally not considered an effective killer of microbes.

Vodka was invented in Poland, and the authorities crack down routinely on the hundreds of illegal distilleries operating in the countryside.

Gabe Piscione

Photo: Auto plant workers in Wuhan return to jobs

Image: Wuhan China
Employees eat during lunch break at a Dongfeng Honda auto plant in Wuhan, China on Monday. People in central China, where the COVID-19 coronavirus was first detected, are now allowed to go back to work and public transport has restarted, as some normality slowly returns after a two-month lockdown.AFP - Getty Images

Harvard president and his wife test positive for coronavirus

Harvard President Larry Bacow and his wife Adele tested positive for the coronavirus, he announced in a statement on Tuesday.

Bacow said they have been completely limiting their contact with others since March 14. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Monday a stay-at-home advisory for the state's 7 million residents. 

UK reports highest daily deaths, surging over 25% in total number

The number of coronavirus deaths in the UK has risen by 87 in the past 24 hours, according to the country's Department of Health.

There are now 422 patients who have died from coronavirus and 8,077 confirmed cases.

On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a 3-week national lockdown in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Introducing our new project: Coronavirus Confessions

Dow surges by 1,700 points as hopes rise that economic stimulus bill will pass

Wall Street soared on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average surging by 1,700 points as lawmakers appeared to be closing in on the $2 trillion stimulus package.

The measure would reportedly include $350 billion for small businesses and $240 billion in relief for health care, including $75 billion that would be allocated to hospitals directly; $11 billion for the development of vaccines, treatments and other preparedness needs; and $4.5 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unemployment insurance benefits included in the bill would give recipients 100 percent of their salary. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by 1,773 points by midday, or more than 9 percent. The S&P 500 was up almost by around 8.25 percent, with the Nasdaq up by almost 7 percent. Traders have pinned their hopes on the government's fiscal stimulus plan after emergency crisis action from the Federal Reserve failed to soothe markets.

Lady Gaga delays sixth studio album, citing coronavirus

Lady Gaga announced Tuesday that she would delay the release of her sixth studio album "Chromatica." In a post on Twitter and Instagram, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning singer wrote that she didn't feel right releasing an album "with all that is going on during this global pandemic."

"It is important to me that the attention is on getting essential medical equipment to healthcare professionals, making sure kids who depend on public schools for meals get the assistance they need, and that we help those who will be financially impacted by this pandemic," Gaga wrote.

The singer had already postponed a dozen dates of her Las Vegas residency "Enigma," and revealed in the post that she had planned a surprise set for Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was also postponed. 

Gaga assured her fans, despite the delay, that the album is still coming: "I hope you can see that when the album does come out, I want us to be able to dance together, sweat together, hug and kiss each other, and make it the most bombastic celebration of all time. And until that time comes, LET'S ALL STAY HOME!"

Steep fines face those who defy coronavirus lockdowns, curfews around the world

As millions of people are locked down in their homes around the world, governments are hoping steep fines will also help to stop those who are breaking quarantine rules.

In Saudi Arabia, where a nationwide curfew has been enacted for three weeks starting Monday, violators will be fined 10,000 Saudi riyal ($2,777), which will be doubled for a second violation, the country's interior ministry said.  A third violation will earn the offender a jail sentence of up to 20 days.

Italy, which is experiencing the worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe with 6,077 deaths so far, is considering raising the fines for violation of the nationwide lockdown to 3,000 euros ($3,246), the country's Corriere della Sera newspaper reported. The current fine stands at 206 euros ($222). 

Meanwhile, in Israel, which is on partial lockdown, police are fining those breaking the quarantine 5,000 shekels ($1,365). Israel has had 1,656 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death so far. 

And in France, where 860 people died of the virus, sanctions for not respecting restricted movement started at just 38 euros ($41) when they began last week, but French Prime Minister Philippe Edouard said Monday night the fines will go up to as high as 1,500 euros ($1,618) for repeat offenders. 

New York governor highlights 'dramatic increase' in infection rate

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday his state has seen a "dramatic increase" in the rate of coronavirus infections, saying the "troubling and astronomical numbers" of people getting infected are higher than initially projected.

"The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought," Cuomo said, adding that cases could peak in as soon as 14 to 20 days. "It is clear that we must dramatically increase the hospital capacity."

India's prime minister orders nationwide lockdown

A view shows almost empty roads during a lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ahmedabad
An almost empty road in Ahmedabad, India, on Tuesday.Amit Dave / Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered a lockdown of the country starting at midnight local time.

The lockdown across the country of some 1.3 billion people will last for 21 days, according to The Associated Press.

Photo: The staggering toll in northern Italy

Coffins of people who have died from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are seen in the church of the Serravalle Scrivia cemetery
Coffins of people who have died from the coronavirus are lined up at a church Monday in Alessandria, Italy. The country is facing the world's deadliest outbreak of COVID-19.Falvio Lo Scalzo / Reuters

Dow soars by 1,300 points on hopes economic stimulus bill will finally pass

Wall Street rallied Tuesday on hopes lawmakers are nearing a deal on the $2 trillion stimulus package to help American workers and businesses survive the coronavirus outbreak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged by 1,300 points, after hitting its 5 percent "limit up" threshold in premarket trading. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both notched up gains of around 5 percent at the opening bell.

"I think we're very hopeful that this can be closed out tomorrow," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters late Monday on Capitol Hill after emerging from negotiations with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Read the full story here.

France enters two-month state of emergency

Nancy Ing

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.  

Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponed

Ahiza García-Hodges

Ahiza García-Hodges and Yuliya Talmazan

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.

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.  

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

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

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.

'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. 

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

NBC News

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. 

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.

Egypt announces 2-week, night-time curfew

The Associated Press

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.

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

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.

NBC News' Richard Engel rounds up the latest coronavirus headlines

NBC News

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.

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

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.

NBC News

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.

NBC News

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.

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. 

More inmates released from Rikers Island

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.