WORLD NEWS

Coronavirus Live Updates: Read The Latest About The COVID-19 Outbreak

Stay up to date as we cover the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its effects across the world.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.

The virus has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace. Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shutter in hopes of slowing transmission.

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and the measures being taken to flatten the curve of transmission.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern.)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who leads the state with the most COVID-19 cases in the U.S., issued an urgent plea at his daily press conference, warning that the rate of growth for cases continues to increase and will peak in “14 to 20 days,” making it essential that the state strengthen its hospital capacity and obtain much-needed medical supplies.

“We’re not slowing it, and it’s accelerating on its own,” Cuomo said, explaining that experts describe it not as a “freight train” but a “bullet train.”

“They say ‘flatten the curve, flatten the curve.’ We’re not flattening the curve,” he added. “We have exhausted every option available to us.”

In addition to shutting down nonessential businesses and greatly increasing testing, the state is retrofitting facilities such as New York City’s Javits Center to use them as extra hospitals, recruiting more medical staff and using hotels and empty college dorms for extra beds.

Cuomo estimated the state will need an additional 140,000 hospital beds and 30,000 ventilators. Warning that the state could not do enough on its own to stem the spread of the virus, the governor did not mince words in criticizing the federal government’s response.

“Where are they? Where are the ventilators?” Cuomo said, after calling on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to release a federal stockpile of ventilators.

Cuomo also blasted the Federal Emergency Management Agency for sending the state only 400 ventilators.

“You pick the 2,600 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators!” he said, practically yelling.

The governor called on the federal government to encourage states to collaborate, as each state will reach its peak in cases at different times and will require the same resources. He called New York “the canary in the coal mine.”

“I will take personal responsibility for transporting the ventilators,” he said. “I’ll send ventilators, I’ll send health care workers, our professionals ... Let’s learn from each other and help each other.”

Without directly mentioning Trump, Cuomo referred to the president’s suggestion Monday that the economy could reopen sooner than expected.

Although he acknowledged the need to consider the economy, Cuomo said it’s important to “focus on the looming crisis” of the growth in COVID-19 cases and ensuing hospital shortages.

“We are not putting a dollar value on human lives. First order of business: Save people’s lives,” Cuomo said, reiterating that there can be an “economic startup strategy that is consistent with a public health strategy.”

On Monday, Cuomo had suggested allowing young people to return to work sooner and testing people who have recovered to ensure they’re no longer carriers of the virus.

— Marina Fang

India To Go Under Complete Lockdown At Midnight — 3/24/20, 11:00 a.m. ET
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that the entire country would be placed under a full lockdown starting at midnight for 21 days, insisting that this was the only way to tackle the highly infectious disease. As he explained the concept of exponential transmission through data, Modi said India would pay a high price if people didn’t follow social distancing measures. 

However, Modi did not announce any economic relief package, raising concerns about how people with low incomes will survive if they are unable to work for 21 days. News reports have said that poor migrant laborers who have been trying to reach their homes in the midst of the lockdown have been harassed and beaten up by the police. The prime minister also did not clearly outline how Indians could access food, medicine and other essential goods.

Many parts of India have already been under a strict lockdown as the number of COVID-19 patients has risen to 519 across the country. Ten people have died so far.

Sharanya Hrishikesh

The International Olympic Committee and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to delay the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo until the summer of 2021 at latest, Abe told reporters after speaking with IOC President Thomas Bach. It’s the latest global event to be upended by the pandemic. Read more here.

— Marina Fang

An Arizona man has died after consuming a toxic, non-medicinal version of chloroquine, an active ingredient in drugs touted last week by President Donald Trump as a potential “game changer” for treating COVID-19, which also appears in a product used to clean fish tanks.

His wife, who had been in critical condition but is now recovering after taking the substance, told NBC News that the couple decided to self-medicate with chloroquine phosphate, an aquarium cleaning product they had in their home. During a press conference last week, Trump referred to two anti-malaria drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, as a possible COVID-19 remedy.

As HuffPost’s Dominique Mosbergen reports: “The product they consumed contained the same active ingredient as the two anti-malaria drugs Trump referred to — but unlike the medicine taken by humans, the product they ingested is used to get rid of algae and a parasite that causes a condition known as white spot disease in fish.”

“Be careful and call your doctor,” the woman, who wished to remain anonymous to protect her family’s privacy, told NBC News. “This is a heartache I’ll never get over.” Read more here.

— Marina Fang

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) said his state would hold primary elections as scheduled for April 7 despite pressure to postpone due to coronavirus concerns. He pointed out that there were also local races on the ballot for offices that would go unfilled for weeks or months, such as mayoral and county seats who would be crucial decision-makers as the crisis continues.

Evers encouraged voters to mail in ballots from the safety of their homes, saying that he and his wife had already sent theirs.

Liza Hearon

From today, people in the U.K. must stay at home, with few exceptions. Tens of thousands of non-essential shops are to close. Other premises being shuttered are libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship. Hotels and campsites will now join pubs, cafes and restaurants in being closed to slow the disease’s spread.

And while parks will remain open for exercise, all social events including weddings and baptisms will be stopped. Funerals, however, can continue. 

— James Martin

Chinese authorities announced Tuesday they would end a two-month lockdown of most of the virus-hit Hubei province at midnight, The Associated Press reported.

People with a clean bill of health will be allowed to leave, the provincial government said. The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started in late December, will remain locked down until April 8.

China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan starting Jan. 23 in a surprise middle-of-the-night announcement and expanded it to most of the province in succeeding days. Train service and flights were canceled and checkpoints set up on roads into the central province.

The drastic steps came as a new coronavirus began spreading to the rest of China and overseas during the Lunar New Year holiday, when many Chinese travel. The virus raged for weeks in Wuhan; however, the outbreak has gradually been brought under control there, and Hubei has seen almost no new infections for more than a week.

— James Martin

The director of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security criticized President Donald Trump and his allies in a lengthy Twitter thread on Monday for wanting to ease economic and social restrictions meant to ease the spread of coronavirus.

“In last 24 hrs there’ve been prominent US voices calling for a stop to social distancing, citing rationale that they’re worse than impact of COVID itself,” Tom Inglesby tweeted. “These big social distancing measures take time to work. … To drop all these measures now would be to accept that COVID pts will get sick in extraordinary numbers all over the country, far beyond what the US health care system could bear.”

The remarks came hours after the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing, in which Trump claimed that the U.S. will see more deaths by keeping the restrictions in place than by COVID-19 itself.

― Sanjana Karanth

President Donald Trump’s insistence on downplaying the coronavirus risks reached dangerous levels on Monday as he scoffed at medical advice and proposed opening up the economy despite skyrocketing case numbers.

There are “certain hot spots like New York,” and the federal government has to work on those spots, “but at the same time, at a certain point, we have to get open, and we have to get moving,” Trump said. He added that “we can do two things at one time” before again bringing up flu deaths and motor vehicle fatalities.

“We have a very active flu season, more active than most. It’s looking like it’s heading to 50,000 or more deaths ― deaths, not cases. Fifty-thousand deaths ― which is, that’s a lot,” he said. “And you look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody no more driving of cars. So we have to do things to get our country open.”

As reporters pushed the president on why he would open up businesses when the country is seeing COVID-19 deaths occur at a faster rate, Trump said that more people would die from economic and social restrictions than from allowing the virus to spread.

“You have suicides over things like this, when you have terrible economies,” he said, adding that “the cure has been very tough.”

Sanjana Karanth

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced Monday a statewide stay-at-home order, similar to protocols adopted in California and other states. Residents are advised to only leave home to work if their jobs are deemed “essential.” People can also leave their homes to attend medical appointments or run crucial errands like grocery shopping or visiting a pharmacy. They can also spend time outdoors, so long as they practice safe social distancing and stay six feet away from others while doing so. 

Washington recorded the first U.S. coronavirus case in January, and now has more than 2,000 people who have tested positive. “This order is enforceable by law, but the legal penalties are not what should convince people to follow these orders,” Inslee tweeted. “The real penalty may be the loss of a loved one to COVID-19. There are 110 Washington families who can tell you what the pain of that loss feels like.”

Mollie Reilly

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Monday that he has no plans to issue a shelter-in-place order for his state, saying it is “not advisable.”

Such an order, which several other states have enacted versions of, “would be a very blunt instrument,” he said. “You simply cannot lock down our society indefinitely with no end in sight.”

Viral videos have shown spring breakers dismissing coronavirus concerns and crowding Florida’s beaches.

“It’s also not clear to me that doing a massive shutdown of the entire state would even work,” DeSantis said Monday.

However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has said that a “dramatic” reduction in activity is necessary to curb the spread of the virus, and he hasn’t ruled out a nationwide lockdown.

“We need to be very serious about ― for a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the United States,” Fauci said Sunday on CNN. “We have to just accept that if we want to do what’s best for the American public.”

— Lydia O’Connor

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that from this evening, Britons will only be allowed to leave their homes for very limited purposes, including shopping for basic necessities, one form of exercise a day, medical need and traveling to work only when absolutely necessary.

To further curb the spread of the virus, Johnson ordered the closure of all shops selling nonessential goods,​ including clothing and electronic stores, as well as libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

All gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with, will be banned. In a televised address to the nation, Johnson said police will issue fines and break up gatherings of those who flout the rules.

— James Martin

A member of the International Olympic Committee said Monday the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dick Pound, a longtime IOC member, told USA Today the summer games will be pushed back, likely to 2021. An official announcement is expected sometime in the next four weeks, as the committee is still hammering out details on how a postponement will work.

Pound’s comments came amid growing calls for the IOC to cancel or postpone the games.

— Mollie Reilly

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the nation on new measures to tackle coronavirus in a statement from Downing Street at 8:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. ET).

The address comes as the British government said it was willing to take “more action” if needed to stop coronavirus from spreading amid reports that Britons were ignoring calls for social distancing. A further 54 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in the U.K., bringing the total number of confirmed deaths in the country to 335, it was announced today.

The government has also urged Britons traveling abroad to return to the U.K. as soon as possible “while they still can.”

— James Martin

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a clear message to Canadians who continue to gather in groups and appear to think they are “invincible” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You’re not. Enough is enough. Go home and stay home,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa Monday, noting images that have surfaced over the weekend of Canadians egregiously flouting demands to practice social distancing.

He announced Canada will spend $192 million on a “long-term solution,” developing and producing a vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus. He also announced a national ad campaign — featuring figures Canadians “know and trust” — to promote social-distancing measures.

“Not having heard this message won’t be an excuse,” he said. “We’re reaching everyone.”

— Andree Lau

The country currently at the epicenter of the pandemic faces a critical moment this week that could prove to be a global turning point in stemming coronavirus.

Italy has recorded more than 53,000 confirmed cases and more than 4,800 deaths, but health leaders have acknowledged the country had now exhausted all the possible ways it could to limit personal and professional contact.

However, Franco Locatelli, president of Italy’s Higher Health Council, suggested this week will be “absolutely crucial” in mitigating the spread of the virus and that he expected to see the number of coronavirus infections start to fall.

“In the middle of the week we will be more or less 14 days after the adoption of the most stringent measures,” Locatelli said on Monday morning. “We expect the results to become evident, with a clear tendency to reduce new infections and people who lose their lives.”

— James Martin

The first people have begun arriving at an emergency field hospital set up in Madrid to help local hospitals overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. The field hospital — in the IFEMA conference centre — can take over 100 patients with moderate virus complications. Approximately 1,000 beds will be prepared in the next 48 hours and capacity is estimated at 5,500 patients.

Beds for COVID-19 patients are placed at IFEMA convention center in Madrid.
Beds for COVID-19 patients are placed at IFEMA convention center in Madrid.

In Madrid, struggling with Spain’s heaviest virus load, the municipal funeral home announced it would stop collecting bodies from Tuesday due to a shortage of equipment. Private funeral homes continue to operate in the capital.

— James Martin

During his daily COVID-19 update, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced testing for the virus has increased from about 1,000 to 16,000 tests per day.

While the number of confirmed cases continues to increase, in part because of the increased availability of tests, Cuomo was cautiously optimistic.

“I see it as a wave that will break at one point, and the question is when?” he said.

About 75,000 New York residents have been tested, including 16,000 since Sunday. Nationally, New York has conducted 25% of the tests so far.

Cuomo also announced an executive order mandating hospitals to increase their capacity by 50%, and to double if possible. He is also considering other measures, such as granting clemency to some older inmates, as reports of COVID-19 outbreaks in state prisons start to rise.

The governor criticized President Donald Trump’s response, which has involved encouraging the private sector to produce more supplies, as insufficient, saying it can’t be “ad-hoc.” 

“It can’t just be: ‘Hey, who wants to help, let me know!’ We need to know who is going to produce what and when,” Cuomo said. “This is a national emergency.”

He went on to thank Trump for “working quickly” to help the state set up emergency hospitals, and to allow federal emergency funding, including waiving the requirement that the state pays for 25% of it.

Cuomo also indirectly alluded to Trump when arguing that it’s important to balance public health response with “a smart economic response.”

“I think there is a dot where those two lines cross,” Cuomo said, announcing he has convened experts to begin to consider how “to restart the economic engine,” which could include younger and healthier people going back to work sooner, and testing people to see if they are immune.

New York now has 20,875 positive cases, including 5,707 new cases since Sunday. About 13%, or 2,635 people, are hospitalized, a rate which Cuomo says has gone down from the last few days. Six hundred and twenty-one people are in intensive care.

— Marina Fang

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tests Negative For Coronavirus — 3/23/20, 11:42 a.m. ET
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has tested negative for the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported. German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said Sunday that Merkel had decided to self-quarantine after coming in contact with a doctor who later tested positive.

Germany has 27,289 confirmed cases and 115 deaths so far, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University, making it one of the harder hit countries in the world, behind China, Italy, the U.S. and Spain.

— Ryan Grenoble

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on Monday morning that her husband, John, had tested positive for the coronavirus. What initially seemed like “just a cold” progressed into a temperature and bad cough, she said in a statement, adding that when he started coughing up blood, he sought medical help.

The senator said John started feeling sick while she was in Minnesota and he was in Washington, D.C. The two have been in different places for the last two weeks. As such, Klobuchar said she won’t seek out a test based on the advice of her doctor.

“While I cannot see him and he is of course cut off from all visitors, our daughter Abigail and I are constantly calling and texting and emailing,” she said. “We love him very much and pray for his recovery. He is exhausted and sick but a very strong and resilient person.”

— Ryan Grenoble

The Indian government announced on Monday that no domestic passenger flight will operate in the country starting Wednesday. International flights have already been banned for a week, and the Indian Railways, often described as the country’s lifeline, have also stopped all train services until March 31. Many states have also announced strict measures to limit movement within and between their borders. The central government has asked states to strictly enforce the lockdown and take legal action against violations. As of Monday, India has 415 active cases of COVID-19, and eight people have died so far.

Sharanya Hrishikesh

Rep. Ben McAdams — freshman Democrat lawmaker from Utah — said he has been hospitalized after suffering “severe shortness of breath” days after his coronavirus diagnosis. He said in a Sunday statement that he was feeling better and would be discharged when doctors determine it appropriate to do so.

“My experience has shown me how critical it is to follow the advice of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the Utah Department of Health in order to stop the spread of this virus,” he said.

Liza Hearon

 

HPES March 23
HPES March 23

In Spain, El HuffPost reports (in Spanish) that the government will extend a state of emergency until April 11 as some regions asked for even harsher confinement measures. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned that “the worst is yet to come” as Spain’s death toll jumped to over 1,700, with more than 28,000 cases of infection.

However, testing is set to increase (link in Spanish) with the government announcing it had acquired more than 640,000 testing devices, and said that number could quickly reach a million. Six million more devices could also be on the way, Sanchez said.

— James Martin 

 

HuffPost Italy reports (in Italian) on a growing row over the health and safety of factory workers.

The Italian government banned all internal travel in the country on Sunday and issued an order freezing all business activity deemed non-essential in an effort to keep more people at home and off the streets. However, union leaders accused the government of not going far enough with the closure order, noting that dozens of sectors had won exemptions. They threatened to call a general strike if they thought too many workers were exposed to health risks.

Italy has registered more deaths than any other country in the world, while the number of confirmed cases is second only to China, with the tally rising by 5,560 to 59,138 on Sunday, the Civil Protection Agency said.

— James Martin

The Tokyo Olympics appear certain to be postponed until next year due to the coronavirus, as Canada and Australia said they were looking ahead to a 2021 Games.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his country’s parliament Monday a postponement of the games would be unavoidable if they cannot be held in a complete way because of the coronavirus impact.

Abe was commenting on the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s plan to examine the situation over the next few weeks and make a decision, which could include a postponement. HuffPost Japan has Abe’s statement in full (in Japanese).

—James Martin

Harvey Weinstein Tests Positive For Coronavirus — 03/23/20, 2:09 a.m.

Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced film mogul who is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault, has tested positive for coronavirus.

Michael Powers, the head of New York state’s corrections officers union, confirmed Weinstein’s diagnosis to Reuters on Sunday. 

Powers said Weinstein, 68, had been placed in isolation at Wende Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison near Buffalo, New York. Several staff members have also been quarantined, Powers said. 

— Dominique Mosbergen

Australia Tells Athletes To Prepare For Postponed Olympics — 3/23/20, 1:30 a.m. ET

Australia’s Olympic Committee told athletes they should prepare for this year’s Summer Games to be postponed, saying it was now clear the event wouldn’t take place in Tokyo in July as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the globe.

“The AOC believes our athletes now need to prioritize their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families,” the committee said in a statement, noting athletes should prepare for Games in “the northern summer of 2021.”

The move follows a similar announcement by Canada, which said Sunday it would refuse to send any athletes to Japan if the event was not postponed.

“It’s clear the Games can’t be held in July. Our athletes have been magnificent in their positive attitude to training and preparing, but the stress and uncertainty has been extremely challenging for them,” Ian Chesterman, Australia’s chef de mission for Tokyo, said in a statement. “The timing will allow athletes from around the world to properly prepare with the hope the coronavirus crisis will be under control.”

— Nick Visser

Singapore Airlines said Monday that it will slash capacity by 96% and ground nearly its entire fleet at least until the end of April as nations worldwide shutter their borders amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Describing the COVID-19 outbreak as “the greatest challenge” it’s faced in its history, the airline said it was unclear when it could “begin to resume normal services, given the uncertainty as to when the stringent border controls will be lifted.”

Singapore Airlines is the latest in a string of major carriers to ground most flights in the face of the escalating crisis. Earlier, Emirates and Cathay Pacific announced plans to significantly cut capacity. 

— Dominique Mosbergen

Canada will refuse to send athletes to the Tokyo Olympic Games this year if the event is not postponed.

The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee released a statement Sunday on their decision to pull their athletes out of the games as currently scheduled. The committees also called on the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the World Health Organization to delay the games for one year.

“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the Canadian committees said.

They stressed that the coronavirus pandemic “is far more significant than sport.”

“This is not solely about athlete health ― it is about public health,” the statement read. “With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community, for athletes to continue training towards these Games. In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.”

The Tokyo Games are currently set to begin on July 24.

― Sanjana Karanth

McDonald’s said it will temporarily close all of its restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland by Monday evening in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“This is not a decision we are taking lightly, but one made with the well-being and safety of our employees in mind as well as in the best interests of our customers,” the company said in a statement. “We will work with local community groups to responsibly distribute food and drink from our restaurants in the coming days.”

McDonald’s has reopened 95% of its restaurants in China, CEO Chris Kempczinski told CNBC on Friday.

― Sanjana Karanth

President Donald Trump said he hasn’t seen Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who said he tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, recently. 

“Gee, I think it was quite a while ago,” Trump said Sunday during a press briefing of his interactions with Paul.

A reporter also asked Trump about the five Republican senators now in isolation — Paul, as well as Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.).

“Romney’s in isolation? Gee, that’s too bad,” Trump replied. He said his response was not sarcastic.

— Nick Visser

President Donald Trump said National Guard troops are being activated to help New York, California and Washington state respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The federal government has deployed hundreds of tons of supplies from our national stockpiles to locations with the greatest need in order to assist in those areas,” Trump said during his White House briefing on the federal government’s response to the crisis.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the cost for the National Guard deployment.

The supplies ― which Trump said will be delivered within 48 hours ― include gloves, medical beds, N95 masks and gowns. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will also provide these states additional support to build alternate care sites.

New York, Washington state and California have so far been hit by coronavirus harder than other states. New York has the highest number of confirmed cases at 15,000, followed by Washington state at about 1,700 and California at about 1,500 cases.

― Sanjana Karanth

The 99th annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner will officially be postponed, delaying or potentially canceling an event that was prepared to bring some comedic relief to political media during a tense moment in the country.

“The White House Correspondents’ Association regrets to announce that it is unable to go ahead with its 2020 dinner on April 25,” the association said in a statement. “We will get back to you soon with our alternative date. Thanks for your support.”

The dinner, often nicknamed “nerd prom,” is considered a celebration of the First Amendment and of the journalists and correspondents who cover Washington. President Donald Trump has boycotted the event for the past three years despite every president before him since Calvin Coolidge attending it.

― Sanjana Karanth

Louisiana and Ohio both issued orders directing all residents to stay at home and limit time outside beyond essential needs.

The orders from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) stress that staying at home is a stricter form of social distancing, and that if people need to go out, they must stay at least six feet away from others and not gather in groups. The orders also say residents should not go out to work unless their job is considered an essential service.

Edwards told KSLA-TV that authorities will not set up checkpoints to enforce the order, saying that “we are deep in trouble” if residents need enforcement in order to comply.

― Sanjana Karanth

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) called for the Senate to begin allowing remote voting, after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced that he tested positive for COVID-19.

“The responsibility of the Senate is to remain operational. You are not protecting an institution by rendering it unable to function,” Schatz tweeted, just hours before the Senate gets ready to vote on a coronavirus relief bill. “Remote voting must be instituted immediately, so that the federal legislature can do its job, not just today, but for the duration of this crisis.”

Paul’s office said the Kentucky Republican is self-quarantining and “is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events.” Three GOP senators told CNN that Paul was in the gym on Sunday morning with colleagues and had sat near others during Senate lunches in recent days.

Paul is the first senator known to have contracted the virus. Two members of the House said last week that they had tested positive, making them the first members of Congress known to be infected.

― Sanjana Karanth

Confirmed Cases Top 30,000 Nationwide — 3/22/20, 3:15 p.m. ET

The U.S. now has more than 31,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, an increase of more than 10,000 since Saturday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 390 people across the country have died from COVID-19 and over 176 have recovered from it, the university reported.

― Hayley Miller

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to his office. He is the first senator known to have contracted the virus.“He is feeling fine and is in quarantine,” Paul’s office tweeted. “He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.”

Two members of the House of Representatives — Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah) — announced they had the virus last week, making them the first known members of Congress to test positive for it.

— Hayley Miller

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people to stick to government advice on social distancing and stay two meters away from others. At a daily news briefing, the prime minister warned the public that “fresh air” does not offer protection from the disease as he hinted that the U.K. could move to an enforced lockdown. Johnson said the government had taken “very draconian steps” in closing schools, pubs and shops — but he did not rule out going further.

His comments come after scores of people were seen socializing at parks and open spaces over the weekend, despite the government asking people to stay at home. 

— Francesca Syrett

New York City is about 10 days away from widespread shortages on ventilators, masks and other supplies needed to treat patients with COVID-19, said Mayor Bill de Blasio. He warned that more people will die if President Donald Trump doesn’t step up his response to the pandemic.

“The truth is, and New Yorkers and all Americans deserve the blunt truth, it’s only getting worse,” de Blasio told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He suggested the number of confirmed cases is expected to surge in April and May.

“The president of the United States is from New York City and he will not lift a finger to help his hometown,” de Blasio added. “I can’t be blunt enough: If the president doesn’t act, people will die who could have lived otherwise.”

― Hayley Miller

India announced that it would be locking down 75 districts across the country in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Only essential services will be allowed to operate in the affected districts, HuffPost India reported. Major cities including New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkota will be affected by the lockdown.

The government said all interstate buses, passenger trains and metro services will also be suspended across the country until March 31.

More than 340 people in India have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to date. Health experts have expressed concerns that India could “go the Italy way” if it doesn’t take drastic steps to contain the virus.

— Dominique Mosbergen

There are now more than 308,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus across the world, an increase of roughly 50% over the last four days, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 13,000 people have died from COVID-19, and over 93,000 have recovered from it, the university reported.

— Hayley Miller

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed the closure of many “nonessential” businesses starting Monday as Australia dealt with a surge of COVID-19 cases over the weekend. The new shutdown rules come amid global outrage after Aussies and tourists packed many Sydney beaches on Friday, rubbing shoulders and breaking the 1.5-meter social distancing rule. 

“We’ve seen some irresponsible behavior from people who were told to quarantine and have not,” Morrison said in a press conference on Sunday. “And they have spread the virus. We now have to be absolutely rigid.” 

Pubs, gyms and indoor sporting venues will shut down, while restaurants and cafes will be limited to takeaway orders only.  

— Francesca Syrett

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the public to avoid visiting their mothers as the country celebrates Mothering Sunday. He said that while “everyone’s strongest instinct” was to visit their mother on this day, the best single present they could give is to stay away and spare her the risk of becoming infected.

“If your mother is elderly or vulnerable, then I am afraid all the statistics show that she is much more likely to die from coronavirus, or COVID-19. We cannot disguise or sugarcoat the threat,” he said. 

The warning comes as the government urged 1.5 million people categorized as “vulnerable” to not leave their homes and to self-isolate for three months in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

— Francesca Syrett

HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that the government said late on Saturday “the worst is yet to come” after the national death toll surpassed 1,300 and the country reached close to 25,000 cases.

“We have yet to receive the impact of the strongest, most damaging wave, which will test our material and moral capacities to the limit, as well as our spirit as a society,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a news briefing.

The second-worst outbreak in Europe showed no sign of slowing as the death toll jumped by more than 300 from the previous day.  

— Francesca Syrett

Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, have tested negative for COVID-19, the vice president’s spokeswoman announced Saturday.

Pence said earlier that he would be tested for the coronavirus after a member of his staff was diagnosed with the disease.

— Dominique Mosbergen

President Donald Trump on Saturday accused medical professionals of thoughtlessly wasting the protective masks now in short supply, but those who work in emergency rooms have a very different story to tell.

HuffPost talked to doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians in California, New Jersey, Hawaii and Rhode Island about what it’s like fighting the pandemic. As they report for duty, the stock of personal protective equipment (PPE), which helps keep them and their patients safe and curbs the spread of the coronavirus, is running dangerously low.

These professionals said they were being asked to reuse respiratory masks for multiple shifts, even though the masks are designed as one-time-use products. One of the busiest emergency departments in Los Angeles County suggested their nurses and doctors bring in bandanas and scarves in case they run out of the masks.

“The ER is considered a war zone right now,” said Heather, a nurse based in Los Angeles County.

— Carla H. Russo

The White House’s coronavirus task force could not provide a solid answer on Saturday about when health care workers across the country can expect to receive more protective masks, of which there is a nationwide shortage.

During a press conference, President Donald Trump appeared defensive about his response to the viral outbreak, baselessly blaming the previous administration for supply shortages and accusing health care workers of needlessly throwing away masks. He encouraged them to “sanitize” and reuse the masks instead.

Other officials also deflected repeated questions by reporters on when supplies would reach the health care workers who need them. Doctors and nurses across the U.S. are warning of dangerously low reserves of personal protective equipment and are being forced to reuse what they have now.

— Carla H. Russo

For the last nine years, Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman have led live crowds in bars, theaters and public squares around the world in sing-alongs of popular songs, no talent required. With the world in social distancing mode during this pandemic, they set up a virtual sing-along.

More than 100,000 people from several countries joined them on Facebook Live, belting out “Stand By Me” and the “Friends” TV show theme song. “We picked songs about isolation and friendship,” said Goldman.

“It’s a very strange time for us, and anything we can do to bring each other together is great,” said Michelle Shaw, who joined in from Australia.

The next virtual sing-along is today (Saturday) at 3 p.m. ET.

— Andree Lau

The coronavirus death toll in Italy has surged by 793 since yesterday, reaching a total of 4,825, officials confirmed. This is an increase of 19.6%, the largest daily rise since the outbreak emerged a month ago. The northern region of Lombardy alone saw 546 deaths in 24 hours.

Of those originally infected nationwide, 6,072 had fully recovered on Saturday, compared to 5,129 the day before. 

HuffPost Italy reports (in Italian) that the average age of the deceased is around 80.

— Francesca Syrett

U.S. Cases Nearing 20,000 Mark — 3/21/20, 1:30 p.m. ET

The country has 19,343 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 195,000 people have completed testing, according to the White House. (“Completed testing” means they were tested and have received their results.)

Following confirmation that a member of his staff is among those who tested positive for the coronavirus, Vice President Mike Pence said at a press conference that he and his wife will be tested soon. The staffer is doing well, Pence added, and has not been in the White House since Monday.

President Donald Trump appeared to downplay the urgent need for masks, as hospitals say they are running low on supplies of personal protective equipment. He suggested that N95 masks, which are meant to be used once and thrown away, could be cleaned and used multiple times.

While White House officials have assured the public that they are working on providing masks to health care professionals, the timeline on doing so is not clear.

“Many doctors — and I’ve read many, many doctors — can’t believe the great job that we’ve done,” Trump said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, offered a word of encouragement at the press conference: “I can tell you for sure” that “we are clearly having an effect” with social distancing efforts, although that effect cannot yet be quantified. 

— Sara Boboltz

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that he expects between 40% and 80% of the state’s population to eventually get the coronavirus, with the big question being whether the cases will be staggered enough so the health system is not overwhelmed. 

Officials are scaling up hospital capacity throughout the state, which is adding 6,000 additional ventilators to its operations, though it needs about 24,000 more, according to the governor. The state is planning to distribute 1 million N95 masks to New York City alone and is evaluating sites for building four new field hospitals to address the expected shortage of ICU beds, Cuomo said.

He also called on mental health professionals in the state who would be willing to be a part of a volunteer network of therapists to help people cope.

“I’d ask you to seriously consider this,” Cuomo said. “Many people are doing extraordinary things during this public health crisis.”

Asked whether he himself had been tested, Cuomo said he had not because he did not believe he’d been exposed and did not want “to waste a test.” 

— Sara Boboltz

In a letter to the USA Olympics and Paralympics Committee dated Friday, USA Track and Field formally requested the Tokyo Summer Olympics be rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport’s American governing body cited the disruptions the virus has caused and the stress it has added to athletes’ lives — echoing a similar letter sent by USA Swimming.

“Unfortunately, while our world-class athletes are willing to push themselves to their athletic limits in pursuit of Olympic success, the likelihood that they will be able to properly train in a safe and adequate environment, and replicate the excellence we have all come to expect, does not appear likely in the midst of this global crisis,” CEO Max Seigel said.

The Olympics are currently set to begin Friday, July 24, and continue into August.

—Sara Boboltz

The world’s longest undefended border is no longer open for routine, casual traffic between Canada and the United States.

The ban on nonessential cross-border travel went into effect at midnight ET and will stay in place for at least 30 days as both countries scramble to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19.

The ban applies to people wanting to cross the border for tourism or purely recreational purposes, like shopping.

It is not supposed to impede trade or essential travel, but what constitutes essential is not entirely clear and will doubtless lead to some confusion at border crossings.

— Francesca Syrett

U.K. officials urged consumers to act responsibly when shopping and avoid panic buying in an effort to ensure products are available for health workers fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

Scenes of empty shelves and huge queues outside of supermarkets have dominated coverage of COVID-19 across the U.K., with restrictions placed on certain items like toilet paper. “Be responsible when you shop and think of others. Buying more than you need means others may be left without and it is making life harder for frontline workers,” said George Eustice, secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at a press conference from Downing Street on Saturday.

It was also revealed food manufacturing in the UK is up by 50% to meet the demand.

— Francesca Syrett

Spain’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic soared on Saturday to 1,326, up from 1,002 on Friday, according to the national Health Ministry’s latest data.

The number of registered cases in the country rose by nearly 5,000 in 24 hours to 24,926 on Saturday.

In addition, HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that there are 1,612 patients in the ICU, 471 more than yesterday, while a total of 2,125 patients in the country have recovered.

— Francesca Syrett

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton says he has been self-isolating for more than a week after meeting people who later tested positive for the new coronavirus. Hamilton was at a charity event in London on March 4 also attended by actor Idris Elba and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian prime minister. Both were later found to have the virus.

In a message on social media, Hamilton says he’s shown “zero symptoms” but has been isolating himself from other people ever since March 13, when the Australian Grand Prix was called off. Hamilton said that “I did speak to my doctor and double checked if I needed to take a test but, the truth is there is a limited amount of tests available and there are people who need it more than I do.”

— Associated Press

U.K. Closures Come Into Effect — 3/21/20, 4:30 a.m. ET

All pubs, theaters, gyms and restaurants have now closed their doors indefinitely as tougher social distancing measures set in across the U.K. to tackle COVID-19.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the dramatic closing down of the hospitality and entertainment sectors at a news conference on Friday, amid fears of overwhelming Britain’s National Health Service.

While he acknowledged the ban went against the “freedom-loving instincts” of the British people, he said it was essential to achieve the 75% reduction in “unnecessary” social contacts required to reduce the rate of infection.

A total of 3,983 people have now officially tested positive for coronavirus in the U.K., and 177 people have died after contracting the virus.

— Francesca Syrett

Thousands in Sydney blatantly ignored the Australian government’s social distancing advice on Friday, flocking to the city’s beaches in large groups.

Social media images showed people sitting very close together despite medical officials and Prime Minister Scott Morrison constantly warning Australians to stay 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) apart to help mitigate the rise of COVID-19 cases.

The sight of Aussies and tourists defying the strict advice on social distancing jolted fury from many online, with some comparing the Sydney images to empty pictures of New York City and Los Angeles, which are in lockdown.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt blasted those who were not complying with the strict rules.

“What happened in Bondi is unacceptable. The local council must step in,” he told reporters at a press conference Saturday.

“If you are breaking those rules, you’re not just putting your selves at risk but other Australians. We make no apologies for making tough restrictions.”

Carly Williams 

Intelligence agencies issued classified warnings in January and February about the spread of coronavirus and its potential to become a global pandemic, reported The Washington Post, citing unnamed U.S. officials familiar with the agency reporting.

Intelligence agencies “have been warning on this since January,” a U.S. official told the Post of the intelligence reporting, which was sent to Trump administration officials as well as members of Congress. “Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it.”

Meanwhile, Trump was publicly downplaying the virus’ threat, tweeting in late February: “Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA... Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” As of Friday, more than 200 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S., with the rapidly increasing number of cases surpassing 15,000 across all 50 states.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

A member of Vice President Mike Pence’s office has tested positive for the coronavirus, a statement from his office said. “Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual,” Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller said. “Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

— Lydia O’Connor

Andy Cohen, producer and host of Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live,” announced on Instagram that he tested positive for COVID-19.

“After a few days of self-quarantine, and not feeling great, I have tested positive for Coronavirus,” Cohen said, adding he was “putting a pin in” working on his show for now so he could “focus on getting better.”

Cohen is the latest celebrity to test positive for COVID-19 after actors Tom Hanks and Idris Elba did so earlier this month.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Illinois Issues Stay-At-Home Order — 3/20/20, 5:20 p.m. ET

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a statewide stay-at-home order that is expected to go into effect Saturday evening and last until April 7. The state joins New York and California in requiring residents to stay home as much as possible, except for essential travel.

“We know this will be hard, and we’re looking for every tool we have to get through this crisis,” Pritzker said.

The restrictions do not prevent residents from going to the grocery store, pharmacy or gas station, and they can still go for walks. Public schools throughout the state have already been shut down ― as they have across nearly all 50 states ― and will remain closed through April 7, as well.

— Sara Boboltz

USA Swimming sent a letter to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee formally requesting the Tokyo Summer Olympics be postponed until next year due to the coronavirus outbreak and related disruptions.

“As the global pandemic has grown, we have watched our athletes’ worlds be turned upside down and watched them struggle to find ways to continue to prepare and train — many for the biggest competitive opportunity of their lives,” read the letter, signed by USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey.

Hinchey asked the committee to “appropriately recognize the toll” the pandemic is taking on “athletic preparations” worldwide, arguing that going forward “calls into question the authenticity of a level playing field for all.”

Sara Boboltz

After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) ordered all nonessential businesses to close by Sunday night and all nonessential workers to stay at home, there was some confusion about what kinds of businesses would be deemed “essential.” Cuomo named groceries, banks, utility companies, pharmacies, health care providers and media outlets as some examples.

Now, the New York State Liquor Store Association has clarified that liquor stores can remain open.

― Marina Fang

The justices on the U.S. Supreme Court held a regularly scheduled conference Friday morning — with some participating by phone, a spokeswoman for the Court said. All nine justices are healthy, and they are following public health guidelines, such as “forgoing their traditional handshake” during meetings.

On Monday morning, the court will issue previously scheduled orders and potentially some rulings. However, the justices will not take the bench. Everything will be posted directly on the court’s website.

Since last week the court building has been closed to visitors while working on “expanding remote working capabilities to reduce the number of employees in the Building.” It also postponed oral arguments for at least the rest of the month and extended filing deadlines for most cases.

All but three of the justices are over the age of 65, a key factor that health experts have said makes individuals at higher risk of getting very sick if they contract COVID-19.

― Marina Fang

The death toll in Italy has leapt by 627 to 4,032, an increase of 18.4% — by far the largest daily rise in absolute terms since coronavirus emerged a month ago. On Thursday, Italy overtook China as the country to register the most deaths from the highly contagious virus. Until Friday, Italy had never recorded more than 475 deaths in a single day, while China, where the contagion has slowed sharply, has never reported more than 150. However, HuffPost Italy reports (in Italian) that of those originally infected nationwide, 5,129 had fully recovered on Friday compared to 4,440 the day before.

— James Martin

Pubs have been ordered to close from midnight tonight, as the U.K. government escalates measures to fight coronavirus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously urged people to “avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues” in order to try and slow the spread of the virus. But despite the plea, many Londoners were still gathering in pubs in some parts of the capital this week. The government also announced it would step in to pay 80% of the wages of workers to encourage employers not to layoff staff.

— James Martin

President Donald Trump said Friday that the southern border with Mexico will be be closed to nonessential traffic — restrictions similar to those previously implemented on the country’s northern border with Canada. The new rules “will not impede lawful trade and commerce,” including business travel, Trump said.

The Trump administration also said it will immediately begin turning back migrants on the southern border who attempt to cross between official ports of entry. They pinned the decision on efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in detention facilities, arguing that the virus could harm Border Patrol agents. There are currently fewer than 100 reported coronavirus cases in Mexico, whereas U.S. cases have blossomed into the thousands.

— Sara Boboltz

Medics on the frontline of the pandemic at a leading hospital in Madrid have taken time out to perform a musical tribute to quarantined Spaniards across the country. Each night, citizens in Spain have been taking to their balconies to applaud health workers in a stirring show of solidarity. In the video, the medics from the Hospital de La Paz tell Spaniards “they will resist.”

With nearly 20,000 cases reported as of Friday, Spain overtook Iran to become the world’s third-hardest-hit country by the pandemic after China and Italy. The Madrid region accounts for 628 deaths and 7,165 cases. Spanish authorities said on Friday they would turn a Madrid conference center into a giant makeshift military hospital for thousands of coronavirus patients. 

— James Martin

New York Orders Statewide Lockdown — 3/20/20, 11:30 a.m. ET

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) outlined strict new rules on Friday that mandate all nonessential workers stay home across the state, with civil penalties for businesses that do not comply.

“These provisions will be enforced. These are not helpful hints if you want to be a good citizen,” Cuomo said. He refused to describe Friday’s announcement as a “shelter-in-place” order. Food delivery is still considered an essential service alongside grocery stores and pharmacies.

“Why am I increasing the mandates? Because the numbers are increasing,” the governor said of cases in the state, which have topped 7,000. Read more from HuffPost’s Marina Fang.

— Sara Boboltz

Individuals and businesses filing tax returns will now have until July 15 to submit them, instead of the regular April 15 deadline, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says.

— Marina Fang

All barber shops, hair salons, nail salons, tattoo parlors and “related personal care services” in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania must close by Saturday at 8 p.m., “as these services cannot be provided while maintaining social distance,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced.

The governors of the four states have been working together to curb the spread of the virus across the region by implementing uniform policies to encourage residents to stay home.

At 8 p.m. Thursday, shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys in the four states were ordered to close. Earlier this week, movie theaters, gyms and casinos also shuttered, and restaurants and bars are now limited to serving takeout and delivery orders.

— Marina Fang

The U.K. government has signaled a major ramping up of its preparedness efforts by calling on more than 65,000 retired doctors and nurses to return to work.

Other retired emergency service workers could also be called on to return to their former jobs. London mayor Sadiq Khan announced that recently retired police officers were being ordered to carry out back-office roles. Recently retired firefighters under 70 could also be asked to help, HuffPost UK reported.

— James Martin

Canada’s chief public health officer has warned it won’t be known for two to three weeks if country-wide social distancing has curbed the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Theresa Tam said incoming health data was “like watching the lights coming from a star.”

“We don’t just need to flatten the curve, we need to plank it,” Dr. Theresa Tam said.

James Martin

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a statewide order requiring all 40 million Californians to shelter in place and stay at home except for essential work and errands.

“Home isolation is not my preferred choice, I know it is not yours, but it is a necessary one,” Newsom said Thursday evening. Under the policy, residents can leave their homes to run important errands like grocery shopping or going to the pharmacy. They can also still go for walks outside as long as they practice safe social distancing. Employees of industries considered essential during the pandemic can still leave the house to work.

The order comes after many of California’s major metropolitan areas issued similar policies earlier this week due to the coronavirus pandemic. California is the first state in the U.S. under such an order. 

— Sanjana Karanth

Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday night signed legislation that would expedite the licensure procedures for out-of-state medical professionals applying for medical licenses to expand the medical workforce in the state. The legislation also expands residents’ access to telemedical services in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. At least 742 people in New Jersey have tested positive for the virus, which includes nine deaths.

— Carla H. Russo

Los Angeles County officials ordered all nonessential retail businesses, shopping centers and playgrounds to close and banned indoor gatherings of more than 10 people in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

“We know this will have an impact on the social fabric of our communities,” County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “We still encourage individuals to stay connected to their community and their loved ones in creative ways, and to spend much-needed time outdoors.” 

Mayor Eric Garcetti also issued a “stay at home order” that he said was “not a request.”

“The only time you should leave your home is for essential needs,” he said.

— Nick Visser

The United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth urged citizens to respect the vital role individuals must play as the coronavirus outbreak spreads around the globe, saying the Royal Family stands “ready to play our part” to help shepherd the country through the crisis.

“We are all being advised to change our normal routines and regular patterns of life for the greater good of the communities we live in and, in particular, to protect the most vulnerable within them,” the queen wrote on Thursday. “At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal.”

She went on to specifically praise the work of scientists, medical professionals, and emergency and public sector workers, but said that everybody would need to pull together in the “coming days, weeks and months.” 

“Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe,” she said. “I am certain we are up to that challenge.”

— Nick Visser

Two members of the Los Angeles Lakers and one player from the Boston Celtics have tested positive for COVID-19.

Fourteen Lakers players were tested on Wednesday, and results on Thursday confirmed two cases, sources told the Los Angeles Times and The Athletic. The team will likely now test its remaining players, according to The Athletic.

The Celtics released a statement Thursday saying that the player who tested positive is not showing symptoms and will continue self-isolating while being monitored by team medical staff. While the Lakers players were not identified on Thursday, point guard Marcus Smart confirmed that he’s the Celtic who tested positive.

“The team is awaiting further testing results and will communicate them as appropriate,” the Celtics said.

The results from the Los Angeles and Boston teams follow the Philadelphia 76ers’ news earlier Thursday that three of its players tested positive for COVID-19. Several NBA teams have tested their players since the league announced it was suspending the 2019-2020 season.

― Sanjana Karanth 

California Governor Projects Over Half The State, 25 Million People, Could Get Coronavirus — 3/19/20, 6:58 pm ET

In a letter to President Donald Trump, California Gov. Gavin Newsom requested a U.S. Navy hospital ship be brought into port in Los Angeles to “help decompress our current healthcare delivery system.”

Newsom noted that in some parts of the state, the rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases is doubling every four days.

“We project that roughly 56% of our population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the virus over an eight week period,” the Democratic governor wrote. The governor’s spokesperson later clarified that this projection did not include “mitigation efforts,” which the state is already taking, such as establishing strict “shelter-in-place” policies in several major counties, including across the San Francisco Bay Area.

California is among the states with the highest numbers of reported COVID-19 cases. Nearly 700 Californians have been confirmed to have the disease and more than a dozen have died, as of Thursday.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Three Members Of The Philadelphia 76ers Test Positive For COVID-19 ― 3/19/20, 6:49 p.m. ET

Three members of the Philadelphia 76ers have tested positive for COVID-19.

“The Philadelphia 76ers, in consultation with medical experts and the NBA, received the recommendation that certain individuals from the organization, including players, coaches and specific basketball operations support staff, be tested for COVID-19. The tests were secured and processed privately,” the Sixers said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Three individuals have received positive test results for COVID-19. All other test results are currently negative.”

The individuals, whom the Sixers declined to name, are in isolation and will be monitored by medical professionals, according to the team.

The tests came after Detroit Pistons player Christian Woods tested positive for the disease. The Pistons played against the Sixers on March 11.

Several NBA teams have tested their players since the league announced it was suspending the 2019-2020 season. All of this testing of players comes as diagnostic kits across the U.S. have otherwise been in short supply, with many people unable to get tested despite showing symptoms.

― Sanjana Karanth

GameStop, the video game chain that operates 5,800 stores across the country, has been instructing its employees to keep stores open. Executives consider the chain “essential retail” alongside grocery stores and pharmacies, which have been allowed to remain open even in areas hit hardest by the outbreak.

In a memo sent to employees Thursday afternoon, the company told managers to push back on any local law enforcement requests to close GameStop locations.

“Due to the products we carry that enable and enhance our customers’ experience in working from home, we believe GameStop is classified as essential retail and therefore is able to remain open during this time,” read the memo. HuffPost reached out for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

— Sara Boboltz

After holding out for several weeks, organizers of France’s Cannes Film Festival officially postponed the event, one of the film world’s most influential gatherings of the year, held every May. In a statement, festival organizers said it “cannot be held on the scheduled dates.” But they noted “several options” were on the table, such as postponing until the end of June to the beginning of July, “as soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility.”

Festival organizers had previously insisted the event was still on, even as France’s government tightened restrictions on public gatherings, and many major world events announced cancellations or postponements. Last week, a festival spokesperson told Variety there was a contingency plan involving relocating film screenings to smaller venues and limiting the size of the audience at its glitzy premieres. 

But since then, the virus has continued to spread across Europe. This week, France’s president Emmanuel Macron placed the country under lockdown, as the number of confirmed cases in France grew to over 9,000.

— Marina Fang

Connecticut is joining several other states in postponing its presidential primary. Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that he’s pushing back the election from April 28 to June 2.

At least five other states have rescheduled their primaries, including Georgia, Louisiana and Maryland.

Hayley Miller

The U.S. State Department raised its global travel advisory to level 4 on Thursday, strongly urging Americans to avoid international travel during the coronavirus pandemic and to return home as soon as possible if they’re already abroad.

“If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe,” reads the warning.

The warning comes as airlines and cruise ship companies across the globe are reducing or canceling their operations.

Mollie Reilly

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed the first U.K. patient has been put in a randomized trial for a treatment for COVID-19. 

He said the government was “in negotiations” to buy a so-called antibody test.

“If it works as its proponents claim, then we will buy literally hundreds of thousands of these kits as soon as practicable,” he said. “Because obviously it has the potential to be a total game changer.”

Some 137 people in the U.K. have died after testing positive for the virus, including six in Scotland, two in Wales and one in Northern Ireland, according to the latest Department of Health and Social Care figures.

— James Martin

The death toll from coronavirus in Italy has risen by 427 over the last 24 hours, reaching 3,405 total deaths and overtaking the total number of fatalities so far registered in China.

The total number of cases in Italy also rose to 41,035 from a previous 35,713, up 14.9%, a faster rate of growth than seen over the last three days, HuffPost Italy reported (in Italian). Of those originally infected, 4,440 had fully recovered compared to 4,025 the day before. There were 2,498 people in intensive care against a previous 2,257.

— James Martin

The number of people who have died in the United States from coronavirus increased by 53 on Thursday, bringing the total number of fatalities in the country to 150.

Meanwhile, the total number of reported cases rose to 10,491.

—Mollie Reilly

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on the Trump administration to act urgently in facilitating the production of additional medical ventilators needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Just to give you a sense of scope, we have about 5,000, 6,000 ventilators that we can identify,” Cuomo said. “We need about 30,000 ventilators.”

Cuomo called on the administration to use the Federal Defense Production Act, which allows the president to prioritize and incentivize production of essential materials during a national crisis, to help meet the national demand for ventilators.

“The federal government has to come in and handle this,” Cuomo said.

― Ja’han Jones

Prince Albert II has tested positive for coronavirus, the Palace of Monaco has announced. The palace said that the prince, who is working from home, is being treated by doctors. The prince is the first head of state to test positive, but not the first royal. Karl von Habsburg, the Archduke of Austria, was the first to announce he had coronavirus.

Carly Ledbetter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday addressed Indians on the coronavirus outbreak and the efforts to contain it. In his first public remarks on the pandemic, Modi outlined the dangers of the disease and stressed the importance of social isolation. He has also called for Indians to observe a “janata curfew,” or people’s curfew, on Sunday, March 22. The Indian government has also set up a COVID-19 economic task force headed by the finance minister to look into the economic impact of the pandemic. The prime minister also told people not to hoard essential items out of panic. So far, India has reported 173 cases of COVID-19, including four deaths.

Sharanya Hrishikesh

Deaths in Spain have soared by 209 from the previous day for a total of 767 deaths as the total number of coronavirus cases climbed by a quarter on Thursday. El HuffPost reported that the total number of infections in the country has risen to 17,147, with an increase of 3,431 new cases in just 24 hours.

— James Martin

India announced on Thursday that no scheduled international commercial passenger aircraft will be allowed to land in the country beginning March 22 for one week. The central government has also asked states to make sure that private sector employees, except those working in emergency or essential services, work from home. The country reported its fourth death from the coronavirus on Thursday, in Punjab. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address the country at 8 p.m. IST.

— Sharanya Hrishikesh

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a travel ban on all non-residents and non-Australian citizens coming into the country. The restrictions will come into place Friday at 9 p.m. local time.

“We have already seen a significant reduction in the travel to Australia by non-citizens in residence,” the prime minister said. HuffPost Australia reports that international arrivals must now self-isolate for 14-days or face hefty fines.

— James Martin

Some London subway stations are set to close and 20,000 troops have been put on standby as the UK prepares to take the next steps to control the coronavirus. HuffPost UK reports that buses in the capital will be reduced and people are being urged “not to use public transport for anything other than essential journeys.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Londoners should be avoiding social interaction unless absolutely necessary, and that means they should be avoiding using the transport network unless absolutely necessary.” Some 104 people in the U.K. have died after testing positive.

— James Martin

 

HuffPost Brazil leads on the extraordinary picture of President Jair Bolsonaro and key ministers in masks addressing the media on Wednesday to reveal measures to tackle coronavirus. It comes just days after an unprotected Bolsonaro was pictured giving high-fives and taking selfies with supporters at a demonstration, despite the president being exposed to aides who had tested positive.

A joint report with our Brazilian edition reveals the country of 210 million people is repeating the United States’ worst mistakes in dealing with coronavirus. The number of cases in Brazil has passed 100 with the country recording its first death on Wednesday.

— James Martin

 

Italy, Europe's worst-affected country, will remain under lockdown beyond previous deadlines due to expire later this month and in early April, HuffPost Italy reports (in Italian).

In comments to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said measures taken to close schools, universities and to impose severe restrictions on movement would have to be prolonged. Under current measures, Italy's 60 million people are only allowed to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies under an order that runs until April 3, while most shops, except those selling food and pharmacies, are supposed to remain closed until March 25.

— James Martin

The Federal Reserve said late Wednesday that it would launch an emergency lending facility to loan money to banks that purchase financial assets from money market mutual funds. 

The program is the third emergency facility since the 2008 financial crisis that the Fed has established in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

—Dominique Mosbergen

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will pardon 10,000 prisoners on Friday to mark the Iranian new year, Reuters reported, citing Iranian state media. The pardon comes days after Tehran announced the temporary release of about 85,000 prisoners, including many political prisoners, to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Those who will be pardoned will not return to jail ... almost half of those security-related prisoners will be pardoned as well,” government spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said Wednesday.

— Dominique Mosbergen

A worker at an Amazon warehouse in Queens, New York, has tested positive for COVID-19, The Atlantic reported on Wednesday. It’s believed to be the first confirmed coronavirus case in an Amazon warehouse in the U.S.  

Earlier, two office workers at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters tested positive for the disease.

As The Atlantic noted, the new warehouse case is the “realization of a major threat to Amazon’s operations. Millions of people across the nation are cloistered inside their homes, many of them relying on the company to provide basic goods. Amazon is already struggling to meet demand, and some employees feel they’re being unfairly endangered by working in warehouses filled with other workers.” 

Amazon said early Thursday that it had temporarily shuttered the New York facility.

— Dominique Mosbergen

China said Thursday that it had no new local infections of the novel coronavirus from the previous day, a major turning point in the unprecedented effort to beat back the disease. Thirty-four new cases of the virus were reported, but they all involved people who had come to China from other locations. The New York Times notes that experts say the country would have to record no new local infections for 14 days before the outbreak could officially be declared over.

— Nick Visser

Baltimore’s state’s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, ordered her staff to drop all pending charges for a bevy of crimes, including drug possession or attempted distribution, prostitution and minor traffic violations.

The Baltimore Sun reports she is taking the step to reduce any potential outbreak for those behind bars. “An outbreak in prison or jails could potentially be catastrophic,” Mosby told her office. “Now is not the time for a piecemeal approach where we go into court and argue one by one for the release of at-risk individuals.”

The state’s attorney also urged Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to release all inmates over the age of 60 in state prisons, as well as a slew of other prisoners, including those that are scheduled to finish their sentences in the next year.

— Nick Visser

In a live update on Facebook Wednesday evening, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said that hospitals around the state reported they were running short on supplies they needed to treat patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re also seeing hospitals — I just want to be candid with people — that are going down to the LA garment district and requesting seamstresses to start making masks,” Newsom said.

“I heard one case — don’t over-panic on this — they were purchasing swim goggles because they’re concerned about face protection,” the governor added. “Others were just going out and getting gloves from traditional hardware stores and grocery stores. That’s not acceptable under these circumstances.”

Newsom said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was going to be “critical” in getting hospitals more of these needed supplies. He said the state has placed requests with FEMA for equipment including ventilators, gowns and masks for health workers, adding: “We certainly are going to need more support.”

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Ben McAdams (D-Utah) announced Wednesday that he tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. He was the second U.S. lawmaker to report a confirmed case, after Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said earlier that he had tested positive.

Both congressmen were in Washington on Friday and said they began to develop symptoms of illness over the weekend and self-quarantined. They both urged people to “take this seriously” and follow health officials’ recommendations.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

An inmate at New York City’s Rikers Island jail has tested positive for the coronavirus, the city’s Department of Correction told several news outlets.

The news follows reports that a corrections officer at the jail complex also tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. The DOC said it was working to “notify individuals who may have been in close contact with this detainee, and will provide these individuals with specific guidance.”

The New York Times notes there are about 5,400 inmates in the city’s jails, many who are housed at Rikers. Visits to inmates in all city jails were suspended on March 18 due to concerns about the outbreak, although the DOC said phone calls were now free of charge.

— Nick Visser

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) announced Wednesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. The Republican congressman said he had developed symptoms of illness, including a high fever and headache, on Saturday. On Wednesday, he got notice he had tested positive for coronavirus. Though he has been self-quarantined for several days, he was on the floor of the House voting on Friday, where he presumably came in contact with other lawmakers.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

A state senator from Georgia has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The lawmaker’s identity has not been revealed, but state senators received a letter this afternoon informing them of the diagnosis and urging them to self-quarantine through the end of the month. 

— Lydia O’Connor

The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill that provides financial relief to Americans affected by the pandemic, after making some changes over the weekend that weakened the package’s paid sick leave provisions.

The bill, backed by 45 Republicans and every Democrat in the Senate, will make coronavirus testing free, expand unemployment insurance benefits, provide paid leave to some displaced workers, and increase spending on Medicaid, food stamps and nutrition assistance.

The House passed the bill on Saturday after significantly changing it due to opposition from the White House and business groups to its paid leave provisions. The bill now gives only 10 days of sick leave to workers affected by the pandemic, and companies with more than 500 employees are exempt from the paid leave provisions.

The bill now heads to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

— Sanjana Karanth

The death toll from coronavirus in Italy has surged in the last 24 hours by 475 to 2,978, an increase of 19%, the biggest jump since the contagion came to light there last month. The total number of cases in Italy, the European country hardest hit by the virus, rose to 35,713 from a previous 31,506, up 13.35%, the Civil Protection Agency said.

In the U.K., the death toll reached 104 after a further 32 people died in England. They were ages 59 to 94 and all had underlying health conditions, HuffPost U.K. reported. The U.K. has also announced all schools will close on Friday until further notice.

— James Martin

President Donald Trump announced he’s invoking the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of medical supplies, such as ventilators and masks, needed to treat patients infected with the coronavirus.

The federal law, which was enacted in 1950 in response to the Korean War, authorizes the federal government to make “loans, loan guarantees, purchases, and purchase commitments, to improve, expand, and maintain domestic production capabilities needed to support national defense and homeland security procurement requirements.”

Trump also said the Department of Housing and Urban Development is suspending all evictions and foreclosures until the end of April. And the Department of Health and Human Services announced a new regulation that allows doctors and medical professionals to practice across states lines to meet the needs of overstressed hospitals.

― Hayley Miller

After outcry from unions representing immigration judges and government prosecutors, the Department of Justice is closing immigration courts and canceling most deportation hearings, effective today through April 10.

Hearings involving immigrants currently in detention will continue as planned, as they are typically conducted through video conference.

Reuters reports:

The decision came after unions representing immigration judges and prosecutors from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement called for the shutdown. A dozen current government employees working in the U.S. immigration system told Reuters on Tuesday that they were concerned courts had remained open for so long despite the spreading outbreak.

— Marina Fang

The U.S. and Canada are barring nonessential travel across their border, a step underscoring the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump announced.

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau closed the country’s border to those who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents, but exempted U.S. citizens “for the moment,” given that “the level of integration of our two countries is quite particular,” he said.

But amid the rapid growth in cases of COVID-19, officials in both countries began working on an agreement to restrict travel across the border to “essential” purposes, sources told the CBC, The Associated Press and CNN.

— Marina Fang

Eurovision 2020 Canceled — 3/18/20, 9:50 a.m. ET

Eurovision organizers have announced that this year’s song contest has been canceled. The televised event, which includes entrants representing 41 different countries, had been due to take place in Rotterdam, Germany, on May 16, with semifinals in the days before.

— James Martin

There are now more than 201,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus across the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 8,000 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and over 82,000 have recovered from it, the university reported.

— Hayley Miller

Glastonbury Festival, one of the world’s biggest and oldest live music events, has been postponed from June 2020 until 2021, its organizers have said.

HuffPost UK reports that Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross and Lana Del Rey were all due to perform at the festival, which was due to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The event’s cancellation follows the decision to postpone this year’s Coachella to October. Around 135,000 tickets had already been sold for the five-day event.

— James Martin

HuffPost France leads (in French) on how medical professionals have become the main “opposition” to President Emmanuel Macron.

Doctors, nurses and specialists have been questioning the government’s management of coronavirus, including a decision not to postpone local editions last Sunday. Doctors have also called for a policy of “total containment” and raised doubts over resourcing in hospitals.

— James Martin 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez addressed an almost empty parliament yesterday amid extraordinary scenes of lawmakers practicing social distancing. HuffPost Spain has photos (article in Spanish) showing lawmakers, some wearing face masks, keeping a safe distance from each other, as Sanchez explained the most emergency measures from the government.

— James Martin

HPUK splash March 18
HPUK splash March 18

HuffPost UK reports that Britain’s chief scientist has told MPs that if the UK can get the number of coronavirus deaths to “20,000 and below” that would be a “good outcome” in relative terms, though it would be “still horrible.”

Political Editor Paul Waugh writes on the need for speed to support Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) in the face of an expected spike in coronavirus cases: “Right now, it feels like we have just a few weeks to save the NHS from being overwhelmed by the sheer number of severe coronavirus cases in the UK. That’s not political sloganeering, it’s a hard fact on the mind of every single member of the government.”

— James Martin

Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said Tuesday that his nonprofit Bloomberg Philanthropies would be donating $40 million to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in developing nations.

“Millions of lives depend on getting the coronavirus response right — and so does the economic and social health of communities around the world,” Bloomberg, a former 2020 presidential candidate, said in a statement.

Bloomberg Philanthropies said its Coronavirus Global Response Initiative will serve to complement the work that The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is doing to mitigate the spread of the virus in more vulnerable countries. The Gates Foundation said earlier this month that it, together with two charities, would commit up to $125 million to battling the outbreak.

— Dominique Mosbergen

The White House Office of Management and Budget asked Congress on Tuesday night to release an additional $45.8 billion in emergency funding to help in its battle containing the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the pandemic growing, resource needs have also grown,” Russell Vought, the acting OMB director, wrote in a letter to lawmakers, CNN reported. “The unprecedented mobilization the Administration has achieved has forced agencies to incur unanticipated costs. These costs must be met with a legislative response to ensure full operational capacity.”

Congress approved $8.3 billion in emergency funding earlier this month to fight the virus. “In situations like this, I believe no expense should be spared to protect the American people, and in crafting this package none was,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said at the time.

— Dominique Mosbergen

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a number of unprecedented restrictions as coronavirus cases surge in the country. The measures include bans on gatherings of more than 100 people in pubs, clubs and restaurants and a “Level Four” ban on overseas travel to every country in the world.

“This is a once-in-100-year type event. We haven’t seen this sort of thing in Australia since the end of the First World War,” Morrison said.

HuffPost Australia reports that at least 450 people in Australia have tested positive while five people have died after contracting COVID-19.

James Martin

Chicago’s Midway Airport At Reduced Capacity After Techs Test Positive For COVID-19 — 3/18/20, 1:20 a.m. ET

The air traffic control tower at Chicago Midway International Airport was closed temporarily on Tuesday after some technicians tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The Federal Aviation Administration said flights at the airport would continue at a reduced capacity “out of an abundance of caution,” shifting from a “one-in-one-out” flight policy. 

“The air traffic system is a resilient system with multiple backups in place,” the FAA said in a statement. “This shift is a regular execution of a long-standing contingency plan to ensure continued operations. Each facility across the country has a similar plan that has been updated and tested in recent years.”

Many flights had short delays on Tuesday and Southwest Airlines suspended all flights in or out of the airport until Wednesday morning, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

— Nick Visser

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Tuesday that the state’s public schools were likely to be closed for the rest of the school year. 

“Don’t anticipate schools are going to open up in a week. Please don’t anticipate in a few weeks,” Newsom said during a news conference, according to the Los Angles Times. “I would plan, and assume, that it’s unlikely that many of these schools — few, if any — will open before the summer break.”Almost every school district in the state is closed, impacting more than 6 million students in public schools. Districts have continued to teach via online classes and homework. Kansas also closed all state-accredited schools, representing nearly 500,000 students, for the rest of the school year on Tuesday.

— Nick Visser

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said Tuesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, the latest NBA player to be infected as the outbreak spreads.

“Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine,” Durant told The Athletic. “We’re going to get through this.“

The Nets said four of its players had tested positive for the virus, although it did not say who had been affected. The team said all four were under isolation and in the care of team physicians.
Nick Visser

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, more popularly known as Jazz Fest, has joined the growing roster of major events postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

According to a Tuesday announcement, the festival will be held sometime in the fall instead. Exact dates are yet to be determined.

Typically held in late April and early May, Jazz Fest has drawn as many as 450,000 people to New Orleans in years past. This year’s performers were set to include The Who, Stevie Nicks and Lizzo.

Mollie Reilly

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison placed an indefinite ban on all overseas travel for citizens on Wednesday as the country declared a “human biosecurity emergency.”

“That is the first time that has ever happened in Australia’s history,” Morrison said at a news conference Wednesday. “The travel advice to every Australian is ‘do not travel abroad.’ Do not go overseas. That is very clear, that instruction. For those who are thinking of going overseas in the school holidays, don’t. Don’t go overseas.”

The government raised its travel advisory to Level 4, do not travel, for every country in the world as the coronavirus pandemic spreads and cases grow within Australia. 

Morrison also announced bans on indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, urged social distancing for months and chastised Australians for hoarding food and home goods. 

“Stop hoarding, stop it. It’s one of the more disappointing things I’ve seen,” Morrison said. “It’s ridiculous, it’s un-Australian and it must stop.”

— Nick Visser

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has now officially spread to all 50 states.
A patient in West Virginia, which was the only state with no confirmed cases until now, tested positive for coronavirus, Gov. Jim Justice (R) said Tuesday. Justice didn’t offer many details, noting only that the person diagnosed lives in the eastern panhandle of the state.
― Ryan Grenoble

Four players on the Brooklyn Nets have tested positive for COVID-19, the NBA team said in a statement.

“The organization is currently notifying anyone who has had known contact with the players, including recent opponents, and is working closely with state and local health authorities on reporting,” the Nets said. “All players and members of the Nets travel party are being asked to remain isolated, closely monitor their health and maintain constant communication with team medical staff.”

The positive test results come after reports that multiple Utah Jazz players also got infected by the virus. The NBA announced in response that it was suspending the basketball season.

— Sanjana Karanth

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration is looking into issuing checks to Americans to help stymie financial hardships inflicted by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Americans need cash now, and the president wants to get cash now,” he said at a White House press briefing. “And I mean now, in the next two weeks.”

Mnuchin said he would discuss with Senate Republicans exactly how much to provide.

— Nina Golgowski

Another major Hollywood blockbuster will not open in theaters until further notice. Marvel is shelving “Black Widow,” scheduled for a May 1 release, citing the CDC’s guidelines that Americans should avoid gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.

Many Hollywood studios have postponed film releases, as countries around the world have shuttered theaters and other public venues in order to stem the spread of COVID-19. Most U.S. movie theater chains have closed, including the two largest, AMC and Regal. Together, they have more than 1,100 locations.

— Marina Fang

The United Nations’ refugee agency announced it must temporarily suspend resettlement due to new travel and border restrictions put in place because of coronavirus.

“As countries drastically reduce entry into their territories, and restrictions around international air travel are introduced, refugee resettlement is being subject to disruptions,” said Melanie Gallant, spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Canada. “To respond to this new reality, UNHCR and IOM will be temporarily postponing refugee resettlement departures.”

— Elise Foley

Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British royal family have canceled or postponed several events and engagements.

“As a sensible precaution and for practical reasons in the current circumstances, a number of changes are being made to The Queen’s diary,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

The queen, 93, will continue to hold scheduled meetings this week, including with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But on Thursday, she will relocate to Windsor Castle for her Easter break, one week earlier than planned, and will “likely ... stay there beyond the Easter period,” the palace said.

— Marina Fang

The U.K. government has announced an astonishing £330 billion (about $400 billion) bailout to help businesses and people cope with the coronavirus crisis. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said the government must be “bold” as he unveiled the “unprecedented package” of government-backed loans and support. HuffPost U.K. reports that the economic package represents 15% of U.K. GDP.

— James Martin

WestJet and Sunwing airlines are drastically changing their commercial operations to help bring Canadians home after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on citizens and permanent residents to return to the country.

WestJet is suspending all of its international and transborder flights for 30 days, while Sunwing, which specializes in flying visitors to sun destinations, said Monday that it has cancelled all southbound flights from March 17 to April 9 to focus on “repatriating customers in destination,” which is estimated at 100,000 passengers.

Sunwing said it had dispatched its first four rescue flights Monday to bring more than 500 Canadians home from Honduras, Aruba, Panama and St. Maarten, all  countries that have announced the imminent closure of their borders.

— Andree Lau

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced a massive economic aid package equal to around 20% of the country’s gross domestic product. The measures, worth a total of 200 billion euros ($219 billion) between loans, credit guarantees, benefits and direct aid, aim to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy. In a televised address, Sanchez said the government would mobilize 117 billion euros for the package, with the rest to come from private companies. HuffPost Spain reported that coronavirus cases surpassed 10,000 today, with the death toll rising to 491.

— James Martin

Maryland joins several other states that have postponed their primary elections. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said it will now be held June 2 instead of April 28. The special election to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) will be held via mail, Hogan added.

Several other states have pushed back primaries, including Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana. But voters in three states — Arizona, Florida and Illinois — are still heading to the polls Tuesday, despite concerns from officials and reports of confusion at polling locations. In Ohio, which had also been scheduled to vote Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) declared a public health emergency to push back the primary election to June 2.

— Marina Fang

Detroit has canceled public bus service for Tuesday after only 10% of its drivers showed up to work, the city said.

— Nina Golgowski

U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said there were 10 confirmed cases among refugees and asylum-seekers in Munich, Berlin and Heidelberg. Spokesman Andrej Mahecic urged governments to treat refugees the same way they would treat nationals, Reuters reported.

HuffPost’s Angelina Chapin has written about how devastating the virus could be to asylum-seekers who are forced to wait in crowded and unsanitary camps along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Liza Hearon

The 2020 Met Gala won’t take place on May 4 as scheduled because of the global coronavirus crisis, Vogue editor-in-chief and event co-chair Anna Wintour confirmed in an op-ed on Monday.

Wintour also lambasted President Donald Trump in the op-ed for his response to the outbreak.“I, like so many of us, have been appalled by how [Trump] has responded to the pandemic,” Wintour wrote, adding that she would be voting for former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming election.

The theme of this year’s Met Gala — a lavish annual fundraising benefit organized by Vogue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City — was “About Time: Fashion and Duration.” Planned co-hosts included Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep and Emma Stone.

— Dominique Mosbergen

Iran has temporarily released about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Reuters reported.
It’s unclear when the released prisoners will need to return to jail.

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran had urged Tehran earlier this month to free all political prisoners, at least temporarily, from the country’s overcrowded prisons in response to the coronavirus outbreak. More than 850 people have died in Iran from the virus; more than 14,000 have been infected in the country.

— Dominique Mosbergen

A row has broken out in India over the fate of at least 800 Indian nationals who are stranded after the government of Narendra Modi barred all commercial flights from Iran.

At least 252 who have tested positive for COVID-19 are now stuck in Iran with no clear path back home, HuffPost India reported.

Those stranded say they are victims of the Indian government’s refusal to evacuate its own citizens who have tested positive for the virus. They say the absence of any support from the Indian embassy to isolate and quarantine has forced the healthy to share the same hotels as the sick — potentially hastening the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.

It comes as India announced tourist sites, including the Taj Mahal, will shut until March 31.

— James Martin

India splash March 17
India splash March 17

 

HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that the government will today approve emergency measures to stop the economic impacts of coronavirus “becoming structural.”

Behind Italy, Spain has been the next country most impacted by the pandemic in Europe, with 340 deaths reported and nearly 10,000 people infected. With job losses caused by coronavirus climbing rapidly, the measures are likely to provide a massive injection of money into the economy in an attempt to protect jobs, with the hospitality and automotive sectors among those most impacted.
  
— James Martin

European splashes  March 17
European splashes March 17

HuffPost France reports (in French) about strict new conditions on movement which are due to come into force at midday (local time) today. Included in the measures that are now banned are going to the park, playing soccer or visiting cafes, restaurants and bars.

Activities that are still allowed include walking your dog (but close to home), jogging (provided it’s close to home and not with friends), and visiting shops to buy food and basic necessities.

— James Martin

European splashes  March 17
European splashes March 17

Major U.S. Cinema Chains Shutter Their Doors ― 3/17/20, 3:38 a.m.

Movie theaters across the U.S. are going dark.

AMC Theatres, the largest cinema chain in the country, announced Tuesday that it was closing all of its U.S. locations for at least six to 12 weeks amid the growing coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported.

The announcement follows a similar move by Regal Cinemas, the country’s second-largest cinema chain, which said Monday that it would be closing all its U.S. locations until further notice. 

— Dominique Mosbergen

California Legislature Suspends Until At Least April 13 — 3/17/20, 1:50 a.m. ET

Just moments after passing a $1.1 billion relief package to mitigate the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the California Legislature voted unanimously to suspend its 2020 session until at least April 13.

“Responding to the coronavirus is one of the biggest challenges to face the California Legislature in modern times,” California Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins told The Sacramento Bee. “The responsible thing for us to do is flatten the curve, reduce transmission, keep our health care system above water. That is the intent of the action we are taking.”

It’s believed the unexpended suspension is the first in 158 years, The Associated Press reported. The body did not suspend proceedings after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

— Nick Visser

Kentucky Derby Postponed Until September — 3/17/20, 12:45 a.m. ET

The Kentucky Derby, one of the nation’s premier horse races, will not go ahead as scheduled on the first Saturday in May, a spokeswoman for Churchill Downs told media outlets on Monday night. 

The New York Times notes it’s the first time the race won’t take place on the May date since World War II.

Officials will announce a makeup day for the race on Tuesday, which is expected to be Sept. 5. The move came the same day Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said bars and restaurants would be required to close until at least March 30.

“Whether you agree or disagree, I’m doing everything I can to protect our people,” the governor said. “I know it’s tough on everybody. But we can do this.”

It’s unclear if the other two races that make up the Triple Crown will be affected by the pandemic.

— Nick Visser

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday evening urged restaurants in the state to stop dining-in services.

Newsom had earlier directed all “non-essential” businesses, including bars, nightclubs and wineries, to shutter ― but had said restaurants could remain open. 

On Monday, however, Newsom said Californians should avoid gathering in groups entirely for the foreseeable future.

— Dominique Mosbergen

In an effort to expedite the development of coronavirus tests, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday that states would no longer need federal authorization to approve tests developed in their labs.

The agency also said it would allow commercial manufacturers to distribute coronavirus tests for “specimen testing” without first requiring FDA authorization. Officials said companies would still be required to validate the tests before selling them, however, and would need to submit an application for FDA approval within 15 business days.

Dominique Mosbergen

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday night that he is declaring a statewide health emergency in order to close the polls in Tuesday’s primary election.

“During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus,” DeWine tweeted.

The announcement essentially overrides a judge’s ruling just hours earlier that blocked DeWine’s request to postpone the primaries to June 2 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. DeWine said in his health emergency announcement that Secretary of State Frank LaRose will “seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity.”

The last-minute back-and-forth on whether polls will be open Tuesday has left many poll workers and voters in Ohio wondering whether to cast their ballot in person.
— Sanjana Karanth

A judge in Ohio has rejected Gov. Mike DeWine’s recommendation to delay the state’s primary election, which will be held on Tuesday as originally scheduled. DeWine said earlier on Monday that he wanted to postpone in-person voting to June 2 amid concerns about the coronavirus and voters who may feel they need to choose between their health and their vote. Because the governor does not have authority to change the election date, the state filed a lawsuit in Franklin County to delay in-person voting. Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard A. Frye denied that request on Monday evening. It’s unclear whether the state plans to appeal the decision.

— Sanjana Karanth

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is currently holding a digital rally for his 2020 presidential bid with Neil Young and other stars. Sanders and other candidates have had to come up with innovative solutions to continuing their presidential campaigns while much of the country has banned large gatherings to slow the spread of coronavirus. Sanders, who is significantly behind former Vice President Joe Biden’s delegate count, faces particular pressure. Biden has also taken his campaign online by holding virtual fireside chats.

— Lydia O’Connor

A trade group representing the nation’s largest airlines asked the federal government for more than $50 billion in financial aid to help stave off the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, saying the economic effect of the outbreak is already “staggering.” 

“U.S. carriers are in need of immediate assistance as the current economic environment is simply not sustainable,” Airlines for America, which represents much of the U.S. industry, including United, Southwest JetBlue and Delta, said Monday. “This is compounded by the fact that the crisis does not appear to have an end in sight.”

The group called for a mix of grants, loans and tax relief to both passenger and cargo carriers, noting that the proposal would need to be considered with urgency. The Wall Street Journal reported that some carriers warned the White House they could become “insolvent” as early as late May without help.

President Donald Trump has already expressed his support for the industry. It’s unclear if that extends to Congress. “We’re going to back the airlines 100%,” the president said at a news conference Monday. “We have to back the airlines. It’s not their fault.”

—Nick Visser

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters Monday that, as the coronavirus pandemic leaves inmates at risk, law enforcement across the county was working to reduce jail populations and arrest fewer people.

In the last two weeks, the county’s inmates decreased by about 600 people, out of more than 16,000 total inmates, he said. Police also cut back arrests from an average of about 300 to 60 this weekend.

In San Francisco, District Attorney Chesa Boudin is calling for a reduction in the jail population there to avoid “preventable deaths.” The city’s public defender began filing motions last week to demand the release of people held in overcrowded jails pretrial who are seniors or have health conditions.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced Monday that all Drivers Services facilities in the state will be closed to the public from Tuesday through March 31. The temporarily shuttered DMVs, which are notoriously overcrowded throughout the country, are being closed in Illinois due to the recommended social distancing that health experts say will reduce the spread of the virus. White also joined a growing list of states calling on the Department of Homeland Security to postpone the Oct. 1 federal REAL ID deadline due to COVID-19’s nationwide impact on the public.

— Sanjana Karanth

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” will cease production due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to several reports. The long-running sketch comedy show, which is filmed in Manhattan in front of a studio audience, was scheduled to return from a hiatus on March 28 with guest host John Krasinski. The halt in production came a day after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a shutdown to essentially all nightlife in the city. Several other late night shows, including “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” have already ceased production for the time being. 

— Mollie Reilly

Kentucky will delay its primary election from May 19 to June 23 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s secretary of state announced Monday. “These are unprecedented times,” Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams said in a video on Twitter. He noted the election date change was meant to “keep our citizens as safe as possible.” Kentucky is the latest state to delay its primary after Louisiana and Georgia postponed theirs. Ohio’s governor called earlier Monday for postponing that state’s primary, scheduled for Tuesday.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a new “shelter-in-place” policy for residents of San Francisco, adding that these same restrictions will be in place in another five counties in the Bay Area, including Alameda and Marin.

Starting at midnight on Monday, residents will be required to stay at home, other than “essential outings.” Most businesses, such as bars and gyms, will close, while “essential” ones, including gas stations, supermarkets, banks and pharmacies, will stay open. Restaurants will function only for takeout services. Noting that emergency services like police and fire departments will continue, along with sanitation services, Breed said: “There is no need to panic.”

“It’s the new normal temporarily in an effort to protect public health,” she added, acknowledging that the changes will be “disruptive to day-to-day life” but are necessary “for your safety and the safety of those around you.”

A health official who spoke after the mayor said residents could still walk dogs and even go on walks in nature if they are alone or remain 6 feet apart from a companion.

Breed also reiterated measures to help local businesses, including a $10 million paid sick leave package for workers affected by the coronavirus and a relief fund for businesses. The city is also placing a moratorium on evictions.

The restrictions will remain in effect through April 7, but could be shortened or lengthened depending on public health experts’ advice, Breed said.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in an employee. The diagnosis was confirmed Monday during lab testing at the CDC, which said the patient is in good condition and being isolated to prevent them from spreading the infection to others.

“Our best wishes go to the employee for a rapid and full recovery,” the CDC said in a statement.

— Sanjana Karanth

In a sign that the U.S. government is taking the pandemic much more seriously, President Donald Trump issued a grave recommendation, telling Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people to slow the spread of the virus.

“It’s important for the young and healthy people to understand that while they may experience milder symptoms, they can easily spread this virus — and they will spread it indeed, putting countless others in harm’s way,” he said at a press conference with the White House’s coronavirus task force. “We’d much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it.”

The task force also recommends that all students complete their studies from home when possible, as more and more states close schools, and that people should avoid all nonessential travel and stop going to bars and restaurants.

— Marina Fang

France will introduce restrictions on movement for 15 days starting midday on Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron announced. He said people should stay at home and only go out for essential activities, adding that anyone caught breaking the rules would be punished.

“We are at war, a sanitary war,” Macron said. “The enemy is here. Invisible, but here.”

HuffPost France has rolling live coverage of Macron’s announcement.

— James Martin

West Virginia remains the only U.S. state with no confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Of the 84 tests that have been conducted, 80 have come back negative and four are pending, Gov. Jim Justice (R) said at a presser Monday afternoon.

“In the state of West Virginia, I do not want us to be asleep at the switch because we just happen to not have a positive test,” he said, urging residents to follow federal safety guidance.

— Lydia O’Connor

Actor Idris Elba announced in a video on Twitter that he has tested positive for COVID-19, saying he found out last Friday that he had been exposed to the virus. On March 4, he attended an event in London that was also attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who announced last week that she had tested positive. In the video, Elba said he’s “doing OK,” has no symptoms and is self-quarantining. He urged everyone “to be really vigilant” and practice social distancing, especially people like him who are not showing symptoms.

“Look, this is serious, you know? Now is the time to really think about social distancing, washing your hands,” Elba said in the video. “We live in a divided world right now. We can all feel it. It’s been bullshit, but now is the time for solidarity. Now is the time for thinking about each other. There are so many people whose lives have been affected, from those who have lost people they love to people that don’t even have it and lost their livelihoods. This is real.”

— Marina Fang

MLB officials now say the season will not start for at least 8 weeks, abiding by the CDC’s guidance that all events with 50 or more people should be postponed during that period. Last week, the league made the decision to cancel the rest of spring training and postpone the start of the season, which was slated to begin March 26.

— Marina Fang

At a press conference, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new restrictions on travelers arriving in the country, closing the borders to all foreign nationals from around the world. Exceptions will be made for air crew, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens and U.S. citizens “at this time,” he said. The government is also mandating that air carriers screen passengers in line who show symptoms of COVID-19 so they don’t board planes.

— Rebecca Zamon

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Monday that she’s taking “measures that have never existed in our country” to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The new rules are forcing the closure of nearly every major gathering space, including places of worship, playgrounds, bars and theaters. Grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses will remain open. The government also “advises against unnecessary trips abroad.” During a press conference in Berlin, Merkel extended that advisory to all travel within Germany as well.

— Lydia O’Connor

Everyone in the U.K. has been asked to avoid nonessential contact with others as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ratchets up the response to the coronavirus outbreak. The prime minister set out the plans in the first of what will now be daily press conferences as the virus spreads in the U.K. He also instructed those with a persistent cough or high temperature to self-isolate for 14 days, including from their families. Read more from HuffPost U.K.

James Martin

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Monday said that beginning at 8 p.m., all casinos, gyms, movie theaters and other areas of public gatherings will close indefinitely. This follows the CDC advising that gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled or postponed across the country over the next eight weeks. Bars and restaurants will also close at 8 p.m. Monday, until further notice, to eat-in guests. Takeout orders will be permitted as usual.
It’s not yet clear whether tribal casinos will be forced to close since they have tribal sovereignty.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is looking into whether public health laws affect the tribal casinos. In the meantime, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said they are urging the tribes “in the strongest possible way” to close their casinos.

— Nina Golgowski

Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments for the rest of the month, a court spokesperson announced. The high court’s March 23-25 and March 30-April 1 sessions, which were expected to include cases such as one involving whether President Donald Trump can release his tax returns, will be rescheduled.

The court has been closed to visitors since Thursday, but remains open for staff. However, it is “expanding remote working capabilities to reduce the number of employees in the Building, consistent with public health guidance.” It also plans to hold a regularly scheduled conference on Friday and issue orders next Monday as planned. But the justices, many of whom are in the at-risk categories for contracting COVID-19, “may participate remotely by telephone.”

— Marina Fang

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday said all businesses in his state that aren’t necessary for public welfare must close from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., effective tonight. Businesses may reopen outside of those hours if they allow no more than 50 people inside at a time. Businesses not affected by this rule include places like grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices and gas stations. 
Bars and restaurants will also close at 8 p.m. Monday, until further notice, to eat-in guests. Take-out orders will be permitted as usual.

All nonessential and nonemergency travel in New Jersey is also being strongly discouraged between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. This will remain in effect for the foreseeable future, Murphy said.

— Nina Golgowski

Italy Sees Biggest 24-Hour Period Increase In Cases — 3/16/20, 8:47 a.m. ET
Italy on Sunday reported 3,590 new cases of COVID-19 and 368 new deaths from the outbreak within a 24-hour period. This dramatic leap, which was the country’s biggest day-to-day increase, raised the death toll to 1,809.

Nina Golgowski

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took selfies with supporters and celebrated their demonstrations in major cities Sunday, drawing criticism for encouraging large gatherings that could worsen the spread of coronavirus.

Bolsonaro also appeared to shrug off the advice of medical experts suggesting he take precautions after several members of his recent delegation to Florida tested positive for the virus. The president tested negative for the virus, as did Donald Trump after their meeting, but newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo reported that Bolsonaro’s medical team has suggested he remain isolated until early next week.

Bolsonaro strode down the ramp of the presidential palace in a Brazilian soccer jersey and met a throng of protesters at the gate, where he bumped fists, grabbed cell phones to take pictures and leaned in for selfies with the crowd. HuffPost Brazil reports (in Portuguese) that just days earlier Bolsonaro had called for the demonstrations to be postponed.

James Martin

Stocks fell across Asia and Europe after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates late Sunday before markets opened. The U.S. central bank joined forces with international counterparts to try and stave off some of the economic impacts of the virus, but the action didn’t seem to calm nervous investors. 

London’s FTSE 100 fell almost 9%, and Germany’s DAX almost 8%. S&P futures fell almost 5%, triggering circuit breakers. This doesn’t bode well for U.S. stocks when the markets open.

Investors are spooked by “what currently looks like an inevitable recession ,” said Joachim Fels, Pimco global economic adviser, the Financial Times reported.

— Liza Hearon

As coronavirus continues to hamper political campaigning in the U.S., France surprisingly went ahead Sunday with nationwide elections to choose mayors and other local leaders.

Sunday’s vote came just as a drastic new rule took effect shutting down all of France’s restaurants, museums and most stores. A 1-meter gap between people voting was mandated, as well as soap or sanitizing gel and disinfectant wipes for voting machines.

However, HuffPost France reports (in French) that if the second round is postponed (currently scheduled for March 22), as is widely predicted, the first round of voting could be annulled.

James Martin

U.S. Navy Sailor Aboard Warship Tests Positive For COVID-19 ― 03/16/2020, 2:45 a.m. ET

A U.S. Navy sailor serving aboard the amphibious assault ship, the USS Boxer, tested “presumptive positive” to the novel coronavirus, the U.S. Navy said in a statement Sunday. 

It’s believed to be the first positive COVID-19 case involving a sailor aboard a U.S. Navy ship. 

“U.S.S. Boxer is taking appropriate preventive measures and conducting a thorough cleaning in accordance with specific guidance from the CDC and Navy-Marine Corps Public Health Center,” the statement said.

Anyone who came in close contact with the sailor has been ordered to self-isolate.

— Dominique Mosbergen

Puerto Rico Imposes Mandatory Curfews — 3/16/20, 1:35 a.m. ET

Puerto Rico imposed a curfew for residents beginning on Sunday and said most businesses would be required to close. Officials made the decision after people failed to socially distance themselves. 

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez issued the executive order that requires most businesses to close for two weeks and instituted a 9 p.m. overnight curfew through March 30. 

“Given that the response from some citizens has not been adequate under the emergency situation, our priority is health and to protect the life of all of us who live on this island,” Vázquez said in an address. “All citizens will have to stay home to stop the spread of this virus.”

Supermarkets, some restaurants with takeaway or delivery options, pharmacies, gas stations and banks are among the businesses that will remain open.

—Nick Visser

Peace Corps Suspends All Global Operations, Will Evacuate Volunteers — 3/16/20, 1:25 a.m. ET

The Peace Corps announced on Sunday that it is suspending all of its volunteer operations around the globe and evacuating volunteers currently overseas. 

“As COVID-19 continues to spread and international travel becomes more and more challenging by the day, we are acting now to safeguard your well-being and prevent a situation where Volunteers are unable to leave their host countries,” Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen said in a statement. “Evacuations are difficult, emotionally draining experiences for everyone involved. We are here for you, and we will do all that we can to keep you informed and up to date on the latest developments.”

Olsen also said that the evacuations were temporary and that the Corps would continue normal operations when “conditions permit.” 

“We are not closing posts, and we will be ready to return to normal operations when conditions permit,” she said. “Importantly, our host country staff will remain in their current positions. They play a critical role in every element of the Peace Corps mission, especially in a time of crisis.”

—Nick Visser

Los Angeles To Close Bars, Dine-In Restaurants, Gyms And Other Businesses Until March 31 — 3/16/20, 1 a.m. ET

All bars and nightclubs and many other major businesses in Los Angeles will close until at least the end of March, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Sunday.

Restaurants will no longer be allowed to offer dine-in service, but can continue providing delivery and takeout. Although the restrictions will also impact movie theaters and gyms, grocery and drug stores and food banks will remain open.

The closures go into effect at midnight local time.

Garcetti urged residents to continue supporting small businesses throughout the shutdown.

“I encourage all Angelenos to help support these critical small businesses — the restaurants we love in our neighborhoods — by continuing to order from them or getting takeout or delivery,” Garcetti said, per The Los Angeles Times.

The mayor also said the city would put a temporary ban on residential evictions in an effort to protect anyone who loses wages.

—Nick Visser

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all restaurants, bars and cafes in the city would be limited to food takeout and delivery only starting Tuesday morning. Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues will be closed, he added.

“This is not a decision I make lightly,” de Blasio said in a statement. “These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. … But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”

— Dominique Mosbergen

The province of ​Quebec​ has issued an unprecedented directive for nonessential services to close.

“In other countries, [the number] was exponential. It could be exponential here,” Premier François Legault s​aid​. “What we are doing will save lives.”

Most recreational spaces in the province, including movie theaters, arcades, waterparks, ski hills, bars and gyms, will be closed. The directive does not include office towers or stores yet. Essential services will stay open.

Restaurants are being allowed to operate at 50% capacity, and clients are seated with an empty table between them. Takeout locations are not being restricted. The coronavirus has infiltrated Canada with 300 confirmed cases across eight provinces.

— Andree Lau

MGM Resorts International said it will suspend operations at its Las Vegas properties, effective Tuesday. Casinos are set to close Monday, followed by hotel operations.

The company is the biggest resort owner on the Las Vegas Strip and operates more than 15 businesses there. It had previously announced Friday that it would temporarily close buffet restaurants, clubs, fitness centers and spas.

Jim Murren, the chairman and CEO of MGM resorts, said in a statement that despite implementing measures to increase cleanliness, it had become apparent that ceasing operations was necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“As the coronavirus pandemic has intensified in the United States over the past week, the people of MGM Resorts have worked to try to find a way to continue delivering high quality hospitality and entertainment experiences for our guests while keeping our employees doing the jobs they love in a safe environment,” he said in the statement. “We will plan to reopen our resorts as soon as it safe to do so and we will continue to support our employees, guests, and communities in every way that we can during this period of closure.“

A date for reopening has not been set, but the venues are declining reservations from now until May 1.

― Josie Harvey

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged the organizers of large events and gatherings to cancel or postpone any meeting of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, effective immediately.

The agency released updated guidance on Sunday as infections continued to grow around the United States and governors, including those in Ohio and Illinois, began restricting where people can go in an effort to inhibit the spread of the virus.

“Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities,” the CDC said. “Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.”

The CDC said the recommendations do not apply to schools, colleges or businesses, and said that the types of events that should be canceled include weddings, concerts, parades and sporting events.

“This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus,” it said. “This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.”

— Nick Visser

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said they are ordering all bars and restaurants in their states to close to the public to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

DeWine said bars and restaurants in Ohio will close starting Sunday night. Illinois bars and restaurants will close starting Monday night.

“This is a very, very crucial time,” DeWine said, adding that he knows the decision will impact small businesses but that the closures are necessary. “Delay means more people will die. Literally every day we delay, the data clearly shows more people will die.”

Delivery and carryout in Ohio is still allowed. Illinois is working with restaurant owners and food delivery services statewide to see if restaurants can safely keep their kitchens open so that they can continue delivering food to people’s homes, according to Pritzker.

“The time for persuasion and public appeals is over. The time for action is here. This is not a joke,” Pritzker said. “No one is immune to this, and you have an obligation to act in the best interests of all the people in this state.”

— Sanjana Karanth

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced new restrictions on restaurants and bars in the nation’s capital, likely resulting in the temporary closing of many small businesses in the city.

The government is prohibiting the use of bar seating and service to standing patrons, and allowing no more than 250 people inside a restaurant or bar at one time, with a limit of six people per table. All tables must be six feet apart in compliance with the city’s ban on mass gatherings. All venues listed as nightclubs and multi-purpose facilities must suspend operations.

— Hayley Miller

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced he’s directing all K-12 schools in the state to close and transition to remote instruction beginning Monday through Friday, April 3.

More than a dozen states, including Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania, have temporarily closed schools over COVID-19 concerns.

 Hayley Miller

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has asked private businesses, including restaurants and gyms, across the state to voluntarily close.

“Reducing density is both a social responsibility & will help protect workforces,” Cuomo tweeted Sunday. “If businesses don’t voluntarily cooperate, we will consider mandatory measures.”

He also called on all nonessential state employees in Rockland County, Westchester County, New York City and Long Island to work from home beginning Monday.

— Hayley Miller

Minnesota To Close Schools For 8 Days — 3/15/20, 11:15 a.m. ET

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed an executive order to close all K-12 schools in the state, from Wednesday to Friday, March 27. There are at least 35 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state.

“Closing schools is never an easy decision, but we need to make sure we have plans in place to educate and feed our kids regardless of what’s to come,” Walz said during a news conference on Sunday.

Schools will provide care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers during the hiatus, reported The Star Tribune.

— Hayley Miller

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) told CNN that it would “not surprise” him if schools in his state remained closed through the end of the academic year.

“I’m just going by what medical experts are telling us,” he said. “This may not peak until the latter part of April or May. So we’ve informed the superintendents while we’ve closed schools for three weeks, that the odds are that this is going to go on for a lot longer.”

— Hayley Miller

Travelers reported chaos and massive lines at U.S. airports over the weekend as the Trump administration’s new restrictions on European travel began to take effect.

Trump on Wednesday announced a travel ban on 26 European countries over COVID-19 concerns. The new rule went into effect Friday just before midnight. On Saturday, the administration announced it was adding the U.K. and Ireland to the list of travel-restricted countries. The latest restrictions will go into effect Monday at midnight ET. American citizens, legal permanent residents and their family members under the age of 21 are allowed to return to the U.S.

One American said she waited in line for seven hours to get through Customs at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, reported The New York Times.

Another reported a three-hour wait time at Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf tweeted that the department is aware of long lines due to “increased medical screening requirements.”

“Right now we are working to add additional screening capacity and working with the airlines to expedite the process,” Wolf wrote. “I understand this is very stressful. In these unprecedented times, we ask for your patience. It currently takes ~60 seconds for medical professionals to screen each passenger. We will be increasing capacity but the health and safety of the American public is first & foremost.”

— Hayley Miller

Lululemon, Nike, Wegmans Make Changes — 3/15/20, 7:30 a.m. ET

More businesses are temporarily changing their store hours or closing their doors to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Nike announced Sunday that it’s closing its stores across the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand beginning Monday through March 27. Workers will still be paid in full during the hiatus, CNBC reported.

Starting Monday, Lululemon stores will operate on limited hours from noon to 6 p.m. local time. All H-E-B stores and Publix stores are now closing at 8 p.m. local time. Wegmans is halting 24-hour service in the Northeast to allow stores to clean and restock overnight.

— Hayley Miller

In a move described as unprecedented in modern times, the Vatican said Sunday that all of Pope Francis’ Holy Week events, including on Easter Sunday, would not involve public participation over COVID-19 concerns.

The events, however, will be aired online and on TV.

― Dominique Mosbergen

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday that the country would impose 14-day self-isolation on all international travelers, including citizens and permanent residents. Cruise ships from foreign ports would also be banned for 30 days, Morrison said.

Neighboring New Zealand announced similar measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 on Saturday. The country said it would require arriving travelers to self-isolate for two weeks, and it also banned all foreign cruise ships.

― Dominique Mosbergen

The retail world is starting to react, altering hours and closing stores in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus and keep shelves stocked for those who need supplies.

Apple announced Friday that all of its stores outside of Greater China would be closed until March 27. Urban Outfitters tweeted today that its stores would be closed until further notice. Both Apple and UO said workers would be paid throughout the closures.

Walmart announced that starting Sunday, it would only open its stores from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. so “associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing.”

― Paige Lavender

In a memo sent by the White House on Saturday, Trump’s doctor said he received confirmation that the president’s COVID-19 test was negative, adding that Trump was “symptom free.”

Read more here.

 Paige Lavender

Begoña Gómez, the wife of Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, has tested positive for coronavirus, the government of Spain confirmed late Saturday.

People close to the prime minister were tested for the virus. The prime minister and his wife are both feeling well and staying in La Moncloa, Spain’s equivalent of the White House.

 Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

The government of Monaco announced that as of midnight Saturday, all nonessential commercial businesses will close in an effort to prevent further spread of the coronavirus pandemic. While supermarkets, banks and pharmacies will stay open, restaurants, theaters, clubs and more will have to close.

The move follows a similar announcement from neighboring France earlier Saturday.

 Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Georgia election officials have decided to postpone the upcoming presidential primary in the state from March 24 to May 19 amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. This follows Louisiana’s announcement on Friday, when it became the first state to delay its primary due to coronavirus.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

A Guide To Social Distancing — 3/14/20, 5 p.m. ET

Researchers are working on a vaccine for COVID-19, but they don’t expect to see one for at least another year. That’s why public health officials are calling on everyone to practice social distancing in order to stem the spread of the virus. For most of us, that means simply keeping away from other people — while maintaining exceptional personal hygiene — as much as possible in order to break the chain of transmission.

So, should you cancel your domestic flights? Probably, unless it’s essential and you can’t find an alternate means (such as a car) — and you definitely shouldn’t take the risk if you’re elderly or immunocompromised.

What about using public transportation? Is it safe to eat out, or go to the gym? Head here for the answers.

— Sara Boboltz

In Mexico, the secretary of education announced that all public schools will suspend classes for a month, from March 20 to April 20, as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus.

― Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed the first death from COVID-19 in New York City in a press conference on Saturday. An 82-year-old woman died in Brooklyn — she had an underlying health condition.

The mayor said there were 183 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the city, adding that “undeniably” those at greater risk were older people and those with serious medical conditions.

De Blasio said it was a “moral imperative” for New Yorkers to protect those most vulnerable, and even for people who want to visit older relatives, “If you’re sick, it’s not the time. Call them, get on FaceTime, whatever else. ... We don’t want to leave them alone.”

He also called for people to share supplies with others who may be running low, saying it is a “wartime dynamic” and people “have to look out for each other.”

― Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

The president told reporters on Saturday that he took a test the previous evening for COVID-19, after individuals who had been near him tested positive. Trump said he would find out the results in a day or two, but that his temperature was “totally normal.”

The news that he took the test was a surprise, since just before midnight the White House physician sent out a memo saying a test was not necessary.
The White House is now giving temperature checks to individuals who come in close contact with the president or Vice President Mike Pence.

― Elise Foley

Vice President Mike Pence announced that the U.S. would be expanding its preventive travel ban to include the United Kingdom and Ireland effective at “midnight, Monday night,” in addition to the countries in Europe’s Schengen Area that are already affected.

American citizens are not subject to the travel ban, which aims to help authorities contain the spread of the coronavirus.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

School districts from Fairfax, Virginia, to San Francisco, California, will be distributing meals for students’ families to pick up, amid widespread school closures implemented to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

For many low-income families, the sudden, unexpected absence of school meals for their kids would create an additional expense they can’t afford. In California, 60% of public school students are on free or reduced lunch plans, according to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, and in some districts like Merced, that number reaches up to 80% of students.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, some scammers are spreading dangerous information — and conservative outlets like Newsmax are helping them do it, HuffPost’s Jesselyn Cook reports.

Spain To Go On Lockdown: Reports — 3/14/20, 9:50 a.m. ET

Spanish media reported Saturday that Spain’s government will announce that it is placing tight restrictions on movement for the nation of 46 million people while declaring a two-week state of emergency to fight the sharp rise in coronavirus infections. Read more here.

— Associated Press

Edinburgh Marathon Is Postponed — 3/14/20, 9:01 a.m. ET

Organizers have postponed the Edinburgh Marathon that was set to take place in the Scottish capital on May 24. Race director Neil Kilgour said a new date is expected to be announced on Monday.

— Associated Press

The International Triathlon Union has suspended all activity until April 30 including all events in the World Triathlon and Continental calendars due to the coronavirus outbreak, the governing body said on Saturday. All world rankings, Olympic qualification rankings, paratriathlon rankings and Paralympic qualification rankings will be frozen from Monday as a result, it added.

— Reuters

British budget airline Jet2.com canceled all of its flights to Spain on Saturday after the country declared a state of emergency due to the spread of coronavirus. “We have taken the decision to cancel all flights to mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands with immediate effect,” the airline, which is owned by leisure operator Dart Group, said in a statement. Jet2.com is Britain’s third-biggest airline in terms of passenger numbers, behind easyJet and British Airways.

— Reuters

Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has pledged to donate 2 million protective masks for distribution across Europe, with a first consignment arriving in Belgium late on Friday. A cargo plane loaded with 500,000 masks and other medical supplies such as test kits landed at Liege Airport. The consignment will be sent to Italy. Ma has also said he will donate 500,000 coronavirus testing kits and 1 million masks to the United States, while urging international cooperation to fight the health crisis.

— Reuters

Seville Cancels Holy Week Processions — 3/14/20, 8:12 a.m. ET

The southern Spanish city of Seville has canceled its Holy Week processions, which were due to begin on Apr. 5. Mayor Juan Espadas Cejas announced the news on Twitter Saturday morning, calling it “the most difficult decision I have taken in my five years” in the role.

— Lee Moran

Apple Shuts All Stores Outside China — 3/14/20, 7:25 a.m. ET

Apple is closing all its stores outside China until Mar. 27. The company is also committing $15 million to help with worldwide recovery, CEO Tim Cook announced.

Apple’s stores inside China, meanwhile, have now reopened. Read Cook’s full statement here.

― Lee Moran

After multiple moments of near-collapse and a week of negotiation between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the House passed a bipartisan bill early Saturday to deal with some of the potential financial fallout for families affected by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The bill passed the House, 363-40, just after midnight on Saturday, with 223 Democrats and 140 Republicans in support, and zero Democrats and 40 Republicans opposed. Independent Justin Amash of Michigan was the only member to vote present, over concerns that lawmakers didn’t have enough time to read the legislation.

Read the full details here.

— Matt Fuller and Arthur Delaney

In a dramatic move, the Pentagon is banning most domestic travel for military service members and Defense Department personnel until May 11.

The restriction is “necessary to preserve force readiness” and to help stem the spread of coronavirus, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist said in a memo released Friday. “All DoD military personnel will stop movement while this memorandum is in effect. In addition, DoD civilian personnel and DoD family members, whose transportation is government-funded, will also stop movement,” the memo says.

Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis only for “humanitarian reasons” or “extreme hardship.” It goes into effect Monday.

Mary Papenfuss

Verily, which is also under Google’s parent company, Alphabet, had to issue a correction to Trump’s address on Friday in which he said Google was developing a website to help Americans determine if they need to be tested for the coronavirus.

In reality, Verily is developing the program, and it’s just rolling it out in the San Francisco Bay Area for now.

“Verily is in the early stages of development, and planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time,” a statement from the company said.

— Lydia O’Connor

Amid the growing threat of the coronavirus in the U.S., inmates at all federal correctional facilities will no longer be allowed visits from family or attorneys for the next 30 days. The move is meant as a precaution, as no federal inmates or Bureau of Prisons staff members have tested positives for COVID-19 so far.

Similarly, Immigration and Customs Enforcement also said it would temporarily suspend social visits at detention facilities across the U.S. Officials said no detainees had confirmed cases of COVID-19. Advocates have called for vulnerable populations among immigrant detainees to be released as their deportation cases move through the court system.

— Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

‘The Bachelorette’ Postpones Production ― 3/13/20, 8:04 p.m. ET

Production on ABC’s upcoming season of “The Bachelorette” has been postponed, Warner Bros. Television Group said in a statement Friday.

“There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on any of our productions, but the health and safety of our employees, casts and crews remains our top priority,” read the statement.

The new season, starring past “Bachelor” contestant Clare Crawley, was previously scheduled to begin filming in the Los Angeles area on Friday.

Mollie Reilly

Netflix Stops Production On Shows ― 3/13/20, 7:58 p.m. ET

Netflix announced that it’s shutting down production on all its shows in the U.S. and Canada for at least two weeks, citing “government restrictions and health/safety precautions.”

The news comes shortly after Warner Bros. announced it was suspending production on more than 70 shows.

― Lydia O’Connor

Cruise companies Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruises joined Carnival’s Princess Cruises in temporarily suspending their operations.

Princess Cruises made headlines starting last month when hundreds of passengers on its Diamond Princess ship were quarantined off the coast of Japan amid a COVID-19 outbreak onboard. Earlier this week, another one of its ships, the Grand Princess, docked in Oakland, California, after 21 people onboard tested positive for the novel coronavirus. As the ship has unloaded almost all of its passengers over the past few days, more people have tested positive, according to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, but it is not yet known how many.

Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

Ellen DeGeneres announced that she’s suspending production of her show until March 30. 

“We just want to take every precaution to ensure that we do our part to keep everyone healthy,” she tweeted. “I love you guys, and can’t wait to come back. I’m already bored.”

Lydia O’Connor

Trump announced a national emergency to accelerate the U.S. government’s response to the pandemic. But he spent much of the announcement praising his widely criticized response, and defiantly said “I don’t take responsibility” for delays in testing for the virus. He also paraded a line-up of corporate executives from companies like Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and Quest Diagnostics, who are partnering with the government to provide tests — showing that the private sector is shouldering much of the burden of responding to the public health crisis.

— Marina Fang

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave an update on his condition today, and laid out new measures the government is taking in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

“On my doctor’s recommendation, I will remain in self-isolation for 14 days. I want to be clear, I have no symptoms and I’m feeling good, and technology allows me to work from home,” Trudeau said.

He told reporters that the government is recommending Canadians cancel or postpone all non-essential travel outside the country, and said that Canada will be limiting the number of airports that will receive international overseas flights.

He also promised a significant fiscal stimulus package, the details of which will emerge in the next few days.

— Rebecca Zamon

Officials in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — all of which are holding primaries this coming Tuesday — said they do not plan to delay their elections. 

“Americans have participated in elections during challenging times in the past,” the secretaries of state said in a joint statement, “and based on the best information we have from public health officials, we are confident that voters in our states can safely and securely cast their ballots in this election.”

The decision stands in contrast to Louisiana, where officials just decided to postpone their April 4 primary until June 20. 

— Lydia O’Connor

Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced that the state is postponing its April 4 primary until June 20. Officials are also postponing the state’s May 9 general election until July 25.

It is the first state to move an election in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision, Adroin said, “has been made out of an absolute abundance of caution for Louisiana’s voters, voting officials and the general public as a whole.”

— Lydia O’Connor

Joining the growing number of global tourist attractions closing, the Eiffel Tower in Paris will be closed starting tonight “for an indeterminate period.”

HuffPost France is keeping a running list (in French) of what is now closed under the country’s new ban on gatherings of more than 100 people.

— Marina Fang 

The head of the World Health Organization says Europe, not China, is now the epicenter of the world’s coronavirus pandemic.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva that “more cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.”

He noted that “5,000 people have lost their lives, a tragic milestone.”

He said Europe now has “more reported virus cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China.“

HuffPost UK reported that the U.K. has recorded its largest day-over-day increase since the outbreak began.

— James Martin 

The number of states and municipalities announcing school closures keeps rising as American authorities try to stem the outbreak. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the country, announced Friday that it would close on Monday along with the San Diego Unified School District. Together, the schools serve 750,000 students. 

Previously, schools in Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, Washington state and Washington, D.C., all announced closures. Some, like Ohio, are tacking on extra time to their scheduled spring breaks, which could help limit disruptions for students and families. 

At least 18,700 schools are currently closed or scheduled to close soon, according to Education Week, affecting some 8 million students.

― Sara Boboltz

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on social media that he has tested negative for coronavirus. The post came hours after reports from one Brazilian news outlet said Bolsonaro had tested positive in a preliminary test, but that the far-right leader was awaiting the results of a second exam. Shortly after those reports, Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, said in a tweet that his father’s results had not been completed.

Bolsonaro was tested after his press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning to Brazil from Florida, where Bolsonaro, Wajngarten and a host of Brazilian government officials met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at Mar-A-Lago.

― Travis Waldron

Canada’s Parliament Suspended — 3/13/20, 10:42 a.m. ET

All of Canada’s federal political parties have agreed to suspend Parliament until April 20. The government will still have the authority to spend public funds during the break to respond to the escalating crisis.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is currently in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19.

— Rebecca Zamon

The Boston Marathon has been moved from April 20 to Sept. 14, organizers said after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) declared a state of emergency. Marathon runners and volunteers “will receive additional information in the coming days. As this is a rapidly evolving situation, further details will be forthcoming.”

— Marina Fang

Masters Tournament Postponed — 3/13/20, 10:17 a.m. ET

Professional golf’s first major tournament of the year, the Masters, will be held “at some later date.”

“Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals,” said organizers of the tournament at the Augusta National Club in Georgia. “Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision. We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.”

— Marina Fang

Spain Set To Declare State Of Emergency ― 3/13/20, 9:20 a.m. ET

Spain’s government will declare a state of emergency later today over the coronavirus outbreak, according to reports.

The country has already ordered its first mandatory lockdown, confining over 60,000 people to four towns as infections for coronavirus increase sharply.
Spain had more than 3,800 cases as of Friday morning and at least 84 deaths. Madrid, the capital, has nearly 2,000 cases alone, many linked to nursing homes.

La Sexta television said the government would announce the first of three stages of a state of emergency, which is expected to last around 15 days.
HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that the move could prohibit the free movement of people in the country, and would be just the third time such a measure has been introduced since Spain became a democracy.

— James Martin

France, which already closed its schools, is now banning events of more than 100 people, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced in a television interview. 

— Marina Fang 

 

The Premier League and English Football League have suspended all soccer games until April 3 as social-distancing measures to tackle coronavirus are ramping up in the U.K.

Football leagues across Europe have either been suspended or ordered to play behind closed doors, but U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that although similar measures could come be put in place, it would not happen immediately.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for the virus on Thursday night. The team’s match on Saturday against Brighton has been postponed. Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi is also confirmed to have contracted the virus.

HuffPost U.K. has more from London.

— James Martin

Japan’s parliament enacted a law Friday that would allow Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency if the coronavirus outbreak worsens in the country.

The law is controversial because it can severely limit civil rights. It allows Abe to order legally binding school closures, confiscate private property to build medical facilities, order shipments of emergency supplies and take other measures related to the outbreak.

Government officials said there is no immediate plan to declare a state of emergency, but Abe is expected to make a decision based on experts’ latest evaluation of the outbreak.

Japan has 675 confirmed cases, not including 697 others from a quarantined cruise ship.

HuffPost Japan has reported (in Japanese) on how the new law could impact everyday life.

— James Martin

President Emmanuel Macron has announced France will close all creches, schools and universities starting next week.

Describing the outbreak as France’s biggest public health crisis in a century, Macron also urged employers to let staff work from home, and said that the elderly and people with health conditions should stay indoors.

He said, however, that municipal elections scheduled for this weekend should go ahead.

HuffPost France reports (in French) that the decision comes after Macron had said as recently as March 6 that closing schools was not “tenable.”

— James Martin

Rome’s Catholic churches have been ordered closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, in a move believed to be unprecedented in modern times.

The decree by Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Pope Francis’ vicar for the Rome archdiocese, will remain in effect until at least April 3.

Previously, only masses had been canceled because of the outbreak. The decree also dispenses Catholics in the archdiocese from their obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.

HuffPost Italy has a report (in Italian) on everything that is now closed under strict new rules in the country.

— James Martin

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, a senior member of government, has tested positive for coronavirus, he said in a statement. His diagnosis comes just days after meeting with presidential adviser Ivanka Trump in Washington D.C, and being photographed next to her.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a ban on non-essential mass gatherings of 500 people in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, effective Monday.

Australia has recorded 156 infections and three deaths from the disease but authorities expect this to increase rapidly in the coming weeks with the arrival of the southern hemisphere winter.

Read more at HuffPost Australia. 

— Liza Hearon

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Premier League soccer club.

The British club announced that it closed its London Colney training center after discovering Arteta received a positive test result Thursday evening. The coach said he took the test after feeling unwell but “will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”

“Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines,” the club said in a statement. “We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff, as well as a smaller number of people from our Hale End Academy which we have also temporarily closed as a precaution.”

After Arsenal’s announcement, the Premier League said it will hold an emergency club meeting about future matches.

Sanjana Karanth

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of the Canadian prime minister, confirmed she has COVID-19 after returning from a speaking engagement in London.

“Although I’m experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of the virus, I will be back on my feet soon,” she said in a statement. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remains in self-isolation.

Andree Lau

Disney Expands Closures ― 3/12/20, 8:35 p.m. ET

Disney announced Thursday night that it’s expanding closures to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida; Disneyland Paris Resort; and the Disney Cruise Line. 

The parks’ last day will be this Sunday, and new cruise departures are suspended starting Saturday.

Both decisions are in effect until at least the end of March.

The announcement follows one earlier Thursday that Disney was closing both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California, starting March 14.

Lydia O’Connor

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) ordered all K-12 schools in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties to close until at least April 27.

The order applies to public and private schools, both of which have until Tuesday to close. 

King County is home to Seattle, which holds the state’s largest school district. Its superintendent, Denise Juneau, said schools had already been preparing for such an event. 

“Our staff has been in deep planning and ongoing discussions every day as the coronavirus crisis has evolved, so we’ve already got a solid plan in place,” she said in a statement. “This is an extraordinary time and it calls for extraordinary measures.”

Lydia O’Connor

Late Night Shows Going Off The Air ― 3/12/20, 8:02 p.m. ET

“The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers” are suspending production amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The two NBC shows won’t be back on until at least March 30.

― Lydia O’Connor

Officials in Florida’s Miami Beach have said spring break is essentially over as they suspend permits for concerts and an LGBTQ festival in the area known for attracting young visitors and college students.

Venues in Miami Beach are either canceling events or shutting down altogether in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mayor Dan Gelber.

The city will not issue permits for spring break concerts or for the Miami Beach Gay Pride parade scheduled for next month.

Though public beaches are still open, Gelber says that “to the extent that anyone can declare spring break is over, it is over this year.”

The announcement is part of the city’s state-of-emergency declaration signed earlier Thursday.

Sanjana Karanth 

Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that the California theme park will close to the public from Saturday until March 28 in order to help contain the spread of coronavirus.

“Out of an abundance of caution and in response to the guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health, Universal Studios Hollywood will temporarily close beginning Saturday, March 14,” a spokesperson told Variety. “We will provide timely updates as conditions evolve.”

The park is in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County, with most of it situated on an unincorporated county parcel called Universal City. The company said Universal CityWalk will remain open, and Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, appears to still be open.

The decision comes after Disneyland in Anaheim announced it is shutting down starting Saturday for the rest of the month as the coronavirus pandemic persists. With nearly 30,000 employees, Disneyland is the largest employer in Orange County.

Sanjana Karanth

All Smithsonian museums in the District of Columbia and New York City, as well as the National Zoo, will close to the public beginning Saturday “as a public health precaution due to COVID-19,” the Smithsonian said Thursday.

“The health and safety of Smithsonian visitors, staff and volunteers is a top priority. We are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and maintain ongoing communication with local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control,” the institution said in a statement. “Due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, we are not announcing a re-opening date at this time and will provide updates on a week-to-week basis on our websites.”

Earlier Thursday, the Smithsonian postponed or canceled all public events through May 3 in light of the virus.

― Sanjana Karanth

Disneyland Goes Dark ― 3/12/20, 5:32 p.m. ET

Disney announced Thursday afternoon that it is shutting down its Anaheim, California, park effective Saturday through the end of the month out of caution. The company’s decision comes on the heels of an executive order from the California governor’s office that allows people who lose work due to the coronavirus outbreak to collect unemployment benefits sooner than they would normally be allowed.

Disney World in Florida, however, will remain open for now.

― Sara Boboltz 

Four government officials have announced they are self-quarantining after meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s press secretary, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The officials include Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez.

The senators said they are self-quarantining after being at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida with the Brazilian delegation and Trump last weekend. The mayors said they are self-quarantining after meeting with Bolsonaro and the infected aide earlier this week.

The aide, Fabio Wajngarten, was tested Wednesday and confirmed positive on Thursday. Bolsonaro has undergone testing for the novel coronavirus, of which the results will be known on Friday.

― Sanjana Karanth

The province of Ontario in Canada just announced it will be closing all public schools for two weeks following March Break, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. Schools will be closed until April 5.

The decision will affect approximately 2 million students, as well as their caregivers.

“We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on families, students, schools, as well as the broader community, but this precaution is necessary to keep people safe,” said Premier Doug Ford in a joint statement with his ministers of health and education.

― Rebecca Zamon

The NCAA announced it will cancel its March Madness basketball tournaments over growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

“The decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” the NCAA said in a statement Thursday. 

The announcement comes after the NBA said Wednesday it was suspending its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19. The NHL and MLB followed suit in suspending operations Thursday.

The men’s NCAA tournament was going to begin on March 17, while the women’s tournament was going to begin on March 20.

― Sanjana Karanth

MLB Makes It Official — 3/12/20, 3:38 p.m. ET

Major League Baseball joins other major sports leagues in suspending operations. The new season, originally scheduled to begin March 26, will start two weeks later, and the rest of spring training is canceled. 

— Marina Fang 

 

Abandoned public places, empty grocery stores and extreme sanitation are visible in photos from around the globe. See the photos here.

― Chris McGonigal

 

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro underwent testing for the novel coronavirus on Thursday, the Brazilian government said, after one of his top press aides tested positive for COVID-19.

Fabio Wajngarten, the press aide, was tested Wednesday, just days after he, Bolsonaro and other Brazilian government officials met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida. The Brazilian government announced Wajngarten’s positive result Thursday morning.

Eduardo Bolsonaro, a member of Brazil’s congress and the president’s son, also underwent a test, as did first lady of Brazil Michelle Bolsonaro. Prior to the Florida visit, Eduardo Bolsonaro attended the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, where at least one other attendee tested positive for COVID-19.

The results of their tests will be known on Friday, the Brazilian government has said.

It is unknown whether other high-ranking members of the Brazilian government who traveled with Bolsonaro have been tested. Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, who is in Washington on Thursday, canceled planned meetings with U.S. officials, the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported.

― Travis Waldron

When Home Isn’t A Safe Place ― 3/12/20, 2:44 p.m. ET

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the globe, the biggest piece of advice coming from public health officials is to practice social distancing. Work from home. Avoid public transportation and crowds. This guidance is complicated for domestic violence victims, who face unique danger from inside their own homes. 

— Melissa Jeltsen 

 

Lights Out On Broadway — 3/12/20, 2:27 p.m. ET

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a statewide ban on most public gatherings of more than 500 people, which includes New York City’s Broadway. City officials and theater owners had previously been reluctant to go dark, given the economic impact of shutting down one of the city’s major industries and attractions.

—Marina Fang

 

More Major Sports Leagues Follow The NBA’s Lead — 3/12/20, 2:07 p.m. ET

Just in the last half hour, the National Hockey League announced they will also suspend operations. Major League Baseball is expected to do so as well. The MLB is in the midst of spring training, and the NHL is in the middle of its season, with the suspension beginning with tonight’s games. Earlier Thursday, Major League Soccer also announced a 30-day suspension.

Marina Fang

Metropolitan Museum Of Art Closing Friday Until Further Notice — 3/12/20, 1:36 p.m. ET

New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art will close Friday to “undertake a thorough cleaning,” after two employees showed symptoms of COVID-19 and the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow across the city. (The employees have not been confirmed to have the new coronavirus.) Museum officials said they will “announce next steps early next week.”

The MET is the most prominent U.S. museum so far to completely close in response to the pandemic. A number of other museums across the U.S. have either closed or cut back on public events and programming. Earlier Thursday, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington said public events were canceled through May 3, but museums and the National Zoo remain open for now.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended many large-scale cultural events with global impact, particularly as many cities and municipalities have recommended cutting back on public gatherings. Just in the last 24 hours, the NCAA announced all March Madness games will be held with no fans present; the NBA suspended its season until further notice after players tested positive for COVID-19; and several Hollywood blockbusters postponed their release dates as global box-office attendance has decreased. More cancelations and postponements are likely to follow. We’re keeping track of them here.

— Marina Fang

Britain’s Boris Johnson: ‘Many More Families Will Lose Loved Ones Before Their Time’ — 3/12/20, 1:20 p.m. ET

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government was moving to the “delay” stage of the public health crisis. “This is the worst public health crisis for a generation,” he said in a press conference. He and his scientific advisers said people with mild symptoms should self-isolate at home, and special care needed to be taken to protect the elderly as the disease is “particularly dangerous” to them. In the UK, there are 596 confirmed cases and 10 people have died from the virus. Read more from HuffPost U.K.’s Ned Simons here

— Liza Hearon 

Democratic Presidential Debate Moved To Washington, D.C. ― 3/12/20 12:45 p.m. ET

The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday that the highly anticipated one-on-one Democratic primary debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will take place in Washington, D.C., on Sunday instead of in Arizona as originally planned.

The move was made “out of an abundance of caution and in order to reduce cross-country travel” due to the growing coronavirus outbreak. The event will now take place in a studio and will no longer feature a live audience.

In addition, the DNC announced that Univision anchor Jorge Ramos would no longer be moderating the debate because he was in proximity to someone who was in direct contact with a person who tested positive for coronavirus. lia Calderón of Univision will moderate the debate in his place, the DNC said.

Igor Bobic

 

Canadian Prime Minister In Isolation As Wife Tested For COVID-19 — 3/12/20, 12:05 p.m. ET

Justin Trudeau is in self-isolation as his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, is being tested for COVID-19 after returning from a speaking engagement in the U.K.

— Andree Lau

Nancy Pelosi Says People Should Refrain From All Physical Contact With Others ― 3/12/20, 11:35 a.m. ET 

During a press conference at the Capitol on Thursday, the House speaker urged Americans against using the “elbow bump” as an alternative greeting in social interactions, stating that it is better not to have contact at all.

“Forget any physical contact or greetings. Bow in an Eastern style,” she told reporters.

― Igor Bobic 

 

Irish premier Leo Varadkar announced that schools, colleges and childcare facilities in Ireland will close until March 29 as a result of the outbreak. He made the announcement from Washington, D.C., where he is participating in bilateral meetings with President Trump. 

Denmark also went into lockdown, with Prime Minister Mette Fredericksen saying that schools and universities are closed and some public sector workers will be sent home. She urged that all events with more than 100 people be canceled. 

— Liza Hearon

China’s National Health Commission said that the country has passed the peak of the disease, with eight new infections in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. It’s the first time the number of new daily infections in the province has been less than 10. Businesses are reopening slowly as authorities reassess travel restrictions, Reuters reported.

— Liza Hearon

Trump Tries To Clarify Travel Ban, European Stocks Fall — 3/12/20, 6:11 a.m.

In a follow-up tweet to his earlier remarks, Trump said that the travel ban applied to people, not goods, and “trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe.”

Trump’s reassurances didn’t seem to make a difference to European stock markets, which tanked on the travel ban news. European bourses fell around 6% in morning trading, and S&P futures slid 5%, which is the maximum drop allowed outside of trading hours. 

“Stocks are cratering on the president’s remarks from the White House,” an economist from MUFG Bank told the Financial Times.

The downturn in European stocks followed heavy losses in Asian markets. Japan’s Nikkei index closed 4.4% lower, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 7.36% lower.

All of this points to another rough day for U.S. stocks when the market opens.

– Liza Hearon 

Several States Ban Large Events To Contain Coronavirus Spread — 3/12/20, 2:43 a.m.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced late Wednesday that all non-essential gatherings involving 250 or more people would be prohibited in his state to slow the spread of COVID-19. Newsom’s decision follows similar bans instituted in Oregon and Washington.  

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said earlier Wednesday that he too planned on issuing a statewide ban on large events.

— Dominique Mosbergen

State Department Urges Americans To “Reconsider” All International Travel — 3/11/20, 11:54 p.m.

U.S. citizens have been urged by the State Department to “reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19,” according to an agency health advisory released Wednesday night. 

“Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions,” the advisory said. “Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.”

The State Department’s recommendation came hours after President Trump announced a 30-day ban of most travel between the U.S. and Europe. That prohibition, however, does not apply to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, nor to travel to the United Kingdom. 

— Dominique Mosbergen 

All The News Breaks — 3/11/20, 10:26 p.m.

A slew of news related to coronavirus broke within the last hour.

President Donald Trump announced all travel from Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom, would be banned for 30 days. He also announced some planned financial measures to help combat the virus’s negative effects on the economy but failed to address a lack of available testing across the U.S.

As Trump was delivering his remarks, the NBA announced it would suspend the season after a player tested positive for coronavirus. That confirmation came after a game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed with fans already in the arena awaiting tip-off.

Actor Tom Hanks also released a statement tonight confirming he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had both tested positive for coronavirus. The married couple are currently in Australia, where they were tested after feeling a “bit tired” and “like we had colds.”

Paige Lavender