March 17, 2020 at 5:47 AM EDT – Updated March 17 at 11:33 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) — The death toll in the U.S. from the new coronavirus passed the 100 mark on Tuesday after Washington state reported six new fatalities, bringing the country’s total to 103.
Washington leads the nation in deaths, with 54. Thirty of those deaths were connected with a nursing home in a Seattle suburb.
New York on Tuesday reported more confirmed cases than Washington state for the first time. New York has topped 1,300 cases, while Washington was just over 1,000.
President Donald Trump is asking Congress to unleash a torrent of emergency economic aid to help people through the financial storm of the coronavirus crisis as all 50 states now report cases.
Sizable checks directly to Americans are part of the deal he wants. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Trump wants the money sent to the public within two weeks.
The amount of the proposed checks hasn’t been disclosed but Mnuchin says it’s vital to get significant cash out to people quickly.
Mnuchin said the deal could top $1 trillion after speaking with Senate Republicans to outline the details.
Treasury sec: Proposal for coronavirus stimulus at $1T
It will aim to provide relief for small businesses and the airline industry and propose a massive tax cut for wage-earners.
Trump also said the government is considering aiding Boeing, which was already struggling with the fallout from two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max jetliner and now faces reduced airline demand for new planes because of the virus outbreak.
“We’re certainly looking at Boeing,” he said during the news conference. “Boeing got hit very hard in many different ways.”
The White House hopes the measure will pass this week, as the administration scrambles to contain the economic fallout of the severe disruptions to American life from the outbreak.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the Senate on Tuesday with a promise for swift action. He says the Senate won’t adjourn until it acts.
Businesses large and small are reeling from shutdowns, cancellations and public fears about the virus.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered a monthlong closure of casinos and other non-essential businesses like bars, movie theaters and gyms. He’s also telling restaurants to close their dining rooms and only offer takeout or delivery.
The Democratic governor’s order Tuesday night follows similar moves by more than 10 other governors as states scramble to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Mnuchin says the financial markets will stay open for people to access their money during the coronavirus outbreak.
He says that shorter hours may still be necessary. But he says banks and other institutions will not shut down as the U.S. grapples with the pandemic.
Economy waits on coronavirus relief
Mnuchin recalls that financial institutions closed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks because of disruptions to technology.
He says that’s not the case in the current situation.
The U.S. has implemented dramatic new restrictions on Americans going out in public. People are advised not to gather in groups of more than 10, and discretionary travel and social visits should be avoided.
Trump is urging all older Americans to stay home and everyone to avoid crowds and eating out at restaurants for at least the next few weeks as officials forecast a surge in the coronavirus outbreak. Trump’s warnings came Monday as the White House released sweeping guidelines for the next 15 days.
Trump: Enjoy your living room
For the first time, the president acknowledged that the pandemic may send the economy into a recession and went on to suggest that Americans may be dealing with the virus until “July or August.”
After weeks of trying to play down the risk posed by the coronavirus, Trump struck a more urgent tone. He delivered a sobering message Monday to Americans still grappling with the reality that their lives will be changing dramatically.
The shift was informed in part by a growing realization in the West Wing that the coronavirus crisis is an existential threat to Trump’s presidency, his reelection and his legacy. But on Tuesday, Trump again lashed out at his critics, directing his ire at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after she criticized him for telling governors not to rely too much on the federal government.
The Trump administration is also slashing regulations governing test development in a bid to ramp up screening for the coronavirus.
The federal government has struggled to roll out nationwide screening as the virus continues to spread.
The Food and Drug Administration made unprecedented changes late Monday to testing rules, including allowing state governments to essentially self-regulate new tests.
But it was unclear how many states will take advantage of the new rules.
And experts say the approach also creates challenges for assuring the accuracy of tests and tracking who is getting them.
Gym-goers anxious about coronavirus impact
Daily life in much of California ground to a screeching halt as officials announced the strictest measures in America, so far, in a desperate attempt to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Millions in the San Francisco Bay Area found empty highways, shuttered stores and vacant streets Tuesday as officials try to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Counties with a population of more than 7 million ordered residents to stay at home until April 7. Communities with more than a million residents joined on Tuesday. The stay home order will last until April 7.
It was the latest in a series of dramatic steps taken in California to separate people and contain the disease: most schools are closed and all people over the age of 65 have been told to stay home. The measures are the strictest in America so far, mimicking orders in place already across Europe.
California’s governor says most of the state’s schools will likely remain closed for the rest of the school year because of the new coronavirus.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that nearly all the state’s schools have already shut down as the most populous state tries to stop the spread of the virus, and the rest will soon. He says there are more than 6 million children out of school.
The state has applied for a federal waiver that means children would not have to face academic tests once they eventually return to school.
Three states, Arizona, Florida and Illinois, moved ahead with their elections on Tuesday, despite the coronavirus. Officials felt they had done enough to ensure the safety of voters, even though there may be too few poll workers and some poll locations have changed.
By contrast, Ohio called off Tuesday’s election just hours before polls were set to open.
Canada closes border to almost all foreign visitors
EU to ban most foreign travelers for 30 days to curb virus
European Union leaders have agreed to immediately impose travel restrictions on most foreigners entering Europe for at least 30 days to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.
With virus cases in Europe numbering over 60,000, nervous national governments have introduced individual border closures and quarantines.
The EU sought over three hours of video talks Tuesday to forge a united front against an illness that is also wreaking economic havoc.
European Council President Charles Michel said the 27 EU countries agreed to impose border restrictions on tourism and non-essential business “as fast as possible.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said citizens of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the United Kingdom and Norway are exempt.
Britain boosts restrictions amid death predictions
Britain’s dramatic escalation of social restrictions to fight COVID-19 was sparked by new scientific evidence suggesting that 250,000 people in the U.K. and more than 1 million in the U.S. might die if the country did not suppress the spread of the new coronavirus.
Imperial College London epidemiologists advising the U.K. government have published an analysis drawing on data from Italy, the hardest-hit European country with nearly 28,000 cases and 2,158 deaths.
They found that a strategy of “mitigation” — slowing but not stopping the spread of the virus while protecting vulnerable groups like the elderly — would still lead to a huge number of cases that would overwhelm the health care system.
The scientists said “even if all patients were able to be treated, we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in (Britain), and 1.1-1.2 million in the U.S.”
They said a tougher “suppression” strategy would sharply reduce deaths but would “need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more).”
On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people to eliminate unnecessary contact with others, working from home where possible and avoiding bars, restaurants, theaters and other venues. Some scientists said the government should have taken tough action sooner.
Deaths, cases rise in Spain
Residents in Madrid applaud healthcare workers amid coronavirus outbreak
The number of deaths in Spain due to the new coronavirus has jumped from 309 to 491 in 24 hours and new infections have risen to 11,178, nearly 2,000 more than a day earlier.
The numbers were reported Tuesday by the nation’s health emergency center director, Fernando Simón. With a population of 46 million, Spain became on Monday the fourth country in the world with most coronavirus cases, surpassing South Korea and edging closer to Iran.
Spanish police started enforcing land border checks Tuesday after the country, already under strict lock-down measures, banned people from entering or exiting the country in an attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
At the La Jonquera border, a key crossing point for trucks from and to France in northeastern Spain, masked agents of Spain’s national and Catalan regional police stopped cars and trucks, checked documents and redirected some of the vehicles back to France.
Spanish citizens and residents are allowed to return home, and goods are allowed in and out.
Wuhan reports 1 new viral infection for 2nd day
The original epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic has reported just one new case for a second day.
Wuhan’s one new case reported Wednesday and one Tuesday came as the central Chinese city remains on lockdown and follows a peak of thousands of new cases daily about a month ago.
China reported just 13 new cases nationwide Wednesday. All 12 cases outside Wuhan were imported, according to the health ministry, including three in the capital Beijing, three in the financial hub of Shanghahi, one in the southwestern province of Sichuan, and five in the industrial heartland of Guangdong.
China has been quarantining new arrivals from overseas to maintain control of the disease.
China has recorded 80,890 cases of infection with the virus, including 3,237 deaths. Most of its patients have now recovered.
The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wuhan in December.
South Korea warns churches over flouting restrictions
A South Korean province surrounding Seoul has threatened to shut down nearly 140 churches that have failed to implement preventive measures amid a spread of the coronavirus in the country’s most populous metropolitan region.
Gyeonggi Province said Tuesday that it has issued an administrative order for the churches to list the names of attendants, screen them for fever and ensure that they wear masks and are at least 2 meters apart during services until March 29.
The province can close the churches and fine them as much as $2,400 if they fail to abide by the order.
More than 70 of the province’s COVID-19 cases have been connected to gatherings at Protestant churches. Forty-six of the infections have come from a small church in the city of Seongnam, where officials possibly worsened infections by using the same spray bottle to inject saltwater into the mouths of followers in an ill-advised effort to disinfect them.
South Korea has confirmed 84 new cases of the virus and six more deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing its total numbers to 8,320 infections and 81 fatalities.
The country has also further postponed the beginning of the new school year by two weeks to protect students from the spread of the coronavirus.
Education Minister Yoo Eun-hye said Tuesday that kindergartens as well as elementary, middle and high schools nationwide would now reopen on April 6, which is five weeks later than usual. It was the third time the country delayed the start of new school terms amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Iran supreme leader Khamenei prohibits ‘unnecessary’ travel
Iran’s supreme leader has issued a religious ruling prohibiting ‘unnecessary’ travel amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
Semiofficial media in Iran on Tuesday reported the fatwa by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran’s state television has issued its most drastic warning so far about the new coronavirus, saying the outbreak could kill “millions” in the Islamic Republic if the public keeps traveling and ignoring health guidance.
The warning came in a bulletin broadcast on Tuesday afternoon.
Roughly nine out of 10 of the over 18,000 cases of the new virus confirmed across the Middle East come from Iran, where authorities denied for days the risk the outbreak posed.
That’s even as the death toll in Iran saw another 13% increase.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the virus had killed 135 more people to raise the total to 988 amid over 16,000 cases.
Fears remain that Iran may be underreporting its cases.
Days of denials gave the virus time to spread as the country marked the 41st anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution with mass demonstrations.
Iran also held a parliamentary election in which authorities desperately sought to boost turnout.
Although Iran has one of the Mideast’s best medical services, its hospitals appear to be overwhelmed.
Now, officials worry the Iranian New Year, which starts Friday, could see the virus spread even further.
Hard-line Shiite faithful in Iran have pushed their way into the courtyards of shrines just closed over fears of the new coronavirus.
Police ultimately cleared the demonstrators in the cities of Qom and Mashhad, but the incidents show the anger and the willingness to ignore safety recommendations.
Authorities have now implemented new checks for people trying to leave major cities ahead of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on Friday, but have hesitated to quarantine the areas.
President Trump announcing new national guidelines to combat coronavirus
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