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Coronavirus updates from March 17, 2020

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Follow Wednesday's latest coronavirus updates here.

The White House and Congress said Tuesday they're crafting a massive $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package to help rescue the U.S. economy from the ever-deepening bite of the new coronavirus. A key component: checks that would likely go to every American adult, perhaps for $1,000. Congressional leaders said they hope to vote on the bill this week.

Medical workers on the front lines face shortages of life-saving equipment and concerns for their own safety. Health departments across the country said Monday was the deadliest day since the outbreak began. The virus has now claimed at least 108 lives in the U.S.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio said a shelter in place order could be coming within the next 48 hours — although Governor Andrew Cuomo waved off the idea hours later. NBA superstar Kevin Durant announced that he tested positive for the coronavirus. He's among four Brooklyn Nets players to test positive for COVID-19.

More than 6,300 people have been diagnosed with the virus in the U.S. Globally, the death toll is over 7,900, with the most aggressive outbreaks still spreading in Europe and Iran.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for detailed information on coronavirus treatment and prevention.


Tom Hanks says he has "the blahs" in isolation

Tom Hanks says he feels the "blahs" but has no fever as he and wife Rita Wilson remain in isolation in an Australian residence after being discharged from a hospital following their coronavirus diagnosis.

A representative for the Oscar winner confirmed Tuesday that the pair were no longer hospitalized, and Hanks himself provided an update saying he was doing chores and his wife was beating him in cards as they remain self-quarantined.

"Hey folks. Good news: One week after testing positive, in self-isolation, the symptoms are much the same. No fever but the blahs. Folding the laundry and doing the dishes leads to a nap on the couch. Bad news: my wife has won 6 straight hands of Gin Rummy and now leads by 201 points," he posted on social media Tuesday evening. 

Instead of a photo of himself or his wife, the post showed an old typewriter that he traveled with "that I used to love. We are all in this together. Flatten the curve," he wrote, promoting the idea of social distancing to prevent further spread of the disease.

- The Associated Press


New concern at epicenter of South Korean outbreak

The mayor of the South Korean city worst-hit by the coronavirus says 87 new cases have been discovered from local nursing hospitals, raising concerns about a possible spike in infections after they waned over the past week.

The infections at nursing homes weren't fully reflected in national figures announced by South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or KCDC, which said the cases in Daegu rose by 46 in the 24 hours ending midnight Tuesday.

South Korean officials have struggled to stem infections at hospitals, nursing homes, disability institutions and other live-in facilities, which critics say have been poorly regulated for years.

South Korea has confirmed at least 8.413 coronavirus cases, including 84 deaths.

-- The Associated Press


U.S. and Canada reportedly set to partially close their border

Canada and the U.S. are working out the details of a mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries amid the new coronavirus pandemic, a Canadian official said late Tuesday. The official wasn't authorized to discuss details amid discussions and ahead of an announcement and spoke to The Associated Press on condition anonymity.

Both countries are eager to choke off the spread of the virus but also eager to continue their critical economic relationship.

Truck drivers and Canadian snowbirds, who live in the U.S. for part of the year, are among those expected to get exemptions.

Completely closing the border would cause severe economic damage to both the U.S. and Canada since the two economies are so closely integrated.

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper says the deal will be announced Wednesday. 



National Hockey League player has the new coronavirus

The NHL's Ottawa Senators announced late Tuesday night that one of their players has tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement , the team said he "has had mild symptoms and is in isolation."

The statement said the Senators "are in the process of notifying anyone who has had known close contact with the athlete" and that, "As a result of this positive case, all members of the Ottawa Senators are requested to remain isolated, to monitor their health and seek advice from our team medical staff." says he's the first NHL player known to have tested positive.

By Brian Dakss

Russell Wilson, Ciara say they're donating 1 million meals

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara announced Tuesday that they are donating 1 million meals through Food Lifeline. 

"Obviously this worldwide pandemic, coronavirus, is changing the world, second by second, minute by minute," Wilson said in a video posted to Twitter. "People are losing loved ones." 

The quarterback said the couple is partnering with Food Lifeline in Seattle to donate 1 million meals to "hopefully make a difference." 

"We want to encourage everyone out there to join us in whatever way that you can — big or small," Ciara added. 

By Victoria Albert

Latest numbers in the U.S.

As of Tuesday evening, at least 108 people have died of the coronavirus in the U.S., and there are at least 6,300 cases in the country. Here's the breakdown of the U.S. death toll: 

55 - Washington
13 - New York
11 - California
6 - Florida
4 - Louisiana
3 - New Jersey
2 - Virginia
2 - Indiana
2 - Colorado
2 - Texas
1 - Illinois
1 - Nevada
1 - Kansas
1 - South Dakota
1 - Georgia
1 - Oregon
1 - Kentucky
1 - South Carolina

By Victoria Albert

de Blasio announces at least 923 coronavirus cases in NYC alone

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the number of cases in New York City "has gone up literally over 100 cases in the course of a day" in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday night.  

According to the mayor, there are now 923 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 10 associated deaths in New York City. 

"It's unbelievable how rapidly this crisis is growing right now," he said. "... This is moving very fast. We should all be very concerned about how we find a way to slow down the trajectory of this virus. The idea of shelter-in-place has to be considered now."

"This is the reality we're facing now," he added. "Get ready for the possibility because it's not so distant an idea at this point."

As of Tuesday night, the New York Department of Health has listed 1,374 cases statewide.

By Li Cohen

D.C. Fire and EMS member tests positive for coronavirus

A member of Washington D.C.'s Fire and EMS team has tested positive for coronavirus, the department said in a statement Tuesday.

The department did not provide any details about the patient, but said officials are tracing the person's contacts and reaching out to people who may need to be tested.

By Victoria Albert

Cuomo dismisses idea of NYC shelter in place order — hours after mayor said to prepare for it

The governor of New York on Tuesday night waved off the idea of putting New York City under a shelter-in-place policy due to the coronavirus pandemic — just hours after the city's mayor told residents they should be "prepared right now" for that possibility.

"I don't think shelter in place really works for one locality," Governor Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with CNN.

The Queens native said that as a "New York City boy" himself, he expects New Yorkers would not follow such an order anyway, and it wouldn't work for the rest of the state either.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference earlier in the day that New Yorkers "should be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter in place order," and that a decision could come within the next two days.

"It has not happened yet but it is definitely a possibility at this point," de Blasio said. "I believe that decision should be made in the next 48 hours, and it's a very, a very difficult decision."

De Blasio, however, does not have the authority to make such a call — it would have to come from Cuomo. The governor's office emphasized this in an initial statement issued after de Blasio's press conference. 

Read more here.

By Jason Silverstein

Savannah Guthrie to anchor "Today" from home due to "mild sore throat"

Savannah Guthrie will be anchoring "Today" from home on Wednesday due to a "mild sore throat," she said in a tweet Tuesday night. 

"Hi everybody! Well, this will be a first. I'm going to be anchoring TODAY from my house!" she wrote. "In an abundance of caution, and to model the super vigilance the CDC has asked of all of us, I'm staying home because I have a mild sore throat and runny nose." 

"This was the advice of NBC's superb medical team and my bosses," Guthrie added. "I feel good and am sure I will be back in no time - but during these days, it's on all of us to be extra cautious and caring of those around us. #loveyourneighbor So see you tomorrow on TODAY - from my basement!" 

By Victoria Albert

NYPD officer tests positive for coronavirus

A police officer with the NYPD has tested positive for coronavirus, Lieutenant John Grimpel told CBS News. The officer works in the first precinct, which covers the southern tip of Manhattan, Governor's Island, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.  

Grimpel added that 17 officers, including the officer who tested positive, are out due to coronavirus. But he would not say if they had symptoms, if they got tested or if they are self-quarantined. 

— Kayman Whaley


As the coronavirus spreads, gyms halt workouts

Many gyms around the country are temporarily closing to slow the spread of coronavirus. Some facilities plan to re-open at the end of the month, while others don't have a timetable.

Orangetheory has more than 1 million members across its 1,000 worldwide locations. CEO David Long said membership fees will be suspended during the closure and that the fitness chain hopes to re-open March 31.

Gold's Gym, which has 3 million members and 700 locations, also said it hopes to reopen on March 31. Corporate-owned locations closed Tuesday, and individual franchisees were given leeway to decide whether to close.

Read more here.

By Khristopher J. Brooks

A look at South Korea and China's responses to coronavirus

In South Korea's capital of Seoul, cleaning crews sanitize subway cars several times each day, volunteers hand out masks and hand sanitizer for free and drive-through coronavirus testing gives 10,000 people their results every day.

All of this is part of a national action plan that's brought down infection rates without any city lockdowns.

"Early diagnosis is key to fighting this virus," says Tina Park, executive director of the Canadian Center for the Responsibility to Protect. "In South Korea, they've adopted a measure called a triple T, so trace, test and treat."

Meanwhile, in China, the government attacked.

In the epidemic's heart of Wuhan, city officials built two hospitals with more than 2,000 beds in the span of a few weeks. To stop the spread, a massive lockdown radiated out to nearly 60 million people across central China, with contact tracing for the roughly 80,000 people infected.

Strong armed tactics were used against people who refused to wear masks, with some beaten and others locked into their homes, forcefully quarantined. — Ramy Inocencio


Navajo Nation announces first coronavirus case

The Navajo Nation announced its first coronavirus case on Tuesday, President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.

The release described the patient as a 46-year-old with recent travel history who lives in Chilchinbeto, Arizona. Chilchinbeto is in the northeastern part of the state. 

"We have health and emergency experts who have been planning and preparing for this situation for several weeks," Nez tweeted. "We call upon our Navajo people to do their best to remain calm and make good decisions by staying home to prevent the spread of the virus among our communities." 

By Victoria Albert

Coronavirus overloads hospitals

With hospitals warning they're not prepared for an impending crisis, the Department of Defense is donating five million surgical masks and 2,000 ventilators. The military is also using its labs to process civilian test kits. And Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence called on the construction industry to donate face masks.

But meanwhile, overwhelmed, short-staffed and ill-equipped health care workers on the front lines told CBS News they do not have enough medical supplies to protect themselves and patients.

The shortage of medical supplies is forcing some states to request help from the $8 billion federal stockpile. Washington state, which has seen more than 50 deaths and more than 900 confirmed coronavirus cases, has received more than 145,000 N-95 respirators and 238,560 surgical masks to help combat the spread.

The lack of coronavirus testing has sidelined 200 health care workers across Connecticut because they were potentially exposed to the virus. Until they get tested, they cannot go back to work — which is straining the system.

In Brooklyn, the situation is so desperate that first responders lined up to grab surgical masks that were donated.

Read more here.


"We do not want to look like Italy does two weeks from now": Surgeon General urges Americans to follow CDC guidelines

With more than 5,800 cases and at least 100 deaths, the U.S. is at a critical point in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, according to Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

In an interview with "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell, Adams emphasized that the next 15 days will be crucial for fighting the pandemic in the U.S. He also warned that if Americans don't take it seriously, the nation could face an outbreak like Italy's — in which more than 2,500 people have been killed.

Read the interview with Adams here

Correction: A previous version of this post misstated the number of deaths in Italy. 

By Victoria Albert

Patients in all 50 U.S. states have tested positive

West Virginia announced Tuesday that a patient has tested positive for coronavirus, according to CBS affiliate WOWK-TV. West Virginia was the last state that had not yet confirmed a case. 

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said the case came from the eastern panhandle of the state, according to WOWK. Before the case was announced, Justice had already declared a state of emergency to help free up resources to fight the virus.

By Victoria Albert

Kevin Durant says he's among Brooklyn Nets players to test positive

Kevin Durant said in a new interview that he's among four Brooklyn Nets players to test positive for the coronavirus. "Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine. We're going to get through this," Durant told The Athletic on Tuesday.

The Nets announced Tuesday that four players have tested positive for COVID-19 but they did not identify the players. Only one player is exhibiting symptoms but all four are isolated under the care of team doctors. 

All players and members of the Nets travel party are being asked to self-isolate. The organization is in the process of notifying anyone who had known contact with the players, including recent opponents. 

"The health of our players and staff is of the highest priority to the organization and the team is doing everything within its power to ensure that those affected receive the best care possible," the team's statement said. "As always, we appreciate the support of our fans, partners and surrounding community, and we wish all those who are battling this virus a speedy recovery."

Los Angeles Clippers v Brooklyn Nets
This 2012 image shows the Brooklyn Nets home court at Barclays Center.  Getty
By Victoria Albert

Guns and ammo sales spike in U.S. on coronavirus worries

The novel coronavirus is expected to put the U.S. economy into a deep freeze, but it's heating up an industry that was struggling just a few months ago: guns.

Kurt Green, manager of Staudt's Gun Shop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said his store did $30,000 in sales on Monday alone. "It was easily the busiest day we've ever had," said Green, who added that sales at the nine-year-old store were up at least 50% from a typical day. Ammunition purchases also jumped more than 20%. 

Gun dealers around the country said they are seeing record numbers of customers in recent days. Online stores are having trouble keeping up. A message on the 1-800 order number for said "unusually high volume" meant "wait times will be longer than usual."

Read more here.

By Stephen Gandel

Pentagon to contribute masks and ventilators to coronavirus response

Defense Department to donate equipment and test kits to health care workers 02:21

The Defense Department will provide the Department of Health and Human Services up to 5 million respirator masks and up to 2,000 deployable ventilators to assist with the response to the coronavirus, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday.

During a press conference at the Pentagon, Esper laid out several steps the department is taking to bolster the federal government's efforts to address the deadly virus, which has already claimed the lives of 100 Americans.

Esper said the 5 million N95 respirator masks, as well as other personal protective equipment, will come from the Pentagon's strategic reserves, and the first 1 million masks will be made available immediately.

Read more here.

By Melissa Quinn

UN suspending most refugee resettlement

The United Nations announced Tuesday that it will be suspending most refugee resettlement processes in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. In a press release, the organization wrote that travel restrictions were making resettlement precarious for refugees. 

"Refugee families are being directly impacted by these quickly evolving regulations in the course of their travel, with some experiencing extensive delays while others have been stranded or separated from family members," the U.N. said. "In addition, UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, and IOM, the International Organization for Migration, are concerned that international travel could increase the exposure of refugees to the virus."

The organization stressed that the suspension is temporary and that it will work "to ensure that movements can continue for the most critical emergency cases wherever possible." It said the suspension will begin in a few days.

By Victoria Albert

European Union agrees to close external borders for 30 days

The leaders of European Union nations have agreed to institute a travel ban that prohibits most foreigners from entering the bloc for 30 days to discourage the spread of the new coronavirus. EU leaders agreed on Tuesday to shut down the 27-nation's bloc's external borders immediately.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the proposal by EU officials "got a lot of support by the member states. It's up to them now to implement. They said they will immediately do that." German Chancellor Angela Merkel said late Tuesday that European leaders agreed in a conference call to the Commission's proposal for an entry ban with "very, very limited exceptions." 

 Merkel said citizens of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the United Kingdom and Norway are exempt. The EU leaders also agreed to coordinate the repatriation of EU citizens stranded outside the bloc, she said.

— The Associated Press


De Blasio: New Yorkers should be "prepared" for possibility of a shelter in place order

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that New Yorkers should be "prepared" for the possibility of a shelter in place order. 

"This is a reality that is being talked about because this crisis continues to grow," he said at a press conference. 

De Blasio said the decision of whether to issue a shelter in place order should be made in the "next 48 hours."

As of Tuesday, there are 814 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York City, according to De Blasio. Seven New Yorkers have died. 

"It's quite clear that this is a fast growing crisis," the mayor said. 

By Audrey McNamara

Guatemala suspends deportation flights, pauses Trump asylum deal

Guatemala moved to block deportation flights from the U.S. on Tuesday by temporarily suspending a bilateral agreement that allowed the Trump administration to send non-Guatemalan asylum-seekers to the country.

The move comes one day after Guatemala announced a nationwide shutdown in response to the escalating coronavirus pandemic.

Guatemala's conservative government announced Tuesday it would stop receiving asylum-seekers deported under the so-called "Asylum Cooperative Agreement." The country's foreign ministry also said U.S. flights of Guatemalan deportees that were scheduled on Tuesday were canceled.

The foreign ministry said the suspension would remain in place while "adequate" sanitary protocols were established, but it did not provide a timeframe.

Read more here.

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Thousands flock to Florida beaches, ignoring coronavirus concerns

Thousands of people in Florida are seemingly ignoring social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus outbreak. Despite warnings from public health experts, photos and videos show beaches across the state packed with spring breakers.

Read more here. 

Virus Outbreak Florida Beaches
Visitors pack North Beach in Clearwater Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Chris O'Meara / AP


By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

NYC Board of Corrections calls on officials to release some inmates from jails

The New York City Board of Corrections is calling on officials to release inmates who are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. In a statement Tuesday, the board urged city officials to follow the lead of Los Angeles County and Cuyahoga County in Ohio, which have released hundreds of inmates in attempts to minimize potential outbreaks behind bars.

"The city must drastically reduce the number of people in jail right now and limit new admissions to exceptional circumstances," the statement said. "The city must begin this process now. The city's jails have particular challenges to preventing disease transmission on a normal day and even more so during a public health crisis."

The board provides oversight for the city's Department of Corrections. It urged the city to release the following inmates: 

  • People over 50 years old

  • People with underlying health conditions, including lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer or a weakened immune system

  • People detained for administrative reasons, including failure to appear and parole violations

  • People serving sentences of one year or less

"Once these people are released from jail, the city must continue to work with district attorneys,
the defense bar, and the judiciary to identify all other detained New Yorkers who can be
released from jail," the statement added. It said the Department of Corrections and Correctional Health Services should also provide "COVID-19 screening, discharge planning, including connection to health and mental health services, for those requiring support upon release."

By Justin Bey

America has plenty of toilet paper. The hard part is stocking empty store shelves.

Coronavirus-related panic buying is making it difficult for retailers to keep toilet paper on store shelves, but unlike face masks and hand sanitizer, there's no actual shortage of the coveted rolls, according to the companies that make them. 

Procter & Gamble said it is shipping record-high levels of Charmin and other brands: "Demand continues to outpace supply at the moment, but we are working diligently to get product to our retailers as fast as humanly possible," a spokesperson for the consumer products company said in an email. "We continue to manufacture and ship Charmin to our retailers."

Read more here.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Italy now has one-third of world's coronavirus deaths

Italy, the second hardest-hit nation after China in the world's coronavirus pandemic, has announced new figures that show it has one-third of the world's total deaths from the new virus.
Italy on Tuesday added more than 3,500 new positive cases, bringing its total to 31,506. In addition, another 345 people with the virus have died, bringing Italy's total deaths to 2,503.

-The Associated Press 

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Lawyers demand coronavirus testing for inmates at notorious Mississippi prison

Lawyers representing inmates at a Mississippi prison where 13 people have died since late last year filed a motion on Monday requesting emergency relief amid the global coronavirus outbreak, which has infected thousands across the U.S. and has killed at least 80 people.

The motion, filed in federal court as part of an existing lawsuit, asks a judge to order the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) to conduct immediate testing for all inmates and employees at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, which is home to about 2,100 inmates.

"In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Parchman inmates are helpless in the most literal sense of the word, and without Court intervention, the MDOC will default to the same feckless approach to crises that has become the norm at Parchman," the filing says.

Read more here.

By Justin Bey

New York expands drive-thru testing

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the state will open drive-thru coronavirus testing facilities in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Staten Island and Rockland County. A Nassau County drive-thru will open Tuesday, days after the first such facility opened in the state, in New Rochelle. 

"Drive-through mobile testing facilities help keep people who are sick or at risk of having contracted coronavirus out of healthcare facilities where they could infect other people," Cuomo said in a press release.

"These facilities are a critical part of the Governor's nation-leading program to test thousands of people per day for COVID-19 by this week."

As of Tuesday, there were more than 1,300 coronavirus cases across 18 counties in New York, according to the governor. Twelve people have died.

"My message to New Yorkers is this: Be a little bit more sensitive, understand the stress, understand the fear, be a little bit more loving, a little bit more compassionate, a little bit more comforting, a little bit more cooperative," Cuomo said. "We are going to get through it and we are going to get through it together."

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Marriott "adjusting global operations" amid "significant drops in demand"

Marriott, the world's biggest hotel company, said in a statement Tuesday it is "experiencing significant drops in demand at properties globally" and is "adjusting global operations accordingly which has meant either reduction in hours or a temporary leave for many of our associates at our properties."

"Our associates will keep their health benefits during this difficult period and continue to be eligible for company- paid free short-term disability that provides income protection should they get sick," it said. 

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Johns Hopkins expert: "In some respects we are just getting started in the United States"

Dr. Caitlin Rivers, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Tuesday in a live webcast about the coronavirus pandemic that "in some respects we are just getting started in the United States."

She said preventative practices, such as social distancing and frequent hand washing, are key to stopping the spread of the virus — but will take time.

"We need to do things and not expect results tomorrow," Rivers said. 

Rivers said social distancing will greatly help "flatten the curve," by distributing the number of coronavirus cases over a longer period of time so hospitals do not become overwhelmed. To accomplish this, Rivers said people should be "encouraged and enabled" to stay home.

"Social distancing really does work," she said.

By Audrey McNamara

Trump administration considering "sending checks to Americans immediately," Mnuchin says

President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced Tuesday they're working on a "big" and "bold" legislative package to address the coronavirus crisis. That includes "looking at sending checks to Americans immediately," Mnuchin said.

He said the goal would be to get checks to Americans in two weeks to help workers cope with the economic effects of the crisis. President Trump wouldn't say exactly how much those checks might be — Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney have suggested $1,000 per adult

"We're going big," the president said.

Mnuchin announced that Americans who owe a payment to the IRS can defer up to $1 million per individual, and up to $10 million per corporation.

Read more here.


Mall of America is closing

Mall of America is closing its doors starting Tuesday at 5 p.m. through "at least" March 31. "These are unprecedented times that require unprecedented actions," it said in a statement.

"We must act responsibly and do our part to help slow the spread of this disease (COVID-19) that is impacting the world," it said.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

All of France is now under a nationwide coronavirus lockdown

France went under national lockdown Tuesday as the country scrambles to halt the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The government has issued forms that anyone who wants to venture outside must carry with them. It details the only valid reasons to leave your home: to go to work if there is no way to work from home; to buy essentials like food; for medical appointments; emergency family needs; or for brief, solitary exercise.

Anyone in the nation of roughly 67 million people caught flouting the restrictions could be fined up to 135 euros ($150).

Lockdown imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contagion started at midday in France
French Gendarmes patrol to enforce lockdown measures amid a coronavirus outbreak near a supermaket in Mortagne-du-Nord, as a lockdown imposed to slow the rate of the disease takes effect across France, March 17, 2020. Reuters

All morning, people rushed to finish last-minute errands before the noon deadline. Tens of thousands of Parisians crammed into trains and buses — ignoring recommendations to stay three feet away from other people — or joined traffic jams on the roads in a bid to get out of the capital city before the restrictions came into effect.

By Elaine Cobbe

Millions in California ordered to shelter in place

Millions of people in California woke up to a new normal on Tuesday: They've been ordered to shelter in place for the next three weeks over the coronavirus outbreak. 

Shelter in place orders have been issued for seven counties – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Cruz, which are home to about 7 million people.

The orders say "Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both."  

Sgt. Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department said they expect most people to stay home over the next three weeks, but that deputies will step in if people are blatantly ignoring the restrictions, which are some of the most stringent in the country.

"It's really unprecedented times. We've never dealt with anything like this in most of our lifetimes," Kelly said, CBS SF Bay Area reported.

By Tucker Reals

Prince Harry and Meghan reportedly taking "measures" after possible virus exposure

Britain's Prince Harry and wife Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are reportedly taking "appropriate measures" after possible exposure to the new coronavirus. 

Britain's Guardian newspaper said Harry hugged Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton during one of the prince's final public events in Britain on March 6, before he and Meghan moved to Canada. Two days before that, Hamilton was at another public event in London with actor Idris Elba and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie. Both Mrs. Trudeau and Elba have since confirmed positive tests for the COVID-19 disease. 

Trudeau said she had suffered only mild symptoms after leaving London. Elba confirmed his diagnosis in a video posted Monday to Twitter, but said he was asymptomatic.

Buckingham Palace did not immediately reply to CBS News' request for comment on Harry and Meghan's circumstances.  

Meanwhile, the palace confirmed Tuesday that Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, was rearranging her schedule to minimize public encounters and would soon move from Buckingham Palace in central London to her other primary residence, Windsor Castle, about an hour out of the capital, as the U.K. wrestles a fast-growing coronavirus epidemic. 

By Tucker Reals

New York reports two more COVID-19 deaths

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that his state has now recorded 12 deaths from the new coronavirus, raising the toll by two from the previous day.

The additional deaths in New York bring the national tally to at least 93.

Most of the cases in the state have been linked to a cluster in the quarantined New York City suburb of New Rochelle, north of Manhattan. 

By Tucker Reals

North Carolina closing all restaurants and bars but allowing take-out orders

North Carolina's governor has ordered all restaurants and bars to close for dine-in services, joining a growing list of states and cities taking efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus beyond federal government measures.

A statement posted to his Twitter account said Governor Roy Cooper had signed an executive order mandating the closure of dining areas, and also expanding unemployment benefits "to help North Carolina workers affected by COVID-19."

New York, Ohio, California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington state have also ordered bars and restaurants to stop serving dine-in guests.

As of Tuesday morning, North Carolina had at least 37 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus but had not reported any deaths from the virus.

By Tucker Reals

U.S. markets whipsaw after biggest rout since 1987

Stocks whipsawed on Tuesday as investors anticipate a federal stimulus package that could offset some of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Investors were unsettled after Monday's rout — Wall Street's worst day since the epic "Black Monday" crash in 1987.

The Dow bounced around in slightly positive and negative territory shortly after markets opened, trading up 15 points to 20,203 a half hour into the session. The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.2% and tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.6%.

Stocks have plunged during the past three weeks as the pandemic spreads across the U.S. On Monday, the Dow plummeted almost 13%, a bigger percentage loss than any other except for the 22.6% plunge on October 19, 1987. The selloff came despite the Federal Reserve's emergency action this weekend to cut interest rates to near zero.

By Aimee Picchi

Indiana confirms 2nd coronavirus death

The Indiana State Department of Health said Tuesday that a second person had died in the state from the new coronavirus. 

The patient was over 60 and had been hospitalized, according to a statement released by the state health agency.  

The health department said there were 30 people diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease in Indiana as of Tuesday. 

The death confirmed Tuesday in Indiana brought the number of fatalities from the new virus across the U.S. to 91. 

By Tucker Reals

Penguins at a Chicago aquarium get a coronavirus "field trip"

Penguins at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium went on a small "field trip" to explore the building after it closed its doors to visitors amid coronavirus fears. The aquarium shared videos of a group of rockhopper penguins taking a walk inside the facility and visiting the other animals. 

One video shows Wellington the penguin particularly excited to see the fish in the Amazon exhibit — and those fish "also seemed interested in their unusual visitor," the aquarium said in the tweet.

Penguins wander empty Chicago aquarium during coronavirus closure 01:12
By Natacha Larnaud

U.S. Nurses battling coronavirus forced to reuse masks amid shortages

As hospitals across the U.S. brace for a surge in patients, health care workers say the protective measures taken over the next few weeks will be critical. CBS News' Carter Evans says some government leaders are worried the pandemic could stretch hospitals to their breaking point while medical equipment shortages threaten to put doctors, nurses and patients at risk.

"Nurses are being asked to actually reuse masks, including surgical masks, which provide no protection," Executive Director of National Nurses United Bonnie Castillo said.

Health experts worry coronavirus could strain hospitals to breaking point 02:47

She told CBS News that one of the group's main concerns is a shortage of N-95 masks, which filter out 95% of airborne particles. Last week, the CDC posted new guidelines saying health care workers could use looser-fitting surgical masks as "an acceptable alternative."

Castillo predicted that health care workers will continue to get sick as they treat coronavirus patients, "and as more get sick and have exposure, we get sidelined, and then who's there to take care of the patients?"  


McDonald's closes all seated dining areas, goes take-out and delivery only

McDonald's is closing its seated dining areas and will shift to take-out, delivery and drive-thru orders as it seeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

The dining rooms closed as of the end of business on Monday, McDonald's said in a statement. It also closed all of its playgrounds, and its self-service drink kiosks and bars are now off-limits, it added. McDonald's said its franchisees, who operate most of the chain's roughly 14,000 U.S. locations, support the closures. 

McDonald's said its decision was guided by local and national health authorities and that it is also complying with local and state restaurant restrictions. 

By Tucker Reals

Congress and the White House planning billions more dollars for virus response

Lawmakers and the White House are scrambling to respond to the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak as members of both parties express a heightened urgency to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up the economy.

The Senate on Tuesday will begin considering a relief bill passed in the House last week, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed a "phase three" stimulus package worth $750 billion to respond to the crisis.

"We will need big, bold, urgent federal action to deal with this crisis," Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday, calling for "uncommon speed" to address an unprecedented challenge. His proposal would address hospital capacity, increase Medicaid funding and provide loan payment forbearance for federal loans.

Trump administration officials have also expressed the need for an additional package to respond to the outbreak, on top of the initial $8.3 billion response bill passed earlier this month and the House legislation approved early Saturday.

By Tucker Reals

Outgoing acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in self-quarantine

Outgoing acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is under voluntary self-quarantine in his home state of South Carolina after his niece had contact with one of the Brazilian officials who tested positive for coronavirus, a senior White House source confirms. Mulvaney has tested negative, but is protectively awaiting the results of his niece, who lives in Mulvaney's Washington, D.C., residence.

Mulvaney's niece interacted with the Brazilian president's press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, more than a week ago in Florida. President Trump hosted the Brazilians at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The Associated Press first reported Mulvaney's self-quarantine.

"Mulvaney had contact with someone whose test results are pending, so out of an abundance of caution due to his proximity to the President, he's teleworking pending those results," said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who is also being cautious and working from home. 

By Fin Gómez

Texas confirms 1st coronavirus death

The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed the first death of state resident with the new COVID-19 disease. An email from the agency said the patient was a man in his 90s who had been hospitalized. 

The department was "investigating the source of the infection and determining who the patient came into contact with while he was sick so any close contacts can be isolated, monitored for symptoms and tested, as needed," according to the statement released early Tuesday.

CBS News' tally of U.S. deaths attributed to the virus, at 90 nationwide, includes the Texas fatality.

"We are deeply saddened today to learn that a fellow Texan has died from COVID-19," Governor Greg Abbott said.  

By Tucker Reals

How the coronavirus outbreak has changed the U.S. presidential campaign

The elbow bump has replaced the handshake. "Hand sanitizer" and "soap" are considered debate night buzzwords. Rallies and town halls are held exclusively online. Field organizers are working from home. And "I wash my hands" is a CDC-friendly campaign slogan.

Welcome to the art of campaigning in the age of the Coronavirus.

The global pandemic comes as the presidential primary process is still underway, changing the very nature of traditional "hand to hand" campaigning and offering a rare, real-time and multilayered test for a would-be commander-in-chief. Click here to read the full story.

By Caitlin Huey-Burns

Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson leave Australian hospital after COVID diagnoses

Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have been released from the Australian hospital where they were in isolation since testing positive for the coronavirus last week, their son Chet said.

"A quick update on my folks: They're out of the hospital," Chet said in an Instagram video.

"They're still self-quarantined obviously, but they're feeling a lot better, so that's a relief," he said.

The multiple Oscar-winning actor was on the Gold Coast near Brisbane to film an Elvis Presley biopic directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann when he and Wilson, both 63, came down with the disease.

Wilson, a singer-songwriter, had given concerts in Sydney and Brisbane before testing positive for COVID-19 and Australian authorities have been tracking the couple's contacts to identify any other people who may have been infected. 



U.S. families struggling with coronavirus school closures

As millions of students across the country stay home because of the coronavirus pandemic, families are struggling to adjust. School closures in 37 states affect more than 37 million kindergartners through 12th graders.

Some households lack the technology needed for online learning. In New York City, where more than a million students go to public schools, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said some 300,000 kids don't have electronic devices or internet access at home.

Families face challenges with online learning during coronavirus crisis 03:03

Another major concern in New York City is making sure students don't go hungry. More than 70% live in poverty, so free breakfast and lunch is being offered at all public schools.

In Miami, Mary Williams was racing to find child care for the rest of the week, and beyond. Click here for CBS News correspondent Meg Oliver's full report on how families are coping.


Iran reports major jump in virus deaths, issues stark warning to citizens

The number of coronavirus deaths and confirmed infections in Iran jumped suddenly on Tuesday. A spokesman for the health ministry said 135 more deaths were recorded over the last 24 hours, amounting to a 13% spike in the toll.

State-run television quoted ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur as saying the total death toll in the country stood at 988, with 16,169 confirmed infections. There has been widespread suspicion among global health experts — and Iranian citizens — that the Islamic cleric-led regime has either grossly under-reported, or under-diagnosed the COVID-19 disease in the country.  

A member of Iranian Border Guards wears a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the new coronavirus, inside the Shalamcha Border Crossing, after Iraq shut a border crossing to travellers between Iraq and Iran
A member of Iranian Border Guards wears a protective face mask amid an outbreak of the new coronavirus, inside the Shalamcha Border Crossing, after Iraq shut a border crossing to travelers between Iraq and Iran, March 8, 2020. Reuters

The dramatic uptick in the figures brought the most drastic warning so far from Iranian state TV, which warned the country's inhabitants the outbreak could kill "millions" in the Islamic Republic if they continue 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.   


By Tucker Reals

Coronavirus has thrown the Kentucky Derby off track

The Kentucky Derby is being postponed from May to September because of growing concern about the coronavirus pandemic, according to numerous sources. CBS Louisville affiliate WLKY-TV cites multiple sources as saying Churchill Downs will put off the Derby from May 2 to September 5, marking the first time in 75 years that it won't be run on the first Saturday in May.

A formal announcement was to be made Tuesday.

The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported that unidentified sources close to the race told it the derby wouldn't be run until September 5.



Virus outbreak forces Texas to delay murderer's execution

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus prompted the top Texas criminal appeals court on Monday to stay for 60 days the scheduled execution of a man condemned for killing his family. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected all grounds of John William Hummel's appeal but said it would postpone the scheduled Wednesday execution "in light of the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to address the execution."

Hummel, 44, was convicted in 2011 of capital murder in the December 2009 fatal stabbing of his pregnant wife, Joy Hummel, 45, and fatal bludgeoning of his father-in-law, Clyde Bedford, 57, with a baseball bat.

-Associated Press


Grassroots groups pop up across U.K. to help the vulnerable weather virus lockdown

Neighborhood groups are forming across the United Kingdom to coordinate and provide grassroots support for those most vulnerable amid a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak. The government has urged everyone to stay home, and those deemed to be at the highest risk will soon be told to do so for months.

The groups of concerned citizens have sprung up in dozens of cities across the country and at least 34 neighborhoods in London. Neighborhood by neighborhood — sometimes even street by street — they are organizing volunteers to slip leaflets under doors that list contact information for local volunteers who can help with picking up groceries, or just having a chat with someone feeling lonely.

"It's really quite reassuring for people to have a piece of paper. Even though they may not need us now, they may need us in the future," Emma O'Dwyer, a member of one group in South London, told CBS News.

By Haley Ott

Stocks look poised for big bounce off Wall Street's dark day

Asian markets fluctuated Tuesday after Wall Street suffered its worst day in more than three decades with coronavirus panic sweeping the planet.

But futures prices of U.S. stocks were solidly higher, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures gaining 800 points, or almost 4%, as of 3:45 a.m. EDT and S&P 500 futures also up nearly 4%.

While governments and central banks attempt to soothe markets with massive stimulus pledges and interest rate cuts, more countries are going into lockdown to prevent the outbreak's spread - bringing the world economy sputtering to a near-halt.


By Tucker Reals

Ohio governor orders polling locations not to open for primary due to virus fears

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Monday night polls will be closed Tuesday to prevent in-person voting for the state's scheduled Democratic presidential primary. The governor made the announcement after a judge denied his request to postpone the primary.

"Health Director Dr. Amy Acton will order the polls closed as a health emergency," DeWine said in a statement. "While the polls will be closed tomorrow, 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."

Prior to the announcement, a judge on Monday evening denied the Ohio governor's request for a temporary restraining order to move the state's primary election from Tuesday to early June. Judge Richard Frye said postponing the primary would set a "terrible precedent."  

— Rebecca Kaplan, Eleanor Watson, Jason Silverstein 


Cruise ships stranded as coronavirus containment measures increase

New measures to seal off borders to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus have left cruise ships stranded in the Caribbean, South America and Europe, with local governments denying permission to disembark as more cases of infected passengers have come to light.

Two cruise ships have been turned away from several Caribbean ports, and at least one by Spain, after passengers fell ill with COVID-19. Two other vessels have rerouted to Miami after they were turned away from their home port in Puerto Rico even with no reports of infections. 

Authorities in Chile and Brazil, meanwhile, have also placed smaller ships on quarantine after reports of positive coronavirus tests. The Cruise Lines Association said that about 40 ships and 90,000 passengers were at sea when President Trump announced a travel ban last week that affects the arrival of many foreigners into the U.S.

- Associated Press


How Americans are responding to new restrictions on public life

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced a coordinated social life shutdown on Monday. More than 30 million people will be without access to theaters, and restaurants and bars will only be open for takeout and delivery. Watch Mola Lenghi's report on how the new rules are impacting residents. 

Surgeon General warns U.S. to take coronavirus crisis seriously 02:59
By Victoria Albert
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