WASHINGTON — Key updates:
- California governor issues statewide order for people to stay at home.
- Trump calls off June G-7 meeting at Camp David over coronavirus concerns.
- U.S. Department of State issues level 4 international travel advisory: Do Not Travel.
- The Canadian government says the Canada-U.S. border will be closed to all non-essential travel in both directions.
- Italy's death toll due to the new coronavirus has surpassed China's.
- 10-11% of people tested for COVID-19 in the U.S. report positive results, meaning 90% of illnesses tested in the U.S. are not cases of the new virus. Half of U.S. cases come from just 10 counties in three states.
- The China epicenter of the new coronavirus reported no new cases in 24 hours since the start of the outbreak, however eight deaths were reported in the area.
- The Federal Reserve says it will establish an emergency lending facility to help unclog a short-term credit market that has been disrupted by the viral outbreak.
- The Olympic flame is set to arrive in Japan from Greece today. Some have called for the games to be delayed due to the pandemic.
Mexico, U.S. discussing travel restrictions
Mexico's Foreign Relations Minister says he has held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about travel restrictions at the border "that won't paralyze economic activity, and leave the border open to commerce and workers."
Marcelo Ebrard said Thursday he would give more details tomorrow.
Pompeo wrote in his Twitter account that he and Ebrard “have been working closely on travel restrictions that balance protecting our citizens from further transmission of #COVID19. Together, we can reduce public health risks and prioritize essential cross-border commerce and trade.”
California governor issues statewide order for people to stay at home
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has put the nation's most populous state on a stay-at-home order.
It expands to nearly 40 million people restrictions he said already applied to about half the state.
He said late Thursday that the statewide restriction on any non-essential movement outside the home is needed to control the spread of the coronavirus that threatens to overwhelm the state's medical system.
He earlier in the day issued the dire prediction that 56% of California's population could contract the virus over the next eight weeks.
Two players for Los Angeles Lakers test positive
The Los Angeles Lakers announced two players tested positive for the coronavirus.
"Both players are currently asymptomatic, in quarantine and under the care of the team’s physician," a statement posted on Twitter said. "All players and members of the Lakers staff are being asked to continue to observe self-quarantine and shelter at home guidelines, closely monitor their health, consult with their personal physicians and maintain constant communication with the team."
The announcement was made after four Brooklyn Nets players testing positive for COVID-19. Lakers players were exposed to the other players during a game on March 10.
The total number of known coronavirus cases within the NBA doubled to 14 on Thursday
Trump calls off June G-7 meeting at Camp David
President Donald Trump has called off the June meeting of G-7 nations at Camp David due to the coronavirus pandemic. The world leaders are expected to meet via videoconference.
Pennsylvania orders all non-life-sustaining businesses to close
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says Thursday that all non-life-sustaining businesses must close, a directive which will be enforced.
Wolf is tightening his directives to businesses to shut down, issuing a dire warning and saying that all “non-life-sustaining” businesses in Pennsylvania must close their physical locations by 8 p.m. to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Enforcement actions against businesses that do not close their physical locations will begin Saturday, Wolf said in a statement. Under his order, more than 150 types of businesses will have to close their physical locations. He said his order would be enforced by state troopers, local officials, the state Health and Agriculture departments and the Liquor Control Board.
Allowed to stay open are gas stations, grocery stores, beer distributors, drugstores and building materials stores.
“I had hoped for voluntary compliance so our public safety official could focus on assisting with the crisis," Wolf said in a video statement. "Unfortunately we have not seen full compliance. We have no time to lose.”
McConnell plan: $1,200 per person, $2,400 per couple
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's coronavirus aid plan has been unveiled, including direct payments of more than $1,000 a person.
The Kentucky Republican's plan features direct payments of $1,200 per person and $2,400 per couple amid the virus outbreak.
Congress is working urgently to fashion a $1 trillion measure to prop up households and the U.S. economy amid the outbreak. Keeping paychecks flowing for idled workers as jobless claims skyrocket is a top priority for both the Republican and Democratic plans.
COVID hits NFL: Saints coach reportedly tests positive
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, the potentially deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
ESPN reporter Adam Schefter reported Thursday that Payton told the network that he had tested positive for the disease. He'd be the first person in the NFL known to have tested positive.
Wall Street regains some lost ground
Stocks are closing with solid gains on Wall Street Thursday after shaking off a rocky start. The trading was still bumpy but nothing like the wild swings seen in recent weeks. The Dow Jones industrials gained almost 200 points, or 1%.
Investors were cautiously optimistic after seeing more steps by the Federal Reserve and other central banks as well as governments to support credit markets and the economy. Still, the devastating impact of the coronavirus outbreak is starting to show itself in economic data. The price of crude oil rebounded sharply after plummeting a day earlier.
Cannes Film Fest postponed, potentially to summer
France's Cannes Film Festival, arguably the world’s most prestigious film festival and cinema’s largest annual gathering, has postponed its 73rd edition.
Organizers of the French Riviera festival, scheduled to take place May 12 to 23, say they are considering moving the festival to the end of June or the beginning of July. Cannes organizers had been extremely reluctant to cancel.
U.S. Department of State issues Global Level 4 Health Advisory: Do Not Travel
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.
In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States are asked to arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.
The Department of state said many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.
If someone chooses to travel internationally, the Department of State said travel plans may be severely disrupted, and some may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.
President Trump holds a press conference with FEMA
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are speaking with governors across the state from FEMA's headquarters.
Actor, director Daniel Dae Kim tests positive for COVID-19
The actor, director and producer Daniel Dae Kim, known for his role on Hawaii Five-O, tested positive for the virus. He tweeted the news and said, "Ready for a fight? I am. "
US seeks $3 billion to boost oil producers as prices plunge
The Trump administration is seeking $3 billion from Congress to top up the country’s strategic petroleum reserves, potentially propping up U.S. oil producers after crude prices crashed globally.
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette denied Thursday the move was about propping up prices for U.S. oil giants. Brouillette says it makes sense to fill up the national petroleum supplies at a time of cheap oil.
Oil producers Russia and Saudi Arabia have stepped up pumping, threatening the market share of U.S. oil. Congress has to approve the money for the purchases. The administration must overcome opposition from some Democratic lawmakers.
Sacramento County, California issues mandatory shelter in place order
Beginning at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, March 19, 2020, Sacramento County will be under a mandatory shelter in place order.
US-Canada border to close late Friday to non-essential trips
The Canadian government says the Canada-U.S. border will be closed to all non-essential travel in both directions on Friday night.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it will take "weeks to months" for social-distancing measures in his country to be lifted.
Both the U.S. and Canada have been in talks in recent days to negotiate a mutual halt to tourism and family visits but leaving the flow of trade intact.
Canada relies on the U.S. for 75% of its exports and about 18% of American exports go to Canada. Much of Canada’s food supply comes from or via the U.S.
Italy passes China in coronavirus-related deaths
Italy has become the country with the most coronavirus-related deaths, surpassing China by registering 3,405 dead.
Italy reached the gruesome milestone on the same day the epicenter of the pandemic, Wuhan, China, recorded no new infections. Overall, China on Thursday counted 3,249 dead, 156 fewer than Italy, according to the Johns Hopkins University virus map.
Both Italy’s death toll and its new infections shot up again, adding 427 more dead and 5,322 more infections. Overall, Italy has recorded 41,035 infections, more than half of the world’s positive cases.
Italy’s health care system has been overwhelmed by the virus, and on Thursday a visiting Chinese Red Cross team criticized the failure of Italians to fully quarantine and take the national lockdown seriously.
Surgeon General urges healthy individuals to donate blood
Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams says healthy individuals should consider donating blood, saying "social distancing doesn't have to mean social disengagement."
"Give blood today," he said at the Thursday White House coronavirus task force press conference. "You'll feel good about it. You'll be helping your community during this crisis, and you might even save a life."
Trump: FDA will fast track anti-viral treatments for coronavirus patients
President Trump says the FDA will be fast-tracking anti-viral treatments for coronavirus.
Trump and FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn described several approaches under testing, such as chloroquine, a drug long used to treat malaria; remdesivir, an experimental antiviral that's being tried in at least five separate experiments, and possibly antibodies culled from the blood of COVID-19 patients after they recover. But no new and imminent treatment was announced.
Chloroquine is widely available now and could be used off-label, but Hahn said officials want a formal study to get good information on safety and effectiveness.
"We're looking at drugs that are already approved for other indications" as a potential bridge or stopgap until studies are completed on other drugs under investigation, Hahn said.
Mnuchin: Family of 4 could get $3K under virus relief plan
The first federal checks to families could be $3,000 for a family of four under the White House proposal to unleash $1 trillion for the coronavirus outbreak. That's according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
He said Thursday the checks would be direct deposited into people’s accounts. The payments would be $1,000 per adult and $500 per child, Mnuchin told Fox Business Network.
Congress is racing to complete the Trump administration's $1 trillion plan to stabilize a national economy. Late Wednesday, Trump signed into law a $100 billion-plus bill to boost testing for the virus and guarantee paid sick leave for millions of workers hit by it.
Monaco's Prince Albert II tests positive for COVID-19
The palace of Monaco says Prince Albert II has tested positive for the coronavirus, but says there’s little concern for his health.
In a statement, the palace says the 62-year-old is being treated by doctors from the Princess Grace Hospital, named after his U.S. actress mother.
Albert plans to continue working from his home office in the palace.
99% of Italy's coronavirus fatalities were from people with previous medical conditions
A study from Italy's health authority found that 99% of Italy's coronavirus fatalities came from people who had previous medical conditions.
Italy's death rate is about 8% of total infected people, higher than any other country, according to Bloomberg.
The study found that of those who died from coronavirus 75% had high blood pressure, 35% had diabetes and 33% suffered from heart disease. The average age of those who died from the virus was 79.5.
8 Utah colleges postpone, cancel graduation ceremonies
All of the public colleges and universities in Utah have either canceled or postponed its graduation ceremonies as the coronavirus pandemic spreads and there are increasing restrictions on large gatherings, officials said.
Each of the eight schools have already closed their campuses across the state and moved classes online for the semester to avoid spreading the illness.
The Utah System of Higher Education made the announcement Wednesday. “It’s gut-wrenching,” department spokeswoman Melanie Heath said. “But it’s something that we feel is responsible to do.”
Old Navy closes stores
Old Navy has announced it will close all stores starting Thursday in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Returns for items bought between Jan 1 and March 31 have been extended to July 1.
The closures affect all Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, athleta and Hill City stores. Customers can still order items online. There will be no in-store pickup options while stores are closed.
Unemployment claims jump by 70,000
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits surged last week by 70,000, indicating that the impact of the coronavirus was starting to be felt in rising layoffs in the job market.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for benefits, a good proxy for layoffs, rose by 70,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000 last week.
Greece orders hotels to shut down
The government of Greece is ordering hotels to shut as part of measures to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.
The Tourism Ministry says hotels normally open year-round will shut down at midnight on the night of March 22 until the end of April to protect the health of staff.
One hotel per regional capital is allowed to remain open, along with three hotels in Athens and the country's second largest city of Thessaloniki, in northern Greece.
Flame arrival faces calls for Tokyo Olympics be delayed
The Olympic flame is set to arrive in Japan from Greece even as the opening of the Tokyo Games is in doubt.
The coronavirus outbreak forced a bare-bones version of the usual elaborate ceremony in the stadium where the first modern Olympics were staged in 1896.
The 80,000-seat marble stadium was empty apart from a handful of officials and participants. The Japanese delegation was absent because of travel restrictions and Tokyo organizing committee head Yoshiro Mori delivered a speech by video from Japan. But his message was upbeat.
Mori says “I hereby pledge that on 24 July this flame will be lit at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.”
Greek Olympic committee president Spyros Kapralos handed over the flame to a Japanese Unicef official in Athens and former Olympic swimmer Naoko Imoto. It was then headed for the airport to board the flight for Japan.
More voices are calling for the games to be postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The flame will touch down Friday in northern Japan aboard a white aircraft painted with the inscription “Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay” along its side.
Everything about the arrival ceremony at the Matsushima air base will be subdued. The flame will stay in northern Japan for almost a week until the torch relay begins officially on March 26 from northern Fukushima prefecture.
Wuhan reports no new cases of virus infection
China's health ministry says the virus epicenter of Wuhan and its surrounding Hubei province have reported no new cases.
The ministry said Thursday that results over the past 24 hours showed 34 new cases, all detected in people arriving from abroad.
Eight new deaths were reported, all in Wuhan.
Wuhan at the peak reported thousands of new cases of coronavirus infection daily, overwhelming its health care system.
Of those new cases of infection, 21 were in Beijing, nine in the southern manufacturing powerhouse of Guangdong, two in Shanghai and one each in coastal Zhejiang and Heilongjing in the far northeast.
China has only just begun loosening draconian travel restrictions within the country, but has stepped-up 14-day quarantine regulations on those arriving in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere from overseas, amid expectations of a new influx of students and others returning home.
China has now recorded a total of 80,928 confirmed virus cases with 3,245 deaths. Another 70,420 people have been released from hospital and 7,263 remain in treatment.
Russia says woman died from blood clot, not coronavirus
Russian health officials say a woman in Russia reported to have died of the coronavirus actually died from a blood clot. Officials cited the results of the autopsy.
The statement brought Russia's official coronavirus death tally back to zero.
The 79-year-old woman was hospitalized last week and diagnosed with the virus. She was also suffering from multiple chronic conditions, including hypertension and heart disease. Pneumonia caused by the coronavirus was initially reported as the cause of death.
Russia has so far reported 199 cases of the virus and nine recoveries. Many in the country estimate the number is much higher, with infections going undetected as testing for the virus is not widespread.
New York futures flat, European shares open higher after further slide in Asia
Shares have opened higher in Europe after another day of mostly moderate losses in Asia.
Germany's DAX rose 2.4% and shares were also higher in London and Paris early Thursday.
New York futures were flat. But Japan's benchmark failed to hold onto early gains and South Korea's Kospi sank 7%
Fears of a prolonged recession due to the coronavirus crisis are prompting investors to shift to cash, pushing prices of most assets lower. The Dow lost more than 1,300 points, or 6.3%, on Wednesday. Oil prices rebounded after a 24% loss a day earlier, with U.S. crude gaining nearly 14%.
Southeastern Grocers modifies hours, donates meals
Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of BI-LO, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, has announced it will designate special hours for senior citizens to shop. It joins a growing list of grocery store companies to do so.
The company also announced it would donate $250,000 to Feeding America and begin hiring people who have been affected by the virus.
Federal Reserve launches 3rd emergency lending program
The Federal Reserve says it will establish an emergency lending facility to help unclog a short-term credit market that has been disrupted by the viral outbreak.
The Fed said late Wednesday that it will lend money to banks that purchase financial assets from money market funds, including short-term IOUs known as commercial paper.
By facilitating the purchase of commercial paper, which is issued by large businesses and banks, the Fed hopes to spur more lending to firms that are seeking to raise cash as their revenues plummet amid the spread of the coronavirus.
Africa sees 'extremely rapid evolution' of pandemic, UN says
More African countries have closed their borders as the coronavirus’ local spread threatens to turn the continent of 1.3 billion people into an alarming new front for the pandemic. The World Health Organization's regional chief is noting an “extremely rapid evolution" in Africa. More than 34 countries have confirmed cases, a leap from just a week ago. Some people in other countries are clamoring for their governments to block flights, too. One Kenyan taxi driver says he now refuses to take passengers to the international airport in the capital.
Saudi Arabia to slash spending by 5% as oil prices fall
Saudi Arabia says the government will cut spending by 5%, or about $13.3 billion, to offset the impact of plunging oil prices and the effects of the coronavirus on its economic outlook.
The kingdom relies heavily on government spending to fuel its economy and pay the salaries of most Saudi citizens who work in the public sector. Saudi Arabia is seeking to diversify its economy away from reliance on oil for revenue, but it continues to rely on higher oil prices to balance its budget. Oil has plummeted to lows of around $26 a barrel.
Mexico, Jamaica report first virus deaths
Mexico’s health department confirmed the country’s first death from the new coronavirus.
The department wrote on Twitter late Wednesday that the person began showing symptoms on March 9 and had diabetes. It provided no more details about how, where or from whom the person became infected.
Mexico has 118 confirmed cases of infection and officials expect the numbers to rapidly increase in the coming weeks.
In Jamaica, authorities the country recorded its first death.
The island’s health ministry says a 79-year-old man who suffered from diabetes and hypertension died Wednesday in a hospital in the capital of Kingston while being transferred from a hospital in western Jamaica. The man, who had recently returned to Jamaica from New York, visited the hospital on March 16, and was immediately isolated.
Jamaica had 15 confirmed cases of the virus and was awaiting results for six more people. There were 105 people in quarantine.
Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand limit travel to country due to coronavirus
The Dutch government is limiting entry to the country for 30 days from Thursday evening in its latest effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The entry ban covers all non-essential travel into the country for visitors from outside the European Union, the United Kingdom and countries that are part of Europe’s passport-free travel zone known as Schengen.
Exceptions also will be made for travelers with residence permits for the Netherlands and people in “vital” occupations such as health workers.
As of Wednesday, the Netherlands had recorded 58 coronavirus deaths in the outbreak and 2,051 positive tests.
Australia is also banning incoming passengers who are not citizens, permanent residents or direct family members of residents.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday the change will take effect at 9 p.m. AEDT (10:00 GMT).
Morrison says 80% or cases of the new coronavirus detected in Australia have been infected overseas or by direct contact with someone who had been infected overseas. Overseas arrivals are currently expected to self-isolate for 14 days.
New Zealand also is closing its border to people who aren't citizens or residents from Friday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had become increasingly concerned that visitors to New Zealand have not been properly isolating themselves for 14 days as required. There are a few exceptions, including children and partners of residents.
2 cruise ships not allowed to disembark in Honolulu
Two cruise ships that were turned away by other ports are headed to Honolulu, but passengers won't be allowed to disembark.
Officials say there are no cases of coronavirus on either vessel. It was previously planned that passengers would disembark in Honolulu. Officials now say the ships will only refuel and resupply and then continue on to another destination.
Holland America Line's Maasdam is scheduled to arrive Friday. The Norwegian Jewel is scheduled to arrive Sunday. New measures to seal borders to reduce the spread of coronavirus have left some cruise ships stranded.