WASHINGTON — Key updates:

  • President Trump has signed a second coronavirus response bill.
  • The New York Stock Exchange will move to fully electronic trading on Monday.
  • JP Morgan Chase will close 20% of its branches.
  • A study in the journal Pediatrics finds that a percentage of young children with COVID-19 can develop very serious symptoms.
  • The epicenter of Wuhan, China, and its surrounding Hubei province have reported no new cases.
  • The first known members of Congress, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Ben McAdams of Utah, have tested positive.
  • Two hundred at a Wisconsin hospital were being tested for the new coronavirus after a doctor there was diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • The confirmed cases of the new coronavirus have topped 200,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • The U.S. and Canada have agreed to close their border to "non-essential traffic."
  • Trump is reportedly considering a plan to turn back all people who cross the border illegally from Mexico.
  • California's governor says school may not reopen this spring. Kansas' governor announced the closure of all K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year.
  • Leaders of the world's top economies were working to conduct a virtual meeting to plan a coordinated response.

Tucker Carlson says he felt obligation to meet with Trump on virus

Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson says he felt a moral obligation to meet with President Donald Trump to warn him about the seriousness of coronavirus. He told Vanity Fair that while he didn't feel it was his role, his wife convinced him to request the meeting, which took place March 7. Two nights later, Carlson issued a blunt warning on Fox about the coming pandemic. 

It speaks to both Fox News' influence with the president and his supporters that a cable news host was able to request and receive a meeting with him. 

Tucker Carlson Advertisers AP 031219
FILE - In this March 2, 2017, file photo, Tucker Carlson, host of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio in New York. Some advertisers say they are leaving conservative host Carlson's show following his remarks referring to immigrants as “the world’s poor.” It’s the latest example of sponsors leaving a Fox News Channel show after controversy, but experts say the flap is likely to blow over. So far, the biggest advertisers are sticking with him and his show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
AP

Avenatti cites coronavirus threat in seeking jail release

Michael Avenatti wants out of a New York federal lockup. He told a California judge Wednesday that a recent bout with pneumonia and filthy Manhattan jail conditions make him vulnerable to the coronavirus. 

Avenatti's lawyer, H. Dean Steward, wrote in a submission in Los Angeles federal court that Avenatti had pneumonia six months ago. He also says the client who gained fame representing porn star Stormy Daniels had a cellmate recently with flu-like symptoms. 

Avenatti awaits sentencing in June after he was convicted of trying to extort $25 million from sportswear giant Nike. He also faces criminal trials in New York next month and Los Angeles in May. 

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Wuhan reports no new cases of 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.

Utah congressman tests positive

A second member of Congress has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Democrat U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah tweeted on Wednesday that he's self-quarantined since first feeling symptoms, but has learned he contracted COVID-19. Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida is the first Congress member known with the new virus.

McAdams said he was told of his positive test Wednesday after returning home from Washington, D.C. days before.

Trump signs relief package 

President Donald Trump has signed a second coronavirus relief package, while Congress eyes a larger economic stimulus.

The Senate had overwhelmingly passed the measure to provide sick leave to workers who contract COVID-19. It'll also make diagnostic tests for the virus free.

The Pentagon's role in responding to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States is rapidly expanding, with the likely deployment of Navy hospital ships and Army field hospitals.

But the military faces limits. Its health care system is geared more toward handling combat casualties than infectious diseases. And there are logistical and legal concerns about expanding the military’s role in civilian affairs, such as tasking it with enforcing quarantines.

Alabama delays March 31 GOP Senate runoff to July 14


Alabama is postponing its Republican U.S. Senate runoff between former Trump administration Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville because of the coronavirus. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday that the March 31 runoff is being rescheduled to July 14 because it's too risky for voters to go to the polls and stand in line right now. The winner will face Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones in November.  

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Trump dubs COVID-19 'Chinese virus' despite hate crime risks

President Donald Trump says it's not racist to call COVID-19 the “Chinese virus" to emphasize where the pandemic started. Yet ever since infections started appearing in the United States, Asian Americans have shared stories of minor aggression to blatant attacks from people blaming them for the virus that has swept the world. 

Trump says he's just being accurate and thinks Asian Americans would agree that the virus started in China. 

John Yang, with the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice, says the remark amounts to racial stereotyping. He says Asians are not genetically prone to transmit the virus and says nicknames like “kung-flu” are not funny.  

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First congress member tests positive for COVID-19

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The Florida representative tweeted on Wednesday claiming he was positive for the virus. He decided to self-quarantine in Washington D.C. after votes on Friday, March 13. In the tweet, the congress member said he started to show symptoms, like a fever and headache, on Saturday.

"I'm feeling much better.  However, it's important that everyone take this seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick & mitigate the spread of this virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times," he said.

The congress member has been working remotely from his Washington D.C. apartment.

Senate passes second coronavirus response bill

The Senate has overwhelmingly passed a second coronavirus response bill and is sending it to President Donald Trump to enact with his signature.

The vote was a lopsided 90-8 despite misgivings among many Republicans over a temporary new employer mandate to provide sick leave to workers who contract COVID-19. The measure is also aimed at making diagnostic tests for the virus-free.

Trump announced he'll invoke emergency powers to marshal critical medical supplies against a pandemic threatening to overwhelm hospitals and other treatment centers. Trump took a series of extraordinary steps to steady the country. Congress is considering his broad economic rescue package.  

New York Stock Exchange moving to fully electronic trading

Starting Monday, the New York Stock Exchange trading floors will be temporarily closed, and it will move to fully electronic trading. 

Additionally, FOX Business reports a member of the trading floor and a New York Stock Exchange employee have both tested positive for coronavirus.

National Park Service suspends park entrance fees

The National Park Service is temporarily suspending all park entrance fees until further notice.

“I’ve directed the National Park Service to waive entrance fees at parks that remain open. This small step makes it a little easier for the American public to enjoy the outdoors in our incredible National Parks,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. 

Many facilities in the parks have closed to follow public health guidance, but outdoor spaces remain open.

Click here to find which parks are still open.

JPMorgan Chase to close branches in wake of coronavirus pandemic

The bank said Wednesday it will close 20% of its branches and also plans to reduce staffing in remaining locations as the country works rapidly to battle community spread of the virus. As CNBC reports the bank told employees Wednesday, “this will help us protect our employees as we provide essential services to our customers and the communities we serve.”

JP Morgan is the first of the U.S. megabanks, and the biggest in the U.S. based on assets, CNBC reported

U.S. Census Bureau suspends field operations

U.S. Census Bureau announces it is suspending all field operations until early April because of coronavirus concerns.

As of Wednesday morning, more than eleven million households have responded to the census.

"The Census Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone going through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions," U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said.

Everyone is encouraged to respond to the census online.

Big three U.S. automakers closing

Detroit's automakers General Motors and Ford Motor Company will shut down all their factories to protect workers. On a day of head-spinning developments, stocks tumbled again on Wall Street.

The Associated Press said two people briefed on the matter say Fiat Chrysler will close too.

The United Auto Workers union has been uring the companies to close their doors over concerns surrounding the new virus.

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“GM and the UAW have always put the health and safety of the people entering GM plants first, and we have agreed to a systematic, orderly suspension of production to aid in fighting COVID-19/coronavirus,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We have been taking extraordinary precautions around the world to keep our plant environments safe and recent developments in North America make it clear this is the right thing to do now. I appreciate the teamwork of UAW President Rory Gamble, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes and local leadership as we take this unprecedented step.”

Ford said its plants will close after Thursday evening shifts, through March 30, while GM will begin a “systematic orderly suspension” of production through at least March 30. Operations will be evaluated weekly after that.

200 are being tested for new coronavirus at Wisconsin hospital, report

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that 200 patients and healthcare workers at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin are being screened for SARS-CoV-2 after a doctor at the hospital contracted COVID-19. 

According to the report, the doctor worked with children who have severely compromised immune systems. 

Study finds very young children can become seriously ill by new coronavirus 

A New York Times report citing the journal Pediatrics, says that though children account for the smallest percentage of infections, a portion of them could experience very strong symptoms. 

About half in the study of 2,000 children in China had mild symptoms, but about 6 percent developed a very serious illness with dire respirator problems. Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia (who was not involved in the study, but quoted in the New York Times) said, “effectively, what this tells us is that hospitals should prepare for some pediatric patients because we can’t rule out children altogether.” 

Shilu Tong, the study’s senior author, believes that because young children have rapidly developing respiratory systems, they are more susceptible to infection, the Times reported.

US suspends all foreclosures, evictions until May

President Donald Trump says the Department Housing and Urban Development is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.

Trump will invoke Defense Production Act in response to coronavirus pandemic

President Donald Trump has announced that he's invoking a federal provision that allows the government to marshal the private sector in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump appeared in the White House briefing room Wednesday for the third day in a row. He said he would sign the Defense Production Act “in case we need it" as the government bolsters resources for an expected surge in cases of the virus. 

US, Canada agree to close border to 'non-essential traffic'

The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel.

President Donald Trump made that announcement Wednesday on Twitter as the two nations work to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump says the decision will not affect the flow of trade between the countries.

Trump writes that "We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic."

Worldwide cases of new coronavirus top 200,000

Johns Hopkins University says the total number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus worldwide has surpassed 200,000.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering's online tally showed 201,436 cumulative cases by 6:13 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, with 82,032 listed as recovered.

It also recorded 8,006 deaths. The countries with the most confirmed cases were China, Italy, Iran, Spain and Germany. The countries with the most confirmed deaths were China, Italy, Iran, Spain and France. 

The majority of people who have the new coronavirus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, will get better without any long-term effects, according to an Oregon doctor.

 About 80% of cases tend to be mild. In these cases, symptoms diminish over five to seven days, although people are still capable of transmitting the disease. But there are many people with a higher risk of having a more severe disease if they are diagnosed with coronavirus, including those with heart disease, diabetes, asthma and other vascular disease problems. Also, most children who get it have mild symptoms.

Navy hospital ship headed to New York City

A 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship will deploy to New York City to relieve pressure on hospitals treating people with COVID-19.

The ship would accept non-coronavirus patients. The news came Wednesday as New York City-area hospitals are clearing out beds, setting up new spaces to triage patients and urging people with mild symptoms to consult health professionals by phone or video chat instead of flooding emergency rooms.

Those moves come in anticipation of a huge spike in coronavirus patients. Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that demand for hospital beds could soon outstrip capacity by tens of thousands as the outbreak surges. Virus cases in the state topped 2,300 Wednesday, with at least 20 deaths.

Honda to temporarily halt production at all auto plants for six days

Honda said it will suspend production at all of its automobile plants amid the coronavirus pandemic for several days and employees will still be paid during that time. 

"As the market impact of the fast-changing COVID-19 situation evolves, Honda will continue to evaluate conditions and make additional adjustments as necessary," the company said in a statement.

Trump asks lawmakers for $46B more to battle coronavirus

President Donald Trump has sent lawmakers a $46 billion emergency funding request to help the government fight the coronavirus.

It reverses cuts proposed just last month to the Centers for Disease Control, the front-line agency in fighting the battle. The request, delivered overnight Wednesday, would deliver more than $20 billion for the military and for veterans health care.

It would fund production of vaccines and treatments, bail out Amtrak for $500 million in revenue losses, and build 13 quarantine centers along the southern border to care for migrants in the U.S. illegally. The request is sure to get quick approval from Congress.

UN: Pandemic could cause 25 million job losses

The U.N.’s International Labor Organization estimates that fallout from the new coronavirus outbreak could cause nearly 25 million job losses and drain up to $3.4 trillion worth of income by the end of this year.

The Geneva-based agency said “an internationally coordinated policy response” could help mitigate such losses through worker protections, fiscal stimulus, and support for jobs and wages,

ILO laid out a number of scenarios on the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, estimating an increase in worldwide unemployment of between 5.3 million and 24.7 million people. That’s on top of the estimated 188 million that the agency had predicted late last year in its annual forecast.

The agency noted the global financial crisis boosted global unemployment by 22 million people.

“Falls in employment also mean large income losses for workers,” ILO said as it presented its preliminary assessment.

Eurovision Song Contest is latest virus victim

The Eurovision Song Contest has been canceled, becoming the latest victim of the coronavirus epidemic.

The 65th edition of the annual celebration of pop and often-trashy glamor was due to be held in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, with the grand final being held May 16.

The European Broadcasting Union said Wednesday organizers had explored “many alternative options” to allow the contest to go ahead. But it said uncertainty created by the spread of COVID-19 and restrictions put in place by many governments had made it “impossible to continue with the live event as planned.”

It said the European Broadcasting Union, the city of Rotterdam and others “will continue a conversation regarding the hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021.”

Europe has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

IKEA shuttering US stores for the time being amid virus outbreak

IKEA announced Wednesday it will temporarily close US stores to the public starting March 18. Shoppers will still be able to order via IKEA-USA.com. In a statement on the company's website the retailer writes, "unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. This is the most responsible way IKEA can continue to care for our co-workers and our customers."

IKEA employs at least 18,000 people and while the company wasn't specific about pay during store closures it writes, "IKEA will continue to support co-workers through its comprehensive benefits package and paid leave policy."

White House postpones Spain state visit, cites coronavirus

The White House is postponing an upcoming state visit by Spain's King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The visit had been announced for April 21 and was to include a lavish, black-tie state dinner hosted by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham cited the coronavirus in announcing the postponement on Wednesday.

Spain is currently on lockdown as it struggles to contain the spread of the virus. In the U.S., Trump has asked Americans to hunker down for about two weeks in an effort to slow the spread.  

Iran reports another spike in coronavirus with 147 deaths

Iran says the new coronavirus has killed 147 more people, a nearly 15% spike that raises the death toll to 1,135 people amid 17,361 infections in the country.

That is the biggest 24-hour rise in deaths yet recorded by Iran's Health Ministry since the virus first appeared in Iran in mid-February. The deputy health minister gave the figures at a televised news conference on Wednesday.

The death toll’s continued sharp increase worries experts that the outbreak in the Islamic Republic is far from being contained. Meanwhile, Friday will mark the Persian New Year, Nowruz, raising fears of people traveling and further spreading the virus.

Russia canceling school for 3 weeks

Russian authorities are closing all of the country's schools for three weeks starting next Monday.

Russian education officials said Wednesday it would be an extended spring break with the opportunity to continue studies remotely.

Russia has so far reported 114 confirmed cases of the new virus. The country's government has taken vast measures to prevent the disease from spreading, including closing the borders to foreigners starting from Wednesday and ordering coronavirus testing for everyone who returned from European countries in the last 14 days.

World's top economic leaders plan to meet

The leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies are trying to organize a virtual meeting next week to discuss a coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Arabia, which currently leads the G-20 presidency, said it is communicating with countries to convene the virtual meeting of leaders.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has come under criticism by some officials around the world, including members of the U.S. Congress, over its moves to ramp up oil production to more than 11 million barrels a day after an agreement with major oil producer Russia fell apart. The Saudi decision to flood the market sent oil prices plummeting below $30 a barrel at a time when markets around the world are also plunging.

South Korean city sees possible spike

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.

Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin said Wednesday that 74 of the cases came from a single hospital and that the 57 patients who were infected would be transferred to other facilities for treatment.

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.

Israeli government warns of fatalities as virus numbers rise


Israel's health ministry has diagnosed 90 more cases of the new coronavirus, bringing the country's number of positive cases to 427 and sparking fears of a further outbreak. This comes a day after authorities issued a new series of guidelines that put the country in near-shutdown mode.

Israel has had no fatalities but with 15 patients in moderate to serious conditions and the number of those infected exponentially rising in recent days.

Kyrgyzstan confirms first cases

Kyrgyzstan has reported its first three cases of the new coronavirus.

Kyrgyz health officials said Wednesday that the three men diagnosed with the virus returned from Saudi Arabia recently.

The infected men, along with 90 people who arrived in Kyrgyzstan on the same flight, are in isolation. Kyrgyz authorities are working to establish who else the men were in contact with.

California governor: Most schools won't reopen this spring

California's governor says few if any of the state's schools will reopen before summer break.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday provided a stark assessment of the spreading coronavirus that threatens to overwhelm hospitals and drain the state’s spending reserves. 

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced on Tuesday the closure of all K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year. She is calling her state's education department to come up with an education plan for students during this time.

Trump mulls sending all who cross border illegally to Mexico


The Trump administration is considering a plan to turn back all people who cross the border illegally from Mexico because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Two administration officials told the Associated Press Tuesday that the president has the power to take such action during a pandemic like the coronavirus outbreak but is still considering whether to do so. 

An advocacy group says “the administration is using the pandemic as a pretext to advance its long-term goal of curtailing asylum rights for people fleeing persecution.” 

Nevada governor shutters gambling, dining to halt virus

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered a monthlong closure of casinos and other non-essential businesses like bars, movie theaters and gyms, to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

He's also telling restaurants to close their dining rooms and only offer takeout or delivery.

First NHL player tests positive

An unidentified NHL player has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The Ottawa Senators announced late Tuesday night one of their players has tested positive for COVID-19, has mild symptoms and is in isolation.

Ottawa is notifying those who came in contact with the player and have told other members of the team to monitor their health and seek advice from the medical staff.

Hawaii urges travelers to postpone vacations

Hawaii's governor is encouraging travelers to postpone their island vacations for at least the next 30 days as the state tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The governor is directing bars and clubs to close and for restaurants to focus on takeout, delivery and drive-through service. He called for gatherings to be limited to a maximum of 10 people.

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