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Live updates on the coronavirus pandemic

Live updates on the coronavirus pandemic

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President Trump has tested negative for the virus, according to his physician, after days of his apparent reluctance to get tested.
Spain announced a nationwide lockdown as France moved to close all nonessential businesses — including cafes, restaurants and movie theaters — in the latest testament to the coronavirus pandemic’s profound impact on daily life around the globe.
Upheaval continued in the United States, as well, on Saturday as Georgia followed Louisiana’s lead in delaying its presidential primary and three states reported their first coronavirus-related deaths. The United States will be banning travel from the United Kingdom and Ireland beginning Monday at midnight, officials said.
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Here are some other significant developments:

  • A surge in coronavirus patients is threatening to swamp U.S. hospitals, as Oregon, Virginia, Louisiana and New York all reported their first coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday.
  • Ten U.S. service members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, along with one Defense Department civilian and two contractors, military officials said.
  • Coronavirus cases in Italy rose by roughly 20 percent Saturday, as the already hard-hit country saw its biggest daily increase yet.
  • Maria Begoña Gómez, the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, has tested positive for covid-19.
  • President Trump said his administration was considering domestic travel restrictions for some hot spots.
  • The United States’ new travel rules for Britain and the U.K. bring the total number of U.S. travel-restricted countries in Europe to 28.

  • Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter | Mapping the spread of the coronavirus | What you need to know about the virus | Post Reports: Your questions about coronavirus, answered 
    7:27 AM: Britain asks its manufacturers to produce ventilators, plans to isolate elderly
    Britain is requesting factories to switch their production lines to make ventilators to plug the gap as coronavirus cases rise.
    The country only has 5,000 ventilators, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News, adding that Britain needs “many more times that.”
    He said the government is working to train more people in the National Health Service to operate them.
    “Right across the world, the demand for them is incredibly high so it is not possible to produce too many,” he said. “Anyone who can should turn their production and engineering minds over to the production of ventilators.”
    Asked about reports that Britons over the age of 70 will be asked to self-isolate for up to four months, Hancock said that is part of the Britain’s “action plan” and the policy could be put in place “in the coming weeks.”
    “We absolutely appreciate this is a very big ask of the elderly and vulnerable,” he said.
    7:07 AM: Iran adds more than 1,200 cases as health system approaches breaking point 
    Iran said Sunday that the country’s coronavirus death toll had reached 724 as a leading official suggested that the country’s health system was reaching its breaking point.
    “In the past 24 hours, 1,209 new cases have been confirmed … with 113 deaths in the past 24 hours, the death toll has reached 724,” Alireza Vahabzadeh, an adviser to Iran’s health minister, tweeted.
    Iran is battling one of the world’s worst outbreaks outside of China, with nearly 13,000 confirmed cases. “If the trend continues, there will not be enough capacity,” warned Ali Reza Zali, the Iranian official leading the country’s covid-19 response, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.
    The extent of the transmission has also sent ripples of fear through neighboring Iraq, which shares a long and porous border with Iran. Its health system is chronically underfunded, and would be ill-equipped to cope in the event of a mass outbreak.
    Iraq has recorded 110 cases and nine deaths but the full extent of the contagion remains unclear. Testing is not widespread. Doctors say that patients have been scared to self-report symptoms, and in many cases, have preferred to stay home.
    On Sunday, authorities in the city of Karbala ordered citizens to go into lockdown, a measure also called for in the cities of Basra and Nasiriyah, as well as in the country’s Kurdish region. “A curfew will be imposed in the governorate for a period of three days, starting from 7 a.m. tomorrow,” said Karbala’s governor, Nassif Al-Khatabi, in a statement. The lock down would give authorities the chance to sterilize public places, he said.
    By Louisa Loveluck
    6:49 AM: Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque shuttered over coronavirus concerns 
    JERUSALEM — The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, has been closed to worshippers over coronavirus concerns, representatives of the Waqf, the Islamic religious trust that manages the site, said Sunday.
    Known as the Haram al-Sharif, the raised esplanade is often a flashpoint of violence in Jerusalem as the area is also considered the holiest place for Jews. The Israeli authorities, who are responsible for securing the location under a decades-old agreement with Jordan, had, in recent days, discussed shutting the compound entirely as emergency measures to combat the spread of covid-19 are ramped up.
    Churches, synagogues and mosques in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have been closed as a precaution against the disease. In some places, the Muslim call to prayer now includes an order for worshippers to stay home and pray.
    Two weeks ago, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority put into place restrictions on large gatherings, but this past Friday the mosque still drew upward of 5,000 worshippers, even as the prayer service was limited to 10 minutes.
    On Sunday, after the gates to the compound were briefly shuttered, the Waqf announced its decision to close the mosque and the Dome of the Rock for the foreseeable future. Omar Kiswani, the mosque’s director, said that until further notice, prayers would be permitted in the outside forecourt only. The area would be cleaned and those arriving would be required to spread out, wash their hands and wear masks, he said.
    Sufian Taha contributed to this report.
    6:07 AM: Sanders campaign plans a ‘virtual rally’
    Campaign officials for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday updated supporters on their plans to try to win voters remotely during the coronavirus crisis, announcing a “virtual rally” for Monday night.
    “We’ve been thinking about how to handle this,” said Misty Rebik, the national director of organizing and field for the campaign. She said the event would take place Monday night at 7 p.m. ET and that further details would be announced later.
    The spread of the virus has forced the Sanders campaign to find new ways to reach voters at a moment when large in-person events are no longer feasible. The campaign announced Thursday that it had asked staff to work from home and would no longer hold large events or campaign door-to-door.
    Rebik joined other campaign officials on a national volunteer call that was also broadcast on YouTube. She encouraged supporters to tune in to to Sunday night’s debate between Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden and said the campaign would be hosting an online pre-program featuring surrogates.
    By Sean Sullivan
    5:45 PM: China drastically tightens quarantine measures at airport as fears mount over imported cases
    BEIJING — Chinese officials drastically tightened restrictions on travelers arriving in the Chinese capital on Sunday as fears mounted that the country where the outbreak first emerged could see a renewed uptick in imported cases.
    All inbound travelers to Beijing will be sent to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government-run exhibition hall at their own cost, according to senior Beijing official Chen Bei. The city also said it would reject state medical insurance payouts for returning citizens’ virus tests and hospital stays as a way to dissuade overseas Chinese from repatriating.
    The steadily tightening restrictions over inbound visitors came at a time when Chinese officials are increasingly sounding the alarm about travelers bringing the disease back to China, which has seen a steep drop in domestic transmission.
    Of the 20 new cases national authorities announced on Saturday, four were reported in Hubei while the remaining 16 were travelers arriving from abroad. Other than Hubei, no other Chinese mainland provinces reported new, organic transmissions on Saturday.
    Just two weeks ago, Beijing officials allowed many travelers arriving from abroad to avoid quarantine measures imposed on domestic travelers. But now, the tables have turned.
    As the virus spreads around the world and chaotic scenes overtake Western cities, tickets prices to China have skyrocketed as its citizens rush back home. Beijing Capital International Airport said it was banning private jets from landing because so many Chinese elite had booked emergency return trips. Videos on social media showed the airport’s baggage conveyers overloaded. Beijing officials also closed the city’s brand new Daxing airport and rerouted all flights to Beijing Capital to help funnel passengers directly into the quarantine center, which is several miles away in northeast Beijing’s suburbs.
    The rise of imported cases is a concern for countries beyond China. Taiwan announced on Sunday its biggest single-day jump in cases — six people who all came from abroad.
    Taiwan, which now has 59 cases, said the six had been in Spain, Japan, Greece, Turkey, Thailand and Egypt before arriving on the island.
    By Gerry Shih
    5:35 AM: South Korea declares southeast outbreak epicenter ‘disaster zone’
    SEOUL — South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared the southeastern part of the country — the epicenter of its coronavirus outbreak — “special disaster zones” on Sunday, making the city of Daegu and the surrounding North Gyeongsang Province eligible for emergency subsidies from the government and tax benefits.
    Of the 76 new cases South Korea reported Sunday, 45 were in this southeastern region. Still, Sunday’s tally marked the first time the number of new cases had dropped below triple digits in three weeks.
    This is the first time for the government in Seoul to declare any area a disaster zone because of an infectious disease.
    South Korea has reported a downward trend in new cases over the past days, showing signs that Asia’s second-worst outbreak after China could be stabilizing.
    On Sunday, 120 coronavirus patients recovered and were released from quarantine, bringing up the national tally of the recovery to 834 according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a meeting in Seoul on Sunday that declaring the disaster zone is “the beginning of repairing the damage.”
    By Min Joo Kim
    5:02 AM: Netanyahu’s trial postponed as Israel increases coronavirus emergency measures
    JERUSALEM — The corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ordered postponed on Sunday after the Israeli government increased emergency measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
    Indicted by the attorney general last November, Netanyahu and his team of lawyers were set to face the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday morning. A statement from the courts said the new date for his trial would be May 24.
    Netanyahu faces allegations that he and his wife, Sara, accepted more than $260,000 worth of luxury goods in exchange for political favors and that he interceded with regulators and lawmakers on behalf of two media companies in exchange for positive news coverage.
    The long-serving prime minister has criticized the prosecution as a politically motivated “coup” to oust him from office. In January, he briefly considered requesting immunity from prosecution but later announced that he would stand trial and clear his name.
    On Saturday, however, Netanyahu and Health Ministry officials announced a new round of virus-related restrictions, shuttering all leisure activities and banning gatherings of more than 10 people as the number of confirmed covid-19 cases hovered close to 200. There have been no deaths in Israel.
    Hours later, Netanyahu-appointed Justice Minister Amir Ohana released a statement saying that the state of emergency would be extended to court activities, with the exception of emergency hearings.
    Alongside the continuing pandemic, Israel is stuck in ongoing political deadlock after an unprecedented third election produced no clear victor. On Sunday, some opposition leaders criticized the decision to postpone Netanyahu’s proceedings, suggesting it was an attempt by the prime minister to avoid his trial.
    By Ruth Eglash
    4:44 PM: Dubai-bound flight in India offloads passengers after coronavirus patient boards
    Nearly 300 passengers from a Dubai-bound Emirates flight had to deplane in Kochi, India, after a British national on board tested positive for the coronavirus, India’s NDTV reported. 
    The man was part of a group of 19 passenger who were vacationing in the southwestern resort town of Munnar.
    He allegedly left a hotel where he was under quarantine without telling authorities and was intercepted at the airport by health officials after his test results came in, NDTV reported.
    First, the airport offloaded all the members of his group, then decided to remove the other 270 passengers over concerns they had been exposed to the virus, according to the Hindu newspaper . They were sent to the hospital for medical screening.
    India has reported more than 100 coronavirus infections and at least two deaths.
    By Derek Hawkins
    4:22 AM: Chinese cities are trying to boost their economies with an old trick: giving away cash
    BEIJING — In a prelude to what other governments might attempt in the coming months, some Chinese cities recovering from the coronavirus epidemic are trying to restart their economies with old-fashioned stimulus: they’re giving away free money. 
    Cities including Nanjing and Ningbo this week said they’re offering a total of $55 million in coupons to residents to spend at local hotels, theaters, bookstores, gyms and tourist spots. Officials in Zhejiang province, known for its picturesque river-lined villages, have promised $150 million in travel vouchers. In Suzhou city, one neighborhood deposited about $70 in an online account for every resident.
    To publicize the stimulus this week, Communist Party chiefs in eastern China strolled around parks with news cameras in tow to urge locals to go out and spend. The Nanjing party boss was shown buying rice noodles at stalls near the city’s Confucius Temple and eating at a restaurant.
    Even as China’s factories slowly rev up again, researchers and government officials say the economy’s Achilles’ heel is the consumer sector , which is much more difficult to jump-start because people simply don’t want to leave home.
    Economists warn that the same pattern could unfold across the world as the epidemic spreads, and a debate is unfolding about the merits of different types of stimulus. In the United States, the Small Business Administration is promising loans of up to $2 million to help small businesses such as coffee shops and transportation companies weather the storm until consumers return. President Trump has proposed a payroll tax cut.
    A former top economic adviser in the Obama administration proposed the U.S. government send $1,000 to every American adult.
    After months of political turmoil and the coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong’s government said last month it would give every adult about $1,300 with no strings attached to put a floor under an economy that is forecast to contract for two consecutive years.
    4:17 AM: UAE, Saudi announce stimulus measures to bolster economies battered by coronavirus pandemic
    DUBAI — Two of the Middle East’s largest economies announced stimulus packages over the weekend to cushion businesses battered by the spread of the coronavirus.
    The United Arab Emirates’ put together a $27 billion package late on Saturday with the central bank making the funds available to banks to extend loans to troubled businesses impacted by the virus outbreak.
    The UAE bank regulator said banks were well capitalized and also noted that as of March the state had $110 billion in reserves. The last time the UAE mobilized such a package was after the 2008 financial crash when $27 billion was pumped into the economy.
    Saudi Arabia has said it will make $13 billion available, also for loans to struggling companies. The stimulus packages also come as the oil-dependent economies in the region are battered by the recent plunge in oil prices.
    The weekend also saw countries in the region intensify their measures to stem the spread of the virus by discouraging public mingling. Kuwait shut down malls and entertainment centers and encouraged people to pray at home.
    In the UAE, where previously there was little sign of public measures to deal with the outbreak, the government closed cinemas, cultural attractions such as the Louvre museum, parks and beaches in the capital Abu Dhabi. The measures are expected to continue for the next two weeks.
    In the commercial center of Dubai, all “entertainment destinations” have been ordered to suspend operations and hotels have been asked to postpone large gatherings, including wedding celebrations. Cinemas have not been officially closed, but all online bookings have been suspended.
    While, flights continue from Dubai airport, one of the busiest in the world, the UAE will no longer issue visas from March 17 onward. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has suspended all international flights for the next two weeks.
    While the UAE only has 85 confirmed cases of the virus so far and Saudi Arabia just 103, the two countries are just across the Persian Gulf from Iran where a major outbreak is underway with more than 12,000 cases and 1,400 deaths.
    By Paul Schemm
    3:33 AM: Japan see record rise in coronavirus cases, but people venturing back onto the streets
    YOKOHAMA, Japan — Japan announced 63 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Sunday, its highest daily rise since the outbreak began, even as people began venturing back outside on a sunny day.
    Health Ministry data compiled by public broadcaster NHK showed the total number of cases reached 773 on Saturday, not including 696 people who contracted the virus on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
    One more person died, bringing the death toll to 22 from Japan’s domestic caseload and seven from the cruise ship, while a total 46 people remain in serious condition, NHK reported.
    On Friday, Japan’s parliament passed a law giving government the power to declare a state of emergency in response to the epidemic, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Saturday there was no immediate need to take such a step.
    “I intend to be very cautious in reaching a decision on what constitutes an emergency,” he said, although he added the situation was changing “by the minute.”
    Although the number of infected people is still increasing, he said Japan had avoided a sudden rise as some other countries have experienced.
    Japan’s government has been expanding its capacity to test people for the virus after intense criticism early on in the epidemic over a shortage of tests.
    It now says it can test over 6,000 people a day, but is still carrying out fewer than 1,500 tests a day on average. In total it has tested over 25,000 people.
    With the sun shining on Sunday, people were back outside, and the Motomachi shopping street in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, was busy.
    By Simon Denyer
    2:37 AM: Australia announces 14 day self-isolation for all visitors
    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Sunday that for the next 30 days, all visitors to the country must isolate themselves for two weeks to impede the spread of the coronavirus epidemic hitting the world. 
    The announcement was part of a raft of measures the Cabinet announced to combat the virus which began in China but has since exploded around the world with major concentrations in Europe. Morrison also said that gatherings of more than 500 people sitting close together would be banned.
    “This is very important, what we’ve seen in recent weeks, is more countries having issues with the virus and that means the source of some of those transmissions are coming from more and more countries,” he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald .
    Cruise ships from foreign ports will also be banned. The measures mimic those taken by New Zealand on Saturday.
    The move will essentially end tourism to Australia, an important part of the economy, for the foreseeable future.
    He added that cabinet members would be increasingly meeting through video conferencing and politicians would be cutting back on travel.
    Schools, however, remain open, though officials have said that might change soon.
    Australia has reported 250 cases of the virus with three deaths.
    2:10 AM: Over 400 Filipinos repatriated from the Oakland-docked Grand Princess
    MANILA — Over 400 Filipinos were repatriated from the Grand Princess, the coronavirus-hit cruise ship docked in Oakland, Philippine officials announced on Sunday. 
    The repatriates, 438 crew members and six passengers, boarded a Saturday night flight from San Francisco and are expected to land in Clark Airport north of Manila. They will spend two weeks in quarantine at a former Southeast Asian Games facility that previously housed over 400 repatriates from the Diamond Princess ship — another coronavirus-affected cruise ship that was docked in Japan.
    On the Grand Princess, 13 Filipinos were found to have covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and are being treated in health facilities in the United States. All those sent back to the Philippines were cleared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
    Officials said that 91 Filipinos volunteered to stay on board to maintain the ship’s minimum operations.
    Both the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess are under Carnival Cruise Line’s Princess Cruises, which canceled all trips for its 18 vessels for the next two months.
    Filipino maritime workers are among the most affected as the pandemic takes its toll on the cruise industry. There were over 500 Filipinos on the crew of the Diamond Princess, around 80 of whom tested positive for the coronavirus.
    The rest were repatriated but two of those later tested positive, adding to the Philippines’ mounting number of cases, which surpassed 100 on Saturday.
    By Regine Cabato
    1:33 AM: Hubei Province begins to stir after seven-week lockdown
    BEIJING – Hubei province is reopening for business. 
    Tongcheng City, one of the virus-stricken province’s major jurisdictions, is chartering buses to shuttle migrant workers from China’s east coast back to work Saturday as officials in Hubei look to restart the local economy. Other local counties are helping coordinate transportation by train to get their scattered workers back, according to state media in Hubei.
    At least 132 long-distance bus lines traveling within the province are also beginning to reopen, as are taxi services in a number of Hubei cities, provincial officials say.
    The province is a major manufacturing hub with a significant auto industry. Honda and Nissan both said they expected to restart production this week at their Hubei factories.
    Hubei, with population of more than 55 million, was the first region to be cordoned off in late January after the coronavirus outbreak exploded in the provincial capital, Wuhan. Public transportation was shut down and practically the entire population has been sealed at home for weeks.
    The province has been by far the hardest hit region in the world with nearly 70,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths.
    In their daily bulletins, national officials have reported the rate of new infections dropping steeply to just a handful every day. Many provinces have been reporting no new cases and Hubei itself has seen daily infections slow to a single-digit trickle.
    On Saturday, China’s National Health Commission counted 20 new cases, including four in Hubei. The remaining 16 were travelers arriving in China from abroad, the officials said.
    By Gerry Shih
    12:39 AM: Japanese man tests positive for virus again — two weeks after apparent recovery
    TOKYO — A Japanese man who apparently recovered from the coronavirus two weeks ago has again fallen ill and tested positive, public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday.
    The man, who is in his 70s, first tested positive for the virus on Feb. 14 while on board the quarantined cruise ship, the Diamond Princess.
    He recovered and was discharged from a medical facility in Tokyo on March 2, NHK reported. It has been standard practice in Japanese hospitals to demand at least two negative tests before releasing patients.
    He then returned to his home in Mie prefecture in central Japan by public transport.
    But he came down with a fever of 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit) on Thursday, NHK reported. He went to hospital on Friday, took a test and was shown to have the virus on Saturday.
    By Simon Denyer
    12:14 AM: New health screenings cause hours-long delays at U.S. airports
     Liz Hoyer, a 46-year-old teacher in Texas, was waiting anxiously across the country Saturday night as her parents — both in their 70s — waded through the thick crowd at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
    President Trump had announced a ban on travel from most of Europe while the couple was still in the air on their way to Germany. They booked the earliest flight they could back to O’Hare, one of the only U.S. airports still accepting European flights.
    Now they were caught up in the hours-long waits at airports around the country hit by the Trump administration’s new screening requirements for people returning from much of the continent. The president announced the new rules — which kicked in Friday at midnight — as a dramatic new measure to combat the coronavirus pandemic, but Hoyer worried that the clogged situation at O’Hare is only making the spread of the virus more likely.
    There’s no getting away from the other people — and the risk of infection, she said.
    “The last thing Mom texted me, a few minutes ago,” she said, “was that they were safer in Germany than they are in this crowd.”
    Trump’s Wednesday night announcement about the travel ban quickly sent European airports into chaos, even as officials clarified that it was far narrower than the president initially suggested. American citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families would still be allowed to fly home.
    On Saturday, social media filled with scenes of chaos at the 13 U.S. airports where authorities say all Americans flying home from Europe are now being routed. Photos captured clogged hallways and standing-room-only lines as airports apologized for the delays, attributing them to new screening measures.
    People returning from Europe face “enhanced entry screening” with questions about their medical history, current condition and contact information to be given to local health authorities, according a Department of Homeland Security statement. Then, returnees can head to their final destination and quarantine at home.
    11:37 PM: Hoboken announces night curfew, restrictions on bars and restaurants
    Hoboken Mayor Ravinder S. Bhalla on Saturday announced a citywide curfew to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, one of the first such curfews ordered in the United States since the outbreak began.
    The curfew will be in effect nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Monday. During that time, all residents will be required to stay in their homes except for emergencies and required work.
    Additionally, bars and restaurants will no longer be allowed to serve food within their establishments, and bars that only serve alcohol will have to shut down entirely. Food service will be limited to takeout and delivery only.
    Bhalla said in a statement on Twitter that keeping residents off the streets and out of bars overnight would free up emergency workers already stretched thin by the public health crisis.
    “I completely recognize that these measures will result in substantial changes and inconveniences to our daily lives,” Bhalla said. “However, these measures are being taken to save lives and protect our residents.”
    The extraordinary moves came just days after officials reported the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the city of 55,000. Statewide, New Jersey has reported 69 confirmed cases of coronavirus and one death.
    A window is illuminated at Mar-a-Lago during a dinner with President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)© AP Photo/Alex Brandon A window is illuminated at Mar-a-Lago during a dinner with President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    10:45 PM: Three states report their first coronavirus-related deaths Saturday 
    Oregon, Virginia, Louisiana and New York all reported their first coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday, as the toll nationwide approached 60.
    Washington state also announced three more deaths the same day, raising its total to 40.
    The three additional deaths included a woman in her 70s and two men in their 80s, both of whom were residents at Life Care Center of Kirkland, the long-term-care facility that has become the epicenter of the outbreak in Washington.
    In Oregon, a 70-year-old man from Multnomah County died in the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center after testing positive on March 10, according to the Oregon Health Authority. He had underlying conditions and is believed to have been infected through person-to-person contact.
    “While we knew we would arrive at this day at some point, it doesn’t lessen the impact,” health director Patrick Allen said. “Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with the family of this individual who honorably served his country.”
    The Louisiana patient was a 58-year-old Orleans Parish resident with underlying health conditions, the governor’s office said. The state now reports 77 positive tests for the virus, 10 of them just announced.
    “Now more than ever, we must remain vigilant against the spread of this illness by taking care of ourselves and each other, avoiding going into public areas if you are sick, practicing social distancing and washing your hands frequently with soap and water,” Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said in a statement.
    In Virginia, a man in his 70s who lived in the central part of the state died Saturday of respiratory failure, state health officials said.
    “On behalf of the entire Commonwealth, we express our deepest sympathy for the family and loved ones of the patient who died, as well as the families of everyone who has been affected by this outbreak,” state Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver said in a statement. “The health of our residents and the community is our top priority, and we will continue working together to care for the patients, protect the safety of health care workers, and protect the people in our Commonwealth.”
    New York officials first announced that an 82-year-old woman in Manhattan with advanced emphysema who had the coronavirus had died. Later, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) confirmed that a 65-year-old coronavirus patient with “multiple health problems” was the state’s second fatality.
    By: Antonio Olivo, Hannah Knowles, Hannah Natanson and Derek Hawkins
    10:42 PM: Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club to undergo “thorough deep cleaning” after guests test positive for virus
    Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump sitting at a table with a cake: President Trump speaks at a dinner with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left, and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, right, at Mar-a-Lago on March 7 in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)© Alex Brandon/AP President Trump speaks at a dinner with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, left, and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, right, at Mar-a-Lago on March 7 in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club will close its clubhouse, guest rooms and dining areas all day Monday for a “thorough deep cleaning,” the club told members on Saturday evening, following reports that three people who visited the club last weekend have since tested positive for the coronavirus.
    In email to members obtained by The Washington Post club management said that “no one will be permitted to enter the main house all day” on Monday, though the smaller “beach club” would remain open. “Deep cleaning of all other areas will follow in the days to come,” the Mar-a-Lago email said.
    Last weekend, Trump hosted a visiting delegation from Brazil, a birthday party for his son’s girlfriend and two large gatherings of Republican donors. Among the guests were three people -- two Brazilian officials and a guest of a Republican donor -- who have since tested positive.
    Mar-a-Lago’s email to members did not explicitly mention the virus or the positive tests. Club members and party attendees have complained that they’ve been given little guidance about whether they may have been exposed to the virus and, if so, what to do next. The Trump Organization has said it is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    10:13 PM: Google says it’s building a nationwide coronavirus site, but it’s still not what Trump promised
    Google on Saturday said it is building a nationwide informational website that will host coronavirus information, including common symptoms, risk factors and “testing information.”
    The announcement comes a day after President Trump said Google was building a more complicated nationwide triage tool that could schedule people at nearby coronavirus testing sites. But later that day Google contradicted the White House, saying its sister company Verily was creating the tool and that it was actually just a limited pilot program for the San Francisco Bay area.
    “We are fully aligned and continue to work with the US Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, inform citizens, and protect the health of our communities,” said on of Google’s tweets on Saturday announcing the site.
    The new Google site will be separate from the Verily tool. The company did not provide any additional details, like when it would launch or how its information would differ from the special coronavirus results currently shown on related searches.
    By: Heather Kelly
    9:43 PM: Health officials are pushing for social distancing, but Americans just won’t stop going to bars
    As some Americans huddle in their homes and hoard toilet paper, others are taking a quite different approach — stepping out to drink the pandemic away.
    Social media lit up this weekend with accounts from all over the country of people — especially young people — packing into bars. A Twitter user in Baltimore posted around 6 p.m. on Friday that every bar and restaurant on his downtown street was crammed with customers. Another user in Washington, D.C., tweeted later that evening that, while heading out to buy something from the hardware store, he passed several bars — every one of them filled with people.
    “The bars in my neighborhood are all packed with young people,” one New York City resident tweeted around 8 p.m. on Friday. “Do you remember what it’s like to feel invincible?”
    All this directly contradicts the advice of health officials around the globe, who are recommending that people everywhere practice “social distancing” to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. This requires canceling large gatherings, avoiding crowded public transportation and staying inside whenever possible.
    But apparently a chunk of the country isn’t listening. Things got so bad in New York City that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) decided to weigh in midday Saturday. She directed a warning tweet to all residents of the city, but “ESPECIALLY healthy people & people under 40” because “from what I’m observing that’s who needs to hear this again.”
    “PLEASE stop crowding bars, restaurants and public spaces right now,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted to her 6.5 million followers. “Eat your meals at home.”
    The message swiftly garnered 90,000 likes and more than 18,000 retweets — but it clearly escaped the attention of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). About an hour after Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, Cornyn attempted to cheer his constituents by tweeting that Americans should be smart and refrain from panicking. “We will get us through this,” he wrote.
    Accompanying his words was a picture of a glass of Corona Extra — which Cornyn was apparently consuming in a bar.
    By: Hannah Natanson
    9:34 PM: Vatican cancels pope’s Holy Week public appearances
    The Vatican announced Saturday that Pope Francis will hold Holy Week, a series of celebrations in the week leading up to Easter in April, without joining public gatherings as a precaution against the spreading coronavirus.
    “The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household announces that, because of the current global public health emergency, all the Liturgical Celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful,” the Holy See’s Pontifical Household, which oversees the Pope’s schedule, posted online in a statement.
    Christians celebrate Holy Week this year from April 5 to 11. For Catholics, the pope traditionally joins worshipers in a series of Masses and rites culminating in Easter. Eighty-three-year-old Pope Francis had already called off his regular public appearances last week, choosing to stream prayers online for worshipers to reduce crowds.
    The Crux, a Catholic media site, called Saturday’s announcement “an unprecedented move in modern times,” though it noted that it did not yet rule out a public Easter Sunday Mass.
    Authorities ordered Rome’s Catholic Churches to close Thursday until April 3 as part of the country’s lockdown.
    Italy has struggled to contain the coronavirus centered in the country’s north but spreading at startling speed.
    Religious authorities worldwide have grappled with the call to provide solace to community members while also reducing crowds that are fertile ground for the virus.
    By: Miriam Berger
    9:14 PM: Wife of Spain’s prime minister diagnosed with coronavirus
    Maria Begoña Gómez, the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, has tested positive for covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
    The Spanish government announced the result in a statement late Saturday, adding that both Sánchez and his wife are doing well. The couple are staying inside the prime minister’s residence, La Moncloa Palace in Madrid, and following “at every moment” transmission prevention measures recommended by health authorities, government officials said.
    Two ministers of Sánchez’s Cabinet — the minister of regional affairs and the minister of equality — were diagnosed with covid-19 earlier in the week. Both are doing well, government officials said Saturday.
    By: Hannah Natanson 
    8:53 PM: Urban Outfitters closes all stores; Taco Bell will switch to drive-through, delivery amid coronavirus outbreak
    A Stop & Shop store in Port Washington, New York on March 14, 2020. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)© Shannon Stapleton/Reuters A Stop & Shop store in Port Washington, New York on March 14, 2020. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
    Urban Outfitters said it was closing all stores indefinitely on Saturday, and Taco Bell promised to switch its restaurants to drive-through and delivery only as the coronavirus pandemic continued to roil the globe.
    Also on Saturday, Walmart said its stores would stay open only from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., effective immediately — joining scores of firms throughout the United States in altering its business hours to adjust to the influx of shoppers suddenly stocking up on goods.
    “This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing,” Walmart CEO Dacona Smith said in a statement. Previously, many Walmart locations stayed open 24 hours a day.
    Other stores gave similar rationales for shifting routines — including Harris Teeter, which announced Saturday that it will close its doors to customers at 9 p.m. each night for the foreseeable future. The closures will allow store locations to clean and restock, the company tweeted. The North Carolina-based chain, which has stores in the Washington area, had some that were open until midnight, while others were open 24 hours.
    Publix, a Florida-based chain, announced that stores and pharmacies will start closing at 8 p.m. until further notice in an effort to “better serve our customers, give our store teams time to conduct additional preventive sanitation and restock product on our shelves.”
    Publix and Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain by revenue, have also placed limits on certain products, including sanitary items, cleaning supplies, and flu and cold medications.
    Whole Foods announced it was suspending food sampling in its stores and working to expand its ability to deliver groceries free to Amazon Prime members, Yahoo News reported. Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.
    In announcing closures or schedule changes, heads of major companies acknowledged the gravity of their actions but sought to infuse a note of positivity. Smith thanked Walmart’s employees “for your incredible work during this time,” adding, “I know it hasn’t always been easy.”
    Taco Bell CEO Mark King said the popular chain’s mission, “to feed people’s lives with unexpected good,” is now more important than ever. And Urban Outfitters signed off on Twitter with a message for customers: “Take care of yourselves,” the store’s main account posted. It ended the sentence with a heart emoji.
    By: Lateshia Beachum, Katie Mettler and Hannah Natanson
    7:41 PM: President Trump’s coronavirus test came back negative, his physician says
    President Trump’s test for covid-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — came back negative, his physician, Sean Conley, said late Saturday.
    “Last night after an in-depth discussion with the President regarding COVID-19 testing, he elected to proceed,” Conley wrote in a statement. “This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative.”
    Conley said the president remains “symptom-free” a week after he came into contact with several people who later tested positive for the virus at a Mar-a-Lago dinner party.
    By: Hannah Natanson
    7:21 PM: Georgia delays presidential primary over coronavirus
    Georgia on Saturday became the second state to postpone its presidential primary because of the escalating coronavirus pandemic. The primary, originally scheduled for March 24, will instead take place on May 19.
    Officials said the pandemic has made in-person voting risky for voters and poll workers. Georgia’s governor has declared a public health emergency in response to the virus.
    “Events are moving rapidly and my highest priority is protecting the health of our poll workers, their families, and the community at large,” Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, said in a statement.
    State Sen. Nikema Williams, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, echoed in a statement that the “priority is to protect the health and safety of all Georgians and to ensure that as many Georgians as possible have an opportunity to vote.”
    “Continued in-person voting could compromise both goals,” she said.
    The move follows a decision on Friday by election officials in Louisiana to delay its primary from April 4 to June 20. And the Wyoming Democratic Party announced this week that it would do away with the in-person portion of its caucuses, scheduled for April 4, and instead encourage voters to participate by mail, dropping off ballots on March 28 and April 4.
    Early voting for Georgia’s primary began March 2, and nearly 280,000 voters had already participated. Four states have primaries scheduled for Tuesday: Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio. These states announced jointly that their contests would proceed as planned, pointing to guidance from public health officials who have declared voting safe if best practices are followed.
    By: Isaac Stanley-Becker and Hannah Knowles
    6:32 PM: Surge in coronavirus patients threatens to swamp U.S. hospitals
    Hospitals across the United States are erecting triage tents outside emergency rooms, squeezing extra beds into break rooms and physical therapy gyms, and recommending delays in elective surgery to free up capacity as they brace for an anticipated surge in coronavirus patients.
    With stories from Italy about hospitals turning away patients with severe respiratory symptoms, health-care executives say they are doing whatever they can to plug holes in a U.S. system that they acknowledge is not prepared to handle the worst effects of the pandemic.
    Read more here.
    By: Christopher Rowland and Ariana Eunjung Cha
    5:45 PM: 10 U.S. service members test positive for coronavirus, military says
    Ten U.S. service members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, along with one Defense Department civilian and two contractors, military officials said Saturday.
    Eight Defense Department dependents have also tested positive, the officials said, adding that 13 military labs are now able to conduct tests for the virus, including a site at the Pentagon.
    The officials also described far-reaching new domestic travel restrictions to help stop the spread of the virus. The rules, which are due to go into effect Monday, will halt virtually all trips for service members and their families through at least May 11. The move could affect hundreds of thousands of service members, civilian employees and their dependents in the United States and its territories.
    Read more here.
    By: Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan
    5:11 PM: New cases in Italy up by roughly 20 percent, its biggest daily rise in infections
    Coronavirus cases in Italy rose by roughly 20 percent Saturday, as the already hard-hit country saw its biggest daily rise in infections yet.
    Italian health officials reported 3,497 new cases, a little more than half of which came from the northern region of Lombardy, Europe’s most affected area, the Associated Press reported.
    An additional 157 people also died between Friday and Saturday.
    Italy has now reported a total of 21,157 cases, with authorities predicting that the numbers will continue to rise despite a national lockdown in place since March 9.
    By: Miriam Berger
    4:27 PM: Spain announces nationwide lockdown as coronavirus cases surge
    The Spanish government announced a nationwide lockdown on Saturday, ordering the country’s 47 million people to stay in their homes as coronavirus cases surge.
    Residents will be able to leave only to buy essential goods, go to work, medical appointments or to banks, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told the nation in a televised address on Saturday. The restrictions will remain in place for an initial 15 day-period but could be extended.
    Closures of bars, restaurants and hotels, already in place in certain regions, were extended to the entire country.
    “We have only one objective, which is to defeat the coronavirus,” he said. “We are all on the same team.”
    By: Loveday Morris
    4:25 PM: Israel bans gatherings of more than 10 people, will track suspected cases electronically
    JERUSALEM — Israel significantly tightened restrictions on social activity in the country Saturday, barring gatherings of more than 10 people, closing the few preschools and kindergartens that remained open and all but ending “leisure activities” for an indefinite time.
    Restaurants, movie theaters and other gathering places also will close, although “essential” business such as supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and gas stations are to remain open. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking on television as families ended their Sabbath, said the country was determined to take every measure to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
    “We are fighting a war against an invisible enemy. We can defeat the virus, but it requires a new life routine,” Netanyahu said.
    A key component of the expanding response, he said, would be to electronically track those known to have come in contact with someone infected with the virus, using the kind of cellphone and credit card monitoring Israel is known to employ with terrorism suspects.
    Privacy authorities in the country opposed the measure, but Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, responding soon after Netanyahu’s address, said they were legal given Israel’s current state of emergency, according to the English daily Ha’aretz.
    Israel had already shut down schools and universities until at least the middle of April and all but closed its borders. Anyone entering the country must immediately self-quarantine for two weeks. The country has reported 193 cases of coronavirus infection, with no deaths. The adjacent West Bank has reported 38 cases.
    Netanyahu said more restrictions are likely in coming days.
    By: Steve Hendrix
    3:58 PM: UAE suspends much of hospitality and tourism industry
    a group of people standing in front of a building: People walk past the Apple store at a Mall in Dubai on Friday.© Giuseppe Cacace/Afp Via Getty Images People walk past the Apple store at a Mall in Dubai on Friday.
    The United Arab Emirates is known globally for its glitzy airport, extravagant malls and conferences, lucrative business dealings and high-end art, sports and fashion shows. But much of the tourism and hospitality industry that helps drive the natural-gas-rich Persian Gulf state is shutting down, the government announced Saturday, as it rushed to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
    Across the UAE, major tourism and cultural sites — such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum and Ferrari World theme park — will shut down from Sunday to March 31, Reuters reported.
    Dubai, the UAE’s regional business and transit hub, announced Saturday the cancellation of all events for the rest of March and urged hotels to temporarily suspend hosting wedding celebrations, which are generally large affairs. The UAE has yet to cancel all international flights and the country’s leading airliners, Emirates and Etihad, are continuing to fly to Beijing, albeit with extra screenings of passengers. On Saturday, however, the UAE Civil Aviation Authority increased restrictions, and said it would stop flights to Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Turkey beginning Tuesday, on top of a previous ban on Iran, the epicenter of the region’s coronavirus outbreak.
    Nearby Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, in contrast, have suspended all international flights.
    The UAE’s official news agency, WAM, reported Saturday that as of Tuesday, immigration authorities would also temporarily stop issuing visas to foreigners, except for diplomats. The country will honor already issued visas, Reuters reported.
    Like countries worldwide, the UAE has sought to strike a balance between protecting its economy and business activities and taking actions to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. The state’s central bank on Saturday announced a $27 billion economic plan to counteract economic losses incurred by the outbreak.
    By: Miriam Berger
    3:38 PM: France announces closure of all nonessential businesses amid coronavirus outbreak
    a group of people standing in front of a building: People take a photograph in front of the Eiffel Tower, which closed after the French government banned all gatherings of over 100 people to limit the spread of the coronavirus.© Christophe Ena/AP People take a photograph in front of the Eiffel Tower, which closed after the French government banned all gatherings of over 100 people to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
    PARIS — French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced the closure of all nonessential business, starting at midnight Saturday, in the latest effort to curb spiraling numbers of coronavirus infections.
    Banks, supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and newsstands will remain open, Philippe said. But the French government was requiring the immediate closure of all restaurants, cafes and movie theaters — a major step in a country where the cafe terrace and cinema are staples of social life.
    “We must absolutely limit our movements,” Philippe said, noting that the government had no choice but to impose these restrictions after too many people appeared to be ignoring earlier advice from President Emmanuel Macron about social distancing and staying home.
    Although the French government has now shuttered all nonessential business, the first round of France’s municipal elections will still go ahead on Sunday, Philippe confirmed.
    Like its European neighbors, namely Italy and Spain, France has struggled to contain the coronavirus outbreak on its own soil. As of Saturday, the number of total cases confirmed in the country had skyrocketed to roughly 4,500 — doubling in 72 hours.
    At present, 91 people in France have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to figures released Saturday by Jérome Salomon, a senior official at the Health Ministry.
    By: James McAuley 
    3:38 PM: Iraqis protest incoming flights from Iran; Baghdad considers curfew
    BEIRUT — A small group of protesters gathered at an airport in central Iraq’s Najaf, accusing officials of allowing flights to and from Iran — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East — and demanding that the airport be shut down.
    The small protest wasn’t the first time people in Iraq have demanded the country close its doors to its neighbor, which has confirmed 611 deaths and over 12,000 cases of patients. Protesters had gathered at the same airport weeks ago.
    “We assured them that all our flights now are taking Iranians out and bringing Iraqis in only,” said a senior official from the airport, on the condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “We are not bringing Iranians, because they are banned.”
    Hussam al-Kaabi, a member of the crisis cell in Najaf, said the protesters “retreated because it started to rain, and there are still demands to shut down the whole airport.”
    Iraq, which shares a long border with Iran, has had nine deaths and 110 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and has been the subject of flight suspensions by many other countries in the Middle East. On Saturday, the health director for a district in Baghdad said, “If the outbreak of the coronavirus escalates in the coming hours, we may resort to a curfew in Baghdad and the announcement of a maximum-alert status.”
    The Iraqi capital is already rattled after rockets hit a base housing U.S. troops on Saturday, wounding three American and two Iraqi troops. The attack on U.S. troops was the second this week, after a barrage of rockets hit Camp Taji, a base north of Baghdad, on Wednesday, killing two American troops and a British service member. The U.S. military launched strikes Friday on targets associated with Kataib Hezbollah, the Iranian-linked militia that Washington blamed for those deaths.
    Salim reported from Baghdad.
    By: Sarah Dadouch and Mustafa Salim
    3:22 PM: New York Archdiocese halts Mass as houses of worship across the country suspend services
    The Archdiocese of New York announced Saturday afternoon it was canceling all Masses beginning March 14 amid Lent, one the most significant holy seasons for Catholics. The decision comes a day after the Archdiocese advised parishioners to use their best judgment on whether to attend services during the coronavirus outbreak that has caused more than 500 cases in the state.
    Before Saturday’s announcement, the Archdiocese noted the church has always exempted from Mass attendance those with “serious medical issues” or during times of emergency. Churches would remain open for individual prayer, and closed services would be live-streamed when possible.
    Across the United States — and the world — houses of worship are balancing their role as places for fellowship and spiritual support with heeding public health directives that include social distancing and government orders to halt all mass gatherings.
    From Manila to Rome to Mecca, religious authorities have closed down or restricted access to churches, mosques, synagogues and other crowded religious sites where the virus can spread. A now-shut messianic church in South Korea, for example, helped spark the country’s epidemic. The Russian Greek Orthodox Church, however, said Saturday that it would not stop holding services, even if the coronavirus outbreak there worsened, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.
    “I’ll tell you for sure that we will neither close the churches nor cancel the services,” Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, told a Russian news channel, according to Interfax.
    The Greek Orthodox Church has also refused to stop a Holy Communion ritual in which worshipers sip from the same spoon, the Guardian reported.
    Iran has also come under criticism for not closing down revered shrines and mosques in the holy city of Qom, the epicenter of the country – and now wider region’s – outbreak.
    In the U.S., where churches, temples and mosques are halting services, the change is both socially and spiritually disrupting.
    “It really is a sense of deprivation,” Sarah Bartel told The Washington Post.
    The 42-year-old lives with her husband and five children outside Seattle, where the Catholic archbishop on Wednesday became the first in the country to suspend all public Masses. Bartel usually attends Mass three times a week. Not to have that sacramental contact with God on a weekly or daily basis, especially during Lent, is a deep loss, she said.
    “We believe that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are in the mystery of the Mass — it’s at the heart of our lives.”
    By: Kim Bellware, Miriam Berger and Michelle Boorstein
    3:01 PM: RNC chairwoman who spent time at Mar-a-Lago got tested for coronavirus after showing symptoms
    Dick DeVos, Ronna Romney standing in front of a crowd: Ronna McDaniel listens as then-President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a “USA Thank You Tour 2016" event on Dec. 9, 2016, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post Ronna McDaniel listens as then-President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a “USA Thank You Tour 2016" event on Dec. 9, 2016, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
    Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was tested Friday night for the coronavirus after experiencing a fever and flu-like symptoms, the party’s spokesman said in a statement.
    McDaniel was at Mar-a-Lago for some of last weekend with Trump, Pence and other Republican officials, where it is now known at least two people who were later confirmed to have contracted the virus were present.
    “As she awaits the results, out of an abundance of caution, we are contacting everyone the Chairwoman remembers coming into contact with in recent days,” said RNC communications director Michael Ahrens. “Upon the advice of doctors, she and her family are self-quarantining at their home.”
    By: Colby Itkowitz
    2:45 PM: Top U.S. medical official says coronavirus cases have not reached their peak
    Mike Pence, Anthony S. Fauci are posing for a picture: Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, responds to a question from the media at the White House on Saturday. (Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, responds to a question from the media at the White House on Saturday. (Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
    The United States has yet to reach its peak in the number of coronavirus cases, a top medical official said Saturday.
    During a White House news conference following a coronavirus task force meeting, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health, said the United States currently has about 2,226 coronavirus cases and 50 deaths.
    Although China has seen the number of cases per day drastically decrease, he said U.S. cases would continue to increase before there would be a notable decline.
    “We have not reached our peak,” Fauci said. “We will see more suffering and death, predominantly among the vulnerables in our society.”
    Sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked within the newsletter are free to access.
    By: Yasmeen Abutaleb
    2:43 PM: Restrictions increased in Middle East to curb coronavirus spread
    BEIRUT — Middle Eastern countries are closing their doors to outsiders and enforcing measures aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus, after deaths were reported across the region.
    Saudi Arabia suspended all international flights for two weeks starting Sunday, state news agency SPA said, citing an Interior Ministry official.
    Neighboring United Arab Emirates is suspending all flights to and from Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, starting Tuesday. The UAE’s Dubai airport is one of the busiest in the world. The country also temporarily suspended issuance of all visas starting March 17, with exceptions made for diplomatic passport holders, state news agency WAM said.
    In war-torn Yemen, the Iranian-allied Houthis, who are fighting against a Saudi-led coalition, announced the closure of Sanaa Airport for two weeks, blocking United Nations and nongovernmental-organization flights, the Houthis’ Sabaa news agency said on Saturday. Houthi-controlled Yemen is the recipient of the world’s largest humanitarian aid operation.
    Further north, Jordan announced the closure of schools and universities for two weeks, suspended flights with several countries and stopped all public activities, including prayers in mosques, and discouraged private gatherings.
    On Friday, Syria also announced the closure of schools and universities, for three weeks — but the same announcement denied that Syria has any coronavirus cases. Syria shares a border with Iraq, which has had nine deaths, and has witnessed a large influx of Iranians in recent years. Iran has been the epicenter of the virus in the region, with over 12,000 cases confirmed and 611 deaths.
    Syria’s other neighbor, Lebanon, has had 93 people test positively and three deaths from the virus. It has suspended and limited flights and border movement with many countries, including Iran, the United Kingdom and Syria. Restaurants, bars and nightclubs have been shut down across the usually vibrant country. Its parliament is set to hold an emergency session on Sunday.
    By: Sarah Dadouch
    2:24 PM: Trump criticizes Federal Reserve response, says he has right to fire Powell
    President Trump launched a fresh barrage of criticism of the Federal Reserve and its chairman on Saturday, saying the central bank has been slow to react to the coronavirus outbreak and asserting that he can fire or demote Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell.
    “I hope the Federal Reserve will finally get on board and do what they should do,” Trump said during a news conference about the federal response to the public health crisis.
    “They should be much more proactive,” as Trump said other countries’ central banks are doing, a theme he has struck repeatedly as the economic effects of the virus spread around the world.
    Trump added later that he is “not happy” with the Fed and with Powell’s management.
    “I think they’re following, not leading, and we should be leading,” Trump said.
    The Fed took the emergency step earlier this month of cutting its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point, an attempt to limit the economic and financial fallout from the coronavirus.
    The U.S. central bank has not made a cut like this since late 2008, shortly after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The Fed also began buying additional government debt.
    Asked whether he is ready to fire Powell or remove him from the chairmanship, Trump said he does not plan to do so now.
    “I think I have the right to do that, or the right to remove him as chairman. He is, he has so far made a lot of bad decisions in my opinion.”
    Later Trump added that he could “take him and put him in a regular position and put somebody else in charge.”
    Trump has departed from the long presidential practice of declining to comment on or attempt to influence the decisions of the independent Fed. “We could refinance our debt very easily at a much lower rate,” Trump said. “We have some tremendous opportunities right now, but Jerome Powell is not making it easy.”
    By: Anne Gearan
    2:19 PM: Airliners flying to Spain turned around midflight
    As Spain emerged Saturday as Europe’s latest coronavirus hot spot, several airliners en route there from England turned around midflight, the BBC reported.
    At least five flights chartered by the low-cost British carrier Jet2 were caught up in a sudden frenzy Saturday after Spain signaled that it was preparing for a two-week state of emergency, the flight-tracking site Flightradar 24 reported.
    Spanish authorities have ordered bars and restaurants to close, as well as put some regions of the country on effective lockdown. The government is considering even more far-reaching measures.
    “We know these local measures will have a significant impact on our customers’ holidays, which is why we have taken this decision,” a Jet2 spokesperson told the BBC. “This is a fast-moving and complex situation and we are reviewing our program as a matter of urgency, so that we can fly customers back to the U.K.”
    Spain reported around 1,500 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.
    Sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked within the newsletter are free to access.
    By: Miriam Berger
    2:02 PM: U.S. expands travel restrictions to U.K. and Ireland
    Vice President Pence on Saturday announced the expansion of U.S. travel restrictions on Europe to include the United Kingdom and Ireland. The latest restrictions will go into effect Monday at midnight, Pence said during a news conference. The ban will not affect U.S. citizens and legal residents, who will be allowed to return home.
    Late Wednesday night President Trump announced that travelers coming from most European countries would be barred. The directive specifically only restricted travel from Europe’s Schengen Area, which includes 26 countries but not the U.K. or Ireland. Those restrictions went into effect Friday.
    European leaders reacted angrily to the travel ban, saying they were not consulted before Trump’s announcement. Other critics questioned the effectiveness of such bans at this point in the outbreak’s trajectory.
    Trump’s announcement exacerbated concerns in financial markets over a global recession, triggering a sell-off of stocks on Thursday. Stocks rallied Friday after Trump announced additional measures, including declaring a national emergency.
    Trump said on Saturday that he was also considering some domestic travel restrictions.
    “If you don’t have to travel I wouldn’t do it,” he said during a news conference. The president and his campaign have called off several planned appearances and events in the past week.
    Additional travel restrictions would likely further hit the airline industry, which is already facing enormous losses because of the impact of the coronavirus. Lobbyists for the industry have expressed concerns to congressional and administration aides about the potentially crippling impact shutting down domestic travel would have on their business.
    White House officials are considering offering low-interest loans or tax deferrals to the airline industry to help them survive the downturn, but it is not clear if these measures would provide enough support for many of these firms.
    The latest U.S. travel ban comes as the novel coronavirus continues to spread throughout Europe and countries there restrict movement across the European Union’s traditionally open borders.
    Trump previously banned non-U.S. citizens or residents who had recently been in China or Iran.
    By: Miriam Berger and Jeff Stein
    1:24 PM: Trump says he’s been tested for coronavirus, does not have results yet
    Click to expandUP NEXT
    President Trump has been tested for the coronavirus, but said he didn’t know when he’d have the results.
    But Trump said he had just had his temperature taken and joked that he’d compare his result with the press in the room – the reporters would not have been allowed in if they’d had an elevated temperature.
    As Trump was leaving the briefing room, the reporters asked him what his temperature was.
    Trump turned back and said, “Totally normal.”
    Trump’s announcement that he’d been tested came as a surprise after days of his reluctance to do so. Over night the White House even released a letter from the president’s doctor saying that he didn’t need to be tested despite his close contact with two infected individuals.
    Later, Pence said he had not been tested and would be speaking to the White House physician’s office immediately after the briefing about whether he should. He added that he would be “more than happy” to do so.
    Sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked within the newsletter are free to access.
    By: Colby Itkowitz
    12:23 PM: Trump is breaking every rule in the CDC’s 450-page playbook for health crisis
    Amid an outbreak where vaccines, drug treatments and even sufficient testing don’t yet exist, communication that is delivered early, accurately and credibly is the strongest medicine in the government’s arsenal.
    But the Trump administration’s zigzagging, defensive, inconsistent messages about the novel coronavirus continued Friday, breaking almost every rule in the book and eroding the most powerful weapon officials possess: Public trust.
    Read more here.
    By: Carolyn Y. Johnson and William Wan
    12:20 PM: White House to check temperature of anyone who interacts with Trump, Pence; doctor says president doesn’t need test
    Anthony S. Fauci wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a crowd: There is plenty of social distancing going on, just not at this moment.© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post There is plenty of social distancing going on, just not at this moment.
    After Trump was in contact with now two individuals who have tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House announced Saturday that it would begin testing the temperatures of any person who comes into contact with the president or vice president.
    This news comes several hours after the White House doctor said in a memo that Trump would not be tested for the virus, despite his interaction with the two people with confirmed infections and that others who interacted with the same individuals had voluntarily self-quarantined.
    At his news conference Friday afternoon, Trump, after being asked several times, relented to say he’d “most likely” get tested “fairly soon.” But a memo later came from Sean P. Conley, the White House doctor, who wrote: “The President’s exposure to the first individual was extremely limited (photograph, handshake), and though he spent more time in close proximity to the second case, all interactions occurred before any symptom onset.
    “These interactions would be categorized as LOW risk for transmission per CDC guidelines, and as such, there is no indication for home quarantine at this time,” Conley added.
    The doctor said he would be monitoring Trump, but unless the president exhibits symptoms he will not need to be tested.
    Conley’s advice is in direct conflict with that of Anthony S. Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director, who has said if anyone who comes in contact with an infected person, they should isolate themselves.
    On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted: “SOCIAL DISTANCING,” after backslapping and handshaking people during his televised news conference the day before.
    By: Colby Itkowitz
    11:35 AM: New York sees first death from covid-19: An 82-year-old Manhattan woman with emphysema
    New York is reporting its first death related to covid-19, an 82-year-old woman in Manhattan, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) told reporters during a conference call Saturday morning. The woman, whose name was not released, died Friday.
    Cuomo said the patient was “an elderly woman with advanced emphysema” and was admitted to the hospital last week in one of the state’s earliest reported cases; she had been in critical condition ever since.
    "If you are 82 years old and you have emphysema and you get the flu, you are in a serious position,” the governor said.
    Cuomo has repeatedly stressed that the elderly and those in assisted-living facilities are most at risk from the disease, which as of Saturday has been confirmed in more than 400 cases statewide.
    “We all have a part to play here," New York City Mayor Bill Mayor de Blasio later said in a statement. "I ask every New Yorker to do their part and take the necessary precautionary measures to protect the people most at risk.”
    By: Kim Bellware
    11:06 AM: England reports 10 new deaths, patients in ‘at-risk groups’
    a person in a red shirt: A shopper wears a protectives mask on Oxford Street in central London. (Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images)© Glyn Kirk/Afp Via Getty Images A shopper wears a protectives mask on Oxford Street in central London. (Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images)
    Ten more people died Saturday from coronavirus in Britain, nearly doubling the country’s death toll to 21, while 1,140 across the United Kingdom have tested positive, according to England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty.
    “All 10 individuals were in the at-risk groups,” Whitty said in a statement, according to the London-based Independent. He added, “The public should know every measure we are taking is seeking to save lives and protect the most vulnerable.”
    On Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued new guidelines urging anyone showing any symptoms of the virus to self-isolate for at least seven days. His government has, so far, resisted calls to close schools or impose large-scale social-distancing measures, such as those being used in the United States and elsewhere, saying that these measures could be enacted in the future depending on guidance by medical experts.
    England’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, defended the government’s plans on Friday, saying some exposure could create “herd immunity” in the population.
    “What we don’t want is everybody to end up getting it in a short period of time so we swamp and overwhelm NHS services — that’s the flattening of the peak,” Vallance told BBC Radio 4, the Guardian reported.
    As the number of cases and fatalities grow, however, the United Kingdom is expected to announce a ban on large gatherings, possibly this coming week. On Saturday, a baby tested positive for the virus, becoming what’s believed to be the youngest patient in the United Kingdom. The mother had arrived in a north London hospital days before with a suspected case of pneumonia, the Guardian reported. The mother was later confirmed to have the virus.
    Sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked within the newsletter are free to access.
    By: Miriam Berger
    10:47 AM: Italy’s deputy health minister tests positive
    a person sitting at a dock: A worker sanitizes the streets in a virtually deserted Venice on Saturday, as the Italian government continues restrictive movement measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak. (Manuel Silvestri/Reuters)© Manuel Silvestri/Reuters A worker sanitizes the streets in a virtually deserted Venice on Saturday, as the Italian government continues restrictive movement measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak. (Manuel Silvestri/Reuters)
    Italian Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday, as the country remains on near-total lockdown aimed at stemming the spread of the virus.
    Italian lawmakers also agreed Saturday on health-control measures for workplaces and factories that have been allowed to remain open as emergency measures, Reuters reported.
    Northern Italy has been struggling to contain the virus as hospitals are stretched to their limits.
    Rome has requested more masks and other protective gear from Europe, using a special European Union measure. However, no E.U. member has yet to respond, according to the London-based Financial Times. Instead, as European countries have moved to close borders and restrict movement, China has sent help: a nine-person delegation from China’s Red Cross is in Rome, after landing there Thursday to meet with staff at the infectious diseases hospital in Italy’s capital.
    The team from China brought with it 31 tons of supplies, including face masks and ventilators, according to the Financial Times.
    The decision to step in has provided a public relations boost to embattled Beijing, which is seeking to rebrand itself as helping the world battle the virus that originated in China. Critics say the country’s leaders originally hid information about the novel coronavirus, helping it to spread beyond its original epicenter in Wuhan.
    Italy’s Sileri was at least the second high-ranking official worldwide to report having the virus on Saturday. Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi had been hospitalized after testing positive, the government announced Saturday.
    By: Miriam Berger
    10:32 AM: Around 40 percent of Americans who get infected will be at higher risk for serious illness, study finds
    About 41 percent of Americans have a higher risk of developing serious illness if infected with the new coronavirus, according to an analysis released Friday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
    The nearly 106 million Americans who would face medical difficulties include those over age 60 and people with underlying health conditions. The study echoes the at-risk populations as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it also provides context about the portion of the population that would be greatly affected should they become infected with covid-19.
    For instance, among the 106 million adults at higher risk, 72 percent are age 60 and older. The remaining 29.2 million adults are at a higher risk because of underlying medical conditions. Infection could also spell financial disaster for those who are uninsured.
    Researchers found that 5.7 million adults in the country who are at a higher risk of serious ailment from the virus are also uninsured. That’s nearly 4 million adults under age 60 and almost 2 million people between 60 and 64, according to the survey.
    Researchers noted that the size of those likely to be impacted by the virus is likely to change as more people test positive for it and as more information becomes available about the progression of illness and treatment of those who become seriously ill from it. The current estimates, however, enforce the need to take “unprecedented efforts” to minimize the spread of the new coronavirus, the analysis stated.
    By: Lateshia Beachum
    10:12 AM: Japan’s prime minister sees no need to declare an emergency
    Shinzo Abe wearing a suit and tie: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers a question during a news conference Saturday in Tokyo. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)© Eugene Hoshiko/AP Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers a question during a news conference Saturday in Tokyo. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)
    Japan’s prime minister said Saturday that the country does not need to declare a state of emergency and will instead continue to prepare for the 2020 Summer Olympics, set to kick off in July in Tokyo.
    “At this point, we’re not in a situation in which I need to declare a state of emergency,” Shinzo Abe said at a news conference Saturday, Japan’s Kyodo News reported.
    Japan’s parliament passed legislation Friday allowing Abe to declare an emergency to combat the virus that causes the deadly covid-19 disease.
    Globally, countries have been suspending sports games amid worries over large crowds gathering and spreading the virus. This has brought the Olympic Games into question. On Friday, President Trump urged Abe to delay the Olympics, after which the two leaders spoke by phone.
    “We will respond by closely coordinating with officials concerned, including the IOC [International Olympic Committee]. There is no change in this,” Abe said, according to AFP. “We want to hold the Olympics as planned without any trouble by overcoming the spread of infections.”
    Abe’s administration has come under fire for its handling of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was held in quarantine in a Japanese port for weeks as the virus spread onboard and ultimately infected around 700 people.
    Japan has more than 700 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 21 deaths.
    By: Miriam Berger
    10:05 AM: Spain confirms roughly 1,500 more coronavirus cases, shuts down much of Madrid
    Spanish officials confirmed roughly 1,500 new cases of coronavirus Saturday, bringing the national total to 5,753, the highest European tally outside Italy.
    The steep uptick came a day after Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared an official 15-day state of emergency and all restaurants, bars and theaters closed in Madrid, the epicenter of coronavirus infections in the country.
    Madrid’s parks and public squares, key gathering spots in Spanish social life, will close as of 4 p.m. local time Saturday, Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida announced via Twitter.
    Those types of restrictions were extended throughout the country as Spanish authorities struggled to contain a rapidly spreading virus.
    From March 16, the Spanish government will suspend the appointment service for issuing government IDs such as passports, and officials ordered the closure for 14 days of all nonessential establishments in the Murcia region in southeast Spain.
    Holy Week celebrations were likewise canceled in Seville because of the risk of spreading covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to local news outlets.
    Schools and universities have also been shut down for two weeks as the government enacts increasingly urgent containment measures following an initially slow response to the crisis.
    Sanchez approved €18 billion ($20 billion) in aid to combat the spread of the coronavirus but warned the Spanish public on Friday that the worst was yet to come.
    “We are only in the first stage of fighting the virus,” Sanchez said Friday. “We can expect very tough weeks ahead. We will reach 10,000 infected next week.”
    Sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked within the newsletter are free to access.
    By: James McAuley and Kim Bellware
    9:37 AM: Tony-winning actress asks musical students to share videos of performances canceled by virus
    Tony award-winning actress Laura Benanti wants high school musical performers to get the audiences they won’t have as schools across the country have canceled productions because of the novel coronavirus.
    Benanti took to her Instagram and Twitter accounts Friday to encourage students to tag videos of themselves using #sunshinesongs. She called the cancellations “a bummer” and said her own high school performances were a “life saver” for her while growing up.
    “If you would like to sing a song that you are not going to get to sing now and tag me, I want to see you. I want to hear it,” she said.
    Benanti, who said her own gigs have been canceled because of the virus, signed off her post with, “Sending all my love and black market toilet paper.”
    Hundreds of students and their parents have replied to Benanti’s social media posts with songs from Broadway favorites such as “Once on This Island” and “Mamma Mia!” Benanti won a 2008 Tony award for her supporting role in “Gypsy” and has played Melania Trump on the “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” since 2016.
    By: Lateshia Beachum
    9:35 AM: Congo shared wrong information about first coronavirus case
    Congo initially released incorrect information about its first coronavirus case this week, underscoring the challenges the virus poses to the war-torn central African country, which until February had been battling the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak.
    A spokesman for the Health Ministry first told reporters Tuesday that the country’s case was a Belgian national detected at the airport and quarantined in a suburb of the capital, Kinshasa, Reuters reported.
    The ministry later backtracked, clarifying that it was a Congolese citizen who, two days after returning from France, contacted health services and was then quarantined at a hospital in a different Kinshasa suburb.
    The misstep earned a rebuke from Congo’s president, Félix Tshisekedi, at a cabinet meeting Friday, according to Reuters. The DRC’s health minister, Eteni Longondo, maintained that authorities were equipped to handle the virus but lamented “the panic that overcame the population following an inappropriate communication,” according to a summary of the cabinet meeting cited by Reuters.
    The mineral-rich country, Africa’s second largest, has been beset by decades of war and humanitarian crises that have killed and displaced millions of Congolese. Years of corrupt and authoritarian rule in the former Belgian colony have also ravaged the country’s health-care system.
    Further compounding Congo’s troubles, the country has been a hot spot for Ebola: The latest outbreak in eastern Congo killed over 2,000 people from August 2018 until mid-February, when it was largely contained.
    Still, the World Health Organization ruled in February to continue to classify the Ebola outbreak as “a public health emergency of international concern” and warned the country required continued funding to prevent a resurgence.
    Neighboring Rwanda confirmed its first coronavirus case on Saturday, the 19th country on the continent to do so.
    By: Miriam Berger
    8:44 AM: House passes coronavirus economic relief package with Trump’s support
    Nancy Pelosi et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., is followed by reporters as she walks on Capitol Hill on Thursday.© Susan Walsh/AP House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., is followed by reporters as she walks on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
    The House overwhelmingly passed an economic relief bill early Saturday for the coronavirus, dedicating tens of billions of dollars for paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, free testing and other measures to help Americans impacted by the crisis.
    Hours after the vote, the president praised the “good teamwork” between the parties.
    The 363-40 vote — gaveled down just before 1 a.m. — capped two days of volatile negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that threatened to fall apart entirely for hours Friday amid GOP misgivings. But even after President Trump criticized House Democrats at an afternoon news conference Pelosi and Mnuchin kept at it, speaking by phone 13 times in the course of the day Friday and finally clinching a deal.
    Not long thereafter Trump endorsed the legislation over Twitter, ensuring widespread GOP support.
    “This Bill will follow my direction for free CoronaVirus tests, and paid sick leave for our impacted American workers,” Trump wrote, adding that he was directing Cabinet secretaries to issue regulations ensuring small businesses would not be hurt by mandates in the bill.
    “I encourage all Republicans and Democrats to come together and VOTE YES! I will always put the health and well-being of American families FIRST,” the president wrote. “Look forward to signing the final Bill, ASAP!”
    The House vote sends the legislation to the Senate, which is expected to pass it next week after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) canceled a planned recess so senators could act on the issue. All of the “no” votes Saturday came from Republicans, while one lawmaker — Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) — voted “present.”
    Read more here.
    By: Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, Paul Kane and Jeff Stein
    8:03 AM: Apple to temporarily close all stores outside China
    A closed Apple Store in a deserted shopping mall in Rome.© Andreas Solaro/Afp Via Getty Images A closed Apple Store in a deserted shopping mall in Rome.
    Apple, one of the world’s largest companies, will close all retail stores outside of China until March 27 in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, chief executive Tim Cook announced Friday.
    “The most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance,” Cook said in a letter posted to the company’s website. “As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”
    The extraordinary move will affect hundreds of stores in roughly two-dozen countries, including more than 250 in the United States. The decision came the same day that Apple announced all of its stores in China had reopened after being shuttered for weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak in Hubei province, the original epicenter of the global pandemic.
    Apple’s hourly employees will continue to receive pay “in alignment with business as usual operations,” Cook said. The company has expanded its leave policies to accommodate people who are recovering from covid-19, caring for a sick person or undergoing mandatory quarantine, according to the letter. Childcare related to school closures will be covered as well.
    Online stores will remain open, and customer support will still be available, according to Cook.
    In Apple’s offices outside China, the company is encouraging employees to work remotely if their job allows it. Apple is also conducting health screenings and temperature checks at its offices and “deep cleaning” all sites, Cook said.
    Additionally, Cook announced that Apple would match employee donations to covid-19 response efforts two-to-one. As of Friday, he said, Apple’s committed donations had reached $15 million worldwide.
    Sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked within the newsletter are free to access.
    By: Derek Hawkins
    7:56 AM: Russia announces closure of land borders with Poland and Norway
    As of midnight Saturday, Russia will close its land borders with Norway and Poland in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced Saturday morning.
    The border closure — which follows Russia’s earlier closure of its Chinese border — will only apply to foreigners who attempt to enter “for professional, private, study or tourist reasons,” Mishustin said. Russian residents, Belarusians and official delegation members would be exempted from the ban, he added.
    Russia has officially confirmed 47 cases of the coronavirus, as of Saturday, but no deaths.
    By: James McAuley
    7:49 AM: These federal workers were exposed to the coronavirus while serving the public. Now they’re quarantined.
    a man standing in front of a building: A Transportation Security Administration officer wears a protective mask while working this month at Oakland International Airport in California.© Melina Mara/The Washington Post A Transportation Security Administration officer wears a protective mask while working this month at Oakland International Airport in California.
    When Alexander Spain, a supervisor with the Transportation Security Administration, was told Tuesday to self-quarantine and not report to work at San Jose International Airport, he was not surprised.
    A screener he supervises, who checks IDs and boarding passes, had been sick for weeks and then tested positive for the coronavirus. Spain, 58, was told to remain at home but said he was given no instructions for how to self-quarantine. So Spain said he “went out to grab food twice. I stopped at a Chinese food restaurant and got some quick bites from 7-Eleven.”
    On Thursday, the day he was scheduled to return to work, Spain called his supervisors in the morning, asking how to get tested for the virus. “They acted like I was speaking French,” he said in an interview.
    Spain’s experience mirrors what federal workers across the country who deal with the public are saying about the lack of direction, protocols and protective gear they need from their agencies. They fear these failures may cause them to become ill and spread the virus not only in the United States but across the globe.
    The federal government has hundreds of thousands of workers who come in daily contact with the public — workplace inspectors, mail carriers, hospital workers, park rangers, passport processors, Social Security representatives, museum workers.
    Workers and union representatives from six different agencies — including the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — said in interviews, emails and text messages with The Washington Post that Spain’s experience is not unique. They or their co-workers also have been exposed to the virus and say their supervisors are not giving proper guidance or support.
    Read the rest of the story here.
    By: Kimberly Kindy
    7:34 AM: The tale of a Nile cruise that spawned an international coronavirus outbreak
    a group of people standing around a fire hydrant: Egyptian health workers near the MS Asara, a Nile River cruise vessel, when passengers aboard were tested for the novel coronavirus.© Courtesy of Javier Parodi Egyptian health workers near the MS Asara, a Nile River cruise vessel, when passengers aboard were tested for the novel coronavirus.
    LUXOR, Egypt — By the time Egyptian health authorities learned about the coronavirus case on the Nile cruise ship, the infections had spread around the world.
    As long ago as late January, a Taiwanese American passenger on the MS Asara was carrying the novel coronavirus, health officials said. But the vessel would make at least four more cruises, and at least 12 crew members would turn out to be infected. Some or all of them had worked on the cruises in February and early March, said a crew member under quarantine and a senior health official in Luxor.
    Hundreds of foreign passengers, including dozens of Americans, and Egyptians were potentially exposed to the virus between mid-February and early March — a dramatic illustration of how, from a single, overlooked infection, the coronavirus could swiftly multiply and be carried across the globe.
    At least six Americans infected aboard the Asara returned to Maryland, according to Gov. Larry Hogan (R), potentially seeding their communities with the virus. Twelve others have reportedly tested positive in the Houston area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is contacting dozens of other Americans who were aboard the Asara in February to test them or ask them to self-quarantine.
    Even after Egyptian health authorities were notified March 1 that the Taiwanese American woman had been carrying the virus while on the Asara and may have infected others on the ship, the vessel set sail on March 5 on yet another cruise while Egyptian health officials awaited the results of tests on the crew.
    By then, an American travel agency that books Nile cruises had been told by the CDC that Americans on an earlier cruise of the Asara may have been infected. The travel agency, Gate 1, contacted the boat operator and the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, according to the company’s vice president for marketing, Marty Seslow. Gate 1 was informed that all the crew had tested negative for the virus, Seslow said.
    “We were given information that no one was sick and everyone was fine,” Seslow said. “Within 24 hours, we were told dozens were sick.”
    Read the rest of the story here.
    By: Sudarsan Raghavan and Meryl Kornfield
    5:39 AM: Taiwan says travelers from 27 European countries and Dubai must isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival
    Taiwan announced on Saturday that people who have traveled to 27 European countries, including Britain and Ireland, in the previous 14 days must quarantine themselves at home for two weeks upon arriving on the island.
    People who arrive from these countries but do not have housing in Taiwan will be quarantined in government-run facilities, for which they will be charged.
    The new rule also applies to people who have been to or transited through Dubai, a major air hub for Emirates airline, Taiwan's Ministry of Health announced Saturday.
    The rules will take effect from March 17.
    The announcement came after Taiwan on Saturday reported three more coronavirus infections, all in people who had arrived from European countries. Two of them were Taiwanese nationals and the other was Dutch, local media reported. A total of 53 cases have been found in Taiwan, although 20 people have been treated and released from the hospital. One person has died.
    At the same time, Taiwan on Saturday raised the alert level for travel to all 27 European countries and Dubai to Level 3, advising citizens against any unnecessary travel.
    By: Derek Hawkins
    5:37 AM: Bexar County suspends jury duty for the next month
    Texas’s fourth-largest county is postponing trials and has suspended jury duty for one month as officials there try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
    Starting Monday, all jury trials in Bexar County will be suspended through April 16, according to a memo by Judge Ron Rangel, a head administrative judge and presiding judge of the state’s 379th District Court.
    “Any jury summons received for those dates should be disregarded,” the memo read, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News. “Summoned individuals will not be penalized for not appearing to jury duty during these dates. In the interim, we will continue to monitor the spread of the virus and notify the public of any updates.”
    Some cases that are approaching statutory deadlines will be prioritized, and the courthouse will continue to operate, KENS 5 reported.
    Rangel also asked courts and judges to reduce their dockets and make sure they had no more than 15 cases set.
    “We want to limit the amount of individuals in the courtroom,” he wrote.
    A local defense attorney, Joseph Hoelscher, criticized the move, saying it would delay justice for victims and defendants.
    “On the criminal side, it means people who are on bond or waiting for justice aren’t going to get a resolution in their cases until this is resolved,” Hoelscher told KENS 5.
    San Antonio, the Bexar County seat, confirmed its first travel-related coronavirus case on Friday, prompting officials to declare a public health emergency and announce a ban on gatherings of 500 or more people for the next week.
    Sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked within the newsletter are free to access.
    By: Derek Hawkins
    5:14 AM: Saudi Arabia suspends international flights
    Saudi Arabia is suspending all international flights for two weeks starting Sunday to control the coronavirus outbreak, the state news agency SPA reported Saturday.
    The Saudi government will consider the period an “exceptional official holiday” for people who can’t return to the country because of other flight suspensions or quarantine orders, SPA reported, citing an official source from the Interior Ministry.
    Health exams, isolation and other preventive measures will be put in place for people returning from abroad, according to the news agency.
    Saudi Arabia has reported 86 confirmed cases of covid-19 and no deaths since the outbreak began.
    By: Derek Hawkins
    5:04 AM: Getting through the coronavirus outbreak, one song at a time
    AUCKLAND, New Zealand — If there’s one heartening thing about these strange days of “social distancing,” it’s the way people are sharing music as a way to stay connected. Social media has exploded with videos of Italians singing together, but separately, from their apartment balconies.
    Now cellist Yo-Yo Ma has added his talents to the mix, posting “Songs Of Comfort” on Twitter and Instagram.
    “In these days of anxiety, I wanted to find a way to continue to share some of the music that gives me comfort. The first of my #SongsOfComfort: Dvořák — ‘Going Home,’” he wrote on Twitter. “Stay safe.”
    By: Anna Fifield
    2:46 AM: Manila to impose month-long curfew
    a green and yellow fire hydrant sitting on the side of a building: A woman stands with luggage near a bus terminal in Quezon City, the Philippines, on Saturday.© Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg A woman stands with luggage near a bus terminal in Quezon City, the Philippines, on Saturday.
    MANILA — The Philippines will impose a month-long curfew in the capital region of Metro Manila, sparking fears of possible human rights violations under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
    The curfew will run from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., with the exemption of the movement of workers and supply chains. Government officials on Saturday announced that “nonessential” gatherings like visiting friends and family, as well as parties, are banned.
    Details for implementation are unclear, following the absence of a local law enabling the measure as of Saturday noon.
    The curfew comes on top of travel restrictions and the prohibition of mass gatherings, in line with government efforts to curb the spread of covid-19. Local government officials have also asked malls to stop operations.
    But in a congested region spanning 16 cities and at least 12 million people, the logistics — and the exemptions to the restrictions — have raised concerns about how the rules will be implemented.
    Critics of Duterte, most known for a bloody war on drugs that has left thousands dead, fear more human rights violations under this set-up. Duterte previously said that anyone who disobeys police or the military could be arrested.
    “The [police] cannot arrest and detain you for violating public health emergency measures,” tweeted Chel Diokno of the Free Legal Assistance Group, an organization of human rights lawyers. “You may be blocked… but you cannot be arrested and jailed, because trying to travel to Metro Manila is not a crime.”
    Human Rights Watch researcher Carlos Conde also cautioned the police against unnecessary use of force, “particularly when dealing with Metro Manila’s poor and those working in the informal sector, many of whom do not have employment identifications.”
    The Philippines has reported 64 coronavirus cases and six deaths.
    By: Regine Cabato
    1:51 AM: Guatemala bans Americans in effort to stop virus
    MEXICO CITY — Guatemala appears to have become the first country to ban Americans in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. President Alejandro Giammattei announced Friday night that Americans would not be allowed into the country beginning on Monday.
    “We have made the decision that citizens of the United States and Canada cannot enter the country,” said Giammattei in a news conference, referring to the rising number of cases in those countries.
    He called the step a “phase of containment.” Several European and Asian countries will also be banned.
    Giammattei also asked Mexico to halt the deportation of Guatemalans by land.
    On Friday, Guatemala announced its first confirmed case of the virus.
    Last year, more than 250,000 Guatemalans were detained at the U.S. border, more than from any other country.
    By: Kevin Sieff
    1:16 AM: Australian minister photographed with Ivanka Trump says he’s feeling better after coronavirus diagnosis
    Peter Dutton, Ivanka Trump are posing for a picture: Australia's former home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, and Ivanka Trump.© Sean Davey/Afp Via Getty Images Australia's former home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, and Ivanka Trump.
    AUCKLAND, New Zealand — The Australian government minister who was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection just a week after meeting Ivanka Trump in Washington, D.C., said Saturday that he was “feeling much better.”
    Peter Dutton told Sydney radio station 2GB that his fever had subsided and his temperature had come down but that his throat was “still a bit sore.”
    “I have had asthma since I was a child, so they were a bit worried about that, but they think my lungs are clear. So all pretty good at the moment,” Dutton told the radio station, referring to the medical staff who had assessed him.
    Doctors said he posed no harm to the people he met at the White House on March 6, Dutton said, adding that he did not start exhibiting symptoms until March 13.
    “I woke up in the early hours of Friday morning with a fever and a sore throat and a slight shortness of breath, but as I say probably nothing more than I would have with a change in weather as an asthmatic,” he said. “Everybody’s experience will be different, but that is mine.”
    Australian medical authorities are now contacting the people he had spent more than two hours with since the morning of March 11.
    Ivanka Trump, who was photographed next to Dutton during the meeting, worked from home Friday “out of an abundance of caution and until guidance was given,” the White House said earlier.
    Sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked within the newsletter are free to access.
    By: Anna Fifield
    12:54 AM: New Zealand says almost all people arriving from abroad will have to isolate for 14 days
    Jacinda Ardern holding a stuffed animal: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern displays a graph during a news conference on Friday in Auckland.© Dave Rowland/AFP/Getty Images New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern displays a graph during a news conference on Friday in Auckland.
    AUCKLAND, New Zealand — All people arriving in New Zealand will have to isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival, except for those landing from nearby Pacific islands, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Saturday.
    Describing the “unprecedented” step, Ardern told reporters that every person entering the country from midnight Sunday would be subjected to new rules. “We must go hard and we must go early,” she said. “I make no apologies. This is an unprecedented time.”
    People arriving from everywhere except the Pacific islands will have to isolate themselves at home for two weeks, regardless of where they are coming from and whether they are citizens or not.
    In addition, Ardern said her government would impose strict new exit rules for people traveling to the Pacific islands. New Zealand has large Samoan and Tongan communities in particular, and Ardern said that New Zealand had a responsibility to look after the people there. Samoa suffered a devastating measles epidemic last year.
    “These [new exit measures for the Pacific] include: No travel for people who have traveled outside of New Zealand in the past 14 days,” Ardern said. “No travel for close or casual contacts of a confirmed case. No travel for anyone who is symptomatic, and health assessments, including temperature checks.”
    In addition, New Zealand has banned cruise ships from entering the country until at least June 30, but Ardern said cargo ships would still be allowed.
    She advised all New Zealanders not to travel overseas unless absolutely necessary.
    New Zealand has seen only six cases of the coronavirus, the latest diagnosed in an Auckland man in his 60s who recently returned from the United States.
    The previous five people are all isolated at home and recovering. There have been no reports of community transmission, but New Zealand was acting preemptively to avoid that, the prime minister said.
    Her government had previously canceled a national memorial due to be held in Christchurch on Sunday, the anniversary of the attacks on two mosques in the city, which claimed 51 lives. Ardern said the decision was a “pragmatic” one made to ensure the coronavirus is not spread at large gatherings.
    By: Anna Fifield
    12:49 AM: Pentagon adopts new domestic travel restrictions for troops
    Mark A. Milley wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper listens as Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon on March 2.© Susan Walsh/AP Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper listens as Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon on March 2.
    The Pentagon announced new domestic travel restrictions for service members and their families Friday night to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, saying in a memo that virtually all trips must be put on hold through May 11.
    The prohibitions, which go into effect Monday, could affect hundreds of thousands of service members, civilian employees and their dependents in the United States and its territories.
    “All DoD military personnel will stop movement while this memorandum is in effect,” said the memo, signed by Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist. “In addition, DoD civilian personnel and DoD family members, whose transportation is government-funded, will also stop movement.”
    The policy will apply to transfers known as permanent changes of station (PCS) and temporary training assignments. Defense Department units also will bring on new people only if they already live within the local commuting area, and service members are authorized to take leave only within local areas, the memo said.
    Read more here.
    By: Dan Lamothe
    12:41 AM: Acting Brazil ambassador tests positive after dining with Trump at Mar-a-Lago
    Acting Brazil ambassador Nestor Forster, who sat at President Trump’s table Saturday night during a dinner at Mar-a-Lago, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the embassy said late Friday. Forster is the third person who visited the president’s South Florida resort last weekend to test positive for the virus.
    “Following medical advice, Amb. Forster will extend his self-quarantine, which he had already placed himself into as a precautionary measure, for another two weeks,” the embassy said in a tweet.
    Another Brazilian official who visited Mar-a-Lago that night, Fabio Wajngarten, communications secretary for the country’s president, tested positive on Wednesday. Wajngarten had posed for a photo with Trump. Forster was also in close contact with the president.
    The White House acknowledged the additional diagnosis in a memo late Friday and said Trump did not need to be quarantined or get tested for covid-19.
    “The President’s exposure to the first individual was extremely limited (photograph, handshake) and though he spent more time in closer proximity to the second case, all interactions occurred before any symptom onset,” wrote Sean P. Conley, physician to the president. “These interactions would be categorized as LOW risk for transmission per CDC guidelines, and as such, there is no indication for home quarantine at this time.”
    “Additionally, given the President himself remains without symptoms, testing for COVID-19 is not currently indicated,” Conley wrote in the memo, addressed to White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “I will continue to closely monitor and care for the President and will update you as more information becomes available.”
    The other person who tested positive after visiting Mar-a-Lago was an individual who attended a Sunday luncheon hosted by Trump Victory, a committee that raises money for the Trump campaign and the Republican Party, according to an email from party officials.
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    By: Derek Hawkins

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