WASHINGTON — Key updates
- A construction worker at the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
- A U.S. Marine has become the first person stationed at the Pentagon to test positive for coronavirus.
- The Pentagon has halted movement of U.S. troops and Defense Department civilians overseas.
- The White House says New York residents who left the metro area recently should self-isolate for 14 days.
- Officials in New York say morgues there are near capacity, while Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti says the city is "about six to 12 days behind" New York City.
- Senate Republicans held a press conference to update the public on coronavirus legislation.
- Canada announced it is imposing mandatory self-isolation for those returning to the country under the Quarantine Act.
- The White House and Congressional leaders reached a deal on a $2 trillion rescue package Wednesday to help working and laid-off Americans, businesses and hospitals. It still faces votes in the House and Senate.
- The Department of Education suspended collection of student loan debt.
- Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, has tested positive for coronavirus. The palace says he has mild symptoms.
- New Zealand has declared a state of emergency.
- South Korea is sending testing materials to the U.S. It is also issuing a quarantine for people arriving from the U.S.
- Britain will shut down Parliament for four weeks.
There are more than 466,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide as of Wednesday afternoon, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. That includes over 21,000 deaths and 113,000 recoveries.
The United States has over 65,000 cases and 900 deaths. More than 350 people have recovered.
Worker at new Raiders stadium tests positive
A construction worker at the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Mortenson-McCarthy Builders said Wednesday the worker had not been in close contact with any other project workers and has been off-site since last week. The worker is self-isolating for 14 days and won't return to work until cleared.
Mortenson-McCarthy says the area of the stadium where the worker was assigned and the surrounding vicinity were immediately shut down and sanitized. Work in other parts of the stadium has been unaffected and the stadium is still scheduled to be completed this summer.
The Raiders are set to begin play in the $1.9 billion stadium this fall.
Spain extends its state of emergency by 2 weeks
Spain’s Parliament has voted in favor of the government’s request to extend the state of emergency by two weeks that has allowed it to apply a national lockdown in hopes of stemming its coronavirus outbreak.
The parliamentary endorsement will allow the government to extend the strict stay-at-home rules and business closings for a full month. The government declared a state of emergency on March 14. It will now last until April 11.
Spain’s government solicited the two-week extension after deaths and infections from the COVID-19 virus have skyrocketed in recent days. Spain 47,600 total cases. Its 3,434 deaths only trail Italy’s death toll as the hardest-hit countries in the world.
The parliament met with fewer than 50 of its 350 members in the chamber, with the rest voting from home to reduce the risk of contagion.
US Marine stationed at Pentagon tests positive
A U.S. Marine has become the first person stationed at the Pentagon to test positive for coronavirus.
The Marine has been in isolation at home since March 13, when a member of his immediate family began to show symptoms. The Pentagon said his workspace has been cleaned and a contact investigation is underway.
Two other defense workers who had visited the Pentagon have tested positive, but they were not assigned to the building.
Colorado issues stay home order
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is issuing a statewide stay-at-home order in an attempt to stem the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
Polis said he is taking this “extreme measure,” effective Thursday until April 11 because restrictions taken to date haven't done enough to reduce the spread of the virus. People should only leave home when they absolutely must, he said, for grocery shopping, to seek medical care or to care for dependents. Polis' order comes after six Colorado counties issued stay-at-home orders affecting nearly 3 million people.
More than 1,086 people in Colorado have tested positive for the virus and at least 20 people have died.
Pentagon halts movement of US troops, DOD civilians overseas
The Pentagon has halted for 60 days the movement of U.S. troops and Defense Department civilians overseas as a further measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The stoppage is expected to affect about 90,000 troops scheduled to deploy abroad or to return from abroad over the next two months. Some exceptions are allowed, and the order by Defense Secretary Mark Esper will not stop the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as called for in last month’s deal with the Taliban.
White House Coronavirus Task Force updates public Wednesday on latest
The White House briefed the public Wednesday amid growing concern about the progress stay in place orders are having on the fight to flatten the curve in the virus outbreak.
Wednesday afternoon before the briefing began, President Trump tweeted that he believes the media wants to keep the country closed "as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success."
When asked by a reporter why he believes Easter is a good time to open churches back up and other parts of the country even if health agencies recommend stay in place orders, Trump repeated past statements. The reporter reiterated that agencies believe the country should continue past that date. Trump repeated his belief saying, "I do think it's so, that there are people in your profession that would like that to happen."
LA County no longer sure virus killed teen
Los Angeles County officials say they no longer are including a 17-year-old boy in the tally of coronavirus deaths until they do more to determine his precise cause of death.
The county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, said Wednesday that she’s asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the death of the youth from the desert city of Lancaster.
She said that while the child did test positive for the coronavirus, there were “extenuating circumstances that pointed to an alternative diagnosis as well.”
Senate Republicans update the public on the progress of coronavirus aid legislation
South Carolina Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, and Florida Senator Rick Scott held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss coronavirus legislation. Sen. Graham emphasized that he is in favor of compensation of salary maximums and no more. Portions of a draft of the bill were obtained by the press Wednesday as the Senate continues to debate the legislation. A vote on the bill was expected on the Senate floor at some point Wednesday.
France's Macron turns to military to fight virus
President Emmanuel Macron launched a special military operation Wednesday to help fight the new coronavirus in France, one of the world’s hardest-hit countries.
As part of the new “Operation Resilience,” France is deploying helicopter carriers to help transport patients in overseas French territories in the Caribbean, South America and the Indian Ocean.
Macron also promised a “massive” new investment plan for public hospitals, after years of cost cuts in France’s renowned health care system that have complicated efforts to stem the spread of the virus.
NYC morgues nearing capacity, LA close behind NYC in coronavirus fight
Officials in New York have now told the Department of Homeland Security that the city's morgues are nearly at capacity as they fight a virus outbreak which has crippled the city in many ways. As Politico reports, officials say NYC morgues are expected to be at full capacity next week. A source also tells Politico that the city's hospital morgues hit capacity over the last week. In addition to New York, Hawaii and North Carolina have asked for help at their mortuaries also.
Meanwhile on the West Coast, MSNBC reports that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city and its residents are dealing with a situation where they "are anywhere from about six to 12 days behind" the situation New York is facing.
South Africa bans dog-walking during lockdown
South Africa's police minister says dog-walking is banned during the country's three-week lockdown that begins Friday to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Bheki Cele also said people can't go running, contradicting the health minister's comments earlier in the day.
And Cele warned South Africans to essentially stay sober for 21 days, emphasizing that alcohol sales are prohibited.
The military and police will patrol to regulate movement, and all ports of entry are now closed. South Africa has the most COVID-19 cases in Africa with more than 700.
Canada requires returning travelers to isolate
Canada announced Wednesday it is imposing mandatory self-isolation for those returning to the country under the Quarantine Act.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Twitter that the government is making it mandatory to better protect Canada's most vulnerable.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the requirement will begin at midnight Wednesday and last for 14 days.
DOE suspends collection of student loan debt
The Department of Education has announced plans to suspend the collection of student loan debt for at least 60 days, according to a press release.
The department also announced plans to stop and return nearly $1.8 billion held by the U.S treasury in tax refunds and social security payments previously withheld from individuals who had defaulted on federal student loans.
"These are difficult times for many Americans, and we don't want to do anything that will make it harder for them to make ends meet or create additional stress," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statment. "Americans counting on their tax refund or Social Security check to make ends meet during this national emergency should receive those funds, and our actions today will make sure they do."
Previous announcements from the Trump administration allowed for 0% interest for federally held student loans and the option to suspend payments for at least 60 days.
Prince Charles has coronavirus
Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The prince's Clarence House office says the 71-year-old is showing mild symptoms of COVID-19 and is self-isolating at a royal estate in Scotland.
It says his wife Camilla has tested negative.
NFL to implement coronavirus rules
The NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams instituting new rules reflecting state and local government's efforts to protect the spread of coronavirus.
ESPN obtained Tuesday night's memo from commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell said that he wanted to "ensure that all clubs operate on a level playing field, and that the NFL continues to conduct itself in a responsible way at this time."
The memo only allows employees providing ongoing medical treatment, security and technology support in to team facilities.
The facility closures will continue until at least April 8 when the league "will assess the advice from medical experts and public health authorities to determine whether it is safe and appropriate for facilities to reopen or to extend the period of closure."
Britain to shut down parliament
Britain’s Parliament is set to shut down for at least four weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lawmakers have continued to attend -- though in smaller numbers — despite the spread of COVID-19, which has reached 8,077 confirmed cases and 422 deaths in the U.K. Visitors have been banned from the Parliament buildings and some staff have been working from home.
With Britons now ordered to stay home and all but essential shops shut, Parliament is expected to shut down once lawmakers have approved an emergency law on Wednesday giving the government more powers to fight the coronavirus.
Anheuser-Busch to start producing and distributing hand sanitizer
Anheuser-Busch, the beer company that produces Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck's, say they are going to begin producing and distributing bottles of hand sanitizer to help fill the growing demand.
"As a first step, we are using our supply and logistics network to produce and distribute bottles of hand sanitizer to our internal teams and, with the help and direction of the American Red Cross, to the communities where it’s needed most," a company spokesman said in a statement.
South Korea sending testing materials to U.S.
South Korea says it plans to provide coronavirus testing materials to the United States in response to President Donald Trump’s request for help.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the country is willing to send chemical reagents used to extract genetic material during COVID-19 tests, but at a level that doesn’t affect its own testing capacity.
She didn’t provide a detailed estimate on the size of supplies that could be shipped to the United States.
Massive rescue package deal reached on Capitol Hill
The White House and Senate leaders of both parties have struck an agreement on a sweeping $2 trillion measure to aid workers, businesses and a health care system strained by the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak.
The agreement came after days of often intense haggling and mounting pressure and still needs to be finalized in detailed legislative language.
The unprecedented economic rescue package would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.
One of the last issues to close concerned $500 billion for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries, including a fight over how generous to be with the airlines. Hospitals would get significant help as well.
New Zealand declares state of emergency
New Zealand has declared a state of emergency as it prepares to go into an unprecedented lockdown late Wednesday for about a month.
The declaration temporarily gives police and the military extra powers. And Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says any New Zealanders returning home from overseas who show symptoms of COVID-19 will be put in isolation at an approved facility.
"I have one simple message for New Zealanders today as we head into the next four weeks: ‘stay at home,'" Ardern said. "It will break the chain of transmission and it will save lives.”
South Korea issues quarantine on people arriving from US
South Korea says it will enforce 14-day quarantines on South Korean nationals and foreigners with long-term stay visas arriving from the United States starting Friday.
The measures come as authorities scramble to prevent the coronavirus from re-entering the country amid broadening outbreaks in the West.
Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun says stronger controls were needed considering the increasing number of students and other South Korean nationals returning from the United States, where the virus has been spreading rapidly.