The coronavirus pandemic triggered a wave of historic measures including a halt on European travel that fueled an outcry from Europe on Thursday and another steep drop for U.S. stock futures.
President Donald Trump’s announcement of a 30-day European travel ban drew a sharp rebuttal from the European Union, which lashed out at the “unilateral” decision.
In a joint statement, EU Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen insisted that the coronavirus pandemic is a “global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation.”
“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” they said.
The duo noted Italy’s nationwide travel lockdown and other measures taken by all the bloc’s 27 members, dismissing Trump’s suggestion that the E.U. has not done enough in fighting the disease.
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Thomas Bossert, a former Trump Homeland Security adviser, also questioned the value of the travel restrictions. Bossert tweeted that it was a “poor use of time & energy. Earlier, yes. Now, travel restrictions/screening are less useful. We have nearly as much disease here in the US as the countries in Europe. We MUST focus on layered community mitigation measures-Now!”
Here’s the latest on the outbreak of COVID-19:
US death toll reaches 38, more than 1,300 cases
The U.S. death toll was at 38 early Thursday, with more than 1,310 confirmed cases. All but six states were infected after Arkansas, Mississippi and Wyoming were among the states to report their first encounters. The only states without reported cases, according to USA TODAY data gathering: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Maine and West Virginia.
Pence defends travel ban
Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the administration coronavirus effort, defended the policy in TV interviews Thursday. He stressed that mitigation efforts are in full swing.
“Our health experts would disagree very strongly with the view that the acts the president took last night were not called for,” Pence said. “We learned yesterday that 70% of all the new cases of coronavirus in the world happened in Europe.”
Pence, in interviews with CNN and NBC, said every American and legal resident who returns from Europe over the next 30 days will be funneled into 13 airports and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
– Maureen Groppe
Trump details US coronavirus response plan in televised address
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump attempted to downplay the spread of coronavirus in the U.S.: “It will go away,” he said. “Just stay calm.”
He struck a different tone on Wednesday night in a prime-time address, hours after the World Health Organization declared coronavirus as a pandemic amid a rising number of deaths and confirmed cases around the world. Trump restricted passenger travel from 26 European nationals to the U.S. beginning late Friday and urged Americans to wash their hands and practice good hygiene. “We are all in this together,” Trump said.
The president’s response plan also included, among other things:
• Paid sick leave: Trump said he plans to take emergency action soon to provide financial relief to workers who are quarantined or caring for others due to coronavirus. He added he would be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend the relief
• Small business loans: Trump said he is instructing the Small Business Administration to provide capital and loans to businesses affected by coronavirus, effective immediately. He added he’s asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion to help those businesses hardest hit by economic uncertainty over the virus.
• Payroll taxes: He called on Congress to provide Americans with “immediate payroll tax relief,” and implored lawmakers to “consider this very strongly” despite bipartisan pushback that idea received Wednesday.
– Courtney Subramanian and John Fritze
Dow Jones falls into bear market for first time since financial crisis
The Dow Jones industrial average hadn’t been in bear territory for 11 years — until Wednesday.
With the ongoing coronavirus outbreak as a backdrop, the Dow suffered its largest decline since the financial crisis of 2007-08, falling 1,465 points to close at 23,553.22. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index also plunged again Wednesday but narrowly avoiding its first bear market since the financial crisis.
“This is the swiftest fall from grace that I’ve ever seen,” says Megan Horneman, director of portfolio strategy at Maryland-based Verdence Capital Advisors. “We would have never forecast it would be the coronavirus that could take this market down.”
The average decline in bears since 1929 is roughly 40%, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.
– Adam Shell and Josh Rivera
NBA suspends season after Utah Jazz player tests positive for coronavirus
The NBA announced Wednesday night it is suspending its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus.
The league said it is halting operations “following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
While the league did not name the Jazz player in its news release, a person familiar with the situation confirmed it was Utah center Rudy Gobert. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly because of the sensitive nature of the situation.
– Jeff Zillgitt
NCAA men’s, women’s basketball tourneys to be played without fans
March Madness will go on, but without fans.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that its popular men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played without spectators in an attempt to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement he made the decision after consulting with public health officials and an advisory panel. Only essential staff and some family members will be allowed at the games.
“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States,” Emmert said.
The tournaments begin next week and conclude with the championship games, April 5 for the women and April 6 for the men.
– Jorge L. Ortiz
State Department raises global health advisory, advises against travel abroad
The U.S. Department of State raised its health travel warning to level 3 late Wednesday, saying that U.S. citizens should reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19.
“Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice,” the state department warned.
Also Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised U.S. citizens to avoid travel to much of Europe, where the coronavirus has become more widespread than anywhere but China.
– Curtis Tate
‘They’re getting pummeled’: Travel industry reeling from coronavirus concerns
Oregon to impose statewide ban of large gatherings over 250 people
Oregon Gov. Kay Brown announced a series of “urgent” rules on Wednesday night to combat the spread of coronavirus — including a statewide ban on large gatherings of over 250 people, effective immediately for four weeks.
The governor’s measures also include “distancing measures” at events, activities and in the workplace, as well as the cancellation of non-essential school-associated events such as competitions, field trips and group parent meetings.
“Nobody is immune to this virus, it can touch everyone,” Brown said in a news release. “We can’t let fear and anxiety stigmatize people. … It’s time for us all to do what we can to slow its spread and take care of one another.”
Earlier Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a similar ban on gatherings and events across three counties in the Seattle metropolitan area, where the virus has killed more than 20 people.
San Francisco will also forbid large events, but with a cutoff of 1,000 people, Supervisor Matt Haney tweeted. Public schools in San Francisco remain open, but some private ones have closed.
– Jorge Ortiz and Lindsay Schnell
Americans plan to dine out less amid coronavirus outbreak, research finds
Not on the menu for many these days: Dining out.
As our fears of catching the coronavirus grow by the day, so has our hesitation to venture out of the house, with one-third of Americans saying they plan to stick closer to home and dine at restaurants less frequently, according to restaurant industry research group Technomic.
If you decide to go out, public health experts say you’ll be safe as long as you take precautions such as frequently cleaning your hands with soap or hand sanitizer and staying at least three feet away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
— Jessica Guynn and Kelly Tyko
Map: Which states have coronavirus cases?
Here’s a look at which U.S. states have reported cases of COVID-19:
What’s the worldwide death toll?
The global death toll jumped to 4,641 early Thursday, according to a Johns Hopkins University data dashboard, pushed especially by rising fatalities in Italy (827) and Iran (354).
The total of confirmed cases was over 126,430, with more than 80,900 in mainland China, where the virus has killed more than 3,100 people. But, on Wednesday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director told a congressional committee that Europe had emerged now as the new “epicenter.”
“And there’s a lot of people coming back and forth from Europe that are now starting to seed these communities,” Robert Redfield said.
The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms for most people, such as fever and cough, but can progress to serious illness including pneumonia, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. The WHO says mild cases last about two weeks, while most patients with serious illness recover in about three to six weeks.
Contributing: Steve Kiggins, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
More on the outbreak of COVID-19:
US coronavirus map: Tracking the outbreak
Is it safe to ride? Coronavirus fears are challenging public transit across US
Cruise ships will bring 100K people to US ports this week.Amid coronavirus, will they be welcome?
Plenty of labs can now test for coronavirus: But a key testing component is in short supply