The latest news from around the U.S. and the world on coronavirus:


New York has created a one-mile containment zone in New Rochelle, the epicenter of the state’s outbreak, to curb spread of the virus on the doorstep of New York City, Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a news conference Tuesday.

The city announced 31 new cases across the state, bringing the total to 173, Cuomo said. More than half are in Westchester County, where New Rochelle is located. The city “is probably the largest cluster in the U.S. of these cases,” Cuomo said.

Schools, places of worship and other large gatherings will close their doors for 14 days, Cuomo said, and National Guard troops will help deliver food and disinfect common areas inside the zone. The radius appears to emanate from the Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue, which has been ground zero for infections in the region.

People living and working inside the zone can go about their work and business, and movement won’t be restricted, the governor said, but large gatherings will be discouraged. “You’re not containing people,” he said. “You’re containing facilities.”


Cuomo urged calm after declaring the containment zone by stressing the reality of those most affected — older people with health problems. Washington State and New York State have nearly identical confirmed infections, he noted, but no deaths in New York have been reported. The deaths in Washington State have centered on a nursing home.

Only 14 people in 173 confirmed cases are currently hospitalized in New York, Cuomo said.


Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts as the number of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus in the state jumped by 51 to 92.

Of that number, 70 are connected to a meeting held by biotech company Biogen at a downtown Boston hotel.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday the Boston Marathon scheduled for next month is still on – for now – a day after the city announced the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been canceled.


Conversations with those involved in the marathon – which expects about 31,000 runners as well as a million spectators and pumps more than $200 million into the city’s economy – are ongoing, Walsh said at an impromptu news conference outside City Hall.


WASHINGTON — Major insurers pledged to cover coronavirus tests at no cost to patients during a meeting at the White House on Tuesday, but those assurances – while welcome – may not resolve public concerns about testing.

For one, insurers can’t control the availability of the tests themselves. While the capacity for labs to test more patients is growing daily, the U.S. still has nowhere near the capacity for millions of tests that public health officials say are needed.

What’s more, a test for the virus is only part of diagnosing and treating a patient. Other tests and scans may be needed, not just the coronavirus test. And if a patient requires treatment for viral illness, that would involve additional costs.

CEOs of major health insurance companies such as UnitedHealth, Anthem, and Humana, along with the leaders of industry trade groups like the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, met with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to underscore commitments that the companies have been announcing individually in recent days.


Pence said the industry representatives agreed that coronavirus tests would be covered at no cost to patients, and to cover telemedicine related to the outbreak. The companies pledged no surprise billing in connection with coronavirus.


The coronavirus outbreak is taking a deep toll on the U.S. economy, prompting hundreds of layoffs over the past week alone and halting a historic 11-year bull market in stocks.

Strong job growth and soaring financial markets have fueled the U.S. economic expansion over the past decade. Now the rapid market decline and initial layoffs are heightening fears that the longest economic expansion in U.S. history could come to a sudden end, just a month after unemployment stood at a half-century low.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 1,465 points, or 5.9 percent, Wednesday with every sector slumping after the World Health Organization designated the coronavirus a pandemic. The Dow closed in bear market territory, meaning it had shed more than 20 percent from its high less than a month ago.

Airlines, hotels, travel agencies and event companies have all been suffering, but interviews with more than two dozen firms and workers reveal that the pain is now translating into layoffs in a wider circle of industries, including a bakery and a chain restaurant.


At the Port of Los Angeles, 145 drivers have been laid off and others have been sent home without pay as massive ships from China stopped arriving and work dried up. At travel agencies in Atlanta and Los Angeles, several workers lost their jobs as bookings evaporated. Christie Lites, a stage-lighting company in Orlando, Florida, laid off more than 100 of its 500 workers nationwide this past week and likely will lay off 150 more, according to chief executive Huntly Christie. Meanwhile a hotel in Seattle is closing an entire department, a former employee said, and as many as 50 people lost their jobs after the South by Southwest festival in Austin got canceled.

Economists fear more layoffs in the coming weeks as supply chains come to a halt and people stay home and spend less.


ROME — Italians faced travel restrictions at home and abroad Tuesday as other countries isolated Italy with flight bans and sweeping quarantine measures took effect nationwide in a desperate government bid to slow the new coronavirus’ silent spread.

Police at Rome’s main train station checked commuters’ paperwork to ensure they had legitimate reasons to leave their residential neighborhoods for work, health or other “necessary” reasons. Carabinieri teams patrolled cafes to make sure owners were keeping customers 1 yard  apart.

Internationally, Italy’s status as the center of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak continued getting reinforced after the Italian government late Monday extended limits on movement it had imposed in northern Italy to the whole country to slow infections.


Malta and Spain announced a ban on air traffic from Italy. Malta turned away another cruise ship and some airlines, including British Airways and Air Canada, canceled flights to the whole country. Neighboring Austria and Slovenia barred travelers from Italy from crossing their borders without a medical certificate. Britain, Ireland, Hong Kong and Germany strengthened travel advisories or flat-out urged their citizens to leave Italy.

The Vatican even erected a new barricade at the edge of St. Peter’s Square.

Italy in recent days emerged as the country with the most coronavirus cases in the world except for China. Authorities reported 10,149 infections as of Monday evening and 631 deaths, 168 more than a day earlier. And officials said they expect many, many more.


NEW YORK — Walmart is enacting an emergency leave policy for its 1.4 million hourly U.S. workers that allowing them to take time off without penalty if they fear the spread of a new virus.

The nation’s largest private employer said Tuesday that a worker at its store in Cynthiana, Kentucky, tested positive for the COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The worker is receiving medical care and her condition is improving, according to an internal memo. The retailer consulted with state and local health experts after learning of the case, reinforced its cleaning and sanitizing protocol, and the store remains open after Walmart conferred with the state government.


As part of the new emergency leave policy, Walmart said that hourly workers who work in a store, club, office or distribution center will receive up to two weeks pay if they’re required to quarantine by the government or by the retailer. Workers who have a confirmed case of the virus will also receive two weeks of pay. If they are not able to return to work after that time, additional pay may be provided for up to 26 weeks for both full- and part-time hourly workers.


Harvard University advised its students not to return to campus after spring break and to expect to complete classwork remotely “until further notice,” in an effort to avoid the further spread of covid-19.

The change marked another sign of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on even the most iconic institutions, as a growing number of universities known for their intense classroom debates, crowded events and hands-on research are now moving to empty their campuses as much as possible.

Amherst College, Princeton University, Stanford University, New York University, the University of Washington and others have announced dramatic changes in recent days in an effort to prevent infections by limiting the communal gatherings that have been central to campus life and learning at many schools.

Harvard is beginning to transition to virtual classes and hopes that transformation will be complete by March 23, the first day of classes after spring break, the school’s president announced to campus Tuesday.


Graduate students will transition to online work wherever possible, and students who must remain on campus will be taught remotely “and must prepare for severely limited on-campus activities and interactions,” the university’s president, Lawrence Bacow, wrote.

Non-essential gatherings of more than 25 people on campus are strongly discouraged, he wrote.


Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats on Tuesday that Congress should stay at work this week as “captains of the ship” despite the risk of coronavirus infection on Capitol Hill as lawmakers scramble under enormous pressure to respond to the epidemic. President Donald Trump was heading there to confer with Senate Republicans about his proposed payroll tax relief.

Lawmakers were given new instructions on how to protect themselves at the Capitol, with the House’s attending physician asking them to stop shaking hands or touching people during greetings — he recommended the split-fingers Star Trek greeting instead. Trump met health insurers, seeking their cooperation in ensuring affordable medical care in the public-health emergency.

With Congress planning to take its scheduled break next week, the time for action is short. Democrats are assembling an aid package for working families struggling to keep paychecks coming as the outbreak disrupts workplaces. Their plan counters one from Trump, who is proposing a payroll tax break, small-business loans and other steps.



MADRID  — All upcoming professional soccer games in Spain and Portugal, as well as some in Germany and a European Championship qualifying match, will be played in empty stadiums because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Spanish league said Tuesday that matches in the first and second divisions will be played without fans for at least two weeks. The announcement came after the government outlined a series of preventative measures being implemented to help contain the spread of the virus, including ordering all sporting events with a significant number of fans — professional and non-professional — to be played in empty venues.

The league said it will “follow its recommendations and/or decisions, prioritizing the health of fans, players, club employees, journalists, etc., due to the COVID-19 health crisis.”

Portugal announced similar measures for the professional league and said youth soccer competitions would be suspended between Saturday and March 28. It also said non-professional soccer matches can’t be played with crowds bigger than 5,000 people.

The moves in Spain and Portugal came a day after Italy said all sports events in the country, including Serie A soccer games and preparatory events for the Tokyo Olympics, would be suspended until April 3.



The Coachella music festival in Southern California has been postponed amid virus concerns.

The festival is organized by concert promoter Goldenvoice, which released a statement Tuesday saying it will be rescheduled for two weekends in October.

Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean had been scheduled to headline the April festival, which attracts tens of thousands to the desert community of Indio, California, and the nearby cities of Palm Springs and Rancho Mirago.

Two people infected with COVID-19 have died in California.



LOS ANGELES — Pearl Jam is postponing the North American leg of its Gigaton world tour because of concerns over the new coronavirus, the band announced Monday.

Seventeen U.S. and Canadian performances, beginning on March 18 in Toronto through April 19 in Oakland, California, were indefinitely postponed, according to the band’s website.

Pearl Jam said it was announcing the postponements “with deep frustration and regret.”

“The levels of risk to our audience and their communities is simply too high for our comfort level,” a band statement said. “Add to that we also have a unique group of passionate fans who travel far and wide. We’ve always been humbled by this and respect their energies and devotion. However in this case, travel is something to avoid.”

New dates will be determined and current tickets will be honored for those dates, the band said.


Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder from the band Pearl Jam performs at the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Barclays Center in New York. Pearl Jam is postponing multiple U.S. and Canadian shows on their Gigaton tour because of coronavirus concerns. Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

For now, the European shows from June 23 to July 23 are still scheduled along with two September shows in Asbury Park in New Jersey, and Dana Point in California, according to the band’s website.

Band members said they were personally being affected by the COVID-19 health fears. The band is from Washington state, where two dozen people have died, most of them at a Seattle-area nursing home.

Band members also criticized a lack of clarity from the government when it comes to staying safe and going to work, saying they didn’t believe the virus would be controlled in the coming weeks.


OAKLAND, Calif. — Thousands of passengers aboard a cruise ship struck by the coronavirus waited anxiously Tuesday for their turn to leave the vessel, even if it meant being shipped to military bases for weeks of quarantine.

After days of being forced to idle off the Northern California coast, the Grand Princess docked Monday at the Port of Oakland with some 3,500 passengers and crew on board.


“We’re trying to stay calm and were trying to stay positive but it’s getting harder and harder. They can’t make up their minds how to keep us safe,” said Beryl Ward, 77, of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

About two dozen people who need acute medical care were taken off the ship, although it wasn’t clear how many had tested positive for the new virus, said Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for the California Office of Emergency Services.

Many of the nearly 240 Canadians on board left the ship after the critically ill and stood outside two tents displaying Canadian flags. Canada and the UK were among the countries sending chartered flights to retrieve their citizens.

But some 2,000 passengers, including hundreds of Californians, were still aboard by the time disembarkation ended Monday night. It was to resume Tuesday morning, the captain told passengers.


WASHINGTON — The incoming White House chief of staff, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, was among three Republican congressmen who said Monday that they were quarantining themselves because of suspected contact with a confirmed carrier of the coronavirus.


A spokesman, Ben Williamson, said Meadows learned this weekend that he “may have come in contact” with the person who attended the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington late last month. Meadows tested negative for the virus and is not displaying symptoms but is remaining home in self-quarantine until Wednesday, Williamson said in a statement.

Trump named Meadows his chief of staff Friday evening, replacing Mick Mulvaney. Williamson’s statement did not address whether Meadows physically interacted with Trump since the conference last month.

The expanding coronavirus threat is forcing top congressional leaders to balance the need to go about the people’s legislative business and the risk of operating what could be a giant, marble-enclosed petri dish as the pathogen spreads.

Another consideration that some congressional aides have acknowledged is the increased risk that the coronavirus poses to older people. The average age in the House is 57.6 years, with 76 members 70 or older. For the Senate, the average is 62.9 years, with 27 age 70 or over.

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