March 31, 2020
Coronavirus crimes can be charged as acts of terrorism; Spain's death toll surpasses China
With roughly a third of the world under some form of lockdown, the White House and Senate leaders reached agreement on a landmark $2 trillion stimulus package to combat the economic impact of coronavirus.

The White House coronavirus coordinator asked people who have recently been in New York, where the death toll continues to climb, to quarantine themselves for 14 days, because they may have been exposed before leaving.

President Donald Trump is pushing for the country to get back to business by April 12, Easter Sunday, when he said he would like to see churches full of people. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, has warned that the U.S. could become the pandemic's new epicenter.

Idaho issues stay-at-home order

Gov. Brad Little announced a stay-at-home order for Idaho on Wednesday and signed an extreme emergency declaration.

The order says residents must self-isolate, close non-essential businesses and it will last at least 21 days as the country combats the coronavirus pandemic. Little's order asks residents to limit their travel and use of public transit while maintaining good hygiene.

Essential needs, such as grocery shopping and outdoor activity, are permitted so long as residents practice social distancing in accordance with guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Minnesota orders its citizens to stay home

Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday ordered the 5.6 million residents Minnesota, other than those performing essential services, to stay home in the state's ongoing battle against coronavirus.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 287 confirmed cases and at least 1 death due to coronavirus. Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said that her husband has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Entire senior home in New Jersey, 94 people, presumed to have coronavirus

An entire New Jersey nursing home is presumed to be infected with coronavirus, forcing everyone from the facility to be evacuated on Wednesday, officials said.

At least 24 of 94 residents and patients of St. Joseph’s Senior Home in Woodbridge, about 20 miles south of Newark, have tested positive for coronavirus and the other 70 clients are also believed to have the virus, authorities said.

Medical school seeks to graduate students early to fight coronavirus

New York University said it will allow its medical students to graduate early so the newly established doctors can help in the fight against the coronavirus.

The private university said that the unprecedented move is "in response to Governor Cuomo’s directive to get more physicians into the health system more quickly," according to NBC New York.

A graduation ceremony for Grossman School of Medicine students was expected to be held in May. Only students who receive the approval of the state's Department of Education and other regulatory bodies will be allowed to finish early, the outlet reported.

The New York City area has become the center of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, with more than 26,300 confirmed cases and 271 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon.

U.S. hospitals brace for another challenge — an unprecedented shortage of nurses

As hospitals around the country prepare for a surge of tens of thousands of coronavirus patients expected in the coming weeks, they are trying to fill thousands of "crisis" nursing jobs nationwide, particularly intensive care unit and emergency room positions.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, several states were experiencing nursing shortages, and without a dramatic increase in staffing, hospital administrators and advocates fear the health care system will not be able to handle the demand.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been sounding the alarm for weeks about a statewide shortage of health care workers, as the state became the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak.

Coronavirus crimes can be charged as acts of terrorism, Justice Department says

The Justice Department has notified the nation's federal prosecutors that anyone threatening or attempting to spread the coronavirus can be charged with terrorism.

Coronavirus appears to meet the statutory definition of a biological agent, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a memo sent late Tuesday to U.S. attorneys and federal law enforcement agencies and could bring crimes related to it under terrorism statutes.

"Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated," the memo says.

New Jersey has already invoked its own version of the laws by charging a man with making a terroristic threat by coughing on a supermarket employee and claiming he was infected with the virus. Authorities in Illinois, Missouri, and Pennsylvania reported similar offenses.

N.J. man charged with terroristic threats for allegedly coughing on grocery store worker

A New Jersey man was charged with harassment and making terroristic threats after allegedly deliberately coughing on a Wegmans grocery store employee and saying he had the coronavirus.

George Falcone, 50, of Freehold, in central Jersey, was charged Tuesday by the New Jersey attorney general with making the threats Sunday at a Wegmans in Manalapan.

Falcone was standing close to the employee near the store's prepared food section when the worker asked him to move back, the state attorney general said in a statement. Instead, Falcone stepped closer to her, leaned in and coughed, the statement said. He laughed, telling the woman he was infected with the coronavirus and also telling two other employees they were "lucky" to have jobs.

Missouri man arrested for licking items at Walmart to mock coronavirus fears

A 26-year-old Missouri man seen in a social media video licking items at a Walmart to mock fears of the coronavirus pandemic was arrested and charged with terrorist threats.

Cody Lee Pfister posted a video of himself licking deodorants at the Warrenton store on March 11, according to court documents. As he wiped his tongue across the packages he asked, "Who's scared of coronavirus," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Pentagon orders no troop movements for 60 days

All U.S. troop movements overseas will halt for 60 days because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to defense officials. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed an order halting the movements on Wednesday.

The order states troops overseas cannot move back to the U.S. and troops in the U.S. cannot move overseas for two months. It applies to uniformed military, civilians and dependents.

Pink eye may be a rare symptom

The new coronavirus can spread through the eyes, prompting the world’s largest association of eye doctors to urge its members to be aware of the warning signs in patients.

The pathogen may cause pink eye, or conjunctivitis, inflammation of the clear tissue covering the white part of the eye, in about 1-3 percent of infected people, the American Academy of Ophthalmology said in an updated alert Tuesday.

Virus particles have been found in eye secretions, it previously warned, but a study published Wednesday suggests the risk of virus transmission through tears is low.

Apple chief says company has sourced 10M masks

Proud to share we’ve been able to source 10M masks for the US and millions more for the hardest hit regions in Europe. Our ops teams are helping to find and purchase masks from our supply chain in coordination with governments around the world, Tim Cook said on Twitter.

Dow closes with modest gains, after whiplash day digesting fiscal stimulus package

Wall Street's mini-rally lost steam Wednesday, as negotiations for the $2 trillion stimulus package that seemed a done deal shuddered to a halt.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had gained 1,200 points earlier in the day, tumbled in the last few minutes of trading after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he would “put a hold on this bill until stronger conditions are imposed on the $500 billion corporate welfare fund.”

The S&P 500 ended the day up by just over 1 percent and the Nasdaq was down by almost 0.5 percent.

Spain's death toll surpasses China

Spain has surpassed China in nationwide deaths from coronavirus and is now second only to Italy, according to numbers released by the government on Wednesday.

The country's health officials reported 738 new deaths Wednesday, bringing the total to 3,434.

The outbreak began in China, which on Wednesday reported a total of 3,281 deaths. Italy, Europe's hardest-hit country and the pandemic's current epicenter, has reported 6,820.

Italian death toll passes 7,500

More than 7,500 people have now died after testing positive for coronavirus in Italy, a spokesperson for Italy's Civil Protection Agency told NBC News Wednesday.

Another 683 deaths had been recorded since Tuesday, bringing the total number to 7,503, they said, adding that there were almost 75,000 confirmed cases in the country.

Italian doctors are being forced to choose who will receive desperately needed ventilators and who won't in the hardest-hit nation in Europe.

Netanyahu says Israel may have to 'impose a complete lockdown'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday that the government may have to "impose a complete lockdown, except for essential needs such as food and medicines."

As of Wednesday, Israel had 2,030 confirmed cases and five deaths.

Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus

Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus, his royal household said Wednesday.

The Prince of Wales, 71, who is first in line to the British throne, is experiencing mild symptoms "but otherwise remains in good health," Clarence House said in a statement. (Source: NBC News)
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