White House: Trump and Pence not being tested for coronavirus

From White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham:

“The White House is aware of public reports that a member of the Brazilian delegation‘s visit to Mar-a-Lago last weekend tested positive for COVID-19; confirmatory testing is pending. Exposures from the case are being assessed, which will dictate next steps. Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time.

“As stated before, the White House Medical Unit and the United States Secret Service has been working closely with various agencies to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the First & Second Families, and all White House staff healthy. 

“To reiterate CDC guidelines, there is currently no indication to test patients without symptoms, and only people with prolonged close exposure to confirmed positive cases should self-quarantine.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will update everyone as we get more information.”

Italy’s death toll tops 1,000 people

The death toll in Italy has risen to 1,000 people, and the country’s confirmed cases of coronavirus swelled to more than 15,000 people, Italian officials confirmed Thursday.

The Italian Civil Protection Agency said that the death toll now stands at 1,016, a nearly 23 percent increase from Wednesday. The total number of confirmed cases grew to 15,113 on Thursday, which is 21 percent more cases than the day before. 

Italy has become a hotspot for the disease and the nation’s leaders have put the entire country on a veritable lockdown that has turned Italy’s tourist-filled cities into ghost towns. 

Analysis: The twisted politics of Washington’s coronavirus response

With President Donald Trump fading further into the background as a serious player on coronavirus action, House Democrats and Trump lieutenants are battling to bolster the federal response.

Separately for the most part, but with some collaboration, they are racing to shape legislative and executive policy solutions to a pandemic that has spread rapidly from the public health arena to infect the economic health of the nation. The officials — elected Democrats, Trump-administration Republicans and nonpartisan federal agency chiefs — are also seeking to deliver accurate and consistent information to the public about the importance of slowing down the virus, after weeks of Trump downplaying the risks.

In doing so, they find themselves fighting the fierce partisan instincts of Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who vowed to crush a bill that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spent much of her morning discussing with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the telephone.

Read the full analysis here.

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell confirms positive coronavirus test

NHL suspends play over coronavirus

A skater is alone on the ice prior to a scheduled game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Capitals in Washington on Thursday. The NHL announced Thursday it has suspended their season, joining the NBA, MLS, and other sporting leagues around the world suspending play because of the coronavirus outbreak.Patrick Smith / Getty Images

The National Hockey League said Thursday that it has paused its season, beginning with games set to take place on Thursday, over concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said the news from the NBA that a player had tested positive had influenced the NHL’s decision.

“[F]ollowing last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time,” Bettman said in a statement.

Trump: Restricting travel in U.S. a ‘possibility’ if coronavirus pandemic gets ‘too hot’

President Donald Trump said Thursday that it’s a “possibility” the administration could impose travel restrictions within the United States to limit exposure to the coronavirus if certain areas get “too hot.”

“We haven’t discussed that yet,” Trump continued when asked about the option at a bilateral meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. “Is it a possibility? Yes. If somebody gets a little bit out of control, if an area gets too hot.”

“You see what they’re doing in New Rochelle, which is good frankly,” Trump said, referring to the city just north of Manhattan where there is a growing cluster of coronavirus cases. “It’s the right thing, but it’s not enforced, it’s not very strong. But people know they’re being watched. New Rochelle, that’s a hot spot.”

Imposing travel limits in the U.S. interior would a significant step in the effort to mitigate cases as coronavirus fears roil the economy and cripple various industries.

Read the story.

‘Everyone’s losing’: College campus closures a stark reality for students

This week, University of California, Santa Barbara, University of Michigan, and dozens of others schools moved classes online. Like Amherst, Wesleyan College, Grinnell College, and Harvard University, took it a step further, ordering students to leave campus for the remainder of the semester. 

The universities say the decision to close is meant to stem the spread of the virus on campuses where students live in close quarters and aren’t too likely to heed public health warnings. But telling students to head home and take classes online for the rest of the semester isn’t as simple as it sounds, and for many students, it feels more devastating than contracting the virus itself.

Read full story here.

We apologize, this video has expired.

March 12, 2020

Fed to feed $500 billion into markets as stocks continue to crater

The stock market pared losses Thursday afternoon after the Federal Reserve made a surprise announcement that it would be injecting $500 billion into Treasury markets choked by the coronavirus.

The move is intended to “support smooth functioning of funding markets as market participants implement business resiliency plans in response to the coronavirus,” the Fed said in a statement posted on its website Thursday afternoon.

Treasury bonds have fallen to historic lows of 0.3 percent in the past week, but rallied to 0.68 percent Thursday afternoon.

Wall Street also rallied after the Fed announcement, with all three major averages down by just 6 percent, from their earlier losses of more than 9 percent.

Brazilian official who met Trump at Mar-a-Lago tests positive for coronavirus

A Brazilian official President Donald Trump met with over the weekend has tested positive for the coronavirus, but Trump said Thursday he’s “not concerned” about their interaction.

Fabio Wajngarten, press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, posed for a picture with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Bolsonaro at Trump’s Florida resort over the weekend that he posted on Instagram. The press office at Brazil’s presidential palace confirmed to NBC News Thursday that Wajngarten had tested positive for the coronavirus.

His condition was not immediately clear. The office said he is in home quarantine. Bolsonaro is being monitored as well, the press office said in a statement.

Click here to read more.

McConnell says Senate will cancel recess