US institutions cancel events, Trump may extend flight ban, leaders impacted
(Update 2: adds information on US, France, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Canada and more.)
Miami Desk, Mar 12 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization on Thursday said that 125,048 people have tested positive for the coronavirus worldwide, of whom 6,729 were confirmed in the past 24 hours. A total of 44,067 of those cases have been detected outside China, where the pandemic originated, and a total of 4,613 people have died from complications of the disease, most of them in China, but 321 within the past 24 hours.
New cases were detected on Thursday in French Polynesia, Turkey, Honduras and the Ivory Coast, with 117 countries now having at least one case.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that he is reserving the right to extend his ban on travel from Europe to the US for longer than the original 30 days as at least two Latin American countries also moved to ban travel from Europe.
“It’s possible (that the ban could be extended beyond 30 days). And it’s possible I could also say that we could … end it early,” said Trump upon being asked by a reporter about the European travel ban during an Oval Office photo op.
Meanwhile, the White House, the US Congress and Supreme Court all decided to close their doors to the public – including temporarily suspending all guided tours of the government buildings – as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 1,215 people in 42 US states and the District of Columbia, and resulted in 36 deaths.
Wall Street plunged just under 10 percent on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s worst percent drop since the 1987 “crash,” after Trump banned flights arriving from Europe in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus and despite the drastic injection of $1.5 trillion in liquidity announced by the Federal Reserve to prop up the economy.
At the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the Dow was down 9.99 percent, or 2,352.60 points, ending the day at 21,200.62, clearly in “bear market” territory and down in excess of 20 percent from its recent highs.
Also on Thursday, Disney closed its California theme parks – including Disneyland – to the public after authorities recommended that people avoid gathering in numbers greater than 250, something that will affect many public events.
Following the National Basketball Association’s decision to suspend its season and all 259 remaining regular season games, the Utah Jazz reported on Thursday that a second player has tested positive for the coronavirus, and journalistic sources identified that player as star guard Donovan Mitchel, who joins Rudy Gobert as the first player to test positive on Wednesday evening.
The National Hockey League also “paused” its season on Thursday and Major League Baseball opted to delay the start of its regular season (originally scheduled for March 26) by two weeks and suspended the rest of its spring training schedule.
The Tribeca Film Festival (scheduled for April 12-26) was delayed after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo prohibited gatherings of more than 500 people.
Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York state, closing venues such as Madison Square Garden, the main Broadway theaters and ordering restaurants and nightspots with capacity of less than 500 people to limit occupancy to just 50 percent.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also declared a state of emergency in the Big Apple and accelerated exceptional measures to deal with the coronavirus, saying that the situation could last for “a number of months.”
After word that Brazilian communications chief Fabio Wajngarten tested positive for the coronavirus, Florida Sen. Rick Scott and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez put themselves on voluntary quarantine since they had been at a meeting with the Brazilian when President Jair Bolsonaro’s party spent time in Florida earlier this week, specifically at Trump’s South Florida club and resort, Mar-a-Lago.
Trump, however, has said that he is not worried he may have contracted the coronavirus and the White House confirmed to EFE that, for now, there are no plans for the US president to get tested for the disease.
The National Guard distributed 3,000 meals at ground zero of the coronavirus in New York, the town of New Rochelle, where authorities have announced a “containment zone” – although it is not an exclusion perimeter or a strict quarantine district – specifically an area one mile in radius around the site where the first case of Covid-19 was detected at Young Israel synagogue in the mainly Orthodox Jewish Wykagyl neighborhood, about 25 minutes by train from Manhattan. The containment zone, where the majority of the 148 coronavirus cases in New York’s Westchester County have been detected at this point, will remain in place for two weeks to see if anyone else becomes sick within the area during that time.
In other coronavirus news around the world: