Washington state reported new deaths from the coronavirus Tuesday, raising the U.S. death toll from the virus to nine. With illness spreading unpredictably and Americans bracing for an increasing impact at home, the Federal Reserve made an emergency interest rate cut earlier in the day, slashing the benchmark U.S. rate by half a percentage point.

The central bank has not made an emergency move like this since late 2008. It was also a sign that global central banks are prepared to act to contain the economic fallout from the coronavirus. The move came after President Trump, in a tweet, called for a “big” interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve “to make up for China’s coronavirus situation and slowdown.”

The markets quickly rallied after the Federal Reserve announced the decision. The rebound came after a volatile morning, with futures pointing positive and then making a U-turn. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 786 points, nearly 3 percent.

Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared “war” on the coronavirus as government officials were placed on 24-hour alert and health tests expanded in virus-hit areas. The number of confirmed cases in South Korea tops 5,000, the most outside China. About 70 countries have reported incidences of the virus, with the number of cases in the United States topping 100 across 15 states.

China, the epicenter of the outbreak and still the worst-hit, announced its lowest number of new cases since late January — 125 in 24 hours — and 31 deaths, bringing its totals to 80,151 infections and 2,943 deaths. The country has pledged to help other nations hit by the outbreak, offering advice to Iran, which has reported 2,336 confirmed cases and 77 deaths.

  • King County, which includes Seattle, has emerged as an epicenter for the virus outbreak with 27 confirmed cases, including nine deaths.
  • The World Health Organization said that covid-19, the disease the virus causes, has killed about 3.4 percent of those diagnosed with the illness globally — higher than what has previously been estimated.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services sent a memo Tuesday to members of Congress in response to questions about an HHS whistleblower report; however, some lawmakers said the memo was inadequate and did not address their concerns.
  • New York state reported its second coronavirus case, a 50-year-old man in Westchester County, a suburb of New York. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said he is pushing to provide paid sick leave and job protection for coronavirus patients.
  • Chile and Argentina reported their first infections, as cases of the virus slowly start to increase in Latin America.