President Trump announced a ban on travel from most of Europe to the United States for 30 days Wednesday, marking one of the federal government’s most sweeping measures yet to contain the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

The ban will begin Friday at midnight and will not include travel from the United Kingdom, Trump said in a national address late Wednesday, in which he also announced a series of economic relief plans, including low-interest loans for affected small businesses, and called on Congress to provide “immediate payroll tax relief.”

He will also instruct the Treasury Department to defer tax payments for impacted individuals and businesses, he said.

In another drastic move, the National Basketball Association suspended its entire season after a player tested positive for coronavirus Wednesday night, another sign of the virus’s wide spread and deep impact across the country.

As the number of known novel cases surpassed 120,000 worldwide, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. “We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "and by the alarming levels of inaction.”

Here are the latest developments:

  • The United States has more than 1,000 cases with upwards of 30 deaths.
  • Tom Hanks said he and his wife, Rita Wilson, have tested positive for coronavirus in Australia.
  • The Dow reached bear-market territory on a nearly 1,500-point skid as panic intensified about the coronavirus, which threatens to debilitate global economies and bring on a recession.
  • Ohio will limit large gatherings, and Washington state introduced similar measures in the Seattle area. The NCAA announced that its college basketball tournaments will be held without fans in attendance.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday that up to 70 percent of her country could end up infected.
March 11, 2020 at 11:40 PM EDT
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White House announces community mitigation strategies for New Rochelle, epicenter of N.Y. outbreak

By Teo Armus

The White House’s coronavirus task force is recommending regular health checks across schools, social distancing measures in senior homes and limits on who can enter health facilities in New Rochelle, N.Y., the group said late Wednesday.

These sweeping suggestions are meant to protect at-risk individuals and health-care workers, officials said, as the suburb just outside New York grapples with one of the country’s largest outbreaks of the virus. The task force said measures will be adapted to other counties and jurisdictions as needed.

“President Trump has made clear that the Task Force must move decisively to protect the health and safety of the American people,” Vice President Pence said in a statement Wednesday. “These recommendations outline a whole-of-community approach to immediately minimize the impacts of coronavirus in this area.”

New York officials created a one-mile containment zone in New Rochelle, which appears to originate at a synagogue linked to many of the town’s cases. Schools and places of worship will be closed for 14 days starting Thursday, and National Guard troops will help deliver food and disinfect common areas inside the zone.

Still, the White House task force’s recommendations appear to go deeper and further. At hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and senior facilities, officials say people should undergo temperature and respiratory screening every day and suggest strict limits on who can go in and out.

The task force also suggests postponing or canceling community or religious gatherings to video-accessible venues and the outright cancellation of gatherings of more than 250 people. At-risk individuals, they say, should avoid any situations with 10 or more people.

Individuals at risk of severe illness should stay at home avoiding gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel, church attendance and social events with 10 or more people.

March 11, 2020 at 11:40 PM EDT
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State Dept. urges Americans to reconsider international travel

By Teo Armus

The State Department issued a global level 3 health advisory late Wednesday, urging U.S. citizens to reconsider travel plans abroad due to the impact of the novel coronavirus.

The advisory is the second-highest warning the department can issue on a scale of one to four, with the highest being a recommendation not to travel internationally at all.

“Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing covid-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions,” the department said in a statement. “Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.”

March 11, 2020 at 10:56 PM EDT
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Trump cancels weekend trips to Nevada and Colorado

By Anne Gearan and Hannah Knowles

President Trump is canceling his planned weekend fundraising activities and political trip to Nevada and Colorado, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Wednesday.

She issued a statement to pool reporters at the White House shortly after the president spoke about the coronavirus outbreak in an Oval Office address. Trump had been scheduled to attend fundraisers in Nevada and Colorado and deliver an address to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas on Saturday.

“Out of an abundance of caution from the Coronavirus outbreak, the president has decided to cancel his upcoming events in Colorado and Nevada,” she said.

The Trump campaign is also postponing the “Catholics for Trump” event set for March 19 in Milwaukee, spokesman Tim Murtaugh tweeted Wednesday night. He said the gathering would be rescheduled and attributed the decision to “an abundance of caution.”

Not long after Trump’s Oval Office address, the Republican Jewish Coalition announced that it, too, was postponing its annual meeting.

“In light of the COVID-19 epidemic, in consultation with the White House and our outside experts, we have regretfully decided to postpone the RJC Annual Meeting, which was to be held this week in Las Vegas,” the group said in a statement. “We were looking forward to welcoming the President, senior members of the administration, governors, and members of Congress along with 1000s of RJC activists from around the country. We will look for dates in the near future when we can reschedule and when the current health crisis allows.”

March 11, 2020 at 10:47 PM EDT
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Defense Dept. bans service member travel to virus-stricken countries for 60 days

By Dan Lamothe

The Defense Department announced Wednesday night that it is implementing a mandatory 60-day ban on all travel for service members, employees and their families to nations that have been the most seriously afflicted by coronavirus, and a ban on some official travel to other locations, as well.

The decision will affect thousands of service members and their families who are assigned in countries where the U.S. military keeps a large presence abroad, including South Korea, Italy and Japan.

“The Department of Defense’s top priority remains the protection and welfare of our people,” Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said in a statement. “While directing this prudent action, I continue to delegate all necessary authority to commanders to make further decisions based on their assessments to protect their people and ensure mission readiness. While we deal with this fluid and evolving situation, I remain confident in our ability to protect our service members, civilians and families.”

The ban on all travel to locations designated as Level 3, such as China, South Korea and Italy, affects reassignments known as permanent changes of station (PCSs), temporary duty and government-funded leave, the Pentagon said in a statement. The ban goes into effect Friday, with service secretaries and commanders having the ability to issue waivers if they determine it “necessary to ensure mission readiness and address specific cases,” the Pentagon said.

The department also said it will impose a ban on official travel to Level 2 locations, which include Japan, for the family members of service members and civilian service members for the next 60 days.

Anyone traveling to Level 2 or Level 3 locations also must adhere to health-care protocols for travelers, including a screening and 14 days of self-monitoring at home. The department acknowledged that the locations identified as Level 3 locations could change. Defense officials will adhere to assessments from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine how to act.

March 11, 2020 at 10:42 PM EDT
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New infections, death toll in China continue to steadily tick down

By Anna Fifield

The coronavirus infection rate in China continues to drop to almost negligible levels, with only 15 newly confirmed cases reported Thursday, eight of them in the epicenter province of Hubei.

In addition, there were six new cases found in people arriving in China from abroad, the National Health Commission said. Only 11 people had died from the virus on Wednesday, all but one of them in Hubei, continuing the sharp decline seen in recent weeks.

China has been touting the success of its strictly enforced lockdown in containing the spread of the virus, as other countries around the world begin to follow suit or at least think about it. President Xi Jinping this week visited Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus emerged late last year, a sign of China’s confidence that it has brought the outbreak under control domestically.

Of the 80,793 confirmed cases in China, 62,793 of the patients have recovered, the National Health Commission said. The death toll in China stands at 3,169.

March 11, 2020 at 10:36 PM EDT
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Trump quickly corrects statement that Europe travel ban will apply to trade, not just people

By Hannah Knowles

About an hour after his address announcing a 30-day ban on travel from Europe to the U.S. to slow the spread of the coronavirus, President Trump took to Twitter to correct his statement that the sweeping new restrictions would apply not just to people but to trade.

"Hoping to get the payroll tax cut approved by both Republicans and Democrats, and please remember, very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe,” Trump tweeted at 10:13 p.m. “The restriction stops people not goods.”

The president’s 9 p.m. address to the nation had left some marveling at the disruption he outlined.

“And trade and cargo... This will have a huge economic impact if he goes through with it,” Shawn Donnan, a senior writer for Bloomberg Economics, had tweeted shortly after the announcement. “A bigger disruption, dare I say, than any tariffs.”

March 11, 2020 at 10:35 PM EDT
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President Trump’s address to the nation on coronavirus, annotated

By Amber Phillips

President Trump addressed the nation Wednesday from the Oval Office, with the coronavirus spreading in the United States, markets plunging and amid criticism over how his administration is handling it.

On the same day the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic, Trump announced that he’s sharply restricting travel from Europe, that health insurance companies have agreed to waive co-payments for coronavirus treatment and that he would take emergency action to provide “financial relief” for workers who are affected.

March 11, 2020 at 10:34 PM EDT
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NBA suspends season indefinitely after player tests positive for coronavirus

By Ben Golliver

The NBA suspended its season indefinitely Wednesday night after a member of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus.

The announcement came hours after a conference call between NBA owners to discuss the league’s coronavirus response plans failed to produce a resolution, and shortly after the Jazz’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was abruptly postponed before tip-off.

“A player on the Utah Jazz has preliminary tested positive for covid-19,” the NBA’s statement read. “The test result was reported shortly prior to tip-off of [Wednesday’s] game. At that time, [Wednesday’s] game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena. The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of [Wednesday’s] schedule until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Members of both the Thunder and Jazz went through warm-ups and starting lineup introductions at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City before the three game officials huddled shortly before tip-off. After a brief conversation, the officials sent both teams back to their locker rooms.

During the delay, which lasted approximately 35 minutes, the Thunder proceeded with their halftime entertainment. Finally, the Thunder’s public address announcer informed fans that the game would be postponed.

Thousands of fans who remained in attendance slowly filed out, with some boos heard on the television broadcast.

March 11, 2020 at 10:32 PM EDT
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Asian markets, oil fall sharply after Trump bans Europe travel

By David Crawshaw

HONG KONG — Asian markets and oil prices slumped after President Trump banned travel from most of Europe in an effort to contain the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has declared a global pandemic.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index was down 5 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 3.8 percent by late morning Thursday. U.S. oil futures and the Brent global benchmark were both down about 7 percent, while U.S. stock futures were down about 4.7 percent.

With draconian measures in place worldwide try to contain the virus, many economists now predict a world recession. The Dow Jones industrial average lost almost 1,500 points Wednesday and now sits in bear-market territory.

March 11, 2020 at 10:32 PM EDT
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Staffer for Sen. Maria Cantwell tests postive for covid-19

By Michael Brice-Saddler

A staff member in the D.C. office of Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) tested positive for coronavirus, Cantwell’s office announced late Wednesday. The staffer reportedly had no known contact with Cantwell.

The staffer has been in isolation since showing symptoms, according to a statement. Cantwell will close her D.C. office this week for deep cleaning, and staff have been asked to telework.

“The individual who tested positive for covid-19 has had no known contact with the senator or other members of Congress,” the statement read. “The senator is requesting that testing be done on any other staffers who have been in contact with the individual and show symptoms.”

March 11, 2020 at 10:17 PM EDT
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What the U.S. can learn from extreme coronavirus lockdowns in China and Italy

By Emily Rauhala

China locked down megacities. Italy has put its entire populace into quarantine. Now New York’s governor has turned the town of New Rochelle into a “containment zone,” and President Trump has barred travelers from Europe from entering the United States for a month.

As the coronavirus continues its spread, officials are beginning to consider whether the United States should enact the type of large-scale, mandatory lockdowns touted by Beijing and praised at times by World Health Organization officials.

Read more here.

March 11, 2020 at 10:10 PM EDT
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Trump suspends travel from Europe for 30 days to slow the spread of coronavirus

By Felicia Sonmez and Hannah Knowles

In an Oval Office address Wednesday night, President Trump announced a series of steps aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus, including a 30-day ban on travel from Europe to the United States and the deferral of tax payments for affected businesses.

The ban on travel from Europe will begin Friday at midnight and will not include the United Kingdom, Trump said. He added that there will be exemptions for Americans who have received “appropriate screenings,” although he did not go into detail.

In his brief address to the nation, Trump described the coronavirus as “a foreign virus” that “started in China and is now spreading throughout the world.” He blamed Europe for not enacting strict early travel restrictions on China as the United States did and said American clusters of the virus were “seeded by travel from Europe.”

“The virus will not have a chance against us,” Trump said. “No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States.”

The Department of Homeland Security’s acting secretary, Chad Wolf, said in a statement that Trump has suspended entry to the United States for “most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival” — a rule that does not apply to legal permanent residents, immediate family of U.S. citizens (“generally,” Wolf qualified) and some others.

“I applaud the president for making this tough and necessary decision,” Wolf said.

The tone of Trump’s speech contrasted sharply with his previous remarks on the topic. Trump has repeatedly played down the severity of the crisis and has continued to shake hands with supporters and make plans for campaign events in defiance of his own administration’s guidance.

Trump did, however, repeat his assertion that the risk to most Americans is “very, very low,” even though public health experts in his administration have called for the public to take the matter seriously.

In addition to the travel ban, Trump announced that he will direct the Small Business Administration to provide low-interest loans to affected businesses and will ask Congress to provide the agency with an additional $50 billion in emergency authority.

Trump also said he will instruct the Treasury Department to defer tax payments without interest or penalties for certain individuals and businesses that have been affected. And he called on Congress to provide “immediate payroll tax belief” in an effort to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the nation’s economy.

“This is not a financial crisis,” Trump said. “This is just a temporary moment of time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.”

He warned of the infection’s danger to the elderly and said the government would urge nursing homes to suspend all nonessential visits.

March 11, 2020 at 9:57 PM EDT
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Trump’s Europe travel ban flies in face of recommendations by WHO and health experts

By William Wan

For months, health experts and the World Health Organization have strongly advised against border closings and targeted travel bans, like the one Trump just announced against Europe.

“Travel restrictions can cause more harm than good by hindering info sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies,” the head of the World Health Organization said shortly before the Trump administration’s earlier decision to ban travel from China.

The reason travel bans aren’t a good idea, experts say, is that they can complicate the global response to an outbreak and lead to negative effects in the long term.

Travel bans often lead to economic hardships for the banned countries, making them less likely to disclose outbreaks in the future. China, for example, initially tamped down reports during the 2002 SARS outbreak and initially with the current coronavirus outbreak.

Such bans can cause people to simply keep their travel surreptitious, making it harder to do crucial contact tracing of the infected. It can also choke the supply chain for medical supplies, drugs and other essentials. Travel bans, experts also point out, can cause friction, hampering information sharing and international efforts — as has happened between the United States and China at a time when coordination and transparency have been crucial to fighting the virus.

“It’s entirely unwise,” said Lawrence Gostin, global health law professor at Georgetown University. "First of all, it violates WHO recommendations and treaties that the U.S. has signed on to. But it doesn’t even do anything to impact the epidemic. Many of the countries in Europe besides Italy have just as many cases or less than the United States. The idea this would reduce transmission here is not based on evidence. The reality is, germs don’t respect borders.”

March 11, 2020 at 9:35 PM EDT
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Late-night shows ban studio audiences amid coronavirus fears

By Steven Zeitchik

Late-night television, which has long relied on studio audiences to energize hosts and cue viewers, is doing away with the practice for some of its most important shows in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

NBC, CBS, TBS, HBO and Comedy Central have all announced that they will now shoot their New York-based late-night programs without an audience. Among the shows affected are some of the late-night world’s most prominent: “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee," “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” Bee’s program, a weekly show, will go audience-free beginning Wednesday; the remaining programs will start the practice next week.

“The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority,” NBC said in a statement, which in addition to Fallon will also “suspend live audiences” for “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” “The company is hoping to do its part to help to decrease the rate of transmission in our communities,” it added.

The news comes on the heels of “The View” and other daytime programs also shooting in an empty theater as officials seek to contain the spreading virus. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 48 reported cases of coronavirus in New York City.