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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

March 16, 2020 - 8:07 PM

Holed up in the US: Coronavirus shutdown threatens jobs

Millions of Americans holed up at home against the coronavirus Monday, with many of them thrown out of work until further notice, as authorities tightened the epic clampdown and the list of businesses forced to close across the U.S. extended to restaurants, bars, gyms and casinos.

With the U.S. economy shuddering to a near-halt, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted nearly 3,000 points, or 13%, its biggest one-day percentage loss since the Black Monday crash of 1987.

The rapid work stoppage had Americans fretting about their jobs and their savings, threatened to overwhelm unemployment benefit programs, and heightened fears the country could plunge into a recession.

President Donald Trump acknowledged that possibility for the first time and suggested the nation may be dealing with the virus until July or August.

The number of infections in the U.S. climbed to nearly 4,500, with at least 81 deaths, two-thirds of them in hard-hit Washington state, where many residents of a suburban Seattle nursing home have been cut down by the virus. Worldwide, more than 7,100 have died.

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Stocks plunge as Wall Street, White House see recession risk

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. stock market plunged to its worst day in more than three decades as voices from Wall Street to the White House said the coronavirus may be dragging the economy into a recession.

Monday's 12% drop for the S&P 500 means it has plummeted nearly 30% since setting a record less than a month ago, and it’s at its lowest point since the end of 2018. Losses were steep Monday, accelerating in the last half hour of trading after President Donald Trump said the economy may be headed for a recession and asked Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

The plunge came even though the Federal Reserve rushed to announce a new round of emergency actions before markets opened for trading Monday. The moves are aimed at propping up the economy and getting financial markets running smoothly again, but they may have raised fears even further. Investors are also waiting for the White House and Congress to offer more aid to an economy that’s increasingly shutting down by the hour.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 2,997 points, or 12.9%, and, likewise, the S&P 500 had its worst loss since the Black Monday crash of 1987. It surpassed Thursday's loss of 10% for the Dow.

The market's losses the last few weeks are the steepest since the 2008 financial crisis dragged the economy into the Great Recession. Trump and professional investors say the stock market could bounce back strongly as soon as health experts get the virus under control.

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Health chief halts Ohio primary; 3 other states forge ahead

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio called off its presidential primary just hours before polls were set to open there and in three other states, an 11th-hour decision the governor said was necessary to prevent further fueling the coronavirus pandemic that has paralyzed the nation.

Health Director Amy Acton declared a health emergency that would prevent the polls from opening out of fear of exposing voters and volunteer poll workers — many of them elderly — to the virus. Arizona, Florida and Illinois were proceeding with their presidential primaries.

DeWine failed to get a judge to halt the primary Monday evening, even though the governor contended the election results wouldn't be viewed as legitimate in light of the pandemic.

“To conduct an election tomorrow would would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at a unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus,” he said.

It wasn't clear what would happen, but DeWine said officials were considering how to give voters an opportunity to cast their ballots.

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US tells older people to stay home, all ages to avoid crowds

WASHINGTON (AP) — Racing to stall an expected surge of coronavirus cases, the White House on Monday released a series of sweeping guidelines that for the next 15 days will temporarily rewrite the norms of American society.

President Donald Trump, employing a newly sombre tone about the crisis enveloping the globe, urged all older Americans to stay home and everyone to avoid crowds and eating out at restaurants. The president for the first time acknowledged that the pandemic may send the economy into a recession and suggested that the nation may be dealing with the virus until “July or August.”

The guidelines were released to an uneasy country. The stock market had its worst day since 1987, America's largest school system shut its doors and questions remained about the administration's ability to test for the virus and provide hospital space for those who fall ill.

Among the new recommendations: Over the next half month, Americans should not gather in groups of more than 10 people, schooling should be at home and discretionary travel and social visits should be avoided. If anyone in a household tests positive for the virus, everyone who lives there should stay home. The administration did not say how old people should be to follow the advice to stay home.

“We will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” Trump said. “We can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”

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Biden wins Washington primary, capturing 5 out of 6 states

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden has been declared the winner of last week's Democratic presidential primary in Washington state, giving him victories in five out of six states that voted March 10.

After nearly a week of counting votes, the former vice-president on Monday held onto a small lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that turned out to be insurmountable.

Washington was a state that Sanders had been hoping to win. In 2016, he won more than two-thirds of the delegates from the Washington caucuses over Hillary Clinton.

Of the state’s 89 pledged delegates, only 31 are allocated based on the statewide result. The remaining 58 are determined based on the results of the state’s 10 congressional districts, and those results might not be calculated until the election is certified by the secretary of state’s office, which could be as late as March 27.

Biden won four other states last Tuesday: Missouri, Mississippi, Michigan and Idaho. Sanders won North Dakota.

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As pandemic spreads, China's ex-epicenter down to 1 new case

MADRID (AP) — The battle to contain the coronavirus reached new urgency, as more governments locked down borders and ordered new closures and restrictions and pleas went out to funnel masks and ventilators to places struggling with soaring numbers of sick patients.

The growing sense of crisis rocked financial markets Monday, particularly on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 12.9%. Investors' fears that the pandemic will throw the economy into a recession sent the market to its worst one-day loss since 1987.

The shift in the battle lines was made clear by tallies showing cases outside China have surpassed those inside it and Spain now has the fourth-most cases in the world. The central Chinese city that was the former epicenter where the viral illness was first detected in December was down to just one new case on Tuesday.

With the number of cases worldwide topping 181,000, a surge of patients in Madrid's hospitals fueled worries across Europe of what lies ahead.

“There is no easy or quick way out of this extremely difficult situation,” said Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, in the first televised speech by a Dutch premier since 1973.

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US census faces challenges counting small, poor Latino towns

GUADALUPE, Ariz. (AP) — The two white-washed, mission-style churches and old, wooden homes in this town of mostly Latinos and Native Americans seem misplaced near luxury apartments in Phoenix and a suburb surrounding it.

Founded by Yaqui Indian refugees from Mexico more than a century ago, Guadalupe is named for Mexico's patron saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and is fiercely proud of its history. The town known for sacred Easter rituals featuring deer-antlered dancers also is wary of outsiders as it prepares for the 2020 census.

Town leaders hope to ease any reluctance to join the once-a-decade count, which could decide if Guadalupe gets more federal money to feed a tiny $12 million budget already pressed to fill potholes and mend sewage lines.

"Every revenue stream is important to a community as small as this one,” Town Manager Jeff Kulaga said.

Across America, small, poor communities such as Guadalupe, each with its own unique ethnic makeup, pose formidable challenges for census workers. Language barriers, poverty and a population that's often more transient and distrustful of government can make them especially hard to count, an Associated Press analysis of nationwide data has found.

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AP Exclusive: Coronavirus vaccine test opens with 1st doses

SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. researchers gave the first shots in a first test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine Monday, leading off a worldwide hunt for protection even as the pandemic surges.

With careful jabs in the arms of four healthy volunteers, scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle began an anxiously awaited first-stage study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed in record time after the new virus exploded out of China and fanned out across the globe.

“We’re team coronavirus now,” Kaiser Permanente study leader Dr. Lisa Jackson said on the eve of the experiment. “Everyone wants to do what they can in this emergency.”

The Associated Press observed as the study’s first participant, an operations manager at a small tech company, received the injection in an exam room.

“We all feel so helpless. This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” Jennifer Haller, 43, of Seattle said before getting vaccinated. Her two teenagers “think it's cool” that she's taking part in the study.

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MLB delays opening day to mid-May at earliest due to virus

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball pushed back opening day until mid-May at the earliest on Monday because of the new coronavirus after the federal government recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement following a conference call with executives of the 30 teams.

“The clubs remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins,” the commissioner's office said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Sunday that gatherings of 50 people or more be cancelled or postponed across the country for the next eight weeks.

“The opening of the 2020 regular season will be pushed back in accordance with that guidance,” Manfred said.

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With 208th song on Hot 100 chart, Drake sets new record

NEW YORK (AP) — Drake has landed his 208th song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, setting a new record for most songs on the music chart.

The rapper's latest track, “Oprah's Bank Account" with DaBaby and Lil Yachty, debuted at No. 89 on the Hot 100 chart this week and helps Drake surpass the 207-song run the cast of “Glee" held on the chart.

“Glee" aired its popular run from 2009 through 2015, and its cover versions of well-known songs would debut on the charts after episodes aired. The cast released several platinum- and gold-selling albums and even earned a Grammy nomination in a category reserved for pop groups, pitting the cast against the likes of Maroon 5, Sade, Paramore and Train.

Drake, who launched his entertainment career as a cast member of the high school series “Degrassi: The Next Generation," first charted on the Hot 100 with “Best I Ever Had" in 2009, eventually reaching the No. 2 spot. He has topped the chart with the songs “One Dance," “God's Plan," “Nice for What" and “In My Feelings." His collaborations with Rihanna — “What's My Name?" and “Work" — also reached No. 1.

Lil Wayne is behind Drake and “Glee" with 168 songs to reach the Hot 100 chart. The top 10 also includes Elvis Presley, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Chris Brown, Taylor Swift and Future.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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