WASHINGTON — Key updates:
- Disneyland in California and Disney World resorts in Florida close theme parks over coronavirus concerns.
- Mormons cancel all global church activities.
- MLB cancels spring training, pushes back 2020 opening day by two weeks.
- New York's governor ordered all Broadway theaters to shut their doors in the face of ongoing coronavirus concerns.
- NHL pauses its 2019-2020 season, while ESPN is reporting the MLB will pause its season.
- The PGA Tour canceled the rest of The Players Championship and said it would not play the next three weeks.
- President Donald Trump says he is sharply restricting travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days beginning Friday night, but with exceptions for American citizens and regions including the United Kingdom.
- Wall Street futures fell 3% in the hour after Trump's speech.
- The NBA suspended its season Wednesday night after a player tested positive for the virus. The NCAA also announced it would hold its men's and women's basketball tournaments without fans.
- Actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced they have tested positive for coronavirus in Australia.
President Donald Trump says all travel from Europe to the United States will be suspended for 30 days amid the coronavirus pandemic, starting Friday night. There will be exceptions for travel from the United Kingdom.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad F. Wolf said the ban does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.
Homeland Security also had to clarify that the restrictions would apply only to most foreign nationals who have been in the “Schengen Area” at any point for 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the U.S. The area includes France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Austria, Belgium and others.
The State Department also cautioned U.S. citizens to “reconsider travel abroad” due to the virus and associated quarantines and restrictions.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife tests positive
The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The prime minister had tweeted earlier on Thursday that he is also self-isolating and monitoring until Sophie Grégoire Trudeau's results returned. Now, she's tested positive with COVID-19.
Trudeau's office said Thursday night that his wife is feeling well and will remain in isolation.
PGA Tour cancels events after initially continuing without fans
The PGA Tour first said there would be no fans. Now there will be no players. In a late night decision, the PGA Tour canceled the rest of The Players Championship and said it would not play the next three weeks.
Commissioner Jay Monahan had said earlier Thursday he was comfortable with the tournaments going on without fans because it's an outdoor sport. He said Thursday night the new coronavirus situation is changing rapidly and the right thing for the PGA Tour to do is to pause. The next scheduled event would be the Masters.
Earlier in the day, Monahan said he spoke with President Donald Trump, Governor Ron DeSantis and local and national health officials about the virus.
Initially, all PGA Tour events were moving forward as scheduled without fans. Monahan had said golf is different from other sports canceling events because it's outdoor over expansive properties.
But the PGA statement announcing the cancellation says, "We were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate. But at this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause."
Disney World Resort closes over coronavirus
The Florida theme park and resort said it was closing due to coronavirus concerns. Park officials said there were no confirmed cases at the park, but they were shutting things down as a precaution
Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures beginning Saturday, March 14, through the end of the month.
The hotels at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice. The retail and dining complexes, Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and Disney Village at Disneyland Paris, will remain open. Domestic Walt Disney Company employees who are able to work from home are being asked to do so, including those at The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Direct-to-Consumer, and Parks, Experiences and Products.
Cast members and other crew who run the park will continue to be paid, according to a Disney Parks announcement.
The closure comes after the Disneyland Resort in California also closed amid COVID-19 concerns.
XFL announces it won't play regular-season games
XFL, the winter and spring professional football league launched by WWE CEO Vince McMahon, announced on Thursday that it won't play regular-season games because of the coronavirus.
Read the full statement below:
"Currently, the XFL will not be playing its regular-season games. However, all players will be paid their base pay and benefits for the 2020 regular season. All XFL ticket holders will be issued refunds or credit toward future games. The XFL is committed to playing a full season in 2021 and future years."
Virus-related sports cancellations leave little to bet on. There's still darts. Or New Zealand cricket.
The fast-spreading coronavirus has led to an unprecedented slew of cancellations or suspensions of most major professional and college sports events in the U.S., particularly within the last 48 hours. Baseball, basketball, hockey, pro soccer and college basketball all announced they were either suspending or postponing the start of their seasons due to the virus.
For those who routinely bet on sports, it has taken most of the action off the board. Its impact on sportsbooks could depend on how long the shutdowns last.
Mormons cancel all global church activities
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is suspending all of its worship services globally because of the spread of the new coronavirus.
The decision was made hours after Utah's governor recommended limiting group gatherings in the state to no more than 100 people for at least two weeks.
The Utah-based faith sent a letter Thursday to members informing them of a decision that also calls on a temporary suspension of all church activities until further notice.
The move comes a day after the faith announced it would hold a major conference in early April without attendees.
It is the first time since a 1957 flu epidemic that the religion has taken the step of barring church members from attending in person.
Disneyland, Disney California Adventure parks close
The 'Happiest Place on Earth' in California is closing from March 14 until the end of the month over coronavirus concerns.
In a statement, the parks said hotels will remain open until March 16 to give guests the ability to make necessary travel arrangements.
The cast members are still expected to be paid during the closure.
Here's Disney's full statement:
"While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Disneyland Resort, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California’s executive order and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month. The Hotels of Disneyland Resort will remain open until Monday, March 16 to give guests the ability to make necessary travel arrangements; Downtown Disney will remain open. We will monitor the ongoing situation and follow the advice and guidance of federal and state officials and health agencies. Disney will continue to pay cast members during this time.
Disneyland Resort will work with guests who wish to change or cancel their visitis, and will provide refunds to those who wish to change to cancel their visits, and will provide refunds to those who have hotel bookings during the closure period. We anticipate heavy call volume over the next several days and appreciate guests’ patience as we work hard to respond to inquiries.
Please contact The Walt Disney Travel Company for questions and cancellations at 714-520-5050"
NCAA cancels March Madness over coronavirus concerns
College basketball's national championship tournaments have been canceled because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.
Originally, the tournaments were planned to move ahead without the general public in attendance. However, the NCAA president and board of governors on Thursday officially announced the games will not happen.
Here's the NCAA's full statement:
"Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to the spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities."
Some smaller conferences have already wrapped up their tournaments.
Stocks plummet, again
Stocks plummet again as travel bans and virus-related shutdowns escalate. The Dow lost more than 2,300 points or 10% on Thursday.
The stock market had its biggest drop since the Black Monday crash of 1987 as fears of economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis deepened.
The sell-of came despite action from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. The steep drops over the last month have wiped out most of the big run-up on Wall Street since President Donald Trump's inauguration.
Markets have turned turbulent amid a cascade of shutdowns across the globe and rising worries that the White House and other authorities around the world can’t or won’t help the weakening economy any time soon.
The severity of Wall Street’s rout this week may echo the swoons for stocks at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, but that’s where the parallels end.
Back then, investors were rattled as Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and other big financial institutions either failed or nearly did under the weight of bad mortgages as the housing market bubble burst.
The government intervened to shore up the banking system, which eventually allowed credit to flow freely again and helped set the economy on a path toward a painfully slow but lasting recovery from the Great Recession.
This time, the financial markets are not the problem, which means the government’s efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus are more likely to have a bigger impact on the market than fiscal stimulus, analysts say.
“This is very different from 2008, it’s a biological event,” said Nela Richardson, investment strategist at Edward Jones. “The way to resolve this, the way to get past this, is efforts to contain the virus, and that's going to be painful in the short-term.”
MLB cancels spring training, pushes back 2020 opening day
Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that spring training games will be suspended and the regular start of the 2020 season will be delayed by at least two weeks due to the coronavirus.
In a statement from MLB, it said all 30 clubs were part of the conversation before the decision was made.
Here's the full press release from the MLB:
"Following a call with the 30 Clubs, and after consultation with the Major League Baseball Players Association, Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. today announced that MLB has decided to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic. This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans.
MLB will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season. Guidance related to daily operations and workouts will be relayed to Clubs in the coming days. As of 4:00 p.m. ET today, forthcoming Spring Training games have been cancelled, and 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games in Tucson, Arizona have been postponed indefinitely.
MLB and the Clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule. MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.
Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans. MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus."
Broadway shuts its doors over ongoing coronavirus concerns
New York's governor ordered all Broadway theaters to shut their doors in the face of ongoing coronavirus concerns.
The move plunges into darkness one of the city's most popular tourist attractions and causes turmoil in the run-up to the Tony Awards. Shows will resume April 13.
The pressure on Broadway to go dark steadily increased as other entertainment hubs shuttered, including Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, the NBA, NHL, CinemaCon, Coachella and Major League Soccer.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday the temporary ban of gatherings with more than 500 people. The governor said the ban would start for most places at 5 p.m. Friday, though Cuomo said it does not apply to schools, hospitals, nursing homes and mass transit.
NHL pauses 2019-2020 season
The National Hockey League decided to pause its season.
The National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on Thursday about the decision:
"In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019‑20 season beginning with tonight’s games.
The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures. However, following 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.
We will continue to monitor all the appropriate medical advice, and we will encourage our players and other members of the NHL community to take all reasonable precautions – including by self-quarantine, where appropriate. Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.”
The NHL has followed the lead of other leagues and organizations, suspending play to help curtail the spread of the new coronavirus.
The NHL has not said any player has tested positive for the virus. The NHL is halting play with 189 games left in the regular season and sparking uncertainty about how many more if any could be go on before the playoffs. A handful of European hockey leagues have already called off the remainder of their seasons.
NASCAR to hold races without fans
NASCAR announced on Thursday that race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway will be held without fans.
The only people permitted at the race include competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel.
USL Championship temporarily suspends play
The United Soccer League on Thursday announced the decision to suspend the 2020 season for a minimum of 30 days.
“It was very clear from our owners that the health and safety of players, fans and staff was their top priority,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a statement. “In consultation with local, state and national health authorities, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security, we have temporarily suspended match play for a minimum of 30 days.”
Sun Belt Conference cancels remaining games
On Thursday, the Presidents and Chancellors and Directors of Athletics announced the Sun Belt Conference will cancel its remaining games of both the men and women Championships scheduled for March 14-15 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.
The decision comes after concerns are mounting surrounding the coronavirus.
Brazilian official who met Trump tests positive for virus
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s communications director tested positive for the new coronavirus, just days after traveling with Bolsonaro to a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida
A statement from the president’s communications office on Thursday said director Fábio Wajngarten's test results have come back positive, and that the presidency is adopting preventive measures to ensure Bolsonaro’s health. Wajngarten joined Bolsonaro on a three-day trip to the U.S. and on Saturday was at the Mar-a-Lago resort, where he posted a photo of himself posing beside Trump. A video from the event also showed him standing directly behind both presidents as they addressed a crowd.
The White House later released a statement that said President Trump and Vice President Pence had "almost no interactions" with the person who tested positive and don't need to be tested at this time.
Democratic debate between Sanders, Biden moved from Phoenix to DC
Two days after announcing the Phoenix Democratic Debate would go on without an audience in attendance, the debate will no longer happen in Phoenix due to COVID-19 concerns.
The debate will be moved to Washington, D.C. according to CNN.
The debate between Democratic front-runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders was supposed to take place March 15 at Arizona Federal Theatre, formerly known as Comerica Theatre.
All Power Five basketball tournaments canceled
All five Power Five conferences have canceled their basketball tournaments, putting the NCAA Tournament in doubt.
The Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Pac-12 conferences were all preparing to play games in large arenas across the country, but with few people in the buildings.
"The Big Ten Conference will use this time to work with the appropriate medical experts and institutional leadership to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic," a statement on the conference's website read. "The main priority of the Big Ten Conference continues to be the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all developing and relevant information on the COVID-19 virus."
The organization then released a statement canceling the remainder of the tournament.
The SEC announced the cancellation of its tournament in Nashville on the same day.
"Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville," the SEC tweeted.
American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco announced Thursday morning that the 2020 Air Force Reserve Men's Basketball Championship would not be played.
"The decision was made in consultation with the Conference’s leadership in light of recent developments regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This is a proactive decision to protect the safety, health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff and all involved with the tournament," he said.
The Atlantic Coast conference said it would immediately cancer the remainder of its 2020 tournament. Florida State will represent the league as the ACC champion in the NCAA tournament.
The Big 12 Conference canceled both its men's and women's tournaments at a press conference Thursday.
"We believe this is the right thing," Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. "I feel terrible for the seniors involved in this tournament. We just felt in the interest of heeding the advice we were hearing and being conservative with everybody's best health that cancellation was the right outcome for both our men's and women's tournaments."
The PAC-12 Conference canceled the remainder of its Men's Basketball Tournament. "The decision has been made in consultation with our member universities in an effort to limit the spread of the virus," a statement said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in self-isolation after wife exhibits flu-like symptoms
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in self-isolation after returning from a speaking engagement in London. His communications director said Trudeau's wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, had exhibited flu-like symptoms including a low fever. Trudeau does not have any symptoms.
he will spend the day in briefings, phone calls and virtual meetings at home.
"We will continue to base all our decisions on the best evidence, science and advice from our highly trained medical professionals and public health officials to protect the wellbeing of Canadians," a statement from his communications director said.
Biden to press contrast with Trump in coronavirus address
Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden is to deliver an address on the coronavirus, less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump spoke to the nation from the Oval Office about a public health crisis he’d previously downplayed.
The speech is to be delivered from the former vice president’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday.
Biden aides pitch it as a demonstration how Biden might conduct himself as president in response to a severe challenge, while contrasting himself with a Republican president he has lambasted as erratic and incompetent. For Biden, the ideal will be to give voters a practical example of one of his core arguments: that he’d be ready on Inauguration Day to handle whatever trials reach the Oval Office.
Starbucks stores may go drive-thru only or limit seating
Some Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada may become drive-thru only while others could limit the number of people allowed inside.
The company is making the announcement Thursday, one day after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of coronavirus a pandemic. CEO Kevin Johnson said stores will be closed as a last resort, and those decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
The Seattle roaster has approximately 15,000 U.S. stores and 1,600 Canadian stores. Starbucks has already increased the pace of sanitizing stores and put into place a temporary ban on use of personal cups or in-store mugs and glassware.
Report: Another Utah Jazz player tests positive for coronavirus
According to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell has tested positive for coronavirus. The NBA suspended its season Wednesday night after discovering Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
NHL cancels morning practices, team meetings
The NHL announced that it has asked teams not to hold morning skates, practices or team meetings on Thursday, "given the uncertainty regarding next steps regarding the coronavirus."
Reports say the league's Board of Governors is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. Eastern and could decide whether or not to suspend the season, like the NBA chose to do last night.
Toronto Raptors self-quarantine players
The Toronto Raptors say they will go into self-quarantine because they recently played against the Utah Jazz and Rudy Gobert.
Gobert has tested positive for coronavirus.
“Out of an abundance of caution, members of the Raptors traveling party have been tested for the virus. We await those results. Our players, coaches and traveling staff have all been advised to go into self-isolation for 14 days, which means minimizing contact in accordance with public health guidelines. Our team doctors remain in communication with infection control specialists and public health authorities, and we will continue to abide by their advice,” the Raptors said.
Congress shuts U.S. Capitol, House and Senate buildings to public until April 1
Congress is shutting the Capitol and all House and Senate office buildings to the public until April in reaction to the spread of the coronavirus.
The House and Senate sergeants at arms said in a statement that the closure will begin at 5 p.m. EDT Thursday. Lawmakers, aides, journalists and official visitors will be allowed into the buildings.
The statement says officials were acting “out of concern for the health and safety of congressional employees as well as the public.”
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown closes DC office
After a staff member for one senator has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown to close his D.C. office.
The staff member was not a member of Brown's office and his staffers have not shown any symptoms. However, his office said "the health and safety of Ohioans" was its highest priority.
The senator will now be working by phone and will consult with medical officials to determine the best time to reopen the office at the Capitol.
Viking and Princess cruises suspend service
Viking Cruises has announced it will suspend all ocean and river cruises until May 1. Chairman Torstein Hagen announced the decision in a letter to Viking guests posted on its website.
"Since we started Viking nearly 23 years ago, we have always cared first and foremost about our guests and our employees," he wrote. "I am writing today because the situation has now become such that operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions, which could diminish the travel experiences for which our guests have been planning. As a private company with strong finances, we do not have to worry about quarterly profit expectations – and that flexibility allows us the ability to do what is best for our guests and our employees, as we have always done."
Carnival is also suspending its Princess Cruises. The suspension starts Thursday and goes through May 10. President Jan Swartz announced the decision in a video, calling it the "most difficult decision in our history."
"In the interest of doing what's right and upholding our core values, I regretfully am announcing a 60 day pause of our Princess global ship operations," she said.
Swartz said the fleet of 18 ships will be taken out of service and the environmental conditions on board would be "reset."
Congressional doctor estimates number of infected in U.S.
Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician of Congress, has told Senate staff that 70 million to 150 million people in the U.S. to contract the coronvirus, according to reports from Axios and NBC News.
The population of the U.S. is 330 million according to census figures, so the prediction means about 1/5 to about 1/2 of the U.S. would be infected.
126,000 people worldwide have been infected, according to the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins. More than 68,000 of those patients have recovered. Most patients have mild symptoms and rebound within two weeks, while those with more serious ailments — including pneumonia — may not improve for up to six weeks.
IRS: HSA-eligible high-deductible health plans can pay for coronavirus-related testing
The Internal Revenue Service issued a statement Wenesday that high-deductible health plans can pay for coronavirus-related testing and treatment, without jeopardizing their status.
"In Notice 2020-15, posted today on IRS.gov, the IRS said that health plans that otherwise qualify as HDHPs will not lose that status merely because they cover the cost of testing for or treatment of COVID-19 before plan deductibles have been met. The IRS also noted that, as in the past, any vaccination costs continue to count as preventive care and can be paid for by an HDHP," the IRS said in a statement.
The notice applies only to HSA-eligible HDHPs. Employees and other taxpayers in any other type of health plan with specific questions about their own plan and what it covers should contact the provider of their plan.
U.S. senator's staffer tests positive: Reports
A staff member in the Washington, D.C., office of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to multiple reports.
Cantwell will close both her D.C. and Seattle offices and her staff will work remotely, Politico reports.
The Daily Beast reports the staffer has had no known contact with Cantwell or other members of Congress.
Politico says this is the first confirmed case of the virus on Capitol Hill. A handful of congress members have self-quarantined because of possible exposure.
Philippine president to be tested for virus
Philippine officials say President Rodrigo Duterte will be tested for the new coronavirus after he met with Cabinet officials who were exposed to infected people.
A senator and former presidential aide said Duterte has no symptoms of COVID-19 but wanted to make sure he is healthy and could continue to engage with the public.
Dow sinks 8% as a sell-off slamming global markets deepens
Stocks are sharply lower after resuming trading as traders fear that not enough is being done to contain the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dow industrials are down roughly 1,800 points, or 8%, following a 15-minute trading halt.
The sell-off slamming global markets came after President Trump imposed a travel ban on most of Europe and offered few new measures to contain the impact.
European markets are down 9%, even after the European Central Bank announced more stimulus measures. World markets are enduring violent swings amid uncertainty about how badly the outbreak will hit the economy.
NBA postpones season; NCAA keeps fans away
The NBA announced it was suspending its season “until further notice" after a Utah Jazz player tested positive Wednesday for the coronavirus.
The move came only hours after the majority of the league's owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that it would hold the men's and women's basketball tournaments without fans in attendance. Individual conferences followed suit and announced the remainder of their tournaments would be held without fans.
The NHL says it expects to provide an update on its plans Thursday.
Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish said he thinks a Major League Baseball player will get coronavirus eventually, and when that happens, he expects MLB to suspend its season just as the NBA did.
Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson test positive
Tom Hanks says he and wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Hanks says in a statement Wednesday that the couple are in Australia and felt tired, with colds, body aches and slight fevers.
The Oscar-winner says they were tested because of their symptoms and in his words, “to play things right.” The 63-year-old actor said they will be tested, observed and isolated for as long as necessary.