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Schools Close and Markets Plunge Over Coronavirus Fears, 20+ US States See Infections

03-09-2020
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European, Asian, and US markets plunged today on fears that the coronavirus may weaken economies. Falling oil prices are fueling those concerns as people cut back on travel – a blow not only to oil-producing countries, but also those that rely on tourism dollars. At one point, stocks plunged so dramatically on Wall Street that all trading was temporarily halted to stem the panic.

Here in the US, at least 550 coronavirus virus cases have now been reported in more than 20 states. CNN reports as many as 34 states have reported cases but the CDC doesn't have that figure yet.

In New York, a school district in Westchester County reported at least 82 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Scarsdale schools are closed until March 18th to prevent the virus from spreading.

In Washington, DC, The School Without Walls High School closed Monday to undergo deep disinfection after a staff member came in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.   

And two members of Congress report they've gone into self-quarantine. Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar both interacted with an infected person at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland late last month. Neither member of Congress is experiencing symptoms of the virus.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said draconian measures may not be applied, but mitigation is expected.
 
"We will have to do essentially social distancing, keep people out of crowded places, take a look at seriousness – do people really need to travel – those kinds of things. And I think it is particularly important among the most vulnerable," explained Dr. Fauci. 
 
The US State Department warned people, especially those with underlying health conditions, against taking cruises.

Passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship were expected to be screened and disembark in California today after 21 people on board that ship tested positive for the virus.
 
One passenger said, "We're basically aboard a floating petri dish."

READ 'Replace Fear With Faith and Pray': Greg Laurie Tells Americans to Pray, Not Panic Over Coronavirus

Officials are urging caution to avoid direct contact with people, even in church. There were few handshakes during the passing of the peace at St. Peter's Church in Greenwood, Colorado Sunday – just elbow and fist bumps. But what about communion?
 
"We're trying to be careful to make sure our communion servers have their hands well clean and that people know how to be careful and thoughtful when they receive the bread and the wine," said Pastor Dave Risendal.
 
Overseas, Italy is locking down a northern region of the country – restricting travel on 16 million people – one-quarter of the population.

And in neighboring France, officials are taking drastic steps to curb the outbreak that is disrupting businesses, tourism and even churches. 

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