Australia closes Bondi Beach
Officials in Australia have temporarily closed Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach after crowds ignored the government’s warnings about preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Last week, Australia banned outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people to help fight the spread of COVID-19, which has infected at least 1,071 Australians so far, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally of confirmed cases.
On Saturday, New South Wales state police minister David Elliott announced Bondi Beach was closing, warning that closures would “become the new norm” if people continued to ignore government regulations, Reuters reported.
Google launches highly anticipated coronavirus website
Google announced Saturday morning the launch of an educational website on coronavirus in the United States. The site focuses on education, prevention and local resources surrounding the pandemic.
In a blog post, Google said it worked with relevant agencies and authorities to aggregate state-based information, safety and prevention tips, search trends, information to donate to relief efforts and other resources for individuals, educators and businesses.
Coronavirus Task Force to hold briefing
Members of the Coronavirus Task Force, charged with leading the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, are holding a
It was scheduled for noon Eastern, but appeared to be pushed back slightly. President Trump said in a tweet a “White House News Conference” will be held at 12:30.
You can watch it in the video player below:
Starbucks moves to mostly drive-through only in U.S. and Canada
Starbucks announced Friday it will transition all of its United States and Canada stores to drive-through only for at least two weeks. Some stores located near hospitals and healthcare centers will remain open for walk-in service.
The company also said it will pay all employees for the next 30 days, “whether they choose to come to work or not.”
President of Starbucks’ U.S. company-operated business and Canada Rossann Williams said in a letter to employees that “managing through this situation is the single biggest challenge many of us have faced in our lifetime.”
“I am continually moved by your compassion for each other, our customers and our communities during this exceptionally difficult time. With daily news from friends and family members getting laid off and businesses closing, we need one another more than ever. We need to be a different kind of company.”
Egypt closing archaeological sites and suspending Friday prayers
Egypt has announced that all museums and archaeological sites, including the famed pyramids at Giza, will close starting Monday through the end of March. Mostafa Waziri, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said authorities would sterilize all sites during the closure.
The most populous Arab nation, home to more than 100 million people, also announced the temporary suspension of Friday prayers and other congregations in all mosques.
The Coptic Orthodox Church canceled all services and wedding parties, and said funeral processions will be limited to family members of the deceased.
Egypt has reported 285 cases and eight deaths, and there are increasing calls for a curfew.
-The Associated Press
Jordan goes on virus lockdown
Air raid sirens echoed across Jordan’s capital on Saturday to mark the start of a three-day curfew, the latest mass lockdown in the Middle East aimed at containing the coronavirus. Jordan has ordered all shops to close and all people to stay off the streets until at least Tuesday, when it plans to announce specific times for shopping. Anyone caught violating the curfew faces up to one year in prison.
Several countries in the Middle East have closed schools, universities and nonessential businesses. Many are threatening fines or jail time to those caught violating the decrees.
Egypt announced that all museums and archaeological sites will close until the end of March, starting on Monday.
-The Associated Press
Three inmates test positive at Georgia prison
The Georgia Department of Corrections announced Friday night that three inmates that were housed at Lee State Prison have tested positive for coronavirus.
One inmate was hospitalized on March 15, and the other two were hospitalized a day later, the department said in a press release. All had flu-like symptoms at the time, and they remain hospitalized.
There are three other inmates at Lee State who are under observation for showing flu-like symptoms, the department added.
“Measures have been taken to screen and quarantine the entire inmate population at that facility,” it said in the release, adding that all staff are being screened prior to entry. Currently, no staff members have shown signs of flu or COVID-19, according to the release.
NYSE boss sold his own stock ahead of coronavirus market meltdown
The CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, sold millions of dollars worth of the parent company’s shares in late February just days before the first reported death from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. The transaction also came as financial markets were starting to tumble as the devastating economic impact of the outbreak was becoming clear.
Jeffrey Sprecher, who is the husband of Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, on February 26 sold $3.5 million in shares of ICE, as the exchange is called, at an average price of $93.42 each, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Since then, ICE shares have plunged nearly 25% amid a broader downdraft in stocks.
Sprecher and Loeffler also sold $15.3 million worth of ICE shares on March 11, at an average price of around $87, SEC filings show.
Read more here.
Pelosi says McConnell’s proposal for “phase 3” of relief bill a “non-starter”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter Friday evening that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposal for “phase 3” of an emergency coronavirus relief bill is a “non-starter.”
“As you know, Senator McConnell has released his proposal for a third coronavirus response package, which is not at all pro-worker and puts corporations ahead of working people,” Pelosi wrote. “As written, it is a non-starter.”
As it stands, the proposed bill includes rebates of $1,200 for most individuals who reported less than $75,000 on their 2018 tax returns, or $2,400 per couple who filed their taxes jointly and made less than $150,000. McConnell said Thursday that the package aims to hit “four pillars”: relief for small businesses, cash assistance for taxpayers, loans to businesses in major industries and resources to combat the virus.
Pelosi said that to be acceptable, the bill must rebuild health care infrastructure and secure more resources for testing and treatment, as well as “increase Unemployment Insurance and Medicaid, help small businesses survive, expand paid sick and family leave and put money directly into the hands of those who need it most.”