1/ The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, saying “We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.” The declaration came as the number of known cases surpassed 120,000 worldwide with at least 4,369 deaths, and has spread to more than 100 countries. (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • MORE:

  • Trump will address the nation at 9 p.m. ET. Trump said he would be making “both” health and economic related announcements from the Oval Office. (NBC News)

  • The Dow entered a bear market, closing down 20.3% from its record high and ending an 11-year bull market. All three indexes are in negative territory for the year and the S&P 500 is down 19% from its Feb. 19 peak. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / MarketWatch / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other senators plan to ask Trump to issue an emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic, which would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use more than $40 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund to assist local state government in their response to the coronavirus. (CNN)

  • House Democrats plan to vote Thursday on a coronavirus relief package that will include expanded unemployment insurance, paid sick leave, and food security assistance in order to contain economic concerns. The Senate, however, is unlikely to act before next week’s scheduled congressional recess. (Politico / Washington Post)

  • The CDC Director said U.S. labs don’t have an adequate stock of the supplies needed for coronavirus testing. Robert Redfield said there’s a growing scarcity of “RNA extraction” kits, which are needed to prepare samples for testing. (Politico)

  • Two Trump allies received coronavirus testing despite showing no symptoms of respiratory illness. The CDC recommended that health care providers prioritize tests for hospitalized patients who are exhibiting coronavirus symptoms and elderly and medically fragile individuals. (Washington Post)

  • The White House is considering moving all of Europe to a Level 3 travel advisory, which discourages all nonessential travel to those regions. (Washington Post)

2/ A top U.S. health official testified that the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. is “going to get worse,” saying “we will see more cases, and things will get worse than they are right now.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that COVID-19 is at least 10 times “more lethal” than the seasonal flu, even if the mortality rate drops below the World Health Organization’s current estimate of 3.4%. (NPR / Politico / CNBC / ABC News)

  • Up to 150 million Americans are expected to contract the coronavirus, according to Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Monahan told Senate staffers during a closed-door meeting that he expects between 70-150 million people in the U.S. — about a third of the country — to contract the coronavirus. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that up to 70% of the country’s population - some 58 million people - could contract the coronavirus. (Axios / CNBC / Daily Beast / BBC)

  • Trump held an emergency meeting at the White House with top U.S. health officials. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said a hearing on the U.S. coronavirus response had to be cut short as a result and “There seems to be a great deal of confusion and a lack of coordination at the White House.” (CNBC)

3/ Since mid-January, the White House has ordered all meetings discussing coronavirus to be classified. The move restricted staffers, federal health officials, and government experts without security clearances from participating in discussions about the scope of the epidemic, quarantines, and travel restrictions, which potentially delayed the administration’s response to the crisis. The meetings were held at the Department of Health and Human Services in a secure area called a “Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility,” which is usually reserved for intelligence and military operations. One administration official suggested that security clearances were required not to protect national security, but to prevent leaks. Another official added: “This came directly from the White House.” (Reuters)

4/ The Trump administration is developing plans for hundreds of thousands of federal workers to work from home to limit exposure to the coronavirus. The Office of Personnel Management called on the heads of government agencies to go over their telecommuting policies with the nearly 2.1 million federal employees under their collective jurisdiction. The Trump administration scaled back working from home in January, but federal agencies are now looking to expand their policies. (Washington Post)

  • Washington State banned all gatherings of more than 250 people in the Seattle metro area. Gov. Jay Inslee said it is “very likely” the ban could extend beyond March and could be expanded in the days to come. Shortly after the announcement, Seattle Public Schools announced that schools would close for a minimum of two weeks. (Seattle Times / KIRO 7)

  • San Francisco canceled all public gatherings of 1,000 or more people for at least two weeks. In light of the moratorium, the Chase Center will be empty for Thursday’s Warriors game against the Brooklyn Nets. (San Francisco Chronicle / KTVU)

  • The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played with no fans present. The games begin Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, and will be played “with only essential staff and limited family attendance.” (USA Today / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • Italy ordered a nationwide closure of all restaurants and bars, as well as most stores. (Wall Street Journal)

  • A coronavirus conference was canceled because of coronavirus. The Council on Foreign Relations was due to hold a roundtable titled “Doing Business Under Coronavirus” on Friday, but decided to cancel it due to the spread of the virus. (Bloomberg / New York Post)

  • Harvey Weinstein unfortunately does not have coronavirus but will, however, serve 23 years for sexually assaulting two women. The judge imposed 20 years for a first-degree criminal sex act and three years for third-degree rape, to be served consecutively. (Washington Post / The Guardian)

5/ The Treasury Department is considering extending the April 15 tax deadline in response to the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus. Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to the IRS commissioner asking for an update on the agency’s plans, saying they are “concerned about the ability of the IRS to provide taxpayer assistance and process returns, as well as the ability of taxpayers, free tax preparation sites, and tax professionals to meet the filing deadline.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would recommend to Trump that the IRS delay tax payments without penalty or interest for “virtually all Americans other than the superrich.” (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)


Notables.

  1. The Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to maintain its “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers despite a lower court saying the policy was at odds with both federal law and international treaties and was causing “extreme and irreversible harm.” The program has forced about 60,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their requests are heard. The order allows the program to continue while lawsuits challenging the legality of the Migrant Protection Protocols program make their way through the federal court system. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / Axios)

  2. A special interest group paid Trump’s National Doral resort $700,650 for an event in 2017. Less than two weeks after the November meeting, the Trump administration announced its support for a policy the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute had lobbied in favor of. (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

  3. The Trump Organization paid bribes, through middlemen, to lower its property tax bills for several Manhattan buildings in the 1980s and 1990s. Two city employees said they personally took bribes to lower the assessment on a Trump property, while three others said they had indirect knowledge of the payments. (ProPublica)

  4. Trump’s moon mission could cost $50 billion. The White House mandated a return to the lunar surface by 2024, but the rocket and spacecraft NASA plans to use to get astronauts to the moon has been plagued by oversight and performance issues. (Washington Post)


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