Coronavirus continues to sicken markets » AUDIO: [Opening bell]
Wall Street was feeling under the weather once again on Monday—as coronavirus fears continue to weigh on markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 7.8 percent. That was the steepest drop since the financial crisis of 2008.
President Trump said Monday he’ll ask Congress to pass payroll tax relief to help calm the markets.
Phil Flynn is senior market analyst for Price Futures Group. He said at the heart of the market plunge is a sharp drop in oil prices.
FLYNN: We’re seeing a real lot of negativity in the market, and that’s even shadowing over to the stock market, and that’s where we start to weight things down.
That comes as the coronavirus continues to spread within the United States. CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier said Monday…
MESSONNIER: Right now, the states with the most cases are California and Washington, but other communities are also dealing with cases of COVID-19.
The U.S. death toll rose to 26 on Monday after reports of four more deaths. Nineteen of the deaths are associated with a nursing home in Washington.
Coronavirus causing major disruptions overseas » Meantime in Italy, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said his government will impose travel restrictions and other strict measures nationwide starting today.
Conte said Italy will require people throughout the country to demonstrate a need to travel to areas outside of where they live.
The restrictions are like those already in place in northern Italy, and will last until April 3rd.
And on Monday, Israel ordered all visitors quarantined just weeks before Passover and Easter. Anyone arriving on an international flight will be subject to a two-week quarantine.
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday…
GHEBREYESUS: Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real. But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled.
He said “with decisive early action, we can slow down the virus and prevent infections.”
Voters head to the polls in six states » Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders are set to duke it out at the ballot box again today, as voters head to the polls in six states: Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Washington, and the biggest prize—Michigan with its 147 delegates.
Sanders rallied supporters in St. Louis Monday:
SANDERS: Our job is to reinvigorate democracy, so we have one person-one vote, not billionaires buying elections!
While Biden campaigned on healthcare in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
BIDEN: While this election is about getting rid of Donald Trump, it’s also about seeking and seizing the opportunities that have been made available, and the next step forward in healthcare.
He said building on Obamacare is the right path forward—in contrast with Sanders’ plan for a government takeover of healthcare. 91 Delegates currently separate the top two contenders.
U.S. Soldiers killed in Afghanistan » The Pentagon on Monday said a man in an Afghan Army uniform gunned down two U.S. soldiers and wounded six others in eastern Afghanistan.
The assault occurred on Saturday. The defense ministry said one Afghan soldier also died in the assault.
The shooter was also an Afghan soldier who had argued with the U.S. forces before opening fire and he was not a Taliban infiltrator.
The U.S. Defense Department has identified the fallen soldiers. They are Sgt. Javier Gutierrez, and Sgt. Antonio Rodriguez. Both men were 28 years old.
Six U.S. service members have now died in Afghanistan since the start of 2020. Last year, 22 U.S. service personnel died in combat there.
U.S. begins troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, official says » Meantime, a U.S. official tells the Associated Press that American troops have begun leaving Afghanistan for the initial troop withdrawal required in the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Hundreds of troops are reportedly heading out of the country as previously planned. That as the U.S. moves ahead with plans to cut the number of forces in the country from about 13,000 to 8,600.
The pullout comes amid a major political dispute in Afghanistan. Incumbent President Ashraf Ghani claimed victory in the country’s recent election. But rival Abdullah Abdullah rejected the results and both men were sworn in as president in separate ceremonies on Monday.
The dispute threatens to wreck the next key steps toward peace and even risks devolving into new violence.
The U.S. has not tied the withdrawal to political stability in Afghanistan or any specific outcome from the all-Afghan peace talks. Instead, it depends on the Taliban meeting its commitment to prevent—quote—“any group or individual, including al-Qaida, from using the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.”
The long-term plan is for the U.S. to remove all troops within 14 months if security conditions are met.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.