Coronavirus updates: US death toll reaches 114 as Kansas cancels in-person classes for entire school year

The lights went out on the famed Las Vegas Strip, the worldwide death toll topped 8,000 and the total of confirmed infections surged past 200,000 as the coronavirus tightened its grip on the globe Wednesday.

The U.S. death toll reached 114, and America’s sense of normal continued to evolve. President Donald Trump’s promise of financial assistance did provide hope to the potentially millions of workers facing layoffs and furloughs. The stock market also warmed to some of the actions being considered, including $1,000 check sent directly to almost every adult American. Stock futures were stable early Wednesday after recording gains a day earlier. 

Trump again encouraged Americans to stay home and physically distance themselves from other people in an effort to. 

Kansas became the first state to announce that schools would remain closed for in-person teaching for the rest of the school year. Nevada’s governor ordered the statewide shutdown of all casinos and other nonessential businesses starting Wednesday. 

Target was among stores changing its hours, closing early and dedicating an hour to vulnerable shoppers.

There were more than 6,490 confirmed cases in the U.S. as of early Wednesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. One week ago, the U.S. death toll had climbed to 33, the number of U.S. cases rolled past 1,300 and federal health officials said the virus has spread to at least 38 states.

Worldwide, the virus has killed nearly 8,000 people. A week ago that number was about 4,600.

Our live blog on the coronavirus is being updated throughout the day. Refresh for the latest news. More headlines:

Kansas becomes first to cancel in-person teaching for school year

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced Tuesday that she was canceling in-person K-12 school and classes for the remainder of the school year, but that students would continue online learning. 

The decision is the first of its kind by any state in the nation. More than a dozen states have canceled traditional classes for two or three weeks, but none so far has stopped in-person teaching for the rest of the academic year.

A task force of 40 educators was preparing to deliver guidelines for Kansas school districts by Wednesday night. Challenges include child care, delivery of meals, and alternative instruction for urban and rural school kids who lack devices or quality internet access.

Nevada orders all casinos, other nonessential businesses, closed

In Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered the statewide shutdown of all casinos and other nonessential businesses starting noon Wednesday.

The state’s latest coronavirus containment effort will apply to all bars, gyms, beauty salons, barber shops, malls and restaurants that do not provide takeout and delivery services. 

Sisolak said in a Tuesday press conference that casinos and hotels will be given time to remove their guests before closing for 30 days. Retail malls and stores will also be mothballed for a month. Gaming machines are to be emptied and shut down by midnight.

Some of Nevada’s largest casino companies — among them MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands — voluntarily shuttered their properties earlier this week. But Tuesday’s order effectively closes the remaining casino-related business and others that had not voluntarily closed.

“My ultimate goal here is to come together as Nevadans to save lives,” he told reporters in Las Vegas. “That requires aggressive strategies aimed at limiting community spread. 

— Reno Gazette Journal

Asian stocks falter after early gains despite Wall Street resurgence

Major Asian stock markets fell back after early gains on Wednesday after Wall Street jumped on President Donald Trump’s promise of aid to get the U.S. economy through the coronavirus outbreak.

Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong all advanced and then fell. Australia’s main index fell 6.4% and smaller Asian markets also were mostly lower.

The White House proposal could approach $1 trillion in spending to ward off the pressure of business closures to contain the virus. The Federal Reserve announced more measures to keep financial markets operating.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose by an unusually wide daily margin of 6%, regaining just under half of the previous day’s history-making loss. Professional investors expect more big daily swings in both directions until the spreading virus is brought under control.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump wants to send checks to Americans in the next two weeks to help support them while more parts of the economy come closer to shutting down.

The proposal would include $250 billion for small businesses and $50 billion for airlines.

Some stores dedicating time for elderly, vulnerable shoppers

Some retailers are setting aside time for their most vulnerable customers to shop. The elderly and people with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19, so some retailers are dedicating time or opening earlier for senior shoppers and other at-risk groups.

All Target stores will dedicate an hour of shopping each week for the elderly and those with underlying health concerns. Albertsons, which has 2,200-plus stores under banners including Safeway, Acme and Vons, says it is reserving two hours every Tuesday and Thursday morning for vulnerable shoppers, including senior citizens, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems. Whole Foods Market stores will let customers who are 60 and older shop one hour before opening to the public. The company, owned by Amazon, has approximately 500 stores in the U.S., U.K., Canada.

— Kelly Tyko

Canned water only on Southwest Airlines flights, starting Wednesday

Southwest Airlines is suspending traditional drink service on its flights to limit interactions between flight attendants and passengers during the coronavirus crisis. The new policy takes effect Wednesday.

Southwest, the nation’s largest domestic carrier, will offer only unopened cans of water to passengers requesting a drink on most flights. The airline will still serve pretzels and, on longer flights, other packaged snacks.

On short hops — dozens of Southwest flights under 250 miles, including Atlanta-Nashville, Dallas-Houston and Los Angeles-Las Vegas — the airline won’t serve any drinks or snacks so the crew can focus on other aspects of in-flight hygiene.

— Dawn Gilbertson

Savannah Guthrie has sore throat, will host ‘Today’ show from her basement

 Like many Americans, Savannah Guthrie is working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic. The “Today” host, 48, announced on Instagram that she was anchoring the NBC News morning show from her basement Wednesday because she isn’t feeling 100%. “Well, this will be a first. I’m going to be anchoring TODAY from my house!” she wrote. “In an abundance of caution, and to model the super vigilance the CDC has asked of all of us, I’m staying home because I have a mild sore throat and runny nose.” Hoda Kotb was co-hosting the show live from Studio 1A.

— Hannah Yasharoff

Map: All 50 states now have at least 1 case of coronavirus

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Contributing: The Associated Press

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