NCAA faces pressure to hold March Madness without audience

The Virginia Cavaliers tip off against the UMBC Retrievers in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 16, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Streeter Lecka | Getty Images

The National College Players Association is calling on the NCAA to consider holding the March Madness men’s basketball tournament without an audience in order to protect players from the coronavirus.

“In the wake of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes,” the group said in a statement released Saturday.  

“In regard to the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present,” the group added.

The National College Players Association, a nonprofit group that advocates for college athletes, also called for the NCAA to cancel meet-and-greets and press events that would put players in contact with crowds. 

There are more than 60 confirmed cases of the coronavirus nationwide. Washington state confirmed the first death from the virus on Saturday. 

The NCAA will reveal the bracket with the 68 teams competing in the tournament on March 15, known as Selection Sunday, with the first four games held on March 17 and 18 at the University of Dayton in Ohio. 

Read the full statement: 

National College Players Association’s Statement on Coronavirus and College Athlete Health:

“In the wake of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes.  They should also make public which actions will be taken and when.  Precautions should include cancelling all auxiliary events that put players in contact with crowds such as meet and greets  and press events.  Athletic programs should also take every possible measure to sanitize buses and airplanes used to transport players.

In regard to the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament and other athletic events, there should be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present.

Google just cancelled a summit in California and Amazon is encouraging its employees to avoid all nonessential travel because of coronavirus concerns.  The NCAA and its colleges must act now, there is no time to waste.”

US expands Iran travel restrictions over coronavirus, raises advisory for South Korea, Italy

A health personnel checks the body temperature of a pilgrim returning from Iran via the Pakistan-Iran border town of Taftan on February 29, 2020.


President Donald Trump authorized the expansion of travel restrictions against Iran and the new recommendation that Americans refrain from visiting regions of Italy and South Korea impacted by the coronavirus.

Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday detailed the heightened travel warnings in a press conference from the White House.

“First, the president authorized action today to add additional travel restrictions on Iran. … Iran is already under a travel ban, but we’re are expanding existing travel restrictions to include any foreign national who has visited Iran within the last 14 days,” Pence said.

“We are going to increase, to the highest level advisory — which is Level 4 — advising Americans: Do not travel to specific regions in Italy and South Korea,” he added. “We are urging Americans to not travel to the areas in Italy and the areas in South Korea that are most affected by the coronavirus.”

The president, meanwhile, said he will meet with some of the globe’s largest pharmaceutical companies on Monday on efforts to develop a vaccine for the novel illness. He and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar added that the administration’s early action to clamp down on travel has helped keep the virus’s risk to everyday Americans low.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Vice President Mike Pence looks on during a news conference at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House February 29, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong

“We moved very early. That was one of the decisions we made that really turned out to be a lifesaver, in a sense. A big lifesaver,” Trump said. “I want to say that China seems to be making tremendous progress. Their numbers are way down … If you read, Tim Cook of Apple said that they’re now in full operation again in China.”

The weekend presser comes shortly after Washington state confirmed the first death in the U.S. from the virus, and less than 24 hours after Trump categorized the criticism of his administration’s response to the disease as a new “hoax” cooked up by Democrats in an effort to attack him.

The president also sought to clarify his use of the word “hoax” at Friday’s rally.

“The ‘hoax’ was used with respect to Democrats and what they were saying,” Trump said. “It was a ‘hoax,’ what they were saying.”

The news conference also follows the worst week for U.S. markets since the financial crisis, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 down 12.36% and 11.49% since the opening bell on Monday. Both major stock indexes fell into what’s known on Wall Street as a correction, a slide of 10% or more from a recent 52-week high.

Corrections often signal that investors have realized equities are overpriced, that there’s a new and previously unknown threat to the market, or both. Investors say that the rapid spread of coronavirus, formally labeled COVID-19, has scared many that the illness could eventually weigh on U.S. economic growth, manufacturing and exports.

The disease, which originated in Wuhan, China, has killed more than 2,800 people worldwide and infected more than 80,000.

In the U.S., Oregon reported on Friday its first case of the virus. Officials said the person has no history of travel to a country where the virus is known to be circulating, and is not believed to have had close contact with other confirmed cases.

That followed an announcement by the Santa Clara Public Health Department, which announced on Friday a third case of coronavirus in the county. The announcement brought the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in California to 10.

There are at least 64 confirmed cases in the U.S., but the three new cases on Friday and one earlier in the week were the first in the country in which the cause of the infection is unknown.

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Trump considering travel restrictions at US southern border over coronavirus

Cars line up to cross the US/Mexico border to San Diego at San Ysidro port of entry, in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico , on February 13, 2020.


President Donald Trump on Saturday said his administration was also considering travel restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border, after his administration announced new restrictions on travel to Iran and heightened advisories for areas in South Korea and Italy as the coronavirus spreads.

“We are thinking about the southern border, ” Trump said, speaking during a press conference at the White House. “We are looking at that very strongly.”

Trump’s comments come after the news agency Reuters reported the White House was considering shutting the border with Mexico to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, although there are only 3 confirmed cases there. The United States, on the other hand, has confirmed 66 cases of the illness.

Trump appeared to roll back his statement when asked why he was considering taking action on the southern border given how few cases of the coronavirus there are in Mexico at the moment.

“We’re thinking about all borders, we have to think about that border,” Trump said. “This is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now, we hope we will not have to do that.”

Trump threatened to close the border with Mexico in March 2019 if the country did not meet his demands on stemming migrants and asylum seekers from crossing the border into the United States. The president’s push to build a wall along the southern border has also been a source of fierce partisan battle in Washington, leading to a 35-day government shutdown in late 2018 through early 2019.

Washington state confirms first US death from coronavirus

A pedestrian wearing a protective mask stands on Mission Street in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020.


The U.S. reported on Saturday its first death from the coronavirus in King County in Washington state. 

Jamie Nixon, a public information officer with the Washington State Department of Health, said that a patient in the state has died from the infection. Officials will hold a news conference in King County at 4:00 pm EST, in which they will discuss the death and other confirmed cases across the country. 

There are more than 85,000 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide and at least 2,933 confirmed deaths. At least 64 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. 

The death comes as several cases in Washington state, California and Oregon have raised fears over the local, person-to-person transmission of the virus in people who have not recently traveled or been in contact with infected people. 

President Donald Trump and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold press conferences about the virus on Saturday. 

Washington state officials said on Friday that a high school student in Snohomish County, near Seattle, had the virus and was in home isolation. Officials also confirmed a case in a woman in her 50s in King County, who had recently traveled to Daegu, South Korea, and had since been in home isolation. 

News Corp halts nonessential travel for all employees due to coronavirus

Passersby near the News Corp. building in New York

Keith Bedford | Reuters

News Corp has halted nonessential business travel for its employees as of yesterday due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesperson confirmed to CNBC. 

“I can confirm that as of yesterday we have made the decision that all News Corp employees should avoid non-essential business travel until further notice,” the spokesperson said.

The New York-based media company, which owns The Wall Street Journal and HarperCollins Publishers, joins a growing list of U.S. companies that are restricting employee travel as the virus intensifies. News Corp had roughly 28,000 employees as of June 30, 2019, about 10,000 of whom were located in the U.S., according to data from Statista.

Amazon started restricting all nonessential employee travel in the U.S. on Friday. Facebook also announced travel restrictions for its employees on Monday, but said that if employees must visit China, they need to receive approval first.

There are more than 85,000 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide and at least 2,933 confirmed deaths. 

Other companies that have suspended operations or implemented travel restrictions over the virus outbreak include Disney, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Ford Motor.

Analysts have said that wide-scale cancellations of travel concentrated in big cities in the U.S. are beginning to impact smaller U.S. cities. 

The Dow is up 38% since Trump’s election, down from 61% in a matter of days amid sell-off

Donald Trump

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

The week’s blistering stock sell-off has slashed the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s gains since President Donald Trump’s election.

What was once a 61% Dow gain just 16 days ago on Feb. 12 has eroded to a far thinner 38.6% rally as the index fell from an all-time high of 29,568 to around 25,409. The gain in the Dow is just 28.8% if you measure from Trump’s inauguration day more than three years ago.

These calculations measure the percent price change of the Dow over a given period and exclude fixed returns like dividends.

The dramatic fall in Dow (and S&P 500) gains since the president’s election came after the single worst week on Wall Street since the financial crisis. 

For the week, the Dow fell more than 3,500 points, or 12%, in its biggest weekly percentage loss since 2008. The blue-chip index ended the week firmly in correction territory, down more than 14% from its record close notched earlier this month.

The S&P 500 lost 11.5% over the week and, as such, also clinched its worst weekly performance since the crisis and closed in a correction. The typical correction sees the S&P 500 fall 13.7% and usually takes four months to recover.

Despite the hefty near-40% gain Trump still has, he is irate at the sell-off, according to CNBC sources. The stock market is falling amid growing concerns over the coronavirus and its potential impact on the global economy.

The president blamed both the threat of 2020 Democratic candidates as well as the coronavirus for the week’s steep declines. The president said on Wednesday that he believes “quite a bit” of the sell-off was thanks to investor fears over Democratic candidates’ radical economic and policy ideas expressed during this week’s debate.

“I think [investors] look at the people that you watched debating last night and they say ‘if there’s even a possibility'” a Democrat is elected the economy will decline, Trump said on Wednesday. “I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage making fools out of themselves.”

The president even went so far on Friday as to categorize the criticism of his administration’s response to the disease a new “hoax” cooked up by Democrats hoping to oust him from office in the 2020 presidential election.

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16 U.S. cities where making minimum wage no longer covers rent

Since 2011, rent prices in the U.S. have increased by 2% to 4% each year. As a result, city dwellers who earn minimum wage are finding it more difficult than ever to afford their rent.

That’s according to a 2019 study from MagnifyMoney, which calculated the minimum wage of workers in 34 of the nation’s largest cities, which had a population of 300,000 or more as of 2018, to determine the relative affordability of rental housing.

In order to rank these cities, MagnifyMoney analyzed data from the Joint Center of Housing Studies for median rent and the Economic Policy Institute. To find the estimated take-home pay after payroll tax, MagnifyMoney assumed 16% withholding in Social Security, Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), Medicare and federal income tax.

Of the 34 cities ranked, 16 of them had median rent costs that exceeded 100% of a minimum-wage worker’s monthly take-home pay. According to the study, those cities were:

16. San Francisco, California

Minimum wage: $15.59

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 101%

Denver, Colorado

Garrett Thorne / EyeEm | EyeEm | Getty Images

15. Denver, Colorado

Minimum wage: $11.10

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 103%

14. Baltimore, Maryland

Minimum wage: $10.10

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 103%

13. Indianapolis, Indiana

Minimum wage: $7.25

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 104%

12. Tampa, Florida

Minimum wage: $8.46

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 106%

A portion of the Las Vegas strip.

Dennis Hohl / EyeEm | EyeEm | Getty Images

11. Las Vegas, Nevada

Minimum wage: $8.25

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 111%

10. San Antonio, Texas

Minimum wage: $7.25

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 111%

9. San Diego, California

Minimum wage: $12

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 113%

8. Charlotte, North Carolina

Minimum wage: $7.25

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 114%

7. Orlando, Florida

Minimum wage: $8.46

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 116%

6. Houston, Texas

Minimum wage: $7.25

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 121%

5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Minimum wage: $7.25

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 124%

Dallas, Texas

Kanonsky | Getty Images

4. Dallas, Texas

Minimum wage: $7.25

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 125%

3. Atlanta, Georgia

Minimum wage: $7.25

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay:129%

2. Miami, Florida

Minimum wage: $8.46

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 132%

Downtown Austin, Texas.

John Coletti

1. Austin, Texas

Minimum wage: $7.25

Rent as a percentage of take-home pay: 143%

Of all of the cities ranked, Austin, Texas, is the least affordable city for low-wage earners. In fact, those making minimum wage salaries would need to work about 200 hours a month to be able to afford the median rent of $1,220, according to the report.

In 12 of the 16 cities where the minimum wage to median rent ratio is the highest, minimum wage is less than $10 per hour, according to the study. And, eight of these 16 cities don’t offer more than federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 per hour since 2009.

However, just because a certain city has a higher minimum wage rate doesn’t mean rent will take up less of their take-home pay. In San Francisco, for example, which has one of the highest minimum wages in the country at $15.59 per hour, also has a very high median monthly rent of $1,860, the study shows.

On the other hand, Chicago, Minneapolis and New York City were the three more affordable cities out of the 34 ranked by MagnifyMoney, meaning they had the lowest minimum wage to median rent ratio.

Chicago, which was the No. 1 most affordable, has a minimum wage of $13 and its rent as a percentage of take-home pay was 69%. Still, minimum wage workers would need to work over 96 hours to make enough to pay the median rent of $1,050.

As of 2018, America has become known as a “renter nation,” with more people renting rather than owning a home. The reasons for this shift toward renting are numerous.

For one, there’s a heightened demand for rental properties, which has driven prices up, according to the Real Wealth Network, a real estate investing website. And along with a higher rental demand in general, there’s also an increasing demand from millennials (ages 24 to 39) and baby boomers (ages 55 to 74) to rent.

Millennials aren’t prioritizing homebuying like previous generations did. And as baby boomers are getting older, they are selling their homes and downsizing into more manageable rental properties, according to Real Wealth Network.

Finally, down payments on homes aren’t getting any cheaper. These days, an ideal down payment on a home is around 25% of the purchase price, according to David Bach, bestselling author and co-founder of AE Wealth Management. When you consider that the median home price in 2019 was around $234,000, that means people are expected to put down around $58,500.

That’s a lot of money for many people when you consider all their competing expenses. As a result, more people are deciding to rent, which only drives rental prices up even further.

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Don’t miss: Here’s how long it takes to save up for a home on a normal person’s salary in 10 big US cities

Coronavirus live updates: France bans large gatherings

A couple wearing a mask in front of the Eiffel Tower.


This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.

All times below are in Eastern Standard time.

  • Total confirmed cases: More than 85,000
  • Total deaths: At least 2,933

9:26 am: France bans gatherings of more than 5,000

The French government banned public gatherings with more than 5,000 people on Saturday due to the coronavirus outbreak as France reported 16 new cases.

“All public gatherings of more than 5,000 people in a confined space are temporarily banned across France,” Health Minister Olivier Veran told journalists. He also that the number of confirmed cases had risen to 73 and that there had been no new deaths. — Reuters

9:00 am: Cases in three U.S. states raise concerns over local, person-to-person spread 

Confirmed coronavirus infections in the U.S. in people who had not been overseas or in contact with another infected person has raised concerns over local, ‘community-transmitted’ spread of the virus in three states: California, Oregon and Washington state. 

Oregon reported its first case of the virus in an adult who lives in Washington County. Officials said the person has no history of travel to a country where the virus is known to be circulating, and is not believed to have had close contact with other confirmed cases. Washington state reported the case in a high school student from Snohomish County, which is still being investigated. And Santa Clara County health officials in California confirmed the infection in an elderly woman with no travel history or any known contact with a traveler or infected person.

There are at least 64 confirmed cases in the U.S., but the three new cases on Friday and one earlier in the week were the first in the country in which the cause of the infection is unknown and could signal that the virus is beginning to spread across the country. — Newburger

8:00 am: South Korea reports 813 new cases

South Korea has the largest coronavirus outbreak outside of China. It reported on Saturday 813 new cases, bringing the country’s total infections to 3,150. The country has had a record increase since it confirmed the first patient on Jan. 20. 

South Korea officials warn that the number of cases is expected to rise as they continue to test people. Most of the cases have come from the southeastern city of Daegu and surrounding areas. — Newburger

5:24 am: Iran cases surge as more officials are infected 

The coronavirus in Iran has infected 593 people and killed 43, according to an Iranian Health Ministry spokesman on Saturday, with more cases confirmed among government officials. There are 720 cases across the Middle East.

There are more concerns that the virus will continue to spread in the government. Five Iran parliament members have tested positive for the virus. — Newburger

Read CNBC’s coverage from the Beijing team here.

US signs deal with Taliban to reduce troops in Afghanistan

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani attend the signing of a US-Taliban agreement in the Qatari capital Doha on February 29, 2020. – Washington and the Taliban are set to sign a landmark deal in Doha that would see them agree to the withdrawal of thousands of US troops from Afghanistan in return for insurgent guarantees.


A peace deal was signed in the Qatari capital of Doha on Saturday, which aims to kick-start U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

U.S. and Taliban negotiators signed the agreement at approximately 4 p.m. local time which will allow a reduction in American troops and targets a permanent cease-fire. 

Afghans are eagerly anticipating that it will end the war, America’s longest ever, which began more than 18 years ago when President George W. Bush ordered bombings in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

U.S. troops will be reduced to 8,600 from about 13,000 within 135 days following the signing, which took place at the Sheraton hotel with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in attendance. Further drawdowns will depend on the Taliban meeting certain counter-terrorism conditions, but the aim is for a complete withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops in 14 months, a joint statement read.

Pompeo addressed an audience at the ceremony in Doha, saying the agreement will mean nothing if concrete actions are not taken on commitments and promises. U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, not Pompeo, signed the peace deal alongside the Taliban’s chief negotiator, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. It comes after more than a year of on-off formal talks. 

President Donald Trump, facing elections this year and keen to fulfill promises of troop withdrawals from the Middle East, said Friday that “we will have a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home” if the Taliban and Afghan governments met their commitments. The Taliban has promised not to let extremists use Afghanistan soil to attack U.S. or allied troops.

Trump added Friday evening: “These commitments represent an important step to a lasting peace in a new Afghanistan, free from al-Qaida, ISIS and any other terrorist group that would seek to bring us harm.”

Several reports suggest the U.S. is wary of the Islamists it once toppled from power in Afghanistan and Trump has been significantly less vocal on the deal when compared with agreements signed with the likes of North Korea.

Pompeo privately told a conference of ambassadors at the State Department this week that he was going only because Trump had insisted, The Associated Press reported citing two people present.

The U.S. has spent more than $750 billion on the war in Afghanistan and it has cost tens of thousands of lives on all sides.

Speaking in Doha Saturday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said his organization was prepared to adjust and reduce its presence in the country. However, he noted that that presence could increase again if conditions on the ground deteriorated.

The deal also includes the release of combat and political prisoners and the removal of sanctions on Taliban members by August this year.

—The Associated Press contributed to this article.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

US stocks erase $3.18 trillion in value this week amid coronavirus tailspin

The coronavirus wiped $3.18 trillion in market value from U.S. stocks this week, according to estimates from S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The equity benchmark lost $203 billion in value on Friday, adding to its $2.997 trillion loss from Monday to Thursday, the firm’s Senior Index Analyst Howard Silverblatt told CNBC. The S&P 500 index has lost $3.58 trillion in value from its Feb. 19 high.

Stocks cratered again on Friday as investors fled riskier assets amid intense fears about a slowdown in global growth caused by the deadly coronavirus. All three major average ended the week deep in correction territory, more than 10% off their most recent highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 3,500 points since Monday.

The spreading deadly virus has sent shock waves through the markets. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, Nike, United Airlines and Mastercard have all raised flags about the coronavirus and its impact on their earnings.

Stocks got a slight reprise when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Friday the central bank is monitoring the coronavirus for risks it poses to the U.S. economy and pledged action if necessary. Right after that, a report from the Washington Post said the Trump administration is entertaining the idea of tax cuts to combat the economic impact of the coronaviorus. Stocks ended the day off their lows, banking on some sort of central bank or government response over the weekend.

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