Des Moines intends to close schools for rest of year, shift to online classes
Des Moines Register: Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Tom Ahart said “it is inevitable” that classes will be canceled for the remainder of the school year as the state braces for a surge in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks. “I believe that reopening our school doors before the COVID-19 pandemic may have even reached its peak in Polk County is not in the best interest of the health and well-being of this community,” Ahart wrote Thursday in a letter to parents. 

Iowa lawmakers won’t reconvene until at least April 30
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier: Leaders in the Iowa Legislature announced plans Thursday to extend the “pause” in their 2020 session until at least April 30 due to continued concerns over the potentially deadly coronavirus outbreak. Lawmakers, who left the Capitol temporarily on March 17 with plans to restart the session on April 15, said the decision to further suspend legislative activities at the Iowa Capitol building was influenced by President Donald Trump’s directive to set a national social-distancing policy through April 30.

White House recommends wearing cloth masks
New York Times: The White House, while stopping short of declaring an official policy, joined the mayors of Los Angeles and New York, several European nations and much of Asia in recommending that people wear cloth face masks in public, even if they have no symptoms. That may help stop people from transmitting the coronavirus, but social distancing remains the best way to slow the spread, health officials say. Nearly 4 billion people on the planet — half of humanity — found themselves today under some sort of order to stay in their homes.

Trump invokes Korean War-era law to get ventilators built amid short supply
Wall Street Journal: President Donald Trump invoked a Korean War-era law to help manufacturers secure supplies needed to make ventilators and protective face masks, as the federal stockpile of the medical devices was running dangerously low amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump used the Defense Production Act in an effort to address the surging levels of patients in particularly hard-hit metro areas such as New York, New Orleans and Detroit. Trump said his order would help manufacturers “secure the supplies they need to build ventilators needed to defeat the virus.”

Coronavirus sinks U.S. payrolls; more pain awaits
Reuters: The U.S. economy shed 701,000 jobs in March, abruptly ending a historic 113 straight months of employment growth as stringent measures to control the novel coronavirus outbreak shuttered businesses and factories, confirming a recession is underway. The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report today did not fully reflect the economic carnage being inflicted by the highly contagious virus. The government surveyed businesses and households for the report in mid-March, before a large section of the population was under some form of a lockdown, throwing millions out of work.