Coronavirus Live Updates: Stay-at-Home Orders Spread as U.S. Death Toll Passes 200

Here’s what you need to know:

Image
Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

More than one in five Americans will soon be under orders to stay mostly indoors, as restrictions on residents like the ones introduced by California come into effect in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois. The United States also closed its borders to nonessential travelers from Canada and Mexico beginning at midnight Saturday.

The new rules were announced on Friday as the death toll in the United States surpassed 200, and as Massachusetts and the District of Columbia recorded their first deaths.

In the District, the nation’s capital, senators came close to reaching a deal on a $1 trillion rescue plan but ultimately fell short of the ambitious midnight deadline set by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader. They plan to work through the weekend on a bipartisan economic stabilization package.

Wall Street ended its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis with the Dow below where it stood on the day before President Trump was inaugurated. The S&P 500, which fell more than 4 percent, is not far from that mark as well. The president has trumpeted the so-called Trump bump throughout his presidency as evidence of his success.

Mr. Trump signaled on Friday that the federal government was mobilizing industry to provide urgently needed resources to help halt the spread of the virus, but he did not specify what steps he had taken after days of conflicting messages about his intentions. He said without evidence that he was using the Defense Production Act to help acquire “millions of masks.”

The American Red Cross, meanwhile, is facing a dire shortage of blood supply, as more than 4,500 of its blood drives have been canceled, resulting in nearly 150,000 fewer donations.

In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo moved Friday to sharply limit outdoor activity across the state, including by ordering nonessential businesses to keep all of their workers home. His wide-ranging executive order, which takes effect at 8 p.m. on Sunday, was issued as the number of known cases in the state jumped to over 7,800.

“These provisions will be enforced,” Mr. Cuomo said at a briefing in Albany.

Then, within the space of an hour Friday afternoon, several other big states followed suit. Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut issued an order similar to Mr. Cuomo’s, and Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said he planned on Saturday to order that all nonessential businesses in that state shut down, as well.

In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a statewide “stay at home” order on Friday, asking all 12 million residents to leave the house only when necessary.

Their moves were announced as California woke up Friday to new rules closing the state’s nonessential retail shops and sharply limiting outdoor movement.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans also issued a stay at home order on Friday, asking the city’s 390,000 residents to go out for “critical needs only.”

Even if the United States cuts its rate of transmission in half — a tall order — some 650,000 people might become infected in the next two months.

That was the conclusion of Columbia University researchers who used a New York Times database of known cases and Census Bureau transportation data to model how the outbreak could evolve. The estimates are inherently uncertain, and they could change as the United States adopts additional measures to control the outbreak.

Senators plan to work through the weekend hashing out a bipartisan deal on a sweeping $1 trillion economic stabilization package to respond to the coronavirus pandemic that could be enacted within days.

Democratic and Republican negotiators, who huddled with top administration officials throughout the day and into the evening Friday, said they had made significant progress. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, had pushed to strike a deal in principle by midnight on Friday.

Mr. McConnell has begun clearing procedural hurdles on the Senate floor in order to vote on the Senate package on Monday, leaving senators and President Trump’s top economic advisers until Saturday afternoon to craft legislative text, said Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs.

Senators will reconvene Saturday morning to continue talks, negotiators said. Mr. Ueland said that there was “a lot of near consensus” on how to aid industries seeking relief from the impact of the pandemic, assist small businesses, boost health care facilities and send direct aid to Americans.

One of Australia’s best-known destinations, Bondi Beach in Sydney, was ordered closed on Saturday, after crowds gathered there in defiance of social distancing recommendations.

“I for one, as the police minister, cannot sit by,” David Elliott, the police and emergency services minister for the state of New South Wales, who ordered the closure, said at a news conference. “The photos that we saw this morning were a clear breach of faith,” he said, referring to images of crowds on the beach Friday.

Of Australia’s 1,023 confirmed coronavirus cases, 436 have been in New South Wales, including 83 announced on Saturday. Six of the country’s seven deaths from the virus have been in the state.

Australia’s restrictions on movement in response to the pandemic have been less strict than those in parts of Europe and the United States, but it has banned gatherings of more than 500 people outdoors and more than 100 people indoors.

The crowds at Bondi Beach on Friday, seeking relief from 95-degree heat, appeared to number well beyond 500. Photos of the crowds circulated on social media and drew considerable criticism.

Some beachgoers told Australian news outlets that they were being careful to keep a distance from others. “I’m trying to apply some reasonable risk management,” Keith McNaughton told The Sydney Morning Herald. “But for me it’s important for my mental health to keep doing exercise.”

The problem is hardly limited to Australia. Crowds of young beachgoers in the Florida Keys have raised similar concerns.

The governor of the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, Winifred Kretschmann, has asked hospitals in his state to estimate capacity in their intensive care units, so that French patients in need of respirators from the heavily hit Alsace region can be transferred for treatment.

Germany has 25,000 intensive care beds with respirators, and the government is working to double that capacity in the face of a rising outbreak. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country has risen by 2,705 within a day to 16,662, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said on Saturday. It said a total of 47 people had died after testing positive, an increase of 16 from a tally of 31 published on Friday.

But several European countries were reporting still more worrying figures. Spain, which on Friday became the second European nation to register more than 1,000 deaths, said on Saturday that its toll had reached 1,326, and officials there warned that the country’s health care system could soon be overwhelmed.

Italy reported 627 new coronavirus deaths on Friday, its highest number in a single day, pushing the death toll above 4,000. Spain became the second European nation to register more than 1,000 deaths, and officials there warned that the country’s health care system could soon be overwhelmed.

Baden-Wurttemberg, which has strong ties to France as a result of postwar reconciliation efforts, has the most infections of any German state, with 3,668 people infected with the virus. But its intensive care wards are not yet full, unlike those in hospitals on the French side of the border.

“Governor Kretschmann has offered to help,” Markus Jox, a spokesman for the state health ministry, said in a telephone interview.

More than 350 patients are hospitalized across the border in France, the authorities there said, as the numbers of those infected continue to rise. As of Saturday, police are enforcing bans on entry into parks, forests or playgrounds in the region as authorities imposed more stringent restrictions in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

In Germany, the authorities in the southern state of Bavaria issued an order asking people to stay indoors in most cases — the most far-reaching measure in the country so far.

A large London hospital briefly declared that it was running out of critical care capacity as Britain ordered pubs, bars and restaurants closed, stiffening previously relaxed social distancing measures in the hope of stemming a surge in coronavirus cases before its National Health Service is overwhelmed.

London has become the epicenter of Britain’s coronavirus crisis, with about half of the confirmed cases in England, according to official figures.

The hospital, Northwick Park Hospital in the northwest of London, wrote to other nearby hospitals Thursday evening declaring a “critical incident,” according to the trade publication Health Service Journal, and seeking to transfer patients.

The move was “petrifying,” a manager at another London hospital told the publication, “given that we’re still in the low foothills of this virus.” On Friday, hospital officials said in a statement that “our critical incident status has been stood down.”

The government on Friday ordered bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms and other leisure facilities to close from that evening, and promised to pay 80 percent of wages, up to a limit of 2,500 pounds or just under $3,000 a month, for workers whom businesses sent home but kept on payroll.

The country’s top finance minister, Rishi Sunak, described the program as “unprecedented measures for unprecedented times.”

One part of the economy was still hiring rapidly, however: Supermarkets were seeking tens of thousands of temporary workers as they sought to cope with a surge in demand.

The country’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, told the BBC it was seeking 20,000 temporary workers. British supermarkets are also beginning to set aside shopping time for health workers, as well as vulnerable people, after waves of panic buying left many facing empty shelves.

Experts now say that the decisive moment in halting the global spread of coronavirus, when aggressive testing might have allowed officials to stay ahead of the disease, passed more than a month ago.

Delays cannot be blamed on science. Researchers say a viral test is relatively easy to develop. Rather, scientists say, the chasm between the testing haves and have-nots reflects politics, public health strategies and blunders.

As the virus reached into the United States in late January, President Trump and his administration spent weeks playing down the potential for an outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opted to develop its own test rather than rely on private laboratories or the World Health Organization.

The outbreak quickly outpaced Mr. Trump’s predictions, and the C.D.C.’s test kits turned out to be flawed, leaving the United States far behind other parts of the world.

Governments across Latin America are ordering large-scale closures and lockdowns to try to contain the virus, as anxiety and confirmed infections rise in a part of the world that has so far largely escaped the mass outbreaks unfolding elsewhere.

All of Colombia will be under lockdown starting Tuesday, days after Argentina began requiring residents to remain at home aside from visits to supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals and other essential locations. Chile has closed all restaurants and movie theaters. Costa Rica’s national parks will close, officials announced Friday.

Most countries in Central and South America have recorded relatively few cases of the virus, compared with countries in Asia, Europe and North America. Brazil, with more than 900 cases, has the most; Chile and Ecuador each have more than 400.

But the region’s leaders signaled that existing measures directed at warding off the virus — including some travel restrictions and business closures — were not enough.

“In the next few weeks, we have the opportunity, collectively, to end the speed of the coronavirus,” Iván Duque, Colombia’s president, said in a televised address on Friday, describing the 19-day lockdown as “drastic but urgent.” The country’s capital, Bogotá, had already been under similar measures for several days.

Israel reported its first coronavirus fatality late Friday: an 88-year-old man apparently infected by a social worker who visited the nursing home in Jerusalem where he lived, according to the authorities and news reports. The hospital where the man died said he had significant underlying illnesses.

Several other residents of the home appear to have contracted the virus from the same social worker, who caught it from a French tourist, news reports said. One of them, an 89-year-old woman, was in critical condition on Saturday.

The case reinforces the precarious situation of nursing homes in this pandemic. Amid the uncertainty swirling around the coronavirus stands an incontrovertible fact: The highest rate of fatalities is among older people, particularly those with underlying medical conditions.

Some health officials are encouraging officials to ban visitors from nursing homes. But isolation comes with its own costs.

There are at least 883 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Israel. The entire population of nine million people has been told to stay home, except when carrying out essential tasks like grocery shopping or seeking medical care.

Going to work is also still permitted, but companies face extensive restrictions about how many employees can operate in a shared space. All gatherings are limited to 10 people and tens of thousands of citizens are under home quarantine.

At a White House briefing on Friday, President Trump enthusiastically and repeatedly promoted the promise of two long-used malaria drugs that are still unproven against the coronavirus, but being tested in clinical trials.

“I’m a smart guy,” he said, while acknowledging he couldn’t predict the drugs would work. “I feel good about it. And we’re going to see. You’re going to see soon enough.”

But the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, delicately — yet forcefully — pushed back from the same stage, explaining that there was only anecdotal evidence that the drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, may be effective against the virus.

The moment of discord between Mr. Trump and one of the nation’s most trusted authorities on the coronavirus was a clash between opinion and fact. It threw Mr. Trump’s faith in his own instincts into conflict with the careful, evidence-based approach of scientists like Dr. Fauci. Mr. Trump appeared eager to sweep aside long-established standards for evaluating drugs in order to champion the remedy he favors.

As word of the drugs’ possible effects has spread around the globe, demand for them has surged, with hospitals ordering the treatments in a desperate effort to treat severely ill patients.

Mr. Trump’s boosterish attitude toward the drugs has deepened worries among doctors and patients with lupus and other diseases who rely on them. The reports that they could work against the coronavirus have fueled shortages.

On Friday, Mr. Trump argued that there was little downside to taking the malaria drugs even if their effectiveness against the coronavirus was not yet proven.

“If you wanted, you can have a prescription. You get a prescription,” he said. “You know the expression, what the hell do you have to lose?”

Surgical masks are supposed to be used just once. But doctors in Nebraska are facing a dire shortage and are attempting a novel experiment.

Administrators at the University of Nebraska Medical Center plan to use each mask for a week or longer. To the knowledge of the program’s administrators, the medical center is the first to disinfect and reuse masks.

When administrators made the decision, they knew the procedure violated regulations promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But late Thursday night, the agency issued new guidance, saying that such measures “may be necessary.”

With huge chunks of the economy grinding to a halt, many American businesses are bracing for a steep drop-off in demand. For many, that has already meant layoffs. But for some companies that are keeping their employees at home — or keeping their doors open — it means coming up with ways to make their lives easier.

Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, has announced plans to give a cash bonus to all of its hourly workers in the United States. The payments — $300 for full-time workers and $150 for part-timers — were announced on Thursday.

Bar and restaurant workers have been among the hardest hit by governments’ recommendations, or orders, that people stay home. Darden Restaurants, which employs more than 190,000 people across chains like Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, told employees on Wednesday that it would pay two weeks’ worth of wages to hourly workers whose shifts were reduced or eliminated because of the outbreak.

There is no sign that the abysmal economic news will abate. Wall Street ended its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, with the Dow below its position on the day before President Trump was inaugurated. The S&P 500, which fell more than 4 percent, is not far from that mark. For much of his term in office, the president has pointed to the markets’ so-called Trump bump as evidence of his success.

Feeling anxious about the coronavirus is understandable, but a little respite is also important. Try hosting a remote happy hour, for instance, or learning a new song — one you can sing while washing your hands.

Reporting was contributed by Maya Salam, Melissa Eddy, Peter Robins, Vivian Wang, Isabel Kershner, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Julie Bosman, Jesse McKinley, Matt Apuzzo, Salem Gebrekidan, Katie Thome, Denise Grady, Kenneth P. Vogel, Catie Edmondson, Jesse Drucker, Ben Protess, Steve Eder, Eric Lipton and Alissa J. Rubin.

View original article here Source

Related Posts