Fleeing New Yorkers told to quarantine as Trump says the U.S. should reopen ‘by Easter.’
Published March 24, 2020Updated March 27, 2020
ImageCredit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times
White House: Anyone who has left New York should self-quarantine.
Experts on the White House Coronavirus Task Force expressed alarm on Tuesday over infection rates in New York City, and advised people who have passed through or left the city to place themselves into 14-day quarantine.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator, said new infection hot spots on Long Island indicate that people leaving the city were already spreading the virus.
“Everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure the virus doesn’t spread to others no matter where they have gone, whether it’s Florida, North Carolina or out to far reaches of Long Island,” she said.
New York City is now being treated the way parts of China and Europe have been viewed, as an epidemiological hot zone. On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said he would sign an order extending a self-isolation requirement to anyone who had traveled from the New York area in the last three weeks. Dr. Birx said that about 60 percent of the country’s new cases were from the metro New York area.
Trump expressed outrage at having to ‘close the country’ to slow the virus.
Even as nations from Britain to India declare nationwide economic lockdowns, President Trump said he “would love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go, by Easter,” less than three weeks away, a goal that top health professionals have called far too quick.
“I think it’s possible, why not?” he said with a shrug.
Participating in a town hall hosted by Fox News on Tuesday, he expressed outrage about having to “close the country” to curb the spread of the coronavirus and indicated that his guidelines on business shutdowns and social distancing would soon be lifted.
“I gave it two weeks,” he said, adding, “We can socially distance ourselves and go to work.”
But at a late afternoon news conference, he softened his tone, saying his priority is the health and safety of the American people.
At the news conference, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, sought to refine Mr. Trump’s Easter timeline, saying it would not pertain to hot spots like New York. There could be “flexibility in different areas” based on data, he said.
“We need to know what’s going on in those areas in the country where there isn’t an obvious outbreak,” Dr. Fauci said. “It’s a flexible situation.”
Other health experts, however, have warned that a patchwork state-by-state approach could not contain a virus that doesn’t respect state borders.
Both Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said that a lockdown had never been under consideration for the United States. Mr. Pence told Fox News viewers that talk of it was misinformation that has circulated online.
Mr. Trump fell back on his comparison of the coronavirus to the flu, saying that despite losing thousands of people to the flu, “We don’t turn the country off.”
States including California, Maryland, Illinois and Washington have declared stay-at-home or shutdown orders, but other states have been looking for directives from the Trump administration. And countries in Asia are beginning to see a resurgence of coronavirus after easing up on restrictions.
Mr. Trump has struck a remarkably different tone from other world leaders. In Italy, which has more coronavirus deaths than any other country, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Tuesday that he was raising the fines on people who defy the lockdown order.
And in France, a scientific council that has been advising President Emmanuel Macron on the epidemic said that it was “indispensable” that authorities extend confinement measures beyond the initial 15-day period, possibly for a full six weeks.
New York’s case count is doubling every three days, says the governor.
As the outbreak picked up pace in New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who had adopted a friendly tone toward President Trump, came close on Tuesday to chastising the federal government, which he said had not sent enough ventilators to New York City.
“You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators,” Mr. Cuomo said. “What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000 ventilators?”
Mr. Trump swiftly lashed out at Mr. Cuomo. “I watch him on this show complaining,” Mr. Trump said, before criticizing Mr. Cuomo for earlier failing to buy ventilators at “a great price.”
Mr. Cuomo, speaking at the Javits Center in Manhattan, which the Army Corps is retrofitting into a 1,000-bed emergency hospital, said the rate of new coronavirus infections in New York is doubling about every three days. “We haven’t flattened the curve,” he said.
The peak of infection in New York could come in as little as two to three weeks, far earlier than previously anticipated, Mr. Cuomo said. The state now projects that it may need as many as 140,000 hospital beds to house virus patients, he said, up from the 110,000 projected a few days ago. As of now, only 53,000 are available.
As of Tuesday morning, New York State had 25,665 cases, with at least 157 deaths. There were around 15,000 cases in New York City alone.
Mr. Cuomo, once considered a bit player on the national stage, is emerging as the party’s most prominent voice in a time of crisis. His briefings — articulate, consistent and often tinged with empathy — have become must-see television. On Tuesday, his address was carried live on all four networks in New York and a raft of cable news stations, including CNN, MSNBC and even Fox News.
In a sign of the way Mr. Cuomo has become the face of the Democratic Party in this moment, his address even pre-empted an appearance by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on ABC’s “The View” in New York. Mr. Biden called Mr. Cuomo’s briefings a “lesson in leadership,” and others have described them as communal therapy sessions.
The country’s second-biggest state is not on lockdown.
Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday continued to resist calls to issue a statewide order to keep millions of Texans in their homes as protection against the fast-moving virus, but he used strong language to encourage Texans to stay indoors. “The best thing that you can do to ensure that we are not spreading Covid-19 in the state of Texas is stay home, unless you need to be out,” Mr. Abbott said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The country’s second-biggest state has been improvising its way through the crisis, influenced at times by the sheer span of Texas, by its partisan divides, by its rural-versus-urban split, by its top leaders’ support of Mr. Trump and by its small-government, low-regulation mythos.
A regulatory patchwork has unfolded in recent days, with restrictions, curfews and stay-at-home orders that change from county to county. Lacking a statewide mandate, several cities and counties have issued their own stay-at-home orders for residents, covering cities like Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Fort Worth, Arlington and El Paso.
In cities like Amarillo and in much of rural West Texas, there is relative freedom of movement, although even many small towns have followed Mr. Abbott’s previous orders and shut bars and banned dining-in at restaurants.
Texas has more than 700 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 11 deaths, with most of the cases in major metropolitan areas. In nearly 190 of the state’s 254 counties, the most of any state, there are no confirmed cases at all.
“Trying to apply a one-size-fits-all solution just doesn’t work,” said Mark Henry, the county judge and top elected official in Galveston County, which issued a local stay-at-home order.
In Waco on Monday, Mayor Kyle Deaver announced a citywide stay-at-home order for the city’s 138,000 residents. “We’re Americans and we’re Texans and we’re used to our independence and freedom, and I hate taking that away from us,” Mr. Deaver said. “But we must do this together if we’re going to get through this quickly.”
Stocks surge on promise of a bailout as companies and workers navigate the crisis.
The S&P 500 had its biggest daily gain since 2008 on Tuesday, rising more than 9 percent, as Congress neared agreement on a stimulus bill to stabilize America’s faltering economy. Shares of companies likely to receive bailouts, such as airlines, cruise lines and casinos, soared. Norwegian Cruise Lines was the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 on Tuesday, jumping more than 40 percent, while Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines all rose more than 20 percent.
But investors are still fragile and could sour on stocks if the promised deal hits a snag again. The U.S. government will report weekly jobless claims on Thursday, and some analysts expect the data to show that millions of Americans became unemployed last week.
At Facebook, skyrocketing traffic is stressing the company’s systems just as its 45,000 employees are dealing with all working remotely for the first time. “We’re just trying to keep the lights on over here,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said.
Gig workers like Uber and Lyft drivers typically have not been able to collect unemployment benefits or take paid sick leave because they are independent contractors, not employees. Even in California and New York, which have moved to classify drivers as employees, drivers face bureaucratic hurdles because Uber and Lyft do not report drivers’ income or pay into unemployment funds.
Slow U.S. response to the virus created missed opportunities to make ventilators.
If the Trump administration had reacted to the nation’s ventilator shortage in February, a private-sector effort starting now might have made lifesaving equipment in mid- to late April. Now it is unlikely to be before June.
When Ford’s chief executive, Jim Hackett, announced on Tuesday that the carmaker would team up with General Electric to build ventilators, he tempered the good news with a note of caution: “We’re talking about early June.”
That was just one of several examples that underscored the price of the Trump administration’s slow response to evidence as early as January that the coronavirus was headed to the United States.
The gap between the production timelines and the need for immediate supplies led to a scathing assessment from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York.
“I don’t need ventilators in six months,” he said. “And I don’t need ventilators in five months, four months or three months.”
A teenager who died in California may be one of the youngest American victims.
A California teenager whose death was linked to the coronavirus may be one of the youngest victims of the outbreak in the United States.
The death, of a 17-year-old boy from Lancaster, Calif., was announced by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Tuesday afternoon. Hours later, it backtracked, saying the death would be further evaluated by the C.D.C.
“The case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality,” the health department said in a statement.
Some states, including New York, which has the most deaths in the country, have not reported the ages of most victims. Gov. Gavin Newsom, of California, said half of the 2,102 people who have tested positive for the virus in California were between the ages of 18 and 49.
Mayor R. Rex Parris of Lancaster said on Tuesday that the 17-year-old was healthy until he started having acute respiratory problems. He was treated at a hospital that released him without testing for the coronavirus, the mayor said.
“How do you take a kid in for having respiratory problems and you don’t test him?” he said, using a vulgarity. “I am so livid.”
The teenager was then treated at a second hospital, where he died, the mayor said. The positive test results did not come back until after his death.
In Georgia, a 12-year-old girl with the coronavirus was placed on a ventilator this week.
Kentucky’s governor says a person who attended a ‘coronavirus party’ has tested positive.
“We have a positive case today from someone who attended a ‘coronavirus party,’” Gov. Andy Beshear, Democrat of Kentucky, said during a news conference from Frankfort, the state’s capital, on Tuesday afternoon. “This is one that makes me mad, and it should make you mad.”
“No more of these anywhere, statewide, ever, for any reason,” he said.
Mr. Beshear did not provide many details about the scenario, but he said the party was attended by young adults in their 20s — “I guess, thinking they were invincible,” by flouting the mass gathering prohibition.
“We are battling for the health and even the lives of our parents and our grandparents,” he went on. “Don’t be so callous as to intentionally go to something and expose yourself to something that can kill other people. We ought to be much better than that.”
The case was one of 39 reported on Tuesday, the most Kentucky has reported in a day. The governor also announced all nonlife-sustaining businesses must close to in-person traffic effective 8 p.m. on Thursday.
The 2020 election calendar was set. Now it’s up in the air.
Primaries are postponed. Hugs are postponed. The Olympics are postponed.
The November election, everyone seems to agree, cannot be.
“We voted in the middle of a Civil War,” former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination, told supporters at a tele-fund-raiser on Sunday. “We voted in the middle of World War I and II. And so, the idea of postponing the electoral process is just — seems to me, out of the question.”
Already, many states have pushed their primaries into June in the hopes of waiting out the worst of the virus. Pennsylvania, slated for April 28, is likely to be next. Senator Bernie Sanders, Mr. Biden’s chief rival, has effectively converted his campaign into a pandemic policy shop and vessel for progressive activism as he confronts a significant delegate deficit. Planners for the Democratic National Convention said this week that they were assessing “contingency options” in case the July gathering cannot go on as planned.
The general election is another matter. No one in a position of relevant authority has proposed moving it, but the subject has instantly become a cause of angst for President Trump’s critics.
Even if he wished to delay the November election, the decision would appear to be out of his hands. Any change to the date would require federal legislation passed by Congress, to say nothing of challenges in the court system.
The prospect of that kind of bipartisan collaboration on an issue of this magnitude is exceedingly slim.
India’s prime minister decreed a 21-day lockdown for the country of 1.3 billion.
India, the world’s second-most populous country, will order its 1.3 billion people to stay inside their homes for three weeks to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Tuesday.
The extensive lockdown order was declared a day after the authorities there grounded all domestic flights.
Mr. Modi said the decree would take effect at midnight.
“There will be a total ban of coming out of your homes,” Mr. Modi said.
“Every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown,” he said. “If you can’t handle these 21 days, this country will go back 21 years.”
“The only option is social distancing, to remain away from each other,” he said. “There is no way out to escape from coronavirus besides this.”
Left unclear was how Indians would be able to get food and other needed supplies. Mr. Modi alluded vaguely to the government and civil society groups stepping in to help, but offered no details.
Though India’s number of reported coronavirus cases remains relatively low, around 500, the fear is that if the virus hits as it has in the United States, Europe or China, it could be a disaster far bigger than anywhere else.
Mr. Modi also pledged to spend about $2 billion on medical supplies, isolation rooms, ventilators, intensive care units and training for medical personnel to combat the pandemic.
As the coronavirus approaches, Mexico looks the other way.
As the Coronavirus Approaches, Mexico Looks the Other Way
“This is going to be as bad as Italy or worse.” As much of the world shuts down amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, Mexico City’s streets are bustling and the country’s president insists on calm.
Milan, New York, New Delhi, Madrid — just a few of the many global cities that are shut down to prevent the coronavirus pandemic. And then, there’s Mexico City. Here, off the bustling Paseo de la Reforma, there’s an unsettling sense of normalcy. Flight attendants, newly arrived from the United States, walk around carefree. “I think on the one hand, it’s refreshing for us because we’re coming from a place that’s taking extreme precautions. We are on a petri dish most of the time, so I might already be exposed — more likely on the plane than probably here.” Mexico has documented four deaths from Covid-19. One man died after attending a large music concert. Doctors say the virus is already spreading in the community. “We don’t have tests, so we are having low numbers of patients that are infected.” Dr. Francisco Moreno oversees nine Covid patients at Mexico City’s ABC Hospital. He’s self-isolating, so I interviewed him remotely. “Do you think Mexico could be as bad as Italy?” But Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has continued to say there is no cause for alarm, and resists the measures other countries have taken to slow the virus’s spread. This was his message in early March. López Obrador, also known as AMLO, has continued to hold political rallies around Mexico, shaking hands and hugging admirers. Other government officials may encourage social distancing, but he asks people to go out and spend their pesos. But according to a recent O.E.C.D. report, Mexico has fewer nurses and fewer intensive care beds per capita than Italy, South Korea and the U.S. A count of ventilators in state facilities revealed only about 2,050 machines in the entire country. International leaders have criticized López Obrador’s response to the crisis as irresponsible. The president of El Salvador even begged Mexico, via Twitter, to take more drastic measures so as not to become the next epicenter of the pandemic.
“This is going to be as bad as Italy or worse.” As much of the world shuts down amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, Mexico City’s streets are bustling and the country’s president insists on calm.CreditCredit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times
As the coronavirus pandemic moves around the globe, world leaders are scrambling to flatten the curve and save lives. But Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has been slow to adopt measures that could slow the virus’s spread.
Mexico, with its densely populated cities and high rates of poverty, obesity and diabetes, could be particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic. Yet even as the country documented its first deaths from Covid-19, Mr. López Obrador declined to restrict international travel and encouraged people to leave their homes to eat at restaurants.
“You shouldn’t give in to the panic and psychosis,” he said during a morning press briefing last week. “Not to overdo it, because it affects the economy if we make a hasty and rash decision.”
As of last Friday, the streets of Mexico City were still bustling with shoppers and workers. Few wore masks.
Stephanie Yap strolled with two fellow flight attendants near the Paseo de la Reforma. They had arrived in Mexico City the night before, after stopping in several U.S. cities.
“It’s refreshing for us because we’re coming from a place that’s taking extreme precautions,” Ms. Yap said. “We are on a petri dish most of the time, so I might already be exposed — more likely on the plane already than here.”
Mexico, with its densely populated cities and high rates of poverty, obesity and diabetes, could be particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.
Democrats near a deal with the White House on the stimulus package.
Top Democrats and Trump administration officials on Tuesday said they were optimistic about finalizing an agreement on a roughly $2 trillion economic stabilization plan to respond to the pandemic, after striking a tentative deal to add oversight requirements for a $500 billion government bailout fund for distressed companies.
In an interview on CNBC, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the emerging deal would include strict oversight over the bailout fund, including installing an inspector general to monitor it, as well as what Ms. Pelosi described as a congressional panel “appointed by us to provide constraint.” The measures are similar to those put in place as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the centerpiece of the Wall Street bailout enacted in 2008 to respond to the financial meltdown.
Democrats had balked at a version of the stimulus measure drafted by Republicans that they were concerned would give the Treasury secretary too much latitude in deciding which companies could receive the funds, and allow him to delay revealing the recipients until six months after the loans were disbursed. They said it would have created a secretive government slush fund controlled by the president and his top advisers, rather than a closely monitored program accountable to taxpayers.
The agreement was not yet final, and Eric Ueland, the White House legislative affairs director, said staff aides were reviewing the package page by page to nail down final details.
The Tokyo Olympics will be delayed until 2021.
The Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan asked Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, for the postponement and he agreed “100 percent,” Mr. Abe told reporters.
Tuesday’s decision came after months of internal discussion and mounting pressure from nations and athletes across the world who had urged that the Games, the world’s largest sporting event, be postponed. Government lockdowns to control the pandemic had shut down qualifying tournaments, closed training facilities and kept athletes sequestered at home.
The postponement came after Olympics officials in the United States, which sends the largest delegations of athletes to the Games, urged a postponement, echoing other influential Olympic committees.
Only wars have previously led to such vast changes for the Olympics in 1916, 1940 and 1944.
Philippine and Thai leaders grab for emergency powers, raising concerns about potential abuse.
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has been granted sweeping emergency powers to combat the coronavirus, triggering fears in a nation that spent the 1970s and ’80s under brutal martial law.
Mr. Duterte, who has drawn international rebuke for his bloody and ruthless war on drugs, said he needed the powers granted to him in the legislation to address the crisis and unlock some $5.4 billion.
An earlier version of the bill would have allowed Mr. Duterte’s government to take over privately owned businesses. While the version that passed on Tuesday was scaled back, some legislators have worried that Mr. Duterte will abuse the public funds.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand declared a state of emergency, effective on Thursday, to combat the coronavirus, raising similar concerns about a potential abuse of power. Mr. Prayuth, a retired general who led an army coup in 2014, gave himself the authority to impose curfews, censor the media and prevent people from leaving their homes.
And in China, the province of Hubei, where the coronavirus pandemic began in late December, will on Wednesday begin allowing most of its 60 million residents to leave — ending nearly two months of lockdown and send a strong signal of the government’s confidence that its tough measures have worked to control the outbreak.
Wuhan, the provincial capital and the city hardest hit by the virus, will remain sealed off until April 8, though public transportation there will start running again within 24 hours, the government said.
This briefing is no longer updating. You can find the latest coronavirus news here.
Reporting and research were contributed by Michael Cooper, Alan Blinder, Karen Zraick, Jenny Gross, Maya Salam, Brent McDonald, Matt Flegenheimer, Annie Karni, Motoko Rich, Choe Sang-Hun, Ellen Gabler, Elisabetta Povoledo, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Manny Fernandez, Carol Rosenberg, Alan Yuhas, Patricia Mazzei, Jesse McKinley, Shane Goldmacher, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Rick Gladstone, Vindu Goel, Jeffrey Gettleman, Kai Schultz, Mujib Mashal, Fahim Abed, Declan Walsh, Hannah Beech, Abdi Latif Dahir, Jason Gutierrez, Raphael Minder, Elian Peltier, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Natalie Kitroeff, Megan Specia, Marc Santora, Iliana Magra, Melissa Eddy, Jason Gutierrez, Hannah Beech, Tiffany May, Sui-Lee Wee, Nicholas Fandos, Sabrina Tavernise, Thomas Fuller, Tim Arango, Jo Becker, John Eligon, Tariq Panja, Thomas Kaplan, Caitlin Dickerson, Miriam Jordan, Annie Correal, Somini Sengupta, Mikayla Bouchard, Gina Kolata, Jennifer Steinhauer, Matt Phillips, Noam Scheiber, Mike Isaac, Sheera Frenkel and Michael Powell.
Updated March 24, 2020
How does coronavirus spread?
It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.
Is there a vaccine yet?
No. The first testing in humans of an experimental vaccine began in mid-March. Such rapid development of a potential vaccine is unprecedented, but even if it is proved safe and effective, it probably will not be available for 12 to18 months.
What makes this outbreak so different?
Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
How do I get tested?
If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.
What if somebody in my family gets sick?
If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.
Should I wear a mask?
Experts are divided on how much protection a regular surgical mask, or even a scarf, can provide for people who aren’t yet sick. The W.H.O. and C.D.C. say that unless you’re already sick, or caring for someone who is, wearing a face mask isn’t necessary. And stockpiling high-grade N95 masks will make it harder for nurses and other workers to access the resources they need. But researchers are also finding that there are more cases of asymptomatic transmission than were known early on in the pandemic. And a few experts say that masks could offer some protection in crowded places where it is not possible to stay 6 feet away from other people. Masks don’t replace hand-washing and social distancing.
Should I stock up on groceries?
Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
Can I go to the park?
Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don’t live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.
Should I pull my money from the markets?
That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.
What should I do with my 401(k)?
Watching your balance go up and down can be scary. You may be wondering if you should decrease your contributions — don’t! If your employer matches any part of your contributions, make sure you’re at least saving as much as you can to get that “free money.”
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