Live Coronavirus News, Updates and Coverage

Live Coronavirus News, Updates and Coverage

One by one, localities and now some of the nation’s biggest states are beginning to limit people’s movements as they struggle to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus before fast-growing caseloads overwhelm their hospitals.

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 on Sunday at 8 p.m., 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. “These are not helpful hints.”

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 to order on Saturday that all nonessential businesses in that state shut down as well.

And 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. All nonessential businesses must also stop operating under the order, which is effective at 5 p.m. Saturday.

“I don’t come to this decision easily,” Mr. Pritzker said at an afternoon news conference. “I fully recognize that, in some cases, I am choosing between people’s lives and saving people’s livelihood. But ultimately, you can’t have a livelihood if you don’t have your life.”

Their moves were announced as California woke up Friday to new rules closing the state’s nonessential retail shops and sharply limiting outdoor movement, after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered Californians — all 40 million of them — to stay in their houses as much as possible. There was initially confusion there over how the order would be enforced and interpreted, but Californians were told they could still take walks and leave their neighborhoods to hike or go to the beach, as long as they were able to practice social distancing.

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.”

With bars shut down and Bourbon Street emptied out, the order took the shut down in New Orleans a step further, putting the city in line with the states that have limited movements.

“We’re saying the same thing: the more people who stay home, the more lives that we will save,” Ms. Cantrell said on Friday afternoon.

States and localities announced the new rules as the death toll in the United States surpassed 200, and as Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., recorded their first deaths. There have now been deaths in more than half the states, with the most in Washington State, New York and California.

State and local officials are trying to strike a balance between giving residents the leeway to shop and take the occasional much-needed walk, while doing what they can to slow the spread of infections.

It still remained to be seen how the new orders would be enforced, and how effective they would prove. Even after Italy imposed limitations on movements, it found itself confronting the worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe. When the vice president of the Chinese Red Cross, Sun Shuopeng, recently visited Milan, he suggested that the Italian authorities had not gone far enough.

New York will allow healthy people under age 70 to go out for groceries and medicines, and to exercise and walk outside, as long as they stay six feet away from others. Mass transit will continue to run so that healthcare workers and other people with other essential jobs can get to work, but people will be urged not to use it unless absolutely necessary. Nonessential gatherings of any size will be banned.

Under the plan announced on Friday, the Fed will accept short-term, highly-rated municipal debt as loan collateral in one of its emergency programs. That will give banks an incentive to buy such debt from money market mutual funds, allowing them to offload the securities to come up with cash quickly, and it could keep the funds, popular investments among ordinary people and companies, from crashing as investors cash out.

At a White House briefing on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that border closures to nonessential travelers from Canada and Mexico would go into effect at midnight on Saturday.

Mr. Pompeo also reiterated that the State Department had implemented a Level 4 travel advisory warning Americans against traveling abroad. He said U.S. citizens “should arrange immediate return” unless they intend to remain abroad for an extended time. “If you choose to travel, it may well be fairly disruptive,” he said.

President Trump suggested that immigration would strain health care systems.

“During a global pandemic they threaten to create a public storm that would spread the infection to our border agents, migrants and the public at large,” Mr. Trump said, referring to people seeking to enter the country.

Speaking on a day when the worldwide death toll stood at more than 10,000, including more than 200 in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that there was a “fundamental public health reason” for closing the northern and southern borders. “Understand that: There’s a public health reason for doing that.”

Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo used the term “Chinese virus,” continuing their efforts to rename a virus that causes a disease public health experts purposely named Covid-19 to avoid the spread of blame and xenophobia.

The term has angered Chinese officials and a wide range of critics, and China experts say labeling the virus that way will only ratchet up tensions between the two countries, while resulting in the kind of xenophobia that American leaders should discourage. Asian-Americans have reported incidents of racial slurs and physical abuse because of the erroneous perception that China is the cause of the virus.

“It’s not racist at all,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday, explaining his rationale. “It comes from China, that’s why.”

On Thursday, a Washington Post photographer took an image of Mr. Trump’s speech materials on the White House podium that showed the word “coronavirus” crossed out and “Chinese” replaced in Sharpie.

Deborah L. Birx, who is leading the administration’s coronavirus response, detailed a “concerning trend” from Italy: the mortality rate in males is twice as high as females in every age group affected by the virus.”

A similar disparity was evident in China, where researchers found that the death rate for men, 2.8 percent, was higher than for women, at 1.7 percent. Men in both China and Italy smoke at higher rates than women, although the gender disparity is not nearly as great in Italy. Other factors, such as women’s generally more robust immune systems, may also be at play.

Dr. Birx said that people under age 20 have been sickened by the disease, but that the majority have recovered to date. “This should alert all of us to continue our vigilance to protect our Americans that are in nursing homes,” Dr. Birx said.

Mr. Trump said that the Education Department would suspend standardized testing for schools across the country, and that interest on federally held student loans would be suspended.

Regarding the northern U.S. border, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada would start returning rather than quarantining asylum seekers who cross from the United States outside of formal border points.

During the hourlong briefing, Mr. Trump grew increasingly confrontational with reporters who asked him to detail his message to Americans who were shaken by their lives being upended and scared at the spread of the virus.

“It is a bad signal that you are putting out to the American people,” he admonished a reporter from NBC who asked what the president would say to frightened citizens. “You want to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism. Let’s see if it works. I happen to feel good about it. Who knows. I have been right a lot. Let’s see what happens.”

Mr. Trump signaled 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.

On Friday, he said without evidence that he was using the Defense Production Act to help acquire “millions of masks.”

“The states are having a hard time getting them,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference at the White House. “We are using the act for things like this.”

If Mr. Trump’s pledge comes to pass, after weeks of promises that failed to materialize, the supplies could relieve the strain on state and local governments. But at times, the president seemed to suggest that private industry was already stepping up, without being compelled by the government.

“We are literally being besieged in a beautiful way by companies that want to do the work and help our country,” Mr. Trump said. “We have not had a problem with that at all.”

The White House did not immediately respond to inquiries asking for examples of companies or industries that have been compelled under the law to spur production, as Mr. Trump claimed.

Some of the president’s advisers have privately said they share conservatives’ longstanding opposition of government intervention and oppose using the law, and the president again suggested his own ambivalence toward using it.

At the same time, the president has faced increasing pressure from government officials and the health care industry to find a way to speed up new supplies.

Before Mr. Trump’s appearance on Friday, New York City’s mayor warned that the city was within weeks of running out of crucial supplies, with doctors and nurses confronting dwindling stocks of protective gear and hospitals facing shortages of lifesaving ventilators.

And medical leaders in Washington State, which has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the country, have begun preparing a bleak triage strategy to determine which patients may have to be denied complete medical care in the event that the health system becomes overwhelmed in the coming weeks.

There have now been deaths in more than half the states, with the most in Washington State, New York and California.

The American Red Cross normally supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood, but more than 4,500 of its blood drives had been canceled, resulting in nearly 150,000 fewer donations.

And Britain, which had resisted the kind of wide scale closures that many other nations adopted days ago, reluctantly agreed to shutter one of the symbols of the nation: the pub. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the country’s cafes, pubs and restaurants to close Friday night, along with nightclubs, theaters, gyms, movie theaters and sports and leisure facilities.

The measures will apply throughout the United Kingdom, after agreements were reached with the authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“We have a real threat to our country and to the ability of our National Health Service to manage it,” said Mr. Johnson, who added that he would keep the transportation network open.

His announcement came as the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said that the government would help pay a big part of the wages of those unable to work. Up to 80 percent of the pay of those workers could be covered, said Mr. Sunak, who added that welfare provision would increase.

The fast spread of the virus means that many nations are facing simultaneous shortages of desperately needed medical equipment — from protective garb to beds to ambulances — as their health care systems buckle under ever higher caseloads.

“The health situation in Madrid is critical,” said Ángela Hernández, the deputy secretary general of Amyts, an association of doctors in Madrid.

“There’s a saturation of emergency services,” she said. “We’re no longer in a phase of health alert, but instead of alarm.”

Bavaria’s new regulations resemble those already in place in neighboring Austria, which Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said they would stay in place until April 13.

There is broad agreement on the need for the rescue package, which would be the third round of emergency aid Congress has considered this month to confront the crisis.

But Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided over the details, including which Americans should receive direct payments from the government, how much paid leave employers should have to cover for workers, and what form of assistance to provide to small and large businesses.

Mr. McConnell introduced a bill on Thursday that would send checks of up to $1,200 to taxpayers who earn up to $99,000 and offer large corporate tax cuts and loans for businesses and industries. It would also impose curbs on an emergency coronavirus paid leave program enacted this week.

Following the bipartisan meeting, the senators divided into smaller, bipartisan groups to hash out disagreements over the text, which Democratic leaders had complained favored corporations over workers.

“Senator McConnell’s bill is not pro-worker at all — it puts corporations ahead of people,” Mr. Schumer said. “We need workers first.” But he added of the negotiation, “We must make it work, and we will.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Friday that she would grant requests from any state that wants to suspend federally mandated standardized testing, and the department said that “a state that deems it necessary should proceed with cancelling its statewide” testing.

The moves came after groups representing state and district leaders pressured the department to expedite waivers from the high-stakes exams, as nearly every state had decided to shut down their systems for weeks. As of Friday morning, 45 states have closed schools, according to Education Week, which has been tracking district shutdowns.

“Students need to be focused on staying healthy and continuing to learn,” Ms. DeVos said in a statement. “Teachers need to be able to focus on remote learning and other adaptations. Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time. Students are simply too unlikely to be able to perform their best in this environment.”

Ms. DeVos also announced that all borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0 percent for at least 60 days. Those borrowers can also apply to suspend their payments for at least two months, the department said.

The state government had previously told nonessential businesses in New York City to keep 75 percent of their workers home, bringing one of the busiest cities in the world to a grinding halt. On Friday, cases in New York State topped 7,000, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo told all residents to stay indoors as much as possible and ordered all nonessential businesses to keep workers home.

Luca di Pietro, who owns five restaurants in Manhattan, described the pain of telling his staff that his restaurants would be closing.

“There is no money, there is no money to pay salaries,” he said, becoming emotional. “It pains me greatly to let people down.”

Reaching out to provide assistance or charity in this trying time can ease your own anxiety too. Consider supporting local businesses, safely donating blood or reaching out in more creative ways.

A global arms race for a coronavirus vaccine is underway.

In the three months since the virus began its deadly spread, China, Europe and the United States have all set off at a sprint to become the first to produce a vaccine. But while there is cooperation on many levels — including among companies that are ordinarily fierce competitors — hanging over the effort is the shadow of a nationalistic opportunity for the winner to potentially gain the upper hand in dealing with the economic and geostrategic fallout from the crisis.

What began as a question of scientific accolades, the patents and ultimately the revenue from a successful vaccine have become a broader issue of urgent national security. And behind the scramble is a harsh reality: Any vaccine that proves potent against the coronavirus is sure to be in short supply as governments try to ensure that their own people are first in line.

In China, 1,000 scientists are at work on a vaccine, and the issue has already been militarized: Researchers affiliated with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences have developed what is considered the nation’s front-runner candidate for success and is recruiting volunteers for clinical trials.

Mr. Trump has talked with pharmaceutical executives about making sure a vaccine is produced on American soil, to assure the United States controls its supplies. German government officials said they believed he tried to lure a German company, CureVac, to do its research and production in the United States.

The company has denied it received a takeover offer, but its lead investor made clear that some kind of approach had been made.

The health authorities in Australia are trying to track down thousands of passengers who left a Princess Cruise ship in Sydney on Thursday after four people tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Three passengers, one of whom is in serious condition, and one crew member from the Ruby Princess were confirmed to have the virus.

The ship tested 13 people who displayed symptoms but allowed 2,700 passengers to disembark before the results were known. Of the known cases, one person was a passenger who was not tested onboard but later visited a hospital after feeling sick.

The ship, which was traveling from New Zealand to Australia, has been quarantined off the eastern coast of Australian with about 1,100 crew members on board.

Reporting and research were contributed by Michael Cooper, Alan Blinder, Katie Rogers, Maggie Haberman, Emily Cochrane, Andy Newman, Kenneth P. Vogel, Catie Edmondson, Jesse Drucker, Monica Davey, Raphael Minder, Elaine Yu, Motoko Rich, Elian Peltier, Megan Specia, Marc Santora, Ian Austen, Elisabetta Povoledo, Katie Robertson, Aurelien Breeden, Melissa Eddy, Edward Wong, David E. Sanger, David D. Kirkpatrick, Erica L. Green, Roni Caryn Rabin, Sui-Lee Wee, Katrin Bennhold, Richard Pérez-Peña, Tim Arango, Jill Cowan, Sarah Mervosh, Stephen Castle, Nick Corasaniti, Nancy Wartik, Jim Tankersley, Alan Rappeport, Maya Salam, David Zucchino, Isabella Kwai and Dan Barry.

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