Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

  • Roughly three out of four Americans are, or will soon be, under instructions to stay indoors.

  • The Tokyo Olympics have been rescheduled for July 2021.

  • Retailers like Macy’s, Gap and L Brands said most of their hundreds of thousands of employees would soon be furloughed.

  • Get the latest updates here, plus maps and full coverage

April may prove to be the cruellest month for Americans in the coronavirus outbreak. With case counts rocketing, new hot spots flaring and hard-hit hospitals maxing out, health experts persuaded President Trump over the weekend to forget any hope of reopening the country by Easter.

Mr. Trump announced grimly that federal guidelines requiring most Americans to avoid nonessential travel, going to work, eating at bars and restaurants, or gathering in groups of more than 10 would be extended at least through April 30, and possibly longer.

“During this period, it’s very important that everyone strongly follow the guidelines,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Sunday. His hope now, he said in a televised interview, was that the daily tally of new U.S. cases might peak in April.

Many states, counties and cities have already gone further than the federal guidelines, imposing mandatory stay-at-home orders, business closures and other restrictions. New rules are taking effect Monday in Virginia, Kansas, Maryland and North Carolina; about three-quarters of Americans are now covered by state or local orders.

As of Monday afternoon, at least 156,391 people across the country had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a New York Times database, and at least 2,897 deaths are linked to it.

Both figures are still rising fast. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious disease expert, said on Monday that the country was only beginning to experience the true scale of the pandemic. Before it ends, he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw over 100,000 deaths.”

The Times is providing free access to much of our coronavirus coverage, and our Coronavirus Briefing newsletter — like all of our newsletters — is free. Please consider supporting our journalism with a subscription.

Washington State had the country’s first coronavirus case, the first death, and the first full-blown outbreak. It was also among the first to call for social distancing and tell people to stay home — and that may soon put it among the first to start turning the corner.

Deaths in the state are still rising, but more slowly than in other states. And the hospital system, which had been bracing for a critical shortage of equipment, has so far avoided being overwhelmed.

Perhaps the most encouraging evidence comes out of Seattle, which has seen a significant drop in its infection rate. In early March, infected people were spreading the virus to 2.7 other people on average. The figure appears to have fallen now to 1.4.

“That’s great news and a great trend,” said Mike Baker, our Seattle bureau chief. But there’s a caveat, he said: “They really need to get that number below 1 to get active infections to actually begin decreasing.”

Intriguing data from Kinsa, a medical technology firm, seems to show a rapid drop in the number of people with fevers — which can be a telltale symptom of most coronavirus infections — in places that have issued stay-at-home orders, restaurant closures and other strict measures.

The data comes from the firm’s more than one million internet-connected thermometers in use across the country. For example, noticeably fewer fevers were recorded in Manhattan after schools and bars there were closed.

“It looks like a way to prove that social distancing works,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine expert at Vanderbilt University’s medical school. “But it does show that it takes the most restrictive measures to make a real difference.”

While most of Europe is effectively locked down, some nations have tried to contain outbreaks without shutting down their economies or closing themselves off from the world. They are starting to feel the consequences.

In Russia, the Kremlin and state media had said for weeks that the virus could be controlled without the kinds of extreme restrictions imposed in Italy or Spain. But the country’s case count is rising rapidly.

President Vladimir Putin has largely hidden from the crisis, but the mayor of Moscow and other local officials have begun acting on their own, issuing stay-at-home orders that began Monday. And the country now says it will close all its land borders, not just the China border, which it closed in January.

Sweden has taken a much laxer approach than its neighbors, with much of public life carrying on as usual. The country’s borders, restaurants, grade schools and ski slopes remain open.

The Swedish prime minister has called for a “controlled spread” of the virus and appealed to the public’s sense of collective responsibility to contain it.

“That’s the way we work in Sweden,” said Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist. “Our whole system for communicable disease control is based on voluntary action.”

But the country’s infection curve is rising sharply, and some Swedes are questioning whether the government is risking lives unnecessarily.

A 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship, the Comfort, docked in Manhattan on Monday morning. It will take on patients who do not have the coronavirus, freeing up beds in the city’s overwhelmed hospitals.

With the relief comes a big risk: The virus is known to spread readily on ships, and Navy officials are aware that one positive case could turn the Comfort into a floating petri dish.

  • Thirty-five people with the coronavirus have died in Detroit in less than two weeks. The virus could pose a particular challenge for the city, where many residents live in poverty.

  • New Jersey has the second-most cases in the U.S., after New York. The governor announced 3,347 new positive cases on Monday, bringing the total to 16,636. There have been 198 deaths.

  • Officials in Spain called for a national period of “hibernation,” imposing strict new limits on movement that will last at least until April 9. Spain reported more than 812 new deaths on Monday.

  • More than 4,000 uniformed members of New York City’s police department were out sick last week — nearly 11 percent of the force. At least 442 officers and 70 civilian employees have tested positive for the virus.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who had gone into quarantine after possible exposure through an aide, has tested negative.

  • Some experts have raised concerns that China might have underreported the extent of its outbreak and death toll. The country’s tally of about 82,000 confirmed cases does not include people who test positive but show no symptoms.

Shop for groceries safely: Arrive early, when the store is probably cleanest and best stocked, and aim to pick up a week’s worth in one trip. Bring sanitizer and wipes to clean the cart, car handles and your hands.

Keep calm and stream: If you need a break, but not a lengthy one, we’ve rounded up a dozen films worth watching on Netflix that run under 90 minutes.

“Wash washy wash, washy wash your haaaaands!” Sesame Street has updated Elmo’s classic tooth-brushing song “Brushy Brush” to show young viewers how long to wash their hands — still the best precaution against infection.

Spice up your work-at-home lunch: Try one of our 30 recipes for easy, hearty midday meals, ranging from fried rice to roasted tomato and white bean stew.

  • You’ll find a steady stream of human stories of the coronavirus pandemic on our blog Lives, including a boom in pet adoptions and students who want to abolish grades.

  • How did a rural county in southwestern Georgia become one of the most intense virus clusters in the country? Ellen Barry writes that the explosion started at a well-attended funeral.

My daughter lives abroad in London and I am in N.Y. As we are both in some form of “shelter in place,” we cook together via FaceTime on Sundays. Based on what we can each find in our bare-shelved stores, we pick a NYT recipe and she enjoys a glass of wine, while I have my morning coffee. I look forward to continuing this long after the virus has gone.

— Christine Urbano, Albany, N.Y.

Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

Sign up here to get the briefing by email.

Lara Takenaga and Jonathan Wolfe helped write today’s newsletter.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *