World leaders vow vast spending, and New Yorkers face the prospect of “shelter in place.”
Nations around the world waged a two-front war on Wednesday: fighting the spread of the virus through ever tightening restrictions on people’s movements and stabilizing economies severely damaged by those efforts.
The White House is seeking more than one trillion dollars to blunt the financial fallout from the sudden and drastic changes to daily life caused by the coronavirus.
Germany has promised $600 billion to help businesses and individuals. British leaders said they would throw more than $420 billion at the crisis. The European Union promised hundreds of billions to support member states. Leaders in France, Spain, Italy and dozens of other nations have pledged to spend whatever is needed to meet the moment.
To put that in context — and to give a sense of the scale of the current crisis — the United States appropriated about $200 billion in today’s money for the Marshall Plan to help rebuild Europe after World War II.
But even as governments and central banks around the world promised to use all the fiscal and monetary policy instruments in their arsenal to prevent an economic collapse, the ripple effects of closing borders, locking down entire nations and telling people to stay in their homes continued to swell.
Wall Street, rocked by wild swings, was poised to have another rough day. Global markets fell sharply on Wednesday as worries about the world economy persisted.
Around the world, cities expressed growing concern about funding for vital services after revenue disappeared virtually overnight.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York City’s subways and two commuter railroads, said it desperately needed $4 billion from the federal government.
With new infections continuing to rise in the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said 8.6 million residents could be told to “shelter in place” within the next 48 hours. However, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pushed back against that idea.
The term “shelter in place” has previously been associated with hurricanes and snowstorms — events of limited duration where people could be confident that, after a period of hardship, life would generally get back to normal.
But “social distancing” is the new normal for the foreseeable future, increasingly enforced by law.
It was unclear what a “shelter in place” order would look like in New York.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, where restrictions were expanded late Tuesday to include more than eight million people, downtown streets were deserted, but there were many reports of people still going to parks and socializing.
In Italy, where the death toll climbed to more than 2,500, the lockdown has been much more stringent, with people only venturing out for essential supplies. France and Spain have also tightened restrictions on nationwide lockdowns, adding hefty fines for anybody who violates the rules.
Deaths in U.S. pass 100 as the virus reaches all states.
At least 100 deaths in the United States have now been linked to the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database that is tracking and mapping every known case in the country as more people are tested. On Tuesday evening, West Virginia became the 50th state to report an infection.
The 101 deaths, all announced in the last three weeks, came as the number of known coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 5,600 on Tuesday. Hundreds more are learning they have the illness each day, including more than 800 diagnoses on both Monday and Tuesday, as the nation’s testing capacity has grown significantly and as the virus spreads.
About half the country’s reported deaths have been in Washington State, including at least 30 linked to a long-term care facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland. Most of those who have died from the virus have been in their 60s or older, and several have been in their 90s. But other patients who died have been younger, including a corrections worker in New York City in his 50s and a man from the Seattle area in his 40s.
White House backs idea of sending cash to Americans as hospitality industry reels from job cuts.
As the effects of the coronavirus pandemic hit the job market, the damage is likely to be much deeper and longer lasting than seemed possible even a week ago.
Marriott International, the hotel operator, said Tuesday that it would begin furloughing tens of thousands of employees worldwide. Restaurants, coffee shops, gyms and other small businesses have begun laying off workers outright. On Monday, a flood of inquiries from newly jobless New Yorkers crashed the website for the state’s unemployment insurance system.
“Everyone is afraid to hire,” said Angela Gervasi, 24, who is suddenly looking for work after being let go by her employer, a Philadelphia restaurant.
Relatively few companies outside the hospitality industry have announced significant job cuts so far, with many saying they will continue to pay employees even while they are closed. But that cushion seems unsustainable. Most small businesses do not have the financial buffer to pay workers for long if revenue dries up.
As the economic toll of the coronavirus has grown, the White House called for urgent action to speed $1 trillion into the economy,
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told senators that about $250 billion of the stimulus plan would cover the cost of sending checks to Americans to replace about two weeks of their wages. Mr. Mnuchin also said that Mr. Trump had instructed him to allow taxpayers to put off paying income taxes that are due April 15 for 90 days without penalty or interest.
Report warns of more than 500,000 deaths in the U.K.
The lead epidemiologist behind a report that prompted the British government to ramp up its coronavirus response has developed a fever and entered into self-quarantine, he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
The scientist, Neil Ferguson, and his colleagues at Imperial College London warned that an uncontrolled spread of the disease could cause as many as 510,000 deaths in Britain. Using mathematical modeling, the report also predicted that the virus would overwhelm hospitals and that governments had no choice but to impose lockdown policies.
American officials said the report, which projected up to 2.2 million deaths in the United States from such a spread, had also influenced the White House to strengthen its measures to isolate members of the public.
Dr. Ferguson blamed his own sickness on a density of infections.
“There is a lot of Covid-19 in Westminster,” he wrote. According to Public Health England data on Wednesday, 58 cases have been reported in that area of London.
Australia bans indoor gatherings of 100 people or more, but schools stay open.
Australian officials on Wednesday announced a ban on nonessential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more, warned Australians against traveling abroad and visiting nursing homes, but opted to keep schools open amid the outbreak.
There are now 454 cases of coronavirus in Australia, which places the country among the twenty countries reporting the most cases. Concerns about flattening the growth curve have been intensifying, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he hoped to minimize economic damage.
“We are going to keep Australia running,” Mr. Morrison said, citing a contrast with Italy, where total shutdowns have taken place. “It won’t look like it normally does, but it is very important that we continue to put in place measures that are scalable and sustainable.”
The restrictions on indoor gatherings come on the heels of a ban on outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more, but they stop short of a total shutdown. Restaurants and pubs are expected to establish patron limits or suspend operations.
Nursing homes will also face new limits: Anyone who has been overseas or in contact with an infected person within 14 days will be banned from visiting, and residents will be allowed to receive only one visit a day, with no more than two people visiting at a time.
Keeping schools open, Mr. Morrison said, would help both families and the economy. “The disruption that would occur from the closure of schools around this country, make no mistake, would be severe,” he said. “What do I mean by severe? Tens of thousands of jobs could be lost, if not more.”
The virus could possibly survive in the air, a new study suggests.
The coronavirus can live for three days on some surfaces, like plastic and steel — though the amount of viable virus decreases sharply over this time — suggests a new study, published on Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Experts say the risk of consumers getting infected from touching those materials is still low, though they offered additional warnings about how long the virus could survive in the air, which may have important implications for medical workers.
When the virus becomes suspended in droplets smaller than five micrometers — known as aerosols — it can stay suspended for about 30 minutes, before drifting down and settling on surfaces where it can linger for hours, the researchers said. The finding is inconsistent with the World Health Organization’s position that the virus is not transported by air.
The new study also suggests that the virus can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard packages, though it disintegrates over the course of a day — meaning cardboard packages that arrive in the mail would have only low levels of the virus unless the delivery person has coughed or sneezed on it or has handled it with contaminated hands.
Another study, the largest to date of children and the virus, has found that while most develop mild or moderate symptoms, a small percentage — especially babies and preschoolers — can become seriously ill. Children account for the smallest percentage of the tens of thousands of infections identified globally.
And though the health minister of France has urged people ill with the coronavirus to stay away from ibuprofen and aspirin, there was no research to back up the contention.
Transportation is disrupted across the country, including a bus driver walkout in Detroit.
As the number of cases increase, the impact is being felt across every facet of American life, including transportation.
After three technicians who work in an air traffic control tower at Midway International Airport in Chicago tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily shut it down, causing scores of flights to be canceled, delayed or diverted.
Public transit agencies in many cities have struggled amid low ridership and health concerns from their employees and customers. New York City’s public transportation system, the largest in North America, is seeking a $4 billion federal bailout after the pandemic set off an extraordinary free fall in ridership.
In Detroit, bus service was halted after drivers, fearing for their safety, balked at leaving their garages. The president of the union which represents the Detroit bus drivers said some drivers had reported to work in the morning and found that buses were not adequately cleaned.
Uber and Lyft, two of the most popular ride-sharing companies, said on Tuesday that they were suspending pooled trips, in which riders pay a reduced fee by sharing the ride with a passenger headed in the same direction, to avoid spreading the illness further.
It’s unclear who is in charge in Iran as country faces 1,000 new cases a day.
Iran is enduring one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more 1,000 new cases each day. More senior government figures have caught the coronavirus in Iran than anywhere else. Field hospitals have been erected in parking lots, stadiums and wedding halls to handle the overflow of patients.
Yet with so much at stake, nobody knows who’s in charge. Iran’s strategy for fighting the pandemic has been vexed by power struggles within its hierarchy that have erupted publicly.
A burst of contradictory messages in recent days has angered many of the country’s 80 million citizens, already stressed by severe American economic sanctions, unemployment and mistrust of their leaders.
Some are even hoping the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and other parts of the military will take charge and enforce quarantines. For many Iranians, such wishes were unthinkable just weeks ago, when the Guards crushed antigovernment protests and covered up the shooting down of an airliner, killing 176 people.
In interviews, supporters and opponents of President Hassan Rouhani’s government heavily criticized what they called its poor judgment, incompetence and failure to comprehend the severity of the crisis.
Many simply ignore government warnings now about exposure. Siamak Ghassemi, an economic analyst in Tehran, posted a photo Tuesday on Twitter of shoppers jamming Tehran’s bazaar in a buying binge before the start of the Persian New Year.
U.S. plans to swiftly turn back people entering from Mexico illegally.
The Trump administration plans to immediately turn back all asylum seekers and other foreigners attempting to enter the United States from Mexico illegally, saying the nation cannot risk allowing the coronavirus to spread through detention facilities and border patrol agents, four administration officials said.
The administration officials said the ports of entry would remain open to American citizens, green-card holders and foreigners with proper documentation. But under the new rule, border patrol agents would immediately return anyone to Mexico — without any detainment and without any due process — who attempts to cross the southwestern border. They would not be held for any length of time in an American facility.
Although they advised that details could change before the announcement, administration officials said the measure was needed to avert what they fear could be a systemwide outbreak of the coronavirus inside detention facilities along the border. Such an outbreak could spread quickly through the immigrant population and could infect large numbers of border patrol agents, leaving the southwestern border defenses weakened, the officials argued.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean isolation. Let us help.
The regulations around social distancing have forced many friends and family to change the way they communicate and spend time together. It is important to stay connected during these stressful times. Here are some ideas that may help:
The E.U. bars most travelers for 30 days.
European leaders voted Tuesday to close off at least 26 countries to nearly all visitors from the rest of the world for at least 30 days in a bid to arrest the spread of the coronavirus, starting a long stretch of isolation like nothing in modern European history outside wartime.
The travel ban — which Britain did not plan to participate in — represented the first coordinated response to the epidemic by the European Union to the growing crisis.
Special exceptions would be made for European citizens and residents coming home, although some countries were asking them to self-isolate for two weeks, in some cases away from their families. Medical professionals and scientists would be exempt from the measures, as would people living in one European country and commuting to another for work.
Reporting was contributed by Marc Santora, Damien Cave, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Ben Casselman, Sapna Maheshwari, David Yaffe-Bellany, Mark Landler, Stephen Castle and Farnaz Fassihi.