Trump expressed outrage at having to ‘close the country’ to curb the spread of 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.”
Both Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said that a lockdown had never been under consideration for the United States. Mr. Pence told viewers that talk of it was misinformation that has circulated online.
“I can tell you that at no point has the White House coronavirus task force discussed a nationwide lockdown,” he said, answering a question from a viewer on the phone.
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.”
He also said that more people die of automobile accidents, but nobody forces car companies to stop manufacturing vehicles.
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.
For governors and mayors who have been trying to educate people about the urgent need to stay home and maintain social distance, Mr. Trump’s recent statements suggesting that such measures may be going too far threatened to make their jobs more difficult.
“Some of the messaging is pretty confusing,” Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who moved this week to close nonessential businesses in his state, said in an interview Tuesday morning on CNN, before the president announced his new Easter goal, when he was asked about the Mr. Trump’s talk in recent days of relaxing social distancing guidelines. “I think it’s not just it doesn’t match with what we’re doing here in Maryland. Some of the messaging coming out of the administration doesn’t match.”
Mr. Hogan, the chairman of the bipartisan National Governors Association, said that health officials suggest that the virus’s peak could be weeks or months away. “We’re just trying to take the best advice that we can from the scientists and all the experts, and making the decisions that we believe are necessary for our states,” he said.
As the town hall meeting was getting underway Tuesday, three leading medical and health organizations urged Americans to stay home to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are honored to serve and put our lives on the front line to protect and save as many lives as possible,” the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and American Nurses Association wrote in an open letter. “But we need your help.”
But the president and vice president were resolute that they want the country reopened. Mr. Pence said the administration’s timeline for trying to get businesses restarted and workers out of their homes was shorter than the period that health experts have said would be necessary to flatten the curve.
“We’ll focus on our most vulnerable, but putting America back to work will also be a priority, in weeks not months,” Mr. Pence said.
Mr. Trump 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 6 weeks.
Olivier Véran, France’s health minister, did not say Tuesday what the authorities’ decision would be, noting that the six-week figure was only an estimate. But an extension is widely expected. “As long as it will need to last, it will last,” Mr. Véran said
At one point during the town hall, Mr. Trump said that the coronavirus wasn’t anywhere near as deadly as the 1918 flu, which was the worst infectious disease epidemic in recorded human history.
People who got the 1918 flu, he said, had close to a “50/50 chance” of dying. In fact, the fatality rate for people infected by the 1918 flu was not 50 percent, but was estimated to be around 2 to 2.5 percent, compared to a rate of about .1 percent for seasonal flu.
Early estimates of the death rate in China from the new coronavirus were about 2 percent. But Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently estimated the death rate from the coronavirus at about 1 percent, ten times that of the seasonal flu.
Mr. Pence also said two malaria drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for off-label use treating patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The F.D.A. did not immediately confirm that assertion, but two administration health officials said it was not true.
The White House had teamed up with the computer technology giant Oracle to promote the drugs, which Mr. Trump has touted repeatedly, even before the government approved their use for the outbreak, according to five senior administration officials and others familiar with the plans.
Given a microphone for nearly two hours, Mr. Trump also used a town hall on Fox News for politics. Within moments of going live, he went after his likely foe in November, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
He referred to him as “Sleepy Joe” and claimed that Mr. Biden did not know what the word “xenophobic” meant when he criticized Mr. Trump’s approach to the spreading coronavirus.
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.
New York’s case count is doubling every three days, the governor says.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who last week adopted a friendly tone toward Mr. Trump, got as close as he has to chastising the federal government, which has so far sent 400 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? You’re missing the magnitude of the problem, and the problem is defined by the magnitude.”
At a Fox News town hall, Mr. Trump lashed out at Mr. Cuomo, who has been holding daily briefings of his own that have gained national attention as fact-based and emotional counters to Mr. Trump’s own daily briefings. Mr. Cuomo, who is seeking federal aid, has at times complimented Mr. Trump for his leadership during the crisis.
But Mr. Trump said he did not appreciate criticism he saw on television from someone he views as a rival. “I watch him on this show complaining,” Mr. Trump said. “He had 16,000 ventilators he could have had a great price and he didn’t buy them.”
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. “And the curve is actually increasing.” The governor, appearing in front of piles of medical supplies, spoke in a far more sober tone and delivered notably bleaker news than he has in previous days.
The peak of infection in New York could come as soon as two to three weeks, far earlier than previously anticipated, Mr. Cuomo said, which would put even bigger strain on the health care system than officials had feared.
“The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought,” Mr. Cuomo said. “That is a bad combination of facts.”
The governor said the state now projects that it may need as many as 140,000 hospital beds to house virus patients, up from the 110,000 projected a few days ago. As of now, only 53,000 are available. Up to 40,000 intensive-care beds could be needed. “Those are troubling and astronomical numbers,” he said.
As of Tuesday morning, New York State had 25,665 cases, with at least 157 deaths. The state now accounts for nearly 7 percent of global cases tallied by The New York Times.
Some 13 percent of people who have tested positive were hospitalized as of Tuesday, with nearly a quarter of those hospitalized in intensive care.
“That’s the problem,” Mr. Cuomo said. “As the number of cases go up, the number of people in hospital beds goes up, the number of people who need an I.C.U. bed and a ventilator goes up, and we cannot address that increasing curve.”
In New York City alone, there have been around 15,000 cases.
“Look at us today,” he warned the rest of the country. “Where we are today, you will be in four weeks or five weeks or six weeks. We are your future.”
With the epidemic in New York exploding, other states rushed to protect themselves.
On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, expanding on his mandatory 14-day quarantine for New York area travelers to Florida, says he will sign a second order extending a self-isolation requirement for anyone who traveled from the New York area in the last three weeks.
Many cases in places like Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach have been tied to New York, and a recent uptick in travel from the region suggested New Yorkers were flying to Florida to flee shelter-in-place orders.
“Hopefully that will be a deterrent for people if you’re just trying to escape here,” Mr. DeSantis said on Monday. The quarantine will not apply to people arriving by car.
The playwright Terrence McNally dies of complications from the coronavirus.
Terrence McNally, the four-time Tony Award-winning playwright whose outpouring of work for the theater dramatized and domesticated gay life across five decades, died on Tuesday at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Fla. He was 81.
The cause was complications from the coronavirus, a spokesman, Matt Polk, said. He said Mr. McNally had chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and had overcome lung cancer.
Mr. McNally’s Tony Awards attest to his versatility. Two were for books for musicals, “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1993) and “Ragtime” (1998), and two were for plays, and vastly different ones: “Love! Valor! Compassion!” (1995), about gay men who share a vacation house, and “Master Class” (1996), in which the opera diva Maria Callas reflects on her career.
And those prize winners were only a small part of his oeuvre. With 36 plays to his credit, as well as the books for 10 musicals, the librettos for four operas and a handful of screenplays for film and television, Mr. McNally was a remarkably prolific and consistent dramatist.
His career, which began on Broadway in 1963 with an adaptation of “The Lady of the Camellias,” starring Susan Strasberg, continued without much interruption through last year’s revival of his “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” starring Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon.
In between, in a series of successes including “The Ritz,” “The Lisbon Traviata,” “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” and “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” Mr. McNally introduced Broadway and Off Broadway audiences to characters and situations that most mainstream theater had previously shunted into comic asides.
Stopping New York’s outbreak may prove especially complicated.
Perhaps it was inevitable that New York City and surrounding suburbs would become the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States. The population density, reliance on public transportation and constant influx of tourists — all would seem to make the metropolitan area a target.
But to stop the virus, scientists have to figure out which factors played a greater role than others. As it turns out, that is not so simple.
“We have more speculation than facts,” said Dr. Arnold Monto, professor of epidemiology and global health at the University of Michigan.
There was surely an early and undetected introduction of the virus into the city, probably in mid- to late January, according to Benjamin Cowling, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong.
“Many of the cases being detected in the past week are the result of that slow process that has built up over two months,” he said.
Normally, scientists can get a sense of the exact timing by comparing the mutations in the virus from samples taken at various times. But human coronaviruses are surprisingly stable, said Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Perhaps the epidemic in New York had less to do with the virus than with discrete opportunities to spread: In so-called super-spreader events, one patient somehow manages to infect dozens, even scores of others. At one point, half the cases in Massachusetts were attributed to a single initial infection.
The virus often seems to spread in defined clusters in New York, as it has elsewhere.
“When you see a case, you see a lot of cases,” said Donald Berry, a biostatistician at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
In New York, he added, “It all comes together to spell a very bad picture.”
The city’s own demographics may have contributed: dense, yes, but in a way that puts the elderly in close proximity to one another, along with those made vulnerable by underlying health conditions.
“This is not flu, which many of our modelers use, and this is not going to be 1918,” Dr. Monto. “The problem is that it is hard to know what it is.”
“That is what scares people,” he added.
Democrats near a deal with the White House on the stimulus package.
Top Democrats and Trump administration officials said they were optimistic about finalizing an agreement on Tuesday 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.
“We’re looking forward to closing a bipartisan deal today,” Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, told reporters as he arrived on Capitol Hill for a round of meetings on Tuesday morning.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there was “real optimism that we could get something done in the next few hours” after Democrats won crucial concessions from the Trump administration.
In an interview on CNBC, she 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.
A wartime act will be invoked to produce test kits.
The Trump administration plans to use a wartime production act for the first time on Tuesday and mandate the production of 60,000 coronavirus test kits as state leaders ramp up pleas for assistance in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
Peter Gaynor, the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, told CNN on Tuesday that the administration would invoke the law to speed production of the desperately needed resources. “So we’re going to use it, we’re going to use it when we need it and we’re going to use it today,” he said of the law.
Mr. Gaynor also said the administration would insert language from the law into a mass contract for 500 million masks. “We want to be thoughtful and meaningful on how we do it again for the best result,” Mr. Gaynor said.
While Mr. Trump signed an executive order last week invoking the law, he did not immediately use it — even as supplies in various states continued to dwindle. Instead, he elected to count on companies volunteering to make such materials. Mr. Trump on Monday said six million masks were donated to FEMA in recent days.
In recent days, governors across the United States have pressed Mr. Trump to use the Korean War-era law as health care workers and emergency medical workers faced shortages in masks, ventilators and gloves.
“We need the product now,” Mr. Cuomo, of New York, said during a briefing on Sunday. “We have cries from hospitals around the state. I have spoken to other governors across the country. They have the same situation. They need these materials now and only the federal government can make that happen.”
As the coronavirus began its deadly spread in the United States, the initial response was hampered by a lack of tests. Even as Mr. Trump declared on March 6 that “anybody that needs a test gets a test,” public health officials and patients across the country were complaining that access to tests was still severely limited.
Since then the federal government and state governments have been trying to make up for lost time.
On Tuesday Mr. Trump turned to South Korea, and asked it to ship “medical kits” to the United States, according to the office of South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in. The office said that he promised quick approvals for the kits from the Food and Drug Administration.
Mr. Moon’s office did not clarify what type of medical kits Washington sought from South Korea. But officials there have said that the United States expressed interest in importing South Korean diagnostic kits used in testing people for the coronavirus.
While the United States lagged in developing its tests, South Korea asked private medical companies to develop and produce test kits in late January. By Feb. 4, the first of test kits were deployed to help South Korean health officials conduct an aggressive test-and-isolate campaign.
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. Surveys of athletes by sports federations overwhelmingly favored postponing the Games because of the restrictions they were facing in preparing.
Only wars have previously led to such vast changes for the Olympics in 1916, 1940 and 1944.
Mr. Bach said the coronavirus situation became untenable in recent days as the World Health Organization detailed the acceleration of the virus in Africa, forcing the I.O.C. to shift its focus from whether Japan could be safe at the start of the Games in four months to what was happening immediately in various countries and continents.
He said that finalizing the details of a new schedule and negotiating with international federations to make adjustments in the global sports calendar will take time.
“There are a lot of pieces of a huge and very difficult jigsaw puzzle,” he said.
Stocks rally on hopes of a U.S. economic deal.
Stocks soared on Tuesday on expectations that Congress was close to producing a stimulus bill to stabilize America’s faltering economy and offer lifelines to industries on the brink of collapse because of the coronavirus.
A plan to bail out companies and send checks of up to $1,200 to Americans had been stalled since Sunday over objections by Democrats. But on Tuesday, top Democrats and Trump administration officials said they were optimistic about finalizing an agreement on a roughly $2 trillion plan.
“We’re looking forward to closing a bipartisan deal today,” Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, told reporters as he arrived on Capitol Hill for a round of meetings on Tuesday morning.
The S&P 500 rose more than 9 percent, and stocks in Europe climbed, led by Germany, where stocks rose more than 10 percent. Those gains followed a similar performance in Asia, where major markets around the region posted increases that ranked among their biggest gains in weeks.
The jump was in part a rebound from a difficult stretch for stock investors. On Monday, the S&P 500 fell about 3 percent as Congress struggled to overcome differences on the aid bill and traders remained cautious about the Federal Reserve’s ability to cushion the economy’s fall. Stocks are down almost 30 percent since their peak in February.
After a month of mind-bending turns in the market, investors are still fragile and could sour on stocks if the promised deal hits a snag again, or as further evidence of the economic damage caused by containment efforts becomes evident. 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.
Some doctors are stockpiling trial coronavirus drugs — for themselves.
Doctors are hoarding medications touted as possible coronavirus treatments by writing prescriptions for themselves and family members, according to pharmacy boards in states across the country.
The stockpiling has become so worrisome in Idaho, Kentucky, Ohio, Nevada, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas that the boards in those states have issued emergency restrictions or guidelines on how the drugs can be dispensed at pharmacies. More states are expected to follow suit.
“This is a real issue and it is not some product of a few isolated bad apples,” said Jay Campbell, executive director of the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy.
The medications being prescribed differ slightly from state to state, but include those touted by Mr. Trump at televised briefings as potential breakthrough treatments for the virus, which has killed more than 500 people in the United States and infected at least 43,000.
None of the drugs has been found to be effective in treating coronavirus or been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for such uses. Some of them — including chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and remdesivir — are commonly used to treat malaria, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, H.I.V. and other conditions.
China eases its lockdown on the province where the coronavirus emerged.
The Chinese province of Hubei, where the coronavirus pandemic began in late December, will on Wednesday begin allowing most of its 60 million residents to leave. The move will end 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.
Still, a resumption of travel, work and normal daily life could renew the virus’s spread, epidemiologists say.
“We need to worry about a second wave of the outbreak once restrictions are limited,” Malik Peiris, chief of virology at the University of Hong Kong, said. “It is important to be aware of it and monitor it — and be prepared to reimpose these measures if they become necessary in the future.”
Even as the authorities announced the easing of restrictions, new questions were emerging about whether the threat had fully passed.
Hours before the loosening was announced, officials in Wuhan, after several days of reporting zero new local infections, said a doctor there had tested positive for the virus.
Spanish soldiers find residents of nursing homes ‘absolutely abandoned.’
The government will be “forceful” in its response to those who abandon older people, Margarita Robles, Spain’s defense minister, said Monday in an interview with Telecinco, a Spanish television channel. Officials did not say how many had died or whether residents had succumbed to coronavirus-related illness or a lack of care.
Ms. Robles said that emergency military units dispatched to disinfect nursing homes had found there some residents “absolutely abandoned, if not dead in their beds.”
The defense ministry said that dead bodies had been found in multiple nursing homes that had discharged large number of employees in the wake of the outbreaks, but did not provide further details, El País, a daily broadsheet, reported.
Workers at nursing homes have been calling for protective equipment as residents and fellow employees became infected, leaving them short-handed and at risk. Representatives of the industry have called on the government to support them, rather than criticize them.
José Manuel Ramírez, the president of a Spanish association of directors of social services, said that it was “shameful” for the Spanish defense minister to vilify nursing home employees.
“Those in the field are working themselves to the bone without resources, without health support, without protective equipment,” he said, according to the newspaper El País.
Last weekend, the Spanish government announced that it would extend the country’s lockdown until at least April 11. Spain, with almost 2,700 deaths, remains the country hardest hit by the coronavirus in Europe after Italy.
Also on Tuesday, Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, announced that she and her father, Svante, had symptoms of Covid-19 and that while hers were mild, it was “extremely likely” that she had contracted the virus. She used the announcement to urge young people to stay at home, even if they don’t feel sick, to protect those who are more vulnerable.
Cuba orders tens of thousands of tourists to isolate themselves in hotels.
The Cuban government has announced a set of drastic measures to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, including ordering tens of thousands of tourists to isolate themselves in their hotel rooms or other rented accommodations.
There are around 32,000 foreign tourists in Cuba and more than 10,000 Cuban nationals who live abroad and are visiting the island, according to the state-sponsored news site Cuba Debate.
Appearing on television on Monday, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said that starting Tuesday, all visitors inside the country were banned from walking outside and taxi drivers were prohibited from transporting them anywhere. Tourists staying in private homes would be moved into hotels in an effort to protect visitors and the locals renting out their houses, Mr. Marrero Cruz said. Hotels are under strict surveillance and screen workers and tourists for symptoms twice a day.
It was unclear how long the mandatory isolation would last and when foreigners would be able to return to their home countries.
There are 40 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island, including 17 foreigners, and one death because of the illness. Nearly 38,000 patients are being monitored for symptoms. The government has closed schools and universities until April 20.
As cases in Africa tick up, countries lock down.
While the number of detected cases of coronavirus in Africa remain relatively low, nations across the continent are ramping up efforts to keep the virus from establishing a foothold.
South Africa will begin a three-week lockdown on Thursday, Egypt will impose a night curfew for two weeks starting Wednesday and other governments announced a slew of curfews and restrictions.
In a televised address, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa said new measures were necessary to “avoid a human catastrophe,” adding that people would not be allowed to leave their homes except to buy food or seek medical care. In just over a week, the number of confirmed cases in the country have jumped to 554.
To date, 43 African states have reported a total of 1,788 positive cases and 58 deaths from the coronavirus, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The coronavirus has also claimed the lives of the Congolese music legend Aurlus Mabele and the prominent Cameroonian jazz musician Manu Dibango, who died almost a week apart in Paris.
Ethiopia’s prime minister said the virus “poses an existential threat” to the economies of African states, and asked G20 leaders to provide $150 billion in emergency funding.
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.
“This limitless grant of emergency powers is tantamount to autocracy,” Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties, an association of rights lawyers, said in a statement. The group, which includes some of the Philippines’ top legal minds, pointed out that in the past Mr. Duterte had likened the constitution to a “scrap of toilet paper.”
Mr. Duterte also said he was placing the country’s armed forces and national police in charge of the country’s fight against the Covid-19 outbreak.
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.
Mr. Prayuth, who announced the state of emergency while wearing a loose facial mask made of Thai silk, said that people should be careful when using social media, lest they spread rumors. So far the virus has killed four people and infected more than 820 people in the country.
The U.S. Navy reports its first coronavirus infections at sea.
Three personnel aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for the new coronavirus, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly told reporters Tuesday, marking the first time a U.S. Navy ship had announced a coronavirus infection at sea.
The Roosevelt is currently deployed in the Philippine Sea and last made port call in Da Nang, Vietnam 15 days ago, Mr. Modly said. The crew of the ship consists of more than 5,000 service members. The three people who tested positive were being flown off the ship, Mr. Modly said.
He defended the ship’s decision to dock in Vietnam given the spread of the virus through Asia. He said that at the time coronavirus cases in Vietnam were less than 100 and located in the north of the country, around Hanoi.
“We took great precautions when the crew came back from that short period to do enhanced medical screening of the crew,” Mr. Modly said.
Earlier Tuesday, the American-led NATO military operation in Afghanistan announced that four members of the coalition had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“We have taken the necessary precaution to identify and quarantine any personnel these four service members may have been in contact with,” the military coalition said in a statement, without identifying the nationalities.
The NATO coalition also said 38 other service members remained in isolation because they had shown “flulike symptoms” and that 1,500 service members and civilians working for the mission were living in “screening facilities out of an abundance of caution.” Officials are also concerned that tens of thousands of Afghan forces are extremely vulnerable to the spread of the virus amid a raging war with the Taliban.
Although the number of positive cases in Afghanistan still remains in double digits, something attributed to extremely limited testing so far, Afghanistan remains highly vulnerable to the virus because of a porous border with Iran and a weak government that can’t implement preventive measures. On Tuesday, the country’s health minister, based on World Health Organization estimates, said as much as 80 percent of Afghanistan’s population could end up being infected by the virus.
A sailor has also tested positive for the coronavirus at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay. The base said in a statement Tuesday morning that the sailor was “isolated and restricted in movement.”
There was no immediate word on when the virus arrived on the remote base of 6,000 residents. The base has in the past week curtailed some activities and flights, but it has permitted about 275 U.S. troops and contractors to arrive on at least three flights in the past 10 days.
Reporting and research were contributed by Michael Cooper, Alan Blinder, Karen Zraick, Annie Karni, Motoko Rich, Choe Sang-Hun, Ellen Gabler, Elisabetta Povoledo, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Manny Fernandez, Carol Rosenberg, Alan Yuhas, 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, 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, Somini Sengupta, Mikayla Bouchard, Gina Kolata and Michael Powell.