President Trump hints at a short shutdown: “I’m not looking at months.”
President Trump, in a nearly two-hour coronavirus briefing, hinted on Monday that the economic shutdown meant to halt the spread of the virus across the country would not be extended.
“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down,” he said. “America will again and soon be open for business,” the president added, without providing a timeline for when he believes normal economic activity could resume.
“If it were up to the doctors, they’d say let’s shut down the entire world,” Mr. Trump said. “This could create a much bigger problem than the problem that you started out with.”
He later added, “I’m not looking at months, I can tell you right now.”
Mr. Trump sent mixed signals from the White House podium, agreeing at one point with his surgeon general and saying, “It’s going to be bad,” then suggesting that the response to the virus may have been overblown.
“This is going away. We’re going to win the battle,” Mr. Trump said, citing jobs, “anxiety and depression” and suicide as arguments for restoring the U.S. economy.
He compared deaths from the novel coronavirus so far to deaths from other causes — influenza and car accidents — suggesting that the scale of those preventable deaths means economic restrictions may not be appropriate to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We have a very active flu season, more active than most,” he said “It’s looking like it’s heading to 50,000 or more deaths — not cases, 50,000 deaths. Which is — that’s a lot. And you look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody, ‘No more driving of cars.’ So we have to do things to get our country open.”
While it is true that those causes of death outnumber deaths from the virus to date, projections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that deaths from Covid-19 could range from 200,000 to 1.7 million people. Estimates from other scientists place the potential deaths in a range from several hundred thousand to several million deaths, substantially more than annual deaths from car accidents and flu combined.
Mr. Trump also suggested the economic contraction caused by restrictions on commerce and travel to prevent spread of the coronavirus could lead to large scale fatalities from suicide — “probably more death from that than anything we’re talking about with respect to the virus,” he said. The number of suicides in the country would need to quadruple to approach the low end of the estimates for possible coronavirus deaths.
The White House team warns of an alarming “attack rate” in New York.
Even as the president seemed to see an end to the crisis, his team warned of an alarming spread in New York.
Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said that the New York metro area is experiencing a virus “attack rate” of nearly one in a thousand, or five times that of other areas.
In epidemiology, the attack rate is the percentage of a population that has a disease. In New York City itself, where there have been 12,339 cases in a population of 8.6 million, the attack rate works out to about 1 in 700. The city has about a third of the nation’s coronavirus cases.
Dr. Birx added that 28 percent of tests for coronavirus in the region were coming up positive, while in the rest of the country the rate is less than 8 percent.
“So to all of my friends and colleagues in New York, this is the group that needs to absolutely social distance and self-isolate at this time,” Dr. Birx said. “Clearly, the virus had been circulating there for a number of weeks to have this level of penetrance into the general community.”
New York has tried to slow the spread of the coronavirus by closing its schools, shutting down its nonessential businesses and urging its residents to stay home almost around the clock. But it faces a distinct obstacle in trying to stem new cases: its cheek-by-jowl density.
New York is far more crowded than any other major city in the United States. It has 28,000 residents per square mile, while San Francisco, the next most jammed city, has 17,000, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
All of those people, in such a small space, appear to have helped the virus spread rapidly, making New York the nation’s epicenter of the outbreak. “Density is really an enemy in a situation like this,” said Dr. Steven Goodman, an epidemiologist at Stanford University. “With large population centers, where people are interacting with more people all the time, that’s where it’s going to spread the fastest.”
The president pushes malaria medications, despite caution from doctors.
Mr. Trump continued to push two traditional malaria medications, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, in combination with a common antibiotic, azithromycin, as a treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, despite caution by the government’s top doctors.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has appeared frequently at the president’s side at coronavirus briefings, was not present for Mr. Trump’s latest briefing. Mr. Trump has been frustrated in recent days by some of Mr. Fauci’s public commentary contradicting his remarks.
Mr. Trump said that 10,000 units of chloroquine will be distributed in New York City on Tuesday. Dr. Fauci and others have said that its effectiveness remains highly uncertain. In fact, Banner Health, a hospital system in Arizona, reported on Monday that a man died and his wife was in critical condition after the couple self-medicated with chloroquine.
But Mr. Trump’s enthusiasm is undimmed.
“It would be a gift from God,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s something we have to try.”
States and cities order over 158 million Americans to stay home.
As Mr. Trump suggested that he would soon re-evaluate the federal guidance urging social distancing, more states moved Monday to impose their own sweeping stay-at-home orders, which will soon cover more than 158 million Americans in 16 states.
Washington, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Oregon became the latest states to announce sweeping directives to keep more people home in an effort to slow the spread of the virus before it overwhelms the capacities of their hospitals to treat the sick.
“Stay at home,” Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana, a Republican, said Monday as he issued an order aimed to keep people indoors in his state, which he noted was in line with what other states were doing. “I’m telling you, the next two weeks are critical.”
The White House issued guidance last week urging Americans to avoid large gatherings, to work from home and to maintain distance from one another for an initial 15-day period.
Dr. Fauci, an infectious diseases expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has said in interviews that he believed it would take several more weeks before people can start going about their lives in a more normal fashion. Other infectious disease experts suggest even harsher measures than social distancing are required to truly beat back the outbreaks in the United States.
The president’s interest in potentially easing some of the social behavior guidelines met with pushback from one of his close allies, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.
“President Trump’s best decision was stopping travel from China early on,” Mr. Graham tweeted on Monday. “I hope we will not undercut that decision by suggesting we back off aggressive containment policies within the United States.”
And on Monday morning the U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, issued a stark warning in an appearance on NBC: “This week, it’s going to get bad,” he said, urging more Americans to take social distancing seriously.
A bed shortage looms in California as testing continues to lag.
Gov. Gavin Newsom estimates that California will be short about 17,000 hospital beds, although the state is frantically trying to source thousands more of them. And the pace of testing remains stubbornly slow in California.
New York State, with half the population of California, has conducted twice as many tests for the virus. As of Monday, New York has tested 78,289 people, including 33,000 in New York City. California had conducted 26,400 tests by Sunday, the most recent data available.
Officials in California have rushed to reopen hospitals that had been shuttered, buy motels to house the state’s more than 150,000 homeless people and retrofit college dormitories to serve as hospital wards.
Mr. Newsom said the state was also chartering flights to China to procure protective equipment and expressed concern for smaller states that might not have the same purchasing power. He has called up the National Guard to work at food banks, and President Trump ordered a Navy hospital ship, with a thousand beds, to sail to the Port of Los Angeles within a week.
Across California, a state with many large biotechnology companies, the promise of widespread access to testing for the virus has not materialized. And doctors said they were alarmed about shortages of protective equipment.
Florida’s governor to New Yorkers fleeing to the state: Stay out.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said on Monday that he will sign an executive order directing the state’s surgeon general to require anyone flying to the state from New York or New Jersey to observe a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Many coronavirus cases in Florida, especially in the counties that include 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.
The quarantine will not apply to people arriving by car.
U.S. Olympic Committee joins the call to postpone the Summer Games in Tokyo.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said Monday night that the Summer Olympics in Tokyo should be postponed because of the coronavirus, adding to a chorus of countries and sports federations who called for the Games not to go on as scheduled in late July and early August during the coronavirus pandemic.
The national committee for the United States said that after surveying athletes, it concluded that postponing would be the only way to conduct the Olympics under safe conditions.
“There is no outcome that can solve all the concerns we face,” the committee said in a statement from Sarah Hirshland, its chief executive, and Susanne Lyons, its board chair.
The committee surveyed 1,780 athletes, and 68 percent said they did not believe the Games could take place fairly as planned.
“It’s more clear than ever that the path toward postponement is the most promising,” the statement said.
Britain is placed under a virtual lockdown.
Facing a growing storm of criticism about his laissez-faire response to the fast-spreading coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that he would place Britain under a virtual lockdown, closing all nonessential shops, banning meetings of more than two people, and requiring people to stay in their homes, except for trips for food or medicine.
People who flout the new restrictions, the prime minister said, will be fined by the police.
The steps, which Mr. Johnson outlined in a televised address to the nation, bring him into alignment with European leaders like President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who have all but quarantined their countries in a desperate bid to slow the outbreak.
“No prime minister wants to enact measures like this,” an ashen-faced Mr. Johnson said. “I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.”
The number of confirmed cases in Britain rose to 6,650 on Monday, up from 5,683 a day earlier, while the death toll jumped by 54, to 335. British officials believe that those numbers are about to balloon.
On Monday, Mr. Macron and President Xi Jinping of China agreed on “the need to pursue international coordination to deal with Covid-19 at the G20 level,” the French presidency said in a statement on Monday.
“The two presidents agreed that holding such a summit would be useful” to discuss health issues, the statement said — by coordinating with the W.H.O. on working toward treatments and vaccines — and to discuss economic issues, most notably the stabilization of the global economy and support for struggling states.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel tested negative for the virus days after being exposed to an infected doctor, a spokesman said on Monday.
The doctor had vaccinated Ms. Merkel against pneumonia on Friday. The chancellor has been isolating herself at home since learning that the doctor was infected on Sunday. She will receive more tests to confirm the results, since it may be too early to detect an infection.
Wall Street struggles as the Fed acts and Congress stalls.
With a recession looming and the economy breaking down day by day in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, investors have been looking to leaders in Washington to cushion the economic impact of business closures, factory shutdowns and mass layoffs.
On Monday, they got some help, but not enough.
The Federal Reserve said it would vastly expand its efforts to shore up businesses and keep markets functioning, but lawmakers hit another wall in their attempt to push a record-breaking fiscal stimulus package through Congress.
Senate Democrats blocked the progress of the nearly $2 trillion government rescue package for a second time as they continued to negotiate for stronger protections for workers and restrictions for bailed-out businesses.
The S&P 500 fell about 3 percent Monday, adding to a 15 percent plunge last week as traders remained cautious about the Fed’s ability to shift the trajectory of an economy that appears to be in free-fall because of the coronavirus crisis.
The Federal Reserve said it would buy as much government-backed debt as it needs to keep financial markets functioning, and unrolled a series of programs meant to shore up both large and small businesses — a whatever-it-takes effort to cushion the economic blow of the pandemic.
“Aggressive efforts must be taken across the public and private sectors to limit the losses to jobs and incomes and to promote a swift recovery once the disruptions abate,” the central bank said in a statement on Monday, adding that the Fed was “using its full range of authorities to provide powerful support for the flow of credit to American families and businesses.”
The Fed this month resurrected a huge bond-buying program — last used in response to the 2008 financial crisis — saying that it would spend $700 billion on Treasury securities and $200 billion in mortgage-backed debt. On Monday, the central bank said it would not limit its purchases, instead buying “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning.”
Trading was volatile again Monday, with stocks falling as much as 5 percent. Major indexes in Europe were also lower, while stocks in Asia had already ended the day lower before the Fed announced its new plans.
Senate debate turns angry as Schumer and Mnuchin try to salvage $1.8 trillion package.
Senate Democrats again blocked action on a $1.8 trillion economic stabilization package on Monday as talks continued with the Trump administration to resolve differences.
Tempers flared in the Senate as senators and senior Trump administration officials scrambled to strike a deal on a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue measure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, with Democrats blocking action on the package until they could secure stronger protections for workers and restrictions for bailed-out businesses.
“Are you kidding me?” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, demanded on the Senate floor. “This is not a juicy political opportunity, this is a national emergency.”
At the heart of the impasse is a $425 billion fund created by the bill that the Federal Reserve could leverage for loans to assist broad groups of distressed companies, and an additional $75 billion it would provide for industry-specific loans. Democrats have raised concerns that the funds do not have rules for transparency or enough guardrails to make sure companies do not use the funds to enrich themselves or take government money and lay off workers. They also argue the measure would give Mr. Mnuchin too much discretion to decide which companies receive the funds, calling the proposal a “slush fund” for the administration.
As the legislation is currently written, Mr. Mnuchin would not have to disclose the recipients until six months after the loans were disbursed. Some Democrats also objected to loopholes in the legislation they said could allow Mr. Trump’s real estate empire to take advantage of the federal aid.
New York is now the center of the U.S. outbreak.
As New York became the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he would issue an emergency order requiring the state’s hospitals to increase their capacities by at least 50 percent.
The order was a mandatory directive from the state, Mr. Cuomo said, adding, “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say, try to reach a 100 percent increase but you must reach a 50 percent increase.”
Army field hospitals will arrive in New York and Seattle in the next few days, bringing to each city the ability to care for an additional 248 patients, the country’s top military commander said on Monday. The hospitals, one to each city, will have 11 ventilators each.
“In 72 hours or earlier, you will see combat vehicles pulling into Seattle and New York,” said General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Data released Monday indicated that the state accounts for roughly 6 percent of coronavirus cases worldwide.
The jump stemmed from both the rapid growth of the outbreak and a significant increase in testing in the state. Health officials emphasized that testing was revealing how quickly the virus had spread.
There are now 20,909 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state and at least 157 deaths.
Moving to stem the crisis on multiple fronts, Mr. Cuomo pleaded with federal officials to nationalize the manufacturing of medical supplies and ordered New York City to crack down on people congregating in public. He suggested that some streets could be closed to traffic, allowing pedestrians more space.
The governor announced measures intended to prepare for a wave of patients, including setting up temporary hospitals in three New York City suburbs and erecting a large medical bivouac in the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side.
Already, hospitals across the New York region are reporting a surge of coronavirus patients and a looming shortage of critical supplies like ventilators and masks.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York told CNN on Monday that hospitals had only “days” to get critical supplies before doctors will be unable to save the lives of those who might otherwise survive.
Patients are left in limbo as access to a drug touted by the president is suspended.
Overwhelmed by demand for an experimental treatment for coronavirus, the drug maker Gilead abruptly shut down its emergency access program, leaving doctors and families scrambling for answers.
The company said it was setting up a broader access program that could try to help more people, but some said the transition is leaving ill patients with fewer options.
“We know nothing,” said Genny Allard, the mother of Jack Allard, a 25-year-old New Jersey resident who is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator at Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J.
“I’m just, like, apoplectic at this point. I have a kid who is sick and the doctor wants to give him the next medicine that is supposed to help.”
The drug, remdesivir, is being studied in several large-scale clinical trials around the world, including a huge trial announced last week by the World Health Organization. But the results have not been reported yet, and it is still unclear whether the drug works against the coronavirus. It was studied to treat Ebola, but did not work well enough against that virus.
There is no known treatment for the new coronavirus.
Trump signs an order to combat price gouging.
Mr. Trump signed an executive order to keep people and businesses from hoarding supplies needed in the fight against the novel coronavirus, and from engaging in price gouging.
Attorney General William P. Barr recently directed federal prosecutors across the country to prioritize fraud schemes related to the pandemic and to prosecute offenders.
“If you have a big supply of toilet paper in your house, this is not something you have to worry about,” Mr. Barr said at the White House briefing. “But If you are sitting on a warehouse full of surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door.”
On Saturday, the department filed its first civil complaint against the operators of a sham website that sold fake vaccine kits that the site falsely claimed came from the World Health Organization. A federal district court judge in Texas issued a temporary restraining order and demanded that the owners block access to the site, coronavirusmedicalkit.com.
There is currently no vaccine for the novel coronavirus, and the World Health Organization is not distributing any such vaccine.
The operators of the website were accused of wire fraud in seeking to profit from the confusion and fear that has been unleashed by the pandemic. Federal prosecutors are still investigating the website and its operators.
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
The pandemic’s spread is creating new challenges for doctors who usually care primarily for patients with particular medical needs. Physicians across every field are confronting a surge of patient questions and scrambling to keep up with advisories from governments and health agencies.
Singalongs from windowsills in Chicago and Dallas are lifting spirits, following an example set by Europeans who sang from their balconies.
“Daddy’s on an important phone call.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been a housekeeper and full-time parent for three children while running the nation, after his wife tested positive for the coronavirus.
A little joy in a difficult time.
It is reasonable to feel anxious and worried about the news. Today, we hope to offer you ideas for a small respite.
Reporting and research were contributed by Michael Crowley, Michael Cooper, Helene Cooper, Eileen Sullivan, Katie Robertson, Sarah Mervosh, Ellen Barry, Katie Thomas, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Michael Gold, Katrin Bennhold, Jonathan Martin, Adam Goldman, Hari Kumar, Jeffrey Gettleman, Vindu Goel, Lara Jakes, Reid Epstein, Karen Zraick, Elian Peltier, Aurelien Breeden, Raphael Minder, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Melissa Eddy, Jeanna Smialek, Ian Austen, Mariel Padilla, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Katie Van Syckle, Jesse McKinley, Emily Cochrane, Jim Tankersley, Nick Corasaniti, Stephanie Saul, Kate Taylor, Tiffany May, Patricia Mazzei, Maya Salam, Margot Sanger-Katz, Oskar Garcia, Matthew Futterman, Scott Dodd and Mike Baker.