Millions of American children were stuck at home, the stocks rollercoaster plunged once again and the fate of domestic travel hung in the balance Monday as the coronavirus pandemic gained momentum across the nation.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will limit all bars and restaurants to takeout and delivery services, part of a series of steps the states are taking collectively and separately to fight the spread of coronavirus. The states will also shut down all casinos, gyms and movie theaters, their governors said in a joint announcement. Grocery stores will remain open. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy went further, urging state residents not to leave their homes from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.
The CDC says gatherings of 50 or more people should not take place in the U.S. for the next eight weeks. The recommendation does not apply to businesses or schools.
In Washington, the White House pushed back on reports a possible nationwide curfew was being considered. Meanwhile, the annual Easter Egg Roll was canceled.
Markets halted trading for 15 minutes moments after opening Monday when stocks immediately fell more than 7%. When trading resumed the drop continued.
There were slivers of light in the darkness – U.S. health officials on Sunday pledged to ramp up testing efforts by the tens of thousands. And testing began on a vaccine.
But the U.S. death toll rose to 69, with more than 3,800 known cases as of Monday morning. The global death surged past 6,500.
In an attempt to slow the virus, more than 30 states ordered the shuttering of all schools. The White House Coronavirus Task Force, let by Vice President Mike Pence, was meeting Monday at the White House. Pence and President Donald Trump then planned to teleconference with governors on the crisis.
Other important headlines on coronavirus:
- New Jersey residents should not leave their homes from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., as Gov. Phil Murphy announced extraordinary actions to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Business restrictions were also put in other states, including New York, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland and others.
- The Supreme Court, for first time since 1918, postponed oral arguments.
- In travel news: Are restrictions on travel within the US coming? We don’t know. Disney World officially closed its doors. Major hotels on the Las Vegas Strip are closing, too.
- Think you have coronavirus? It could be allergies, but maybe not. How to know? Nine steps the CDC recommends. More coronavirus tips: How to slow the spread.
- The race to find a coronavirus treatment: One strategy might be just weeks away, scientists say, but no vaccine yet. Meanwhile, what we don’t know about COVID-19 is “epic.” Can you have influenza and coronavirus at the same time? We answer readers’ questions.
White House: No national curfews, quarantines not considered
The White House is pushing back on news reports that it is considering imposing curfews and a national quarantine in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.”This is not correct,” tweeted Katie Miller, a spokeswoman for Pence.
Miller re-tweeted a CNN report that there are “active discussions” to encourage a possible nationwide curfew in which non-essential businesses would have to close by a certain time each night. Asked about rumors that the administration is considering some kind of national quarantine, Miller said: “Consider it shot down.”
The White House announcements follow a National Security Council tweet late Sunday about text messages floating around the Internet. Said the NSC: “Text message rumors of a national #quarantine are FAKE. There is no national lockdown.”
– David Jackson
CDC: No large gatherings for 8 weeks; more guidelines coming today
The CDC issued new guidance recommending against gatherings of 50 or more people “for the next eight weeks,” saying those who have already planned events with that many people should cancel or postpone.
“This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus,” the CDC wrote on its website. The guidance notes it “does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses.” Events of any size should stress protect vulnerable populations through hand hygiene and social distancing, the CDC wrote.
The CDC promised to release more detailed guidelines Monday. On Sunday, leaders of the federal coronavirus task force did not rule out some adjustments to domestic travel. Most flights carry more than 50 passengers.
– Jordan Culver and Dawn Gilbertson
Could US see high mortality rate if Americans don’t follow guidelines?
The United States will end up with as high a coronavirus mortality rate as Italy without an aggressive response that includes Americans following the federal government’s guidance, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on “Fox & Friends” Monday.
“When you look at the projections, there’s every chance that we could be Italy,” Adams said. Actual mortality rates are difficult to determine because not everyone who becomes infected is tested. But about 7% of Italy’s confirmed cases have died. South Korea, which tested and acted aggressively against the outbreak, has seen a death rate of less than 1%.
“There’s every hope that we will be South Korea if people actually listen, if people actually social distance, if people do the basic public health measures that we’ve all been talking about as doctors all along, such as washing your hands, such as covering your cough, and cleaning surfaces,” Adams said.
Updates from Washington: White House says coronavirus curfews not under consideration
– Maureen Groppe
Stocks plunge again
Stocks plunged at the opening bell Monday despite the Federal Reserve’s emergency action to cushion the economy from the pandemic that is shutting down global business and travel. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 2,000 points and S&P 500 took a similar hit, triggering a 15-minute halt in trading. When trading continued the skid continued, and the markets were about down about 10% in mid-afternoon trading. The central bank’s efforts, including an interest rate cut and crisis-era bond purchases, had little or no impact.
“Investors aren’t happy because these rate cuts won’t stimulate the economy in the near term. You can’t stimulate demand if everyone is stuck in their house,” says Shana Sissel, a senior portfolio manager at CLS Investments.
– Jessica Menton
NJ, NY, Conn., Md. tighten rules for restaurants, other businesses
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will limit all bars and restaurants to takeout and delivery services, part of a series of steps the states are taking collectively and separately to fight the spread of coronavirus. The states will also shut down all casinos, gyms and movie theaters, their governors said in a joint announcement. Grocery stores will remain open.New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy went further, urging state residents not to leave their homes from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.
“The #Coronavirus doesn’t care about state borders, so this agreement with @GovNedLamont & @GovMurphy will help protect the entire Tri-State Area,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted. ‘These temporary closures will last as long as is necessary to protect the public health.” Maryland, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington state, Indiana and New York City are among places that have ordered bars to close and restaurants to stop dine-in service. Takeout and delivery will still be allowed.
– Ashley Balcerzak, Joseph Spector and Jon Campbell
School go dark across most of USA
New York City closed its 1,900 public schools on Monday, a difficult decision made by dozens of states and big cities as the coronavirus crisis swept through the nation’s educational system. Mayor Bill de Blasio had balked at the move affecting more than 1 million students, in part due to meal plans that keep hundreds of thousands of low-income kids fed. The city was providing “grab and go” breakfast and lunch at all schools.
“We made the painful decision to suspend classes,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to begin remote digital learning on Monday March 23, and we’ll do everything in our power to help our kids through this.”
Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. are among a long list of big cities that shuttered their schools. Disadvantaged families that rely the most on schools for stable services, such as meals and access to learning materials, will be some of the most negatively affected, experts said. “Wide-scale learning loss could be among the biggest impacts coronavirus has on children,” said Betsy Zorio, vice president of U.S. programs at Save the Children, an international children’s charity.
– Erin Richards
Coronavirus news: What to know
A roundup of additional important coronavirus news you need to know today:
Curbside voting, a lack of poll workers: How coronavirus is affecting Tuesday’s election
‘We’re not being quarantined. We’re being detained.’ Americans stuck in Cambodia amid pandemic
What zero rates, sub-1% bond yields mean for your mortgages, student loans and credit cards: Hint, it’s not all bad.
Elderly woman close to tears hands a stranger $100, hoping for groceries. Luckily, she found the right person
‘You can’t Netflix them all day.’ Coronavirus closed this school where the kids have special needs.
People are buying guns. It’s not just toilet paper people are stocking up on. Related: Here’s where you can still buy toilet paper.
Desolate store shelves, empty streets: These 16 eerie images depict coronavirus in America
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More: Ustedes nos hicieron muchas preguntas sobre el coronavirus, nosotros se las respondemos
Vaccine tests begin, mass vaccinations a year away
The first participant in a clinical trial for a vaccine to protect against the new coronavirus received an experimental dose on Monday. The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial, which is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. The study’s first participant was an operations manager at a small tech company. Several others were in line for a test that will ultimately give 45 volunteers two doses, a month apart. There’s no chance participants could get infected from the shots, because they don’t contain the virus itself, the official said. Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.
– Associated Press
Canada closes border, but Americans OK for now
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau closed the country’s borders to all but Canadians and Americans and asked Canadians to say in their homes as much as possible. Trudeau is self isolating at home with his wife, who has tested positive for the virus. His edict came as many Canadian “snowbirds” are returning home from winter respites in the southern U.S. Authorities said everyone entering Canada will undergo screening and be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Canada has confirmed more than 370 infections and reported one death.
Iran reports deadliest day; African continent threatened
Iran reported its biggest daily death toll yet, 129, pushing the number of victims to 853, Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said. The number of infections rose to 14,991. Still, President Hassan Rouhani sounded an encouraging note, claiming that “we are past the peak of the disease.”
In Africa, coronavirus has now been confirmed in at least 30 of 54 countries, officials said. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a “national disaster” and announced severe travel restrictions. “My concern is that we have this ticking time bomb” as the virus spreads through the continent’s poor communities, Bruce Bassett, a data scientist at the University of Cape Town, told the Daily Mail.
Disney World officially closes its doors
As Disney lovers waved goodbye to Walt Disney World, which closed Sunday night in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced that several park-adjacent hotels, dining and shopping experiences would also shut down.
The additional closures include Disney-owned and -operated locations Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California, and Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida, both of which will shut down Tuesday. Non-Disney tenants in those locations “will make decisions on whether to continue or adjust operations,” read an announcement from Disney Parks shortly after midnight Monday morning.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and maintain regular contact with the appropriate officials and health experts,” the Twitter announcement added. It did not include any projected re-opening dates.
– Hannah Yasharoff
Schools are closed. Does online learning really work?
Thousands of schools across the nation were closed Monday and will remain closed for weeks. Some school districts are trying to cope using online studies. But many students have no access to the Internet at home, and teachers and advocates worry the crisis will worsen the existing education gap for low-income households, even as they take steps to try to accommodate students with paper packets or loans of electronic devices.
In Paterson, New Jersey, where more than a quarter of the city lives below the poverty level, about 22% of households don’t own a computer, tablet or smartphone and 36% lack an internet subscription, according to 2019 Census data.
“Whenever possible, we will be using the district’s website and resources like Google Classroom,” said school district spokesman Paul Brubaker. “But we will still need to make resources available on paper for many of our students.”
– Hannan Adely and Ashley Balcerzak, Bergen Record
Wuhan, once the epicenter, sees normalcy returning
China relaxed travel restrictions in and around Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected, and thousands of workers returned to factories now ramping up production, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. Chinese health authorities said 12 out of the 16 new confirmed cases across the Chinese mainland on Sunday came from overseas. All travelers entering Beijing from overseas are now required to be quarantined at designated sites for 14 days.
Coronavirus screening website launches in California
A coronavirus screening pilot website for some California counties has been launched by a sister company of Google. The site – which President Donald Trump had hailed as a nationwide screening site in a press conference that reportedly caught Google off guard – is now live and for people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Verily created the website in collaboration with federal, state and local officials. The goal is to take the site statewide. Californians can input their personal health information and then are directed to mobile testing sites for a nasal swab test. They’ll get test results within days. Only “high-risk individuals” are initially eligible.
– Nathan Bomey
Health care officials say tests will ramp up nationwide this week
Vice President Mike Pence and other health officials said two factors will allow them to increase testing capacity dramatically in coming days: Some 2,000 labs coming online across the nation to process tests and high throughput tests that can be used for drive-through or walk-up test centers.
Admiral Brett P. Giroir, assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, said gear and federal health care workers would being shipping out Monday.
Health officials said they were focusing those tests on two groups: Healthcare workers and first responders as well as those who are 65 and older with a respiratory symptom and a fever of at least 99.6 degrees. The officials implored Americans to help prioritize those two groups.
– John Fritze and David Jackson
Map: Which states have coronavirus cases?