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President Trump says he is weighing enforceable quarantines for hot spots like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as U.S. cases pass 104,000.
President Trump said on Saturday that he was weighing an enforceable quarantine in New York, New Jersey and certain parts of Connecticut to stop the spread of coronavirus, though he offered no details about what an order might entail.
Mr. Trump said he could announce such a move later Saturday, signaling that he had not reached a final decision about a short-term order.
“I’d rather not do it, but we may need it,” Mr. Trump said at the White House as he prepared to travel to Norfolk, Va.
The president said he was considering restricting travel to and from those states “because they’re having problems down in Florida, a lot of New Yorkers going down,” but he did not offer any specifics on how that would work.
Mr. Trump spoke with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York on Saturday, but the governor — who was giving a news conference at the time — said they had not discussed the possibility of an order that would keep millions of people at home.
“I spoke to the president about the ship coming up,” Mr. Cuomo said, referencing the naval hospital ship that is expected to arrive in New York on Monday. “I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine.”
Mr. Trump, who has lurched from one public message to another in the weeks since the coronavirus crisis began to consume the United States, also tweeted about the issue.
Mr. Trump’s public airing of his deliberations came one day after he signed a $2 trillion economic stimulus package and as cases in the tristate area continued to climb. New York reported 52,318 confirmed cases, as of Saturday morning, with 728 deaths statewide. In New Jersey, there were 8,825 cases and the death toll had risen to 108. Connecticut had nearly 1,300 cases, with 27 deaths.
Cases have also been growing elsewhere across the country, with at least 17 states reporting tallies of at least 1,000 cases. The national total stands above 104,000, and Mr. Trump has been under substantial pressure from state officials to do more to quell the crisis.
On Friday, after a survey of mayors in more than 200 American cities, large and small, reported a dire need for face masks, ventilators and other emergency equipment, Mr. Trump said the federal government would buy thousands of ventilators from a variety of makers. It appeared doubtful they could be produced in time to help American hospitals that are already overwhelmed.
The specter of a federal quarantine followed a wave of governors who, fearful about the virus spreading further through their states, ordered people who had traveled from New York to isolate themselves for two weeks after their arrivals.
Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island said Friday that state troopers would begin stopping drivers with New York license plates so that National Guard officials could collect contact information and inform anyone coming from the state that they were subject to a mandatory, 14-day quarantine.
Ms. Raimondo also said the National Guard would begin going door-to-door in coastal communities this weekend to find and tell recent arrivals from New York of the quarantine order.
The National Guard had already been deployed to bus stations, train stations and the airport to enforce Ms. Raimondo’s order, which also applies to anyone who has been to New York in the past 14 days.
“I know it’s unusual,” Ms. Raimondo said at a news conference on Friday. “I know it’s extreme, and I know some people disagree with it.”
x“Right now we have a pinpointed risk,’’ she added. “That risk is called New York City.”
Texas, Florida, Maryland and South Carolina are among the other states that have ordered people arriving from New York to self-quarantine. In Texas, for instance, the authorities said Friday that Department of Public Safety agents would make surprise visits to see whether travelers were adhering to the state’s mandate, and they warned that violators could be fined $1,000 and jailed for 180 days.
Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, where many wealthy New Yorkers own second homes, this week urged all travelers from New York City to self-quarantine for two weeks upon entering the state, but he stopped short of issuing an order requiring it.
New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, has questioned the wisdom of such orders.
“I think there’s a little bit of a lack of recognition right now of just how much this disease has already spread around the country,” he said at a news briefing on Wednesday.
New York State’s primary is delayed, and New York City may fine those who break social-distancing rules.
New York will postpone its April 28 presidential primary until June 23, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Saturday, buying time for the state to administer an election as it struggles to respond to the growing coronavirus outbreak.
Ten other states, as well as Puerto Rico, have rescheduled presidential primaries as the campaign calendar has been upended by the outbreak, citing guidance from health officials who have urged people to avoid gathering spots, including polling places. A handful of other states have switched to voting entirely by mail and have extended deadlines for doing so.
And New York City officials are expected to decide this weekend whether to impose $500 fines on residents flouting social-distancing rules during the coronavirus outbreak by gathering in large groups at parks and ignoring police orders to disperse.
The vast majority of New Yorkers have been respecting the rules, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday, but officials had observed some violations
Mr. de Blasio also said that a few houses of worship were continuing to hold religious services and that they risked fines or having their buildings permanently closed if the police found congregations in them this weekend.
The mayor also said he was working with state officials to freeze rents this year for 2.3 million tenants in rent-stabilized apartments.
Officials said late Friday that the number of coronavirus cases in New York City had climbed above 26,000. The city’s death toll was 450.
At least 500 New York Police Department employees have tested positive, and more than 4,000 officers — about 11 percent of the uniformed work force — were out sick on Friday, officials said.
In a force of 36,000 officers, that translates to an infection rate of about one in every 80 officers, or about 1.2 percent.
Officials also reported the first death of an officer in the department: Detective Cedric Dixon, who worked in the 32nd Precinct, in Harlem, and had worked for the department for 23 years.”
In New Rochelle, N.Y., meanwhile, the state’s drastic measures to contain a cluster of coronavirus cases may be starting to work, according to the latest data for Westchester County.
Federal civil rights office rejects rationing medical care based on disability or age.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ civil rights office told medical providers on Saturday that they may not deny medical care to people on the basis of their disabilities or age during the coronavirus emergency.
The directive, released in a bulletin, came days after disability rights advocates filed complaints arguing that protocols to ration lifesaving medical care — adopted by Alabama and Washington State — were discriminatory.
“Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism,” Roger Severino, the office’s director, said in a statement. “Persons with disabilities, with limited English skills, and older persons should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies,” the statement continued.
Alabama’s plan instructs hospitals not to offer mechanical ventilators to people with certain health conditions. People with “severe or profound mental retardation,” “moderate to severe dementia,” and “severe traumatic brain injury” should be considered “unlikely candidates for ventilator support” during a period of rationing, the protocol says.
Washington’s guidance recommends that triage teams consider transferring hospital patients with “loss of reserves in energy, physical ability, cognition and general health” to outpatient or palliative care.
As deaths surge, Spain and Italy look for signs of a turning point.
Spain and Italy, the two countries with the world’s largest coronavirus death tolls, have each recorded grim new daily records: 832 dead in the past 24 hours in Spain, bringing the total to 5,690 on Saturday; 969 in the most recent figures in Italy, for a total of 9,134.
As of Saturday, 12,248 people were reported to have recovered from the virus in Spain, about double the number of victims.
Fernando Simón, the director of Spain’s national health emergency center, acknowledged that the country had a particularly high count of fatalities.
“We have to reduce to the maximum this mortality,” he said, warning that some intensive care units had reached “the limit,” while others are getting closer to it. In the Madrid region, a hub of Spain’s outbreak, about 1,400 patients are now in intensive care units.
The spike in deaths was particularly shocking in Italy, where until Friday’s figures were released deaths appeared to have been slowing.
But both countries have seen recent falls in the number of confirmed new infections, though that figure rose again slightly in Spain on Saturday.
“We are reaching the peak of this curve that worries us so much,” Dr. Simón said. “In some areas of the country we have probably already passed it,” he added.
Hopes were more muted in Italy, where the head of the national health institute, Silvio Brusaferro, suggested the outbreak “could peak in the next few days.”
Even so, he said, “We can’t delude ourselves that a slowing down of the diffusion will allow us to slow down social distancing.”
Franco Locatelli, the president of Italy’s Higher Health Council, a government advisory board, said that while there were “clear signs” that the restrictive measures enacted three weeks ago were working, it was important that they be maintained. Should they be loosened, “all the work we’ve done until now will have been for nothing,” he said.
As countries throughout Europe grappled with a shortage of protective equipment for health workers, Spain received four million masks delivered from China on Saturday, delivered by an Airbus aircraft, according to the company. The shortage has been particularly acute in Spain, where health workers represent 15 percent of confirmed cases.
Ireland enters a strict lockdown, and the U.K. checks its rule book.
Ireland became the latest European country living under tight movement restrictions on Saturday, imposing a lockdown nearly a week later than its harder-hit neighbor, Britain, but with conditions that were in some respects stricter.
“Freedom was hard-won in our country, and it jars with us to restrict and limit individual liberties, even temporarily,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in an address on Friday. He described the new rules as “restricting our lives so that others might live.”
As of early Saturday, Ireland had reported 2,121 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and 22 deaths. In the United Kingdom, which has a population more than 10 times larger than Ireland’s, confirmed cases stood at 17,089 on Saturday, and the death toll reached 1,019 — a spike of 260 in a day.
From midnight until at least Easter Sunday on April 12, Irish people are being ordered to stay home except to travel to essential jobs, medical appointments, family care or “brief” exercise within 2 kilometers — about a mile and a quarter — of home. All but a few shops are shut, and public transport is restricted to essential workers.
The exercise restrictions attracted particular interest in Britain, after a series of public controversies over what was appropriate under lockdown.
Several London boroughs have closed local parks and play areas; one of London’s largest parks has temporarily banned cyclists; and the police in Derbyshire, England, have published drone footage of people parking cars and walking in the Peak District, a popular national park, labeled “This Is Not Essential Travel.”
On Saturday, the British government published new guidance to exercise “near your home where possible.”
Britain is also converting large convention centers in Birmingham and Manchester into coronavirus hospitals, the head of its National Health Service said on Saturday, a measure it has already taken in London.
Here is how some other countries are responding to the virus:
Poland’s Parliament passed a law early on Saturday allowing voting by mail for older citizens and those in quarantine or self-isolating. Opposition parties have called for presidential elections, scheduled in May, to be postponed.
Turkey halted all intercity trains and limited domestic flights and halted international flights on Saturday. Its number of coronavirus cases jumped by a third in a day to 5,698, with 92 dead.
Australia stepped up enforcement of social distancing rules on Saturday. It also closed more beaches and threatened fines if people defy pleas to stay at home. The country’s number of confirmed cases rose by 469 to 3,635 on Saturday, the federal health ministry said, from fewer than 100 earlier this March.
Russia will close its borders starting on March 30, a government order published on Saturday said. The measure will come into force at all vehicle, rail and pedestrian checkpoints, and apply to Russia’s maritime borders, the government said. It will not apply to Russian diplomats and the drivers of freight trucks, among others. The country, which has already grounded all international flights, has reported 1,264 coronavirus cases. It closed its longest border, with China, in January.
Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, continues to cast doubt on São Paulo’s death toll from the outbreak, accusing the state governor, without evidence, of manipulating the numbers for political ends. “I’m sorry, some people will die, they will die, that’s life,” Mr. Bolsonaro said in a television interview Friday night. He said that in São Paulo State, Brazil’s economic powerhouse — which has the most cases and deaths so far of coronavirus in Brazil, at 1,223 cases and 68 death — the death toll seemed “too large.”
Japan is ‘barely holding on,’ Abe says, but declines to order a lockdown.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan warned on Saturday that the country was at risk of an explosion of coronavirus infections, but announced no specific new measures to control the spread.
“At this point, we are not going to declare a state of emergency, but we are barely holding on,” Mr. Abe said at a news conference Saturday evening in Tokyo. “And we believe that we are still on the brink.”
The Japanese leader, who last week asked the International Olympic Committee to delay the Tokyo summer Olympics by one year because of the coronavirus pandemic, pledged to use every means at his disposal to strengthen the country’s economy as the coronavirus outbreak crushes demand at home and abroad, putting the country’s businesses and workers under intense pressure.
Mr. Abe said during a news conference that he would combine tax cuts, cash handouts and interest-free loans and other measures to create a stimulus package larger than the one the country rolled out during the 2008 financial crisis.
“We will provide support for small and medium-size businesses that is on a scale never before seen, that is unprecedented,” he said.
Even before the pandemic began, Japan’s growth had fallen into negative territory, with the country’s economy shrinking 7.1 percent in the final three months of last year because of slowing exports and an increase in the consumption tax.
Although Japan has not been put on a full lockdown, many businesses have suffered as large sports and cultural events have been canceled and tourism has all but collapsed
Mr. Abe said that Japan’s current policy in dealing with the coronavirus was to “identify early chains of infections in so-called clusters.” But he acknowledged that if “an explosive spread of infections breaks out,” particularly in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka, that strategy would “collapse immediately.”
Tokyo has recorded double-digit increases in cases for the past three days. Last week, Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, asked residents not to venture outside this weekend unless it was essential
On Saturday, the governor of Chiba announced 57 new cases — 31 workers and 26 visitors — at a welfare facility for the disabled.
Don’t overlook the good news (yes, there is some).
To stay resilient in frightening times, it’s critical to remember that gleams of hope do exist. “Whenever I’ve asked people what thing they’re most proud of in their lives, it’s always connected to times of pain or strife or struggle and how they got through it,” said Jeremy Ortman, a mental health counselor in New York.
So what bright spots are there to keep in mind during this pandemic?
Kindness is in the news. Maybe people are being better to each other, or maybe we’re just noticing it more. People are serenading each other across windowsills. Animal shelters are reporting upticks in foster applications. Volunteers are buying groceries for their neighbors.
Research is moving at breakneck speed. Doctors are scrambling to improve testing and find anti-viral treatments. The mobilization in the medical field recalls organizing efforts during World War II, said Robert Citino, executive director of the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
“I don’t think there has ever been more human ingenuity devoted to a single scientific problem than the one we’re facing right now,” he said.
We could be learning crucial lessons. Years from now, if a deadlier virus emerges, we may find that today’s innovations and procedures have prepared us for it. “What we’re facing is unprecedented, and I don’t want to downplay its seriousness, but it’s not the worst-case scenario,” said Malia Jones, a researcher who studies infectious diseases at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
“I hope the takeaway here is that we’ll be better prepared to deal with the next pandemic,” Dr. Jones said. “This is a good practice run for a novel influenza pandemic. That’s the real scary scenario.”
Experts begin reconsidering advice on masks for Americans, even as shortage continues.
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, experts have started to question official guidance about whether ordinary, healthy people should protect themselves with a regular surgical mask, or even a scarf.
The recent surge in infections in the United States means that more Americans are now at risk of getting sick. And healthy individuals, especially those with essential jobs who cannot avoid public transportation or close interaction with others, may need to start wearing masks more regularly, some doctors say. However, with even front-line medical workers complaining of shortages, few people are likely to be able to find them.
The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to state that masks don’t necessarily protect healthy individuals from getting infected as they go about their daily lives.
The official guidance continues to recommend that masks be reserved for people who are already sick, as well as for the health workers and caregivers who interact with infected individuals on a regular basis. Everyone else, they say, should stick to frequent hand-washing and maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people to protect themselves.
While wearing a mask may not prevent healthy people from getting sick, and doesn’t replace important measures such as hand-washing or social distancing, it may be better than nothing, said Dr. Robert Atmar, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine.
Studies of influenza pandemics have shown that when high-grade N95 masks are not available, surgical masks protect people a bit more than not wearing masks at all.
“If everyone in the community wears a mask, it could decrease transmission,” Dr. Neil Fishman, the chief medical officer of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said. “But unfortunately I think that we don’t have enough masks to make that effective policy in the U.S.”
Hong Kong and Singapore impose new restrictions as case numbers climb.
Singapore and Hong Kong, which kept their infection numbers low in the first weeks of the outbreak, have stepped up measures to enforce social distancing in public, as imported cases continue to drive the spread in both places.
Through the end of April, anyone in Singapore who fails to maintain a one-meter distance from others while standing in line, or while sitting in a chair that isn’t attached to the floor, can be jailed for up to six months, fined up to $7,000 or both, the Ministry of Health said. Proprietors of cinemas and other places with fixed seating are required to ensure that people don’t sit next to each other.
In Hong Kong, public gatherings of more than four people will be banned for two weeks starting Sunday, with some exceptions, including funerals. Wedding ceremonies will be limited to 20 people. Restaurants must be no more than half-full, and cinemas, fitness centers and other recreations sites will be temporarily closed.
Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, who announced the new restrictions on Friday, backed off from an earlier plan to ban the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants, after the industry pushed back against it. Like Singapore’s new restrictions, Hong Kong’s are punishable by fines and jail terms of up to six months.
Hong Kong reported 65 new coronavirus cases on Friday, its largest single-day total yet, bringing its total past 500. Singapore reported 49 new cases. Many of the new cases in both cities involved people who had recently returned from abroad.
‘This is a white-collar quarantine’: Who can and can’t stay home.
In some respects, a pandemic is an equalizer: It can afflict princes and paupers alike, and no one who hopes to stay healthy is exempt from the strictures of social distancing. But the American response to the virus is laying bare class divides that are often camouflaged — in access to health care, child care, education, living space, even internet bandwidth.
In New York, well-off city dwellers have abandoned cramped apartments for spacious second homes. In Texas, the rich are shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to build safe rooms and bunkers.
And across the country, there is a creeping consciousness that despite talk of national unity, not everyone is equal in times of emergency.
“This is a white-collar quarantine,” said Howard Barbanel, a Miami-based entrepreneur who owns a wine company. “Average working people are bagging and delivering goods, driving trucks, working for local government.”
Some of those catering to the well-off stress that they are trying to be good citizens. Leslie Michelson, executive chairman of Private Health Management, which helps people with serious medical issues navigate the health care system, emphasized that he had obtained coronavirus tests only for patients who met guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rather than the so-called worried well.
Still, a kind of pandemic caste system is rapidly developing: the rich holed up in vacation properties; the middle class marooned at home with restless children; the working class on the front lines of the economy, stretched to the limit by the demands of work and parenting, if there is even work to be had.
‘We have lost it all’: Millions of unemployed Americans are reeling.
For the millions of Americans who found themselves without a job in recent weeks, the sharp and painful change brought a profound sense of disorientation. They were going about their lives, bartending, cleaning, managing events, waiting tables, loading luggage and teaching yoga. And then suddenly they were in free fall, grabbing at any financial help they could find, which in many states this week remained locked away behind crashing websites and overloaded phone lines.
In 17 interviews with people in eight states, Americans who lost their jobs said they were in shock and struggling to grasp the magnitude of the economy’s shutdown, an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Unlike the last economic earthquake, the financial crisis of 2008, this time there was no getting back out there to look for work, not when people were being told to stay inside. What is more, the layoffs affected not just them, but their spouses, their parents, their siblings and their roommates — even their bosses.
“I don’t think anyone expected it to be like this,” said Mark Kasanic, 48, a server at a brasserie in Cleveland who was one of roughly 300 workers that a locally owned restaurant company laid off last week. Now he is home schooling his children, ages 5 and 7, one with special needs.
Julian Bruell was one of those who had to deliver the bad news to hourly employees like Mr. Kasanic. Mr. Bruell, 30, who helps run the company with his father, said that only about 30 employees were left running takeout and delivery at two of its five restaurants. He has not been earning a salary, his goal being to keep the business afloat through the crisis.
On Thursday, he was planning to file for unemployment himself.
The pope confronts the virus: ‘We find ourselves afraid.’
“For weeks now it has been evening,” Pope Francis said Friday on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica. “Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives.”
The pope spoke alone, before a vast and empty square, its rain-slicked cobblestones reflecting the blue lights of the police locking down Rome. “We find ourselves afraid,” he said. “And lost.”
A new anxiety has seized Vatican City, which has about 600 citizens and a population of about 246 people behind the Vatican walls. About 100 of the residents are young Swiss Guards, but the others include the pope, a handful of older cardinals, the people who work in their households, and some laymen, making it in some ways as vulnerable as a nursing home to a virus that can be devastating to the old.
This week, the Vatican confirmed cases of the coronavirus inside its walls, and on Wednesday reports emerged that an official who lives in the pope’s residence had tested positive and required hospitalization. Now the Vatican, which has also essentially canceled all public participation in Easter ceremonies, is testing scores of people and considering isolating measures for the 83-year-old pope, who had part of a lung removed during an illness in his youth.
Top Vatican officials said Francis has had negative results to two separate tests and has said privately he doesn’t have the virus.
Reporting was contributed by Alan Blinder, Monica Davey, Annie Karni, Peter S. Goodman, Christina Anderson, Henrik Pryser Libell, Motoko Rich, Ben Dooley, Elian Peltier, Abdi Latif Dahir, Elaine Yu, Daniel Victor, Peter Robins, David Moll, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni, Raphael Minder, Jason Horowitz, Elisabetta Povoledo, Knvul Sheikh, Noam Scheiber, Nelson D. Schwartz, Tiffany Hsu, Sabrina Tavernise, Audra D. S. Burch, Sarah Mervosh, Campbell Robertson, Linda Qiu, Damien Cave and Maria Cramer.