The Olympics were postponed Monday, and the number of Americans facing lockdowns, quarantines or other tight restrictions surpassed 100 million – even as President Donald Trump appeared to distance himself from social distancing.
“The pandemic is accelerating,” the World Health Organization warned.
Congressional negotiations on an economic stimulus package stalled for the second day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell angrily dismissed the Democratic opposition as “procedural obstruction” that could delay a vote on the measure until the end of the week. Critics said the plan was too generous to big corporations and too stingy for working families.
The U.S. reported more than 41,000 confirmed cases, trailing only Italy and China. Confirmed cases are a function of how much testing is done, experts say. The national death toll surpassed 570. Globally, more than 16,000 people have died of the virus and 370,000 people have been confirmed to have it, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.
One week ago the U.S. death toll rose to 85, and there were more than 4,600 confirmed cases. Global deaths surged past 7,100.
Britain goes on lockdown
Boris Johnson has become the latest European head of state to order a lockdown.
The British prime minister on Monday mandated the closure of most retail stores and banned gatherings for three weeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The decision follows similar steps taken by hard-hit Italy and Spain, as well as France.
Previously, the British government had resisted calls for stricter measures beyond closing schools, bars and restaurants and urging people to stay home.
In an evening address, Johnson said that he was giving “the British people a very simple instruction — you must stay at home.’’
He offered a list of limited purposes for which leaving home would be allowed, including essential shopping, medical appointments and one form of exercise a day.
2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed, IOC member says
The International Olympic Committee has decided to postpone the Summer Games in Tokyo because of the coronavirus pandemic, veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA TODAY Sports. The Games likely will be held in 2021, he said.
“The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24,” he said. Pound, a Canadian who has been one of the most influential members of the IOC for decades, said he believes the organization will announce its next steps soon.
On Sunday, IOC President Thomas Bach said he was going to take the next four weeks to decide the fate of the Tokyo Olympics. Bach ruled out canceling the Games, however.
– Christine Brennan
Stimulus package remains stalled
An effort in the Senate to move forward with a nearly $2 trillion economic stimulus package to combat the coronavirus crisis has stalled for the second day over continued disagreements between Republicans and Democrats.
The largely party-line vote (with Republicans for and Democrats against) was 49-46 to end debate and move forward. Sixty votes were needed to advance the measure for a final floor vote.
The measure is designed to provide direct payments to most Americans, throw a lifeline to small businesses shuttered across the country and rescue large industries, such as the airlines, battered by the pandemic. But Democrats want more protections for workers from layoffs and loss of health coverage, more money for states to deal with the crisis and more aid for students facing student debt repayment.
— Ledyard King
WHO: ‘The pandemic is accelerating’
Sixty-seven days from the first reported coronavirus case, the total was 100,000 cases. It took 11 more days to reach 200,000 – and just four more to reach 300,000, the head of the World Health Organization said.
“The pandemic is accelerating,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned. “But we’re not prisoners to statistics. We’re not helpless bystanders. We can change the trajectory.”
Social distancing is a valuable tool in slowing the outbreak, Tedros said. But government and health officials also must “attack,” he said, by testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case and tracing and quarantining every close contact. He warned that using unproven treatments without the proper testing could raise false hope “and even do more harm than good.”
Trump signals he may lift strict guidelines next week
Trump signaled in a tweet overnight that he is considering lifting social distancing guidelines that may be slowing the spread of the coronavirus but are hurting the economy: “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”
Hours later, Trump posted a video thanking heath workers and others for their efforts during the crisis and encouraging social distancing. Public health officials, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have recommended Americans work from home when they can and not congregate. The administration rolled out a 15-day plan on March 16 to “bend the curve” of new coronavirus cases. But the restrictions have the economy reeling.
Still, several states, including New York, California, Massachusetts, Michigan and Illinois, have imposed stricter social distancing requirements. Even if Trump eased the federal guidelines next week, it would not affect orders signed by governors in those and other states.
– John Fritze and David Jackson
NYC has 5% of global total; state testing 16,000 people daily
New York City confirmed more than 16,000 cases, about 5% of the worldwide total. The city was in virtual lockdown, although grocery stores, pharmacies, bodegas, liquor stores, laundromats, parks and car and bike repair shops remained open, the mayor said on social media. Restaurants remain open for takeout and delivery.
“This crisis is affecting our entire nation and New York City is its epicenter,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is testing more than 16,000 people per day. His statewide actions include prohibiting all nonessential businesses from having their employees report to work on site. Residents are limited to trips to the grocery store, outdoor exercise with appropriate social distancing and other essential travel.
More than 100 million Americans in lockdown
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb delivered a statewide address ordering state residents to remain in their homes except for permitted activities – such as work, taking care of others or food shopping – from March 25 to April 7. Ohio, Louisiana and Delaware issued similar stay-at-home orders over the weekend, all kicking in Monday or Tuesday. New York, California and Illinois are among states that already had tight restrictions, and Michigan and Massachusetts joined them Monday. In total, more than 100 million Americans are under stay-at-home orders.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, citing “too many people packing beaches, trails and parks,” shut down sports and recreation at city parks and closed parking at city beaches. “That doesn’t mean gather elsewhere,” Garcetti said on Twitter. “This is serious. Stay home and save lives.”
Global lockdown surpasses 1.5 billion; silver lining in Italy
More than 1.5 billion people around the world were in forced or voluntary lockdown as the global death toll continued to climb. This despite an easing of restrictions across China, where the crisis began in December. Nations are scrambling for masks, respirators and other equipment, and China has begun shipping the items around the world.
While deaths in China have slowed to a trickle, Italy added 651 people to its total on Sunday, down from 793 the previous day but still bringing the country’s COVID-19 death toll to more than 6,000.
“What we are experiencing are heavy, difficult days,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. “But this is a battle that can be won by staying united.”
Fauci: ‘I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down’
Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, frequently appears alongside Trump during task force news conferences. But he and the president have not always agreed on the facts: Fauci has contradicted Trump on such things as the timetable for a vaccine and the severity of the outbreak.
In an interview with Science magazine, Fauci said that he and Trump don’t disagree on substantive issues. Sometimes the physician disagrees with Trump on details, but he says he “can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time.”
– Will Cummings
Stocks fall as NYSE goes virtual
Stocks continued their resolute decline Monday while the New York Stock Exchange went virtual, its iconic trading floor shut down for the first time in NYSE’s 228-year history. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 600 points Monday afternoon, while Standard & Poor’s 500 also was lower. The economic signs were gloomy: U.S. unemployment aid applications are projected to surge to more than 2 million in the latest week, Goldman Sachs analysts forecast.
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard predicted the U.S. unemployment rate could reach 30% in the coming months, a level worse than the peak of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
– Jessica Menton
Virginia to keep schools closed
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday that schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic. He had previously closed all K-12 schools through Friday of this week.
Northam said school division leaders will decide how students will learn the information that was expected to be covered for the remainder of the academic year.
Last week, Kansas became the first state to announce schools would not reopen this school year, although instruction would continue online.
Utah Rep. Ben McAdams hospitalized with ‘severe shortness of breath’
Hours after Sen. Rand Paul announced he had tested positive for the virus, Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, was hospitalized with “severe shortness of breath,” his office said in a statement Sunday night. McAdams is one of two members of the House of Representatives to be diagnosed with the coronavirus.
McAdams said he received oxygen “as I struggled to maintain my blood oxygen at appropriate levels” but was later feeling “relatively better” and was off oxygen. The Utah Democrat said he expected to be released “as soon as the doctors determine it is appropriate.”
Two members of Utah’s delegation of Congress, Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, said they would self-quarantine after coming into contact with Paul, R-Ky. Paul said he felt fine.
– Nicholas Wu