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Coronavirus updates from March 18, 2020

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As coronavirus continues to cripple businesses across the nation, President Trump signed into law a relief package passed by the House last week and approved by the Senate earlier Wednesday. The bill provides free testing, expanded funding for food security programs and paid sick, family and medical leave for workers at companies with 500 employees or fewer.

The White House is also solidifying plans for a third phase of the response, which would include two rounds of direct cash payments to taxpayers.

On Wall Street, stocks took a nosedive Wednesday and wiped out roughly three years of gains, with the Dow closing below 20,000 for the first time since 2017. There are now more than 7,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., and at least 141 people have died.

"Stay at home as much as possible, limit the spread," Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Tuesday, reiterating the Trump administration's appeal for Americans to avoid unnecessary travel and large gatherings. "We do not want to look like Italy does two weeks from now."

In Italy, which has faced the most cases and deaths outside of China, 475 people died in the last 24 hours alone. Hospitals, doctors and nurses have been pushed beyond capacity. Globally, there are more than 214,000 cases of the virus and at least 8,700 deaths.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for detailed information on coronavirus treatment and prevention.

 

Hubei province, the epicenter of the global outbreak, reports no new cases in past 24 hours

China's health ministry announced Thursday that Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, reported no new cases in the past 24 hours. The announcement suggests the nation's strict containment measures proved effective in lowering the number of cases. 
 
The ministry said Thursday that results over the past 24 hours showed 34 new cases in all of mainland China, all detected in people arriving from abroad. 
 
Wuhan at the peak reported thousands of new cases of coronavirus infections daily, overwhelming its health care system.
 
China has only just begun loosening draconian travel restrictions within the country, but has stepped-up 14-day quarantine regulations on those arriving in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere from overseas, amid expectations of a new influx of students and others returning home.
 
China has now recorded a total of 80,928 confirmed virus cases with 3,245 deaths. Another 70,420 people have been released from hospital and 7,263 remain in treatment.

—The Associated Press

 

De Blasio says some inmates could be released in the next 48 hours

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that some inmates with minor charges or health concerns could be released within the next 48 hours to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

"In the next 48 hours, we will identify any inmates who we think need to be brought out either because of their own health conditions — if they have any preexisting conditions, et cetera — or because the charges were minor and we think it's appropriate to bring them out in this context," de Blasio said on WCBS NewsRadio, an affiliate of CBS News Radio. 

"That said, we still need our criminal justice system to function," he added. "We've gotta balance, here, public safety with the very real concern about health in the jails — so that's something we're going to be looking at every single day."

 

The wave of coronavirus cases is shutting down Florida beaches

Thousands of people have ignored new guidelines calling for social distancing and are continuing to flock to Florida's beaches — but now, cities have had enough. Several cities in Florida have started to close down beach access in an effort to slow down the spread of coronavirus, which has infected at least 328 Florida residents and visitors.

The Clearwater City Council voted to close down Clearwater Beach for two weeks, starting March 23 at 6 a.m. The shutdown does not include restaurants or businesses along the beach, according to a tweet by the council. 

On Tuesday, helicopter footage and social media posts showed Clearwater Beach packed with people. Spring breakers were seen lying side-by-side and swimming in groups — activities that clearly violated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation of staying at least six feet away from others.

Other popular beach spots in Florida are starting to limit public use as well. Cocoa Beach announced Wednesday on the city's website that "beachside parks and beachside public parking areas" will close Friday and remain closed "until further notice in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19." Lee County in Southwest Florida will close county-owned beaches, beach accesses and the Fort Myers Beach Pier beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. 

By Li Cohen
 

Two U.S. Congressmen announce positive coronavirus tests

Florida Representative Mario Diaz-Balart and Utah Representative Ben Adams announced Wednesday that they have tested positive for coronavirus. They are the first two congresspeople to announce positive diagnoses. 

Diaz-Balart stayed in Washington D.C. after voting ended Friday out of "an abundance of caution" because his wife is at high risk due to pre-existing conditions, according to a statement released by the congressman.

"On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms, including a fever and a headache," the statement said. "Just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19."

Adams said he also developed symptoms on Saturday after returning from Washington D.C., and that he began isolating himself on Sunday. He said he was tested Tuesday, and he received the positive results Wednesday. 

Both Congressmen urged their constituents to take the virus seriously. 

By Jordan Freiman
 

Latest U.S. numbers

At least 141 deaths have been linked to the virus in the U.S. Here's a breakdown of where the deaths have occurred. 

67 - Washington
20 - New York
12 - California
8 - Florida
5 - New Jersey
4- Louisiana
3 - Oregon
2 - Virginia
2- Indiana
2- Colorado
2 - Texas
3 - Georgia
1 - Michigan
1 - Illinois
1- Nevada
1 - Kansas
1 - South Dakota
1 - Kentucky
1 - South Carolina
1 - Pennsylvania
1 - Connecticut
1 - Missouri
1 - Maryland

By Justin Carissimo
 

Trump signs coronavirus bill into law

President Trump announced Wednesday night that he signed the "Families First Coronavirus Response Act" into law after the Senate passed it earlier in the day. 

"The Act makes emergency supplemental appropriations and other changes to law to help the Nation respond to the coronavirus outbreak," the White House said in a release. 

The bill provides free testing, expanded funding for food security programs and paid sick, family and medical leave for workers at companies with 500 employees or fewer. 

By Victoria Albert
 

ICE says it won't arrest most undocumented immigrants during pandemic

Citing the worldwide response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration on Wednesday announced it would refrain from targeting and apprehending most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who don't pose a threat to the public.

Under its new "enforcement posture," Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said its agents will only focus on detaining "public safety risks," as well as immigrants whose criminal records require the agency to apprehend and detain them.

For everyone else, ICE said it would "exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis."  

The agency, which has come under withering criticism from advocates and Democrats for its priorities under the Trump administration, said the measures are necessary to safeguard the well-being of its personnel and the public. ICE also said it would not arrest anyone at or near hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices and other medical facilities during the pandemic, except in the "most extraordinary of circumstances."

"Individuals should not avoid seeking medical care because they fear civil immigration enforcement," the agency said in a statement. 

Read more about the decision here

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
 

Oklahoma City Thunder players and staff test negative for coronavirus

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced Wednesday that all players and staff members who were tested for coronavirus have tested negative. The Thunder were scheduled to play the Utah Jazz on March 11, but the game was postponed just before tipoff. Jazz player Rudy Gobert later tested positive.

The results come as NBA teams are facing scrutiny for the apparent ease they have accessing coronavirus tests while members of the general public are often denied the test.

"We wish them a speedy recovery," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted after it was announced the four Brooklyn Nets players had tested positive. "But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested. Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick."

The Thunder said that to avoid further "stress on the state of Oklahoma's medical system, the Thunder did not use state resources and chose an alternative path for testing of its personnel."

By Jordan Freiman
 

Virus death toll jumps nearly 15% in Iran

Iran announced that an additional 147 people have died from the coronavirus — nearly a 15% spike. The death toll in the nation is now at least 1,135, with at least 17,361 infections. 

This is the biggest 24-hour rise in deaths yet recorded by Iran's Health Ministry since the virus first appeared in the country in mid-February. Yet even as the number of cases continues to grow, many in Iran continue to ignore warnings to stay home, packing food markets and crowding highways with traffic as families traveled ahead of the Persian New Year on Friday. 

Elsewhere in the Middle East, millions were under curfews, quarantines or almost total lockdowns.

—The Associated Press

 

So many people are filing for unemployment, it's crashing government websites

As the coronavirus pandemic shuts down business across the county, a surge in newly laid-off workers is crashing states' unemployment websites.

  • In Ohio, more than 48,000 people applied for jobless benefits during the first two days of this week — 26 times the amount from the week before.

  • In neighboring Pennsylvania, about 70,000 people sought unemployment aid in a single day — six times the total for the entire previous week. 

  • In Kentucky, the state's unemployment assistance site and phone lines went down amid a fourfold surge in applications.

  • Oregon's unemployment website went down on Monday, just as the state's governor was announcing a closure of bars and restaurants.

  • New York State on Tuesday received 21,000 calls from people asking about unemployment benefits — a tenfold increase from the week before. Website visits tripled, periodically crashing the system.

Read more about how the crashes are impacting Americans here

By Irina Ivanova
 

200 hospital workers, patients tested in Wisconsin after doctor tests positive

Some 200 hospital workers and patients were tested for coronavirus after a doctor tested positive at Children's Wisconsin. So far, no new cases have been reported.

The doctor contracted the virus from someone they were in contact with who tested positive, the hospital told CBS News. They said the doctor notified the hospital immediately. —Dr. Tara Narula

 

"We can support one another through this": Psychologist shares tips on managing coronavirus anxiety

A new poll from Axios-Ipsos found nearly a third of American adults said their emotional well being had gotten worse because of the coronavirus outbreak. In an interview with "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell, psychologist and CBS News contributor Lisa Damour shared tips for managing stress and anxiety related to the coronavirus, and for discussing the pandemic with children.

Read Norah O'Donnell's interview with Dr. Damour here

 

Federal prison employees say conflicting orders are putting lives at risk

Federal prison employees say their lives are in danger after a series of bungled instructions and widespread supply shortages amid the coronavirus outbreak. The virus was first found in the federal prison system on Wednesday when two Bureau of Prison staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

"The agency is in chaos," said Joe Rojas, regional vice president of the Council of Prison Locals, the labor union that represents federal corrections officers. "We are just scrambling to get things in order."

One of the BOP staff members who tested positive worked at a facility in New Hampshire and may have been in contact with inmates, a BOP official told CBS News.

At the Tallahassee Federal Correctional Institution, prison employees told CBS News the guards charged with moving prisoners do not have access to protective gear. Employees said the facility has 60 masks to be shared among 200 employees, no soap in multiple staff restrooms, a lack of hand sanitizer and a supply of gloves that may only last through next week. Workers said they planned to reuse the disposable masks. — Cassidy McDonald and Clare Hymes

Read more here.

 

General Motors and Toyota to temporarily suspend production in North America

Automotive giants General Motors and Toyota both announced Wednesday that they will be temporarily suspending manufacturing operations in North America to help fight the coronavirus. 

GM said in a statement that it will begin "a systematic orderly suspension" of operations in North America, lasting at least until March 30. To ensure production stops safely, the company said it would suspend operations "in a cadence, with each facility receiving specific instructions from manufacturing leadership." 

Toyota is taking a similar approach, suspending production at all of its automobile and components plants in North America — but just for two days. A statement from the company said it will resume production on March 25, and that service parts depots and vehicle logistics centers will continue to operate. 

By Victoria Albert
 

Can the coronavirus spread through the mail?

Reports of postal workers testing positive for the novel coronavirus have raised concerns that the pathogen could live on letters and packages, potentially exposing people to infection just from opening their mail or Amazon packages. The U.S Postal Service's response: Don't worry about it.

"There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through the mail," the postal service said last weekend, alluding to the disease caused by the virus and citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization as its sources of information.

The federal agency, which employs about 500,000 people, is heeding recommendations from the CDC and public health departments, it added. 

Read more here.

By Kate Gibson
 

New York Stock Exchange to move to fully electronic trading

The New York Stock Exchange will temporarily switch to fully electronic trading on Monday, March 23, the Intercontinental Exchange Inc. said in a press release. 

The decision encompasses the NYSE equities trading floor in New York, the NYSE American Options trading floor in New York and the NYSE Arca Options trading floor in San Francisco, according to the release. 

"NYSE's trading floors provide unique value to issuers and investors, but our markets are fully capable of operating in an all-electronic fashion to serve all participants, and we will proceed in that manner until we can re-open our trading floors to our members," Stacey Cunningham, President of the New York Stock Exchange, said in the release. 

By Victoria Albert
 

Senate approves coronavirus relief bill

The Senate on Wednesday approved a coronavirus relief bill passed by the House last week that provides free testing and paid leave for certain workers as the White House solidifies plans for an even larger package to address the fallout of the pandemic.

The measure, which was endorsed by President Trump last week, passed with a bipartisan vote of 90 to 8.

The House package includes free coronavirus testing, expanded funding for food security programs, increased funding for Medicaid and state unemployment insurance, and paid sick, family and medical leave for workers at companies with 500 employees or fewer. The majority of workers in the country work at companies with more than 500 employees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his fellow Republicans to pass the House measure, known as "phase two," calling the package "a well-intentioned bipartisan product."

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department outlined the administration's proposal for the third phase of the response. In a memo, the administration asked for two rounds of direct cash payments to taxpayers, worth $250 billion each. The first payment would be made April 6, and the second would come on May 18.

The administration's request also includes $300 billion in small business loans, $50 billion for the airline industry and $150 billion for other "severely distressed" industries. The document outlining the request was first reported by The Washington Post, and a senior administration official confirmed its authenticity to CBS News. — Grace Segers, Stefan Becket and Sara Cook

Read more here.

 

White House responds to backlash over Trump using term "Chinese virus"

The White House on Wednesday tweeted out a response to backlash President Trump has received for repeatedly referring to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus."

"Spanish Flu. West Nile Virus. Zika. Ebola. All named for places. Before the media's fake outrage, even CNN called it 'Chinese Coronavirus,'" the official White House account tweeted. "Those trying to divide us must stop rooting for America to fail and give Americans real info they need to get through the crisis."

Asian Americans have reported a rise in racist incidents since the virus first appeared in China late last year. The president's use of the term "Chinese virus" has been criticized for being xenophobic.

When Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter Wednesday why he continues to use the phrase, the president defended his terminology.
"Because it comes from China," Mr. Trump said. "It's not racist at all. It comes from China, that's why. I want to be accurate." 

The World Health Organization's official name for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is COVID-19

Read More

By Audrey McNamara
 

UN: Roughly half of world's student population out of schools and universities

More than 850 million children and youth, which is about half of the world's student population, have had to stay away from schools and universities because of the coronavirus pandemic, UNESCO said Wednesday.

"Nationwide closures are in force in 102 countries and local shut-downs in 11 others," it said. "This represents more than a doubling in the number of learners prevented from attending educational institutions, with further increases expected."

UNESCO said it has established a COVID-19 task force "to provide advice and technical assistance to governments working to provision education to students out of school."

"The Organization is also holding regular virtual meetings with education ministers from all over the world to share experiences and assess priority needs," it said.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

New Jersey reports 162 new cases in one day

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that 162 new positive cases of the coronavirus have been reported since Tuesday. The jump in cases, affecting people who range in age from 5 to 95-years-old, brings the state's total to 427.

The first confirmed coronavirus case in New Jersey was reported on March 4. 

The governor announced two additional deaths due to the virus. As of Wednesday, five people in New Jersey had died after contracting the virus. 

"I take personal responsibility for the public health and safety of New Jersey," the governor said on Twitter

"If you are unhappy about our aggressive social distancing measures, I'm sorry. But your safety is my highest priority."

By Audrey McNamara
 

Pennsylvania joins tri-state area agreement to reduce density

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Pennsylvania has joined an agreement with New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to reduce density in public places.

The agreement, which went into effect for the tri-state area states on Monday night, limits crowd capacity to 50 people, requires restaurants and bars to limit service to takeout and delivery, and closes all gyms, movie theaters and casinos.

"None of these measures work unless you have a large enough geographic basis," Cuomo said at a press conference.

"Makes no sense for a county to try and put its own rule into effect, or a city to put its own rule into effect, because people will just move… so the geographic footprint, by definition, is essential for these to work."

By Audrey McNamara
 

Schools in England to close for most students

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that schools in England will be closed for most students starting Friday, after Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland announced similar measures.

"We think now that we must apply downward pressure, further downward pressure on that upward curve by closing the schools," Johnson said.

Schools will remain open for children of essential workers in order to ensure that childcare duties wouldn't impede their abilities to do their jobs. Those deemed essential workers include healthcare professionals, delivery drivers and social workers.

"We therefore need schools to make provision for the children of these key workers who would otherwise be forced to stay home, and they will also need to look after vulnerable children."

Johnson stressed that people should follow government advice to work from home if possible and avoid pubs, restaurants and theaters.

"Everyone must follow the advice to protect themselves and their families, but also, more importantly, to protect the wider public," he said.

He also said testing will ramp up in the coming days. By Wednesday, 56,221 COVID-19 tests had been conducted in the United Kingdom, with 2,626 positive results. 104 people have died.

By Haley Ott
 

Trump says HUD is suspending evictions and foreclosures

President Trump said the Department of Housing and Urban Development will suspend housing evictions and foreclosures through April because of the coronavirus. 

HUD "is providing immediate relief to renters and homeowners by suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April," Mr. Trump said at a press conference to discuss the pandemic on Wednesday. 

HUD didn't immediately response to a request for comment and details on the new policy.  

Read more

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Trump sending "floating hospital" to New York Harbor

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that President Trump has agreed to send a ship to New York City that will function as a hospital, increasing capacity for coronavirus cases. 

The ship, USNS Comfort, holds about 1,000 rooms, including operating rooms, according to the governor. It will dock in New York Harbor.

"It's an extraordinary step, obviously, but it will be a - it's literally a floating hospital - it will add capacity, and the president said he would dispatch that immediately," Cuomo said Wednesday.

The president confirmed the news at a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing Wednesday and said a second ship, Mercy, would be headed to the West Coast.

"We're sending, upon request, two hospital ships that are being prepared right now. They're the big white ships with the red cross on the sides," Mr. Trump said.

"Those two ships are being prepared to go and they can be launched over the next week or so depending on need." 

Vice President Pence Discusses Mission Of U.S. Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort To South And Central America
The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is shown docked at the Port of Miami following a tour of the vessel by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on June 18, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Joe Skipper/Getty Images
By Audrey McNamara
 

All Ikea stores in the U.S. are closing

Ikea announced Wednesday that all stores nationwide are closing. "IKEA U.S. will continue to offer online shopping with the convenience of home delivery or Click & Collect (in select locations)," it said in a statement.

"Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. This is the most responsible way IKEA can continue to care for our co-workers and our customers in a manner that is healthy and safe," Javier Quiñones, Ikea retail U.S. president, said in a statement.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Trump will invoke Defense Production Act

President Trump announced he will invoke the Defense Production Act, which will speed up and expand the supply of resources from the country's industrial base, particularly to increase the production of medical supplies and equipment. It's a move that has been under discussion in recent days and weeks, as the country lacks a sufficient number of ventilators, masks and other critical items needed to meet the coming demand.

"We will be invoking the Defense Production Act," the president said during Wednesday's Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

Read more

By Kathryn Watson
 

N.Y. governor mandates businesses reduce in-person workforce to 50%

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a mandatory order that businesses reduce their in-person workforce by 50%.

No more than 50% of a business' workforce will be allowed to report for work outside the home, Cuomo said at a press conference. The governor did not provide an end date for the order, but said restrictions will be relaxed "as soon as possible."

The mandate exempts "essential" workforce, such as health care providers. 

Cuomo said he does not support a shelter in place order for New York City because the "geographical footprint" is not large enough and would not stop people from moving within the state, or to neighboring states. 

A total of 549 people are currently hospitalized for the coronavirus across New York, according to Cuomo. 

"Worse than the virus is the fear that we're dealing with," he said, pointing to stockpiling of groceries and supplies that have emptied shelves at stores. 

"The panic and the fear is wholly disconnected from the reality." 

By Audrey McNamara
 

Americans grapple with "what's next"

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many people across the country to stay at home, whether they need to self-quarantine or they are simply following calls for social distancing. Some families are adjusting to having schools closed, while others are coping with not being able to be with their elderly parents.

Hayleigh Gonzalez, 13, in New York City said she was able to focus "way better" using Google Classroom to interact with her teachers and peers than she is in person.

But for high school senior Meg Boone in McKinney, Texas, many uncertainties have made being home difficult. "Emotionally, it's just been kind of hard as just like a normal teenage kid to think, 'Well, what's going to happen next, what about college, what about my diploma, what about finishing high school, what's next?'" she said.

Mona Mouallem, who cares for her 90-year-old father and 78-year-old mother, is worried about the possibility of infecting them as she works from her home in New York City.

"My greatest fear is bringing something home to them," she told "CBS This Morning" lead national correspondent David Begnaud. "I go to grocery stores late at night, after midnight, to make sure I'm minimizing exposure, same thing with pharmacies. I don't take cabs anywhere. I won't order Ubers."

She even stays 6 feet away from her parents while she's home with them.

Read more

The impact of coronavirus restrictions 04:38
 

Treasury wants to send checks to Americans, starting April 6

The Treasury Department wants to start issuing direct payments to Americans by early next month as the centerpiece of a $1 trillion plan to stabilize the economy as the coronavirus epidemic threatens a body slam to taxpayers and businesses.

In a memorandum issued Wednesday, Treasury is calling for two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals: A first set of checks issued starting April 6, with a second wave in mid-May. The amounts would depend on income and family size.

The Treasury plan, which requires approval by Congress, also recommends $50 billion to stabilize the airlines, $150 billion to issue loan guarantees to other struggling sectors, and $300 billion to for small businesses. The plan appears to anticipate that many of the loans would not be repaid.

-The Associated Press

 

Medical staff share heartbreaking struggles: "We're facing our own death"

Medical professionals are struggling to juggle their duties to patients and the fear of exposing their families to COVID-19. Several health care workers have already been exposed to the virus, with at least two doctors reportedly in intensive care.

"I think we forget that physicians and nurses and health care professionals are human too," Dr. K. Kay Moody told CBS News' Dr. Tara Narula. "We walk to the bedside, like we always do, but now we are knowing that we are not protected and we're facing our own death."

Moody is an emergency room physician in Washington, where there have been at least 52 reported coronavirus deaths. She called for personal protective equipment for health care workers like herself to prevent more of their workforce from succumbing to the illness. Otherwise, she cautioned, "our workforce is going to expose everyone who comes in."

Read more

Health care workers plead for safer measures 06:00
 

Army makes National Guard brigade available for Washington state virus response

The U.S. Army said Wednesday that it was changing its combat training schedules at several major facilities in the U.S. to protect the troops and their allies "due to the current worldwide situation" amid the coroanvirus pandemic.

The Army said the changes would make the Washington National Guard's 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team available to Governor Jay Inslee as he grapples with the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the country. An Army brigade is typically around 3,500 troops strong. 

According to the statement released by the Army, the changes were being made to scheduled troop rotations in and out of three major combat training centers, two in the U.S. and one in Germany, "where brigade-level training exercises are conducted by armored brigade combat teams, infantry brigade combat teams and Stryker brigade combat teams as part of the Army training model."

The statement said the changes would not affect combat readiness, and that the Army would "continue to reevaluate the situation as conditions change, and the protection of the health and safety of our Soldiers and their families will remain the Army's top priority."

By Tucker Reals
 

Working moms among the hardest hit by coronavirus pandemic

As homeschooling, business closures and working from home become the new normal in America, experts warn one group is already feeling the economic pain of the coronavirus more than anyone else: women, particularly working mothers.

As of Monday evening, 33 states had announced mandatory school closures, impacting at least 32.5 million students in kindergarten through 12th grade. In states that haven't ordered closures, cities have taken matters into their own hands. New York City's public school system, the largest in the nation, announced on Sunday evening it would be closing all 1,800 of its schools and telling all 1.1 million students to stay home.

"We do know that when illness strikes, when medical needs arise, women tend to be the primary caregivers in families, particularly for children," said Jessica Mason, a senior policy analyst at the National Partnership for Women and Families, in an interview with CBS News. "So the need to care for children when a school is closed, it is most likely to pose a disproportionate burden on women." 

Click here to read the full story.

By Kate Smith
 

How to help some of the thousands of Americans going unpaid thanks to coronavirus

American workplaces are reeling as the coronavirus pandemic spreads and takes a mounting toll on the economy. While some are adjusting to the reality of working from home, people with salaried jobs and the ability to work remotely are the lucky ones. For countless Americans, the fallout from coronavirus means no paycheck for the foreseeable future.   

Click here for a look at just some of the industries in which many workers are going without pay right now, and some of the community-based measures that are popping up to support them.  

By Caitlin O'Kane
 

Trump says U.S.-Canada border to close to "non-essential traffic" to slow coronavirus

President Trump said the U.S. and Canada will block "non-essential traffic" across the countries' shared border as the administration looks for ways to prevent new introductions of the coronavirus into the U.S. The president announced the news in a tweet.

"We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!" the president wrote Wednesday morning. 

Canada has already closed its borders to all foreign nationals except U.S. citizens. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump didn't rule out the possibility of a border closure with Canada, as cases there are also on the rise. Sophie Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is among those who have tested positive for the virus. 

By Kathryn Watson
 

Stocks nosedive again as economists herald a recession

Stocks nosedived Wednesday as the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic widened, with companies furloughing workers and restaurants across the country closing their doors. The decline reversed Tuesday's sharp rise after investors were buoyed by a potential $1 trillion stimulus package.

The Dow fell 1,229 points, or 5.8%, to 20,008, while the broad-based S&P 500 fell 5.4% and tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 4.8%. 

The pandemic is prompting cities and states across the U.S. to tell residents to stay home and to shut restaurants and bars. Those measures are leading to layoffs and sharp declines in revenue for many consumer-focused businesses. The U.S. is likely already in a recession, according to Oxford Economics. 

"We now see a severe global recession occurring in the first half of 2020," Deutsche Bank's economists wrote in a research note. "The quarterly declines in GDP growth we anticipate substantially exceed anything previously recorded going back to at least World War II."

By Aimee Picchi
 

Leading scientist isolated with COVID-19 symptoms day after joining U.K. prime minister

One of the United Kingdom's top coronavirus experts — who briefed prime minister Boris Johnson earlier this week — has since developed symptoms associated with the disease. Dr. Neil Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College London, said Wednesday that he is sick and self-quarantining. 

"Sigh. Developed a slight dry but persistent cough yesterday and self isolated even though I felt fine. Then developed high fever at 4am today. There is a lot of COVID-19 in Westminster," Ferguson wrote on Twitter, referring to the government district in London. 

On a BBC radio show Wednesday, Ferguson said he could have been infectious during a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday. 

"We think there's infectiousness for about a day before symptoms, and I was actually at a Downing Street press conference that day," he said. "I mean there is a slight risk I may have infected someone but that probably is quite slight." 

Ferguson is the lead scientist of a study published on Monday that says "suppression" of the virus, as opposed to mitigation, is the "preferred policy option." Suppression aims not only to slow the virus' growth, but reverse it.

According to the study, "suppression will minimally require a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases and household quarantine of their family members." 

Ferguson's modeling predicts that if the mitigation efforts are not effectively observed, 2.2 million people could die of the disease in the United States. 

By Audrey McNamara
 

Data paints grim picture of U.S. hospitals' readiness for coronavirus onslaught

new data projection of the U.S's best-case coronavirus scenario, where 20% of adults are infected over 18 months, paints a picture of strained hospitals operating at 95% capacity. The very worst-case scenario, with 60% infected over a six-month span, would mean the U.S. could need more than seven times the number of available hospital beds than it currently has.

The ProPublica review of data from Harvard's Global Health Institute shows that even if 20% of adults were infected, but in the much shorter six month window, some hospitals would quickly run out of resources to treat those who are expected to need it.

"The data says that if we fail to act, if we go with the status quo, we are going to be in a lot of trouble — that most hospitals in most communities are going to end up getting overwhelmed," Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told CBS News' Anna Werner. 

Coronavirus study projects grim picture 05:17

Watch the video above for Werner's full report on the latest data modelling on the coronavirus epidemic the U.S.

By Tucker Reals
 

White House postpones visit by Spain's king and queen over coronavirus

The White House has postponed a state visit by King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain as the federal government continues to address the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of reported cases worldwide topping 200,000.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump were set to host the monarchs for a state visit and dinner on April 21.

The event was postponed "in order for the United States and Spain to continue to devote their full resources and attention to the COVID-19 response," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

By Tucker Reals
 

Facebook "quickly" removing fake coronavirus news, Sheryl Sandberg says

Facebook is working to "quickly" remove false information about the coronavirus from its platform, according to its Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. The social networking company also announced it will give $100 million to 30,000 small businesses in more than 30 countries as owners grapple with the economic effects of the pandemic. 

"These are unprecedented times, maybe the defining time of a century," Sandberg told "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King in an exclusive interview. "Small businesses all around the world are really struggling. They are worried that their doors are closing, unable to make payroll."

Sandberg on Facebook's coronavirus efforts 05:52

The $100 million will be "in grants, mostly cash and some ad credits on Facebook," she said. 

Businesses were reaching out directly to Facebook for help, Sandberg said. "And we're very close to small businesses because, you know, so many — 140 million small businesses use the Facebook platform."

By Tucker Reals
 

Johns Hopkins reports more than 200,000 coronavirus diagnoses and 8,000 deaths worldwide

The number of people infected with the new coronavirus worldwide has surpassed 200,000, according to a tally updated by Johns Hopkins University researchers in Baltimore. 

The Johns Hopkins figures, which take into account numbers confirmed by individual governments and health authorities often before the World Health Organization includes them, put the worldwide death toll from the COVID-19 disease at more than 8,000 on Wednesday.

The data also show that more than 82,000 of those who have tested positive around the world have already recovered.  

By Tucker Reals
 

Louisiana pastor calls COVID-19 "politically motivated," defies ban to hold service

A Louisiana pastor who has said he believes the coronavirus is "politically motivated" defied government orders and welcomed hundreds of people into his church for a service Tuesday evening, according to CBS News affiliate WAFB.

Like a growing number of other state and city leaders, Lousiana Governor John Bel Edwards has banned any gatherings of more than 50 people — a restriction that does apply to religious congregations.

The Trump administration has gone further, urging Americans to avoid meeting with more than 10 people.

The pastor, Reverend Tony Spell, said police showed up at his Life Tabernacle Church in the city of Central, in East Baton Rouge Parish, after the service and told him the National Guard would break up any future services larger than 50 people.

Spell said 305 people attended the Tuesday night service, according to WAFB.

"It's not a concern," Spell said of the coronavirus. "The virus, we believe, is politically motivated. We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says."  

By Tucker Reals
 

Pope suggests people use virus lockdowns to foment "closeness" with loved ones

Pope Francis is urging those living under lockdown due to coronavirus not to waste the time, but to use it to "discover a new closeness" with loved ones. 

"During these difficult days we can find small, concrete gestures expressing closeness and concreteness towards the people closest to us, a caress for our grandparents, a kiss for our children, for the people we love," he said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica. "If we live these days like this, they won't be wasted."

The pontiff praised health care workers on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic for choosing to "give themselves in this way to others." 

TOPSHOT-VATICAN-POPE-VIRUS-HEALTH
This handout picture released by the Vatican Media shows Pope Francis, in Rome on March 15, 2020, praying in S. Marcello al Corso church, where there is a miraculous crucifix that in 1552 was carried in a procession around Rome to stop the great plague. VATICAN MEDIA/AFP/Getty

On Sunday, in the midst of an Italy-wide lockdown, Francis shocked the world by visiting two symbolic Roman churches on foot to pray for delivery from the virus.  

"I asked the Lord to stop the epidemic: Lord, stop it with your hand. That's what I prayed for," he said. One of the churches contains a crucifix believed to have miraculously saved Rome from the plague in the 16th century.

Anna Matranga

 

Will summer help stop the spread of COVID-19?

The novel coronavirus has brought life to a standstill around the world and left millions of people wondering when things will return to some semblance of normal. One hope is that the virus could behave somewhat like the seasonal flu — taking a break during the warmer summer months, lessening the threat and giving society time to mount a systemic response. But there are many unanswered questions.

To find out more about how the change of seasons might affect the spread of the virus, CBS News spoke with Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, an expert on infectious disease transmission and director of the Climate and Health Program at Columbia University. He said there are "intriguing" signs the virus could be impacted by climate, but a lot more research is needed.

Click here to read an abbreviated version of CBS News' conversation with Dr. Shaman.

 

More extreme virus control measures being considered across U.S.

As states across the country race to contain the coronavirus, the nation's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned Americans that the outbreaks won't be over any time soon. 

In Las Vegas, all non-essential business has shut down, leaving the famed casinos empty. Millions of people in San Francisco have been ordered to remain home for all but essential outings, under penalty of sanctions. 

New York City saw its reported coronavirus cases surge past 900 on Tuesday as the mayor and governor gave conflicting statements about the possibility of a mandatory shelter in place order in America's biggest city. 

How U.S. states are containing coronavirus 04:08

Watch the video above for Mola Lenghi's full report on how the rest of the country is hunkering down and bracing for the disease.  

 

Britain's mammoth Glastonbury Festival canceled over virus fears

England's Glastonbury Festival, one of Europe's biggest music festivals, has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Organizers of the event, which typically draws about 200,000 revellers to a farm in southwest England, were set to hold its 50th anniversary this year. 

Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Paul McCartney were among the headliners set to perform, with hundreds of other artists set to take to the multiple stages. The organizers said in a statement posted to Twitter that, "in times of such unprecedented uncertainty – this is now our only viable option." 

The festival normally takes place at the end of June. Tickets famously sell out online within minutes, usually before any artists are even announced. Ticket holders for the cancelled 2020 festival were being given the option of carrying them over to 2021.  

- Rose Manister

 

Trump continues referring to COVID-19 as "the Chinese virus"

Ignoring criticism from global health experts and indignation from China,  President Trump has opted to continue referring to the new coronavirus as "the Chinese virus."

In tweets sent early Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump vowed federal aid "money will soon be coming" to Americans forced out of work "because of the important and necessary containment policies" implemented to try and curtail the fast-spreading disease. 

"The onslaught of the Chinese Virus is not your fault!" he said. The COVID-19 disease first emerged in China late last year and spread voraciously there before draconian quarantine measures were put in place, but the head of the World Health Organization has warned against using terms that stigmatize groups of people.  

At a congressional hearing on March 10, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, agreed when asked by Congresswoman Lois Frankel that it was "absolutely wrong and inappropriate" to call COVID-19 the "Chinese coronavirus."  

 

Michael Cohen, Bernard Madoff among famous inmates hoping for coronavirus early release

Coronavirus has become a "get out of jail" card for hundreds of low-level inmates across the country, and even hard-timers are seeking their freedom with the argument that it's not a matter of if, but when, the deadly illness sweeps through tightly packed populations behind bars.

Among those pleading for compassionate release or home detention are the former head of the Cali drug cartel, President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff and dozens of inmates at New York City's Rikers Island, part of a jail system that lost an employee to the virus this week.

The Twitter account of Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump's former attorney who is serving a three-year sentence for crimes including tax evasion and campaign finance violations, shared over the weekend an online petition seeking the transfer of non-violent federal prisoners to home confinement. Addressed specifically to Mr. Trump, it argues the move would "give the prison facilities additional (and much needed) medical triage and logistic space for those who will become infected."

- Associated Press

 

Face of South Korean government's anti-virus efforts quarantined

South Korea's vice health minister who gave daily televised briefings on the country's anti-virus efforts is quarantining himself after meeting a hospital official who has COVID-19. Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho on Wednesday said the vice minister, Kim Gang-lip, was among eight ministry officials who met with a group of hospital chiefs at a restaurant in Seoul last Friday to discuss quarantine and treatment for the coronavirus.

Yoon says the ministry officials were sent home Wednesday morning after the head of the Bundang Jeseng General Hospital in Seongnam, near Seoul, was confirmed to have COVID-19.

South Korea has more than 8,000 cases and a series of infections have hit government departments.

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Moon Seong-hyeok has been in quarantine after more than two dozen ministry officials tested positive for the virus, leaving health workers scrambling to sanitize rooms and shut down some of the corridors at a government complex in Sejong City.

-Associated Press

By Tucker Reals
 

Stocks' roller coaster ride looks likely to continue, with a big drop

U.S. futures prices were sharply lower overnight, major Asian stock markets fell back after early gains and European shares were down as well, suggesting a rough day ahead on Wall Street. Share prices there soared Tuesday in response to President Trump's promise of measures to help the U.S. economy through the coronavirus outbreak.

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 futures were down about 4%. 

Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong all advanced Wednesday but then lost ground. Smaller Asian markets also were mostly lower and Australia's main index tumbled 6.4%.

European equities plummeted. London and Frankfurt were down 3.5% in early trading while Paris and Milan lost about 3%, Reuters said.

-CBS/AP

 

EU nations to restrict entry to most foreigners

European Union leaders agreed Tuesday to immediately impose travel restrictions on most foreigners entering Europe for at least 30 days to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, and to set up fast-track transport lanes to keep vital medical equipment, food and goods flowing smoothly inside the bloc.

As the virus case count in Europe climbed to over 60,000 and with more than 2,700 people dead, nervous national governments have introduced quick-fix measures such as partial border closures and quarantines with little consultation. The EU sought over three hours of video talks to forge a united front against an illness that is also wreaking economic havoc.

"We reaffirmed the need to work together and do everything necessary to tackle the crisis and its consequences," European Council President Charles Michel told reporters. He said the 27 EU countries agreed to impose border restrictions on tourism and non-essential business "as fast as possible." 

The plan exempts long-term EU residents, diplomats, some healthcare and transport workers.  

Associated Press

 

Tom Hanks says he has "the blahs" in isolation

Tom Hanks says he feels the "blahs" but has no fever as he and wife Rita Wilson remain in isolation in an Australian residence after being discharged from a hospital following their coronavirus diagnosis.

A representative for the Oscar winner confirmed Tuesday that the pair were no longer hospitalized, and Hanks himself provided an update saying he was doing chores and his wife was beating him in cards as they remain self-quarantined.

"Hey folks. Good news: One week after testing positive, in self-isolation, the symptoms are much the same. No fever but the blahs. Folding the laundry and doing the dishes leads to a nap on the couch. Bad news: my wife has won 6 straight hands of Gin Rummy and now leads by 201 points," he posted on social media Tuesday evening.

Instead of a photo of himself or his wife, the post showed an old typewriter that he traveled with "that I used to love. We are all in this together. Flatten the curve," he wrote, promoting the idea of social distancing to prevent further spread of the disease.

- The Associated Press

By Tucker Reals
 

New concern at epicenter of South Korean outbreak

The mayor of the South Korean city worst-hit by the coronavirus says 87 new cases have been discovered from local nursing hospitals, raising concerns about a possible spike in infections after they waned over the past week.

The infections at nursing homes weren't fully reflected in national figures announced by South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or KCDC, which said the cases in Daegu rose by 46 in the 24 hours ending midnight Tuesday.

South Korean officials have struggled to stem infections at hospitals, nursing homes, disability institutions and other live-in facilities, which critics say have been poorly regulated for years.

South Korea has confirmed at least 8.413 coronavirus cases, including 84 deaths.

- The Associated Press

 

U.S. and Canada reportedly set to partially close their border

Canada and the U.S. are working out the details of a mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries amid the new coronavirus pandemic, a Canadian official said late Tuesday. The official wasn't authorized to discuss details amid discussions and ahead of an announcement and spoke to The Associated Press on condition anonymity.

Both countries are eager to choke off the spread of the virus but also eager to continue their critical economic relationship.

Truck drivers and Canadian snowbirds, who live in the U.S. for part of the year, are among those expected to get exemptions.

Completely closing the border would cause severe economic damage to both the U.S. and Canada since the two economies are so closely integrated.

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper says the deal will be announced Wednesday. 

-- CBS/AP

 

National Hockey League player has the new coronavirus

The NHL's Ottawa Senators announced late Tuesday night that one of their players has tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement , the team said he "has had mild symptoms and is in isolation."

The statement said the Senators "are in the process of notifying anyone who has had known close contact with the athlete" and that, "As a result of this positive case, all members of the Ottawa Senators are requested to remain isolated, to monitor their health and seek advice from our team medical staff."

CBSSports.com says he's the first NHL player known to have tested positive.

By Brian Dakss
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