The coronavirus spreads to 49 states, and the House passes a sweeping relief package.
As the coronavirus continues to spread in the United States, people are increasingly worried that a pandemic that has upended lives and wreaked havoc on financial markets could have a disproportionate effect on the nation’s poor and disadvantaged. The virus has been reported in more than 2,100 people in 49 states, as well as Washington and Puerto Rico, and has killed at least 48.
New York reported its first coronavirus death on Saturday, when a 82-year-old woman died in Manhattan, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The woman, who was not identified, had emphysema, an underlying medical condition that the governor said had contributed to her death.
The House passed a sweeping relief package to assist people affected by the outbreak, after a roller-coaster day of negotiations on Friday.
Talks threatened to veer off track as President Trump criticized the plan during a White House Rose Garden news conference in which he declared a national emergency. Instead, by dusk, Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to House Democrats saying they had reached an agreement with the administration, and Mr. Trump later tweeted that he would sign the bill “ASAP!”
When officials in Washington State chose two locations to house people exposed to the virus, they picked areas in mostly low-income neighborhoods, drawing ire from local officials who noted that the communities had not yet experienced any cases. Dana Ralph, the mayor of Kent, south of Seattle, said residents wondered if their neighborhoods were being sacrificed to protect wealthier ones.
Their fears came true when a person who was housed in a converted motel wandered away and hopped on a bus. The bus was taken out of service, but the community was angered.
And the closing of schools in more than a dozen states continues to create concerns that children may miss meals and parents may not be able to stay home from work. Mayor Bill de Blasio, under increasing pressure to close New York City schools, has maintained that the schools are a lifeline for the city’s most vulnerable and refused to cancel classes.
After Los Angeles Unified School District announced it was closing, school officials said that they would open 40 family resource centers to provide child care and meals to students whose parents cannot get out of work.
Warnings that prisons could be overtaken with the virus — as they have in some other countries — began to seem increasingly plausible. On Friday, Washington State announced that a prison employee tested positive for the virus. A jail employee in Hancock County, Ind., also tested positive.
The Bureau of Prisons, which runs federal prisons that hold more than 175,000 people, suspended all visits to prisoners for 30 days, including most by lawyers.
The virus continued to prompt closures and cancellations around the world. Universal Studios Hollywood said that it would be closed from Saturday through at least the end of March.
Apple says it will close most stores worldwide for two weeks.
Apple said on Friday that it would temporarily close most of its stores worldwide, becoming one of the first major retailers to take such drastic measures.
The company’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said that Apple would shutter all stores until March 27, excluding those in mainland China — where infections have significantly declined recently — and in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
“The most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance,” Mr. Cook said in a statement posted to the company’s website.
Many firms around the world are contemplating similar measures. Patagonia, the outdoor-clothing retailer, said on Friday that it would shut its stores until late March. Starbucks has said it would consider closing stores temporarily as a “last resort.”
The virus has already taken a toll on many businesses, disrupting supply chains and hurting demand in critical markets.
Apple recently reopened all of its 42 stores in China, after closing them for more than a month. But the company has struggled to ramp up production of smartphones amid delays at its factories in China.
Italians cope with quarantine by singing on their balconies.
Italians may be stuck at home — the country is now locked down, in the face of what is so far Europe’s most severe coronavirus outbreak — but they are still getting their voices heard.
At precisely noon on Saturday, millions of Italians, from Piedmont to Sicily, leaned out of windows or stood on their balconies to applaud the health care workers in hospitals and other front-line medical staff who have been working round the clock to care for coronavirus patients.
As church bells normally drowned out by traffic pealed in the surreal silence that defines Italy since Wednesday’s lockdown, applause filled streets, piazzas and even country roads, after messages went viral on social media calling Italians to put their hands together.
There was a similar response to another online appeal Friday evening, asking Italians to sing the national anthem — or play it on a musical instrument — at exactly 6 p.m. The socially distant flash mob swept social media.
Naturally, not everyone is blessed with a voice like Pavarotti. Some Italians preferred banging on pots and calling out, “We will make it.”
It’s unclear who began the musical interlude, but in the land that gave the world opera, it’s clearly not meant to be a cacophonous mess, and a program for more songs is spreading online. At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Italians will sing “Azzurro,” a 1968 hit by the singer Adriano Celentano, and on Sunday, “Ma il cielo è sempre più blu,” by Nino Gaetano, which topped the charts in 1975.
At American airports, lax screening raises concern.
As thousands of Americans flee from Europe and other centers of the coronavirus outbreak, many travelers are reporting no health screenings upon departure and few impediments at U.S. airports.
Since January, officers from Customs and Border Protection have been on heightened alert for travelers who might spread the virus. The Department of Homeland Security has told employees to look for physical symptoms, search through travel documents and review a federal tracking database.
But travelers, including some who say they showed visible signs of illness, say screening has been lax. Members of Congress this week grilled senior Homeland Security officials over what some described as a porous screening process.
Even top officials at the department acknowledge that fully sealing the United States from the virus is impossible.
“We are trying to reduce and delay the biggest peak in the virus wave hitting on the United States of America,” said Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security. “And all of these steps reduce and delay. They do not stop the virus.”
Everyone entering New Zealand must self-isolate, as nations tighten restrictions.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand has announced that everyone arriving in the country after Sunday night will have to isolate themselves for 14 days. Quarantine for travelers and self-isolation, she said, is the only way to protect the country from community outbreak. The measure applies to citizens of New Zealand as well as foreigners.
“We must go hard, and we must go early,” she said at a news conference Saturday. “We must do everything we can to protect the health of New Zealanders.”
She said the travel restrictions would be reviewed in 16 days. She also announced a suspension of all cruise ship arrivals until at least the end of June.
Many other nations began tighter restrictions to deal with the pandemic:
After Spain announced a state of emergency and put its capital under lockdown on Friday, the country at large braced for more drastic measures to be announced later on Saturday. Officials reported 1,500 new cases, th largest daily increase in the country so far, for a confirmed total of 5,703.
The British government appeared on Saturday to be ready to ban mass gatherings, something it had so far resisted. But it has not revealed what size of gatherings would be restricted, or how it would enforce a ban, even as scores of events have already been canceled by organizers, including high-profile soccer matches in the country’s Premier League. On Saturday the country reported 10 further deaths from the coronavirus, almost doubling its total.
The Afghan government closed all schools and universities for a month and asked people to avoid weddings and engagements — events that usually draw thousands — until the risk of the coronavirus decreases. The war-torn country, which shares a porous border with Iran, reported its 11th case on Saturday. But testing is severely limited, so it’s hard to gauge how widespread the outbreak is.
In Indonesia, which reported a sharp increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, to 96, the governor of Jakarta announced that schools in the capital would close for two weeks. Five people have died from the virus, he said. Officials also announced Saturday evening that the transportation minister, Budi Karya Sumadi, has tested positive for coronavirus. He is the highest ranking official in Indonesia known to have tested positive for the virus.
Singapore has closed all its 70 mosques from Friday for five days to disinfect them, after the spread of the virus in at least three countries — Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore — was connected to a gathering of 16,000 people at a mosque near the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Four cases of coronavirus in Singapore have been linked to that gathering, which was attended by more than 90 Singaporeans. Religious instruction at mosques in Singapore will also be suspended until the end of March.
Rwanda reported its first case on Saturday, an Indian national who arrived on March 8 from Mumbai, the Health Ministry said in a statement on Saturday. The man sought medical help on March 13, the ministry said.
Namibia, in southern Africa, reported its first two cases of coronavirus on Saturday: a Spanish couple who arrived there on Wednesday. They are both under quarantine, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said in a news conference on Saturday.
The president of Colombia ordered that the border with Venezuela be closed as part of its coronavirus containment measures.
The Pentagon will shut its doors to visitors at midnight Sunday, the Defense Department said, as part of the military’s efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Unlike the White House, where officials have continued to shake hands and where reporters at President Trump’s Rose Garden news conference on Friday sat side by side, the Pentagon has moved aggressively to put in place procedures to slow community spread of the virus.
The Defense Department said in a statement late Friday that facilities associated with the Pentagon in the Washington area — the department owns or leases a slew of properties in Washington, Virginia and Maryland — will also bar visitors.
People who work in the various Defense Department buildings will still be allowed in. But the department, for the past week, has been instituting “social distancing” protocols, spreading across multiple meeting rooms and keeping chairs three to four feet apart.
The Defense Department directive also bars any individual with a history of international travel in the past 14 days from entering Pentagon facilities. Access may be restored on the 15th day, the directive said, “if the individual remains asymptomatic.”
The department also said on Friday that it was halting all official travel for military service members in the United States beginning on Monday for nearly three months.
Those restrictions will apply to service members, civilians employed by the Department of Defense, and families who are assigned to the department’s facilities in the United States. They only apply to official travel. In an unsigned statement, the department said there may be exemptions for “compelling cases.”
Separately, the United States Africa Command said on Saturday that it had canceled military exercises off the coast of West Africa because of efforts to contain coronavirus.
Ukraine bans crowds over the virus, but protests go on.
Some wore masks. Some did not. But every one of the thousand or so people who turned out for a street protest on Saturday in Ukraine decided some things are more important than slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
“What the Ukrainian government is doing in terms of national interest is more dangerous than the virus,” Yulia Kovtun, a graphic designer, said of her decision to join a political opposition rally in Kyiv, the capital, despite the epidemic.
Ukraine, which has so far reported three cases of the virus and one death, has banned gatherings of more than 200 people, and moved quickly to close schools and block foreign visitors.
But the restrictions coincided with a move in settlement negotiations with Russia that was all but guaranteed to spark demonstrations — agreeing to open limited direct talks with separatist leaders in Eastern Ukraine.
The policy shift, critics say, risks a tacit acknowledgment of Kremlin assertions that the war in eastern Ukraine is a civil conflict, not a foreign invasion. President Volodymyr Zelensky has defended his negotiating positions as necessary to bring peace.
Despite the ban on public gatherings, police made no attempt to disperse the crowd. The Interior Ministry on Saturday proposed a new law that would criminalize “conscious endangerment of another person with a dangerous or very dangerous infection.”
A protest Friday evening drew several hundred people, some carrying signs reading “Don’t shake the Kremlin’s hand!”
Pavlo Bilous, one of the organizers, said it was unfair to prohibit protests of more than 200 people while leaving the 450-seat Parliament in session. “If they fear the virus so much, they should stop working themselves,” he said.
South Korea’s aggressive testing may be paying off.
For a second day in a row, the number of coronavirus patients released from South Korean hospitals has exceeded the number of newly confirmed infections, a potential sign that the country’s aggressive test-and-treatment approach is paying off.
Unlike China and Italy, which have locked down entire cities, South Korea has not blocked the movement of people in and out of regions heavily affected by the outbreak. Instead, it has launched an aggressive campaign of tracking, testing and treating patients, conducting more than 10,000 diagnostic tests a day.
Heath officials said it was still too early to say that the country’s outbreak was under control, but they were encouraged by the recent figures. The number of recovered patients surpassed that of new infections by 177 to 110 on Friday, and by 204 to 107 on Saturday.
The improvement was due largely to a sharp decline in the number of new patients in the city of Daegu, the epicenter of the country’s outbreak and the focus of the testing campaign. So far, the country has tested more than 260,000 people. Of these, 8,086 have tested positive for the virus.
President Trump will not be tested for the virus, doctor says.
Over the past 24 hours, a question has loomed large over the White House: Would President Trump, 73, be tested after interacting with at least two infected members of the Brazilian delegation that visited his Mar-a-Lago estate last weekend?
Late Friday, Sean P. Conley, the White House physician, offered an answer: Mr. Trump would not be tested — nor would he self-quarantine.
Trump’s interactions with the infected individuals qualified as “LOW risk,” so quarantine was not recommended, Dr. Conley said in a statement. He added that because the president showed no symptoms of the virus, “testing for Covid-19 is not currently indicated.”
Pressure on Mr. Trump to get tested has been growing since Fabio Wajngarten, a top communications aide to President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, tested positive after visiting Mar-a-Lago. On Friday, two other senior Brazilian officials who accompanied Mr. Bolsonaro on his Florida trip disclosed that they, too, had tested positive for the coronavirus and had gone into quarantine.
One of them, Nestor Forster, Brazil’s top diplomat in Washington, sat at a dinner table with Mr. Trump.
Some medical experts say testing should not be ruled out for people who are asymptomatic, since there is evidence that they can spread the virus to others.
Your home dynamics have changed. Here’s how to manage the shift.
More schools are closing, more companies are asking employees to work remotely. Here are some tips to help you work from home more efficiently, and balance home schooling for your children.
And here is more coverage on how the coronavirus affects your day-to-day life here.
China, a top maker of face masks, is only now sharing them with the world.
As hospitals and governments hunt for respirators and surgical masks to protect doctors and nurses from the coronavirus pandemic, they face a difficult reality: The world depends on China to make them, and the country is only beginning to share.
China made half the world’s masks before the coronavirus emerged there, and it has expanded production nearly 12-fold since then. But it has been claiming that output for itself in large part.
“Mask exports are still not authorized, but we are following the situation every day,” said Guillaume Laverdure, chief operating officer of Medicom, a Canadian manufacturer that makes three million masks a day at its Shanghai factory.
Worries about mask supplies are rising worldwide, putting pressure on China to meet the needs, even as it continues to grapple with the coronavirus itself. Although government data suggests China has brought infection rates under control, epidemiologists warn that its outbreak could flare again as officials loosen travel limits and more people return to work.
The rate of new infections in China has continued to slow. On Friday, just 11 new cases were confirmed, officials said — four in Wuhan, the city where the outbreak began, and seven among travelers who had arrived from abroad. Thirteen deaths were also reported, bringing China’s total official death toll from the outbreak to 3,189, out of 80,824 infections.
A silver lining: Social isolation reduces carbon emissions.
Can social isolation help reduce the production of greenhouse gases and end up having unexpected consequences for climate change?
“Any time you can avoid getting on a plane, getting in a car or eating animal products, that’s a substantial climate savings,” said Kimberly Nicholas, a researcher at the Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies in Sweden.
Many people trying to avoid the coronavirus are already two-thirds of the way there.
“For average Americans, the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions is driving,” Dr. Nicholas said. Anything that reduces driving, including working from home, “has a big impact on our climate pollution.”
Avoiding air travel can have a large effect as well: One round-trip flight from New York to London, she said, produces as much greenhouse gas emissions as the preventive climate impact of nearly eight years of recycling.
Reporting was contributed by Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Mujib Mashal, Najim Rahim, Andrew Kramer, Maria Varenikova, Helene Cooper, Hannah Beech, Elisabetta Povoledo, Marc Santora, Johanna Berendt, Choe Sang-Hun, Stephen Castle, Richard C. Paddock, Muktita Suhartono, Elian Peltier, Peter Robins, Keith Bradsher, Damien Cave, Emily Cochrane, Javier Hernandez, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, John Schwartz and Liz Alderman.