Trump pitches a virus-related stimulus package.
President Trump briefed Senate Republicans on Tuesday on his ideas for an economic stimulus package to respond to the coronavirus, including a payroll tax cut.
But the idea of a payroll tax reduction is running into bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill, where Democrats are openly hostile to the idea and some Republicans are skeptical, including Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader.
Mr. Trump has suggested the tax cut as part of an array of measures to boost the economy, which some experts fear is headed into a recession.
But Mr. McConnell, of Kentucky, has privately discouraged discussion of the idea, according to people familiar with his thinking. Two other top Senate Republicans, John Cornyn of Texas and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, have said they do not think a stimulus package is necessary at this point.
Mr. Trump discussed the coronavirus response with Senate Republicans at their policy luncheon on Tuesday, along with Steven Mnuchin, his treasury secretary, and Larry Kudlow, his top economic adviser.
“Be calm. It’s really working out,” Mr. Trump, who has been accused of understating the seriousness of the epidemic, told reporters after the meeting. “And a lot of good things are going to happen. The consumer is ready, and the consumer is so powerful in our country with what we’ve done with tax cuts and regulation cuts and all of those things. The consumer has never been in a better position than they are right now. So a lot of good things are going to happen.”
Democrats insist that any government response be tailored narrowly to the needs of patients and workers directly affected by the virus. They want enhanced unemployment benefits for those who lose their jobs, paid sick leave for people who must miss work and affordable testing and treatment for those who get sick.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed suggestions that the House would decamp from Washington because of the coronavirus.
“We are the captains of the ship,” she said at a closed door Democratic meeting focused on addressing the growing health epidemic, according to two people present. “We are the last to leave.”
But she and her top lieutenants indicated they were unlikely to approve any additional emergency measures related to this week, before leaving town for a previously scheduled recess.
Wall Street bounces back from Monday’s plunge.
Shares on Wall Street jumped on Tuesday, rebounding from their sharpest drop in more than a decade, as investors seemed to take comfort from efforts in Washington to protect the economy from damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Though the rebound was at times wobbly, and shares dipped back into negative territory earlier in the day Tuesday, the S&P 500 ended nearly 5 percent higher — recouping more than half of the previous day’s losses.
“Markets are always enamored with tax cuts, or even the hope thereof. Yesterday’s sell-off was so extreme that it’s not at all surprising to see a bounce,” Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers in Greenwich, Conn., said in an email.
But the White House has not announced any specific measures yet, and analysts and traders cautioned that financial markets remained fragile. Increased testing for the coronavirus is expected to generate rising numbers of new infections in the coming weeks, which could be a new challenge for investors’ nerves.
Plus, measures like tax cuts, rebates or expanded insurance benefits and other spending increases, are far from guaranteed.
“Given the nation’s charged politics, especially in the lead-up to the presidential election, these steps could prove difficult if not impossible for lawmakers,” Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday.
From a port in California to Columbia University in New York City, a sense of crisis grows in the U.S.
Ohio State University and Harvard University on Tuesday joined the growing list of universities and colleges that have suspended in-person classes — just one of many fronts in the battle to slow the spread of virus across the United States.
In Oakland, Calif., the cruise ship that was isolated for days off the coast continued to unload passengers who were taken to Travis Air Force Base nearby, in the largest quarantine operation so far in this epidemic on American soil.
Employers have temporarily closed down or asked people to work at home, and Santa Clara County, Calif. — which includes the city of San Jose and much of Silicon Valley — banned large public gatherings. The number of confirmed infections in the United States surged past 950, with at least 29 deaths.
Harvard, whose spring break begins on Saturday, asked students not to return to campus when the break ends on March 23, a decision few schools have made so far. On Monday, Amherst College, asked all students to leave campus by as early as next week.
Some of the best-known fixtures in higher education have mandated a switch to online-only classes to keep people apart, hoping it will slow the spread of the virus: New York University, Columbia University, the University of Washington, Stanford University, American University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Barnard College, Hofstra University, Rice University and the University of California, Berkeley.
“These past few weeks have been a powerful reminder of just how connected we are to one another — and how our choices today determine our options tomorrow,” Harvard’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, said in an announcement on Tuesday.
Some primary and secondary schools have closed because of the epidemic, including the entire Fulton County school system in the Atlanta suburbs.
On the other side of the country, where at least 21 people aboard the Grand Princess have tested positive for the virus, everyone who was aboard the ship — about 2,400 passengers and 1,100 crew members — is being quarantined for at least 14 days.
Most passengers will be held at military bases around the country, and crew members will stay on the ship.
New York creates a “containment zone” in New Rochelle.
New York State officials on Tuesday established a “containment zone” in a suburb with one of the country’s largest outbreaks, closing schools, community centers and houses of worship and deploying National Guard troops to decontaminate schools and deliver meals to people under quarantine.
The zone, announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, covers a one-mile radius around the Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue, which is believed to be at the center of a large cluster of cases.
Beginning Thursday, major gathering places within that circle will be closed for two weeks. The area is mostly within New Rochelle, a small city just north of New York City, but part of it lies within the neighboring town of Eastchester.
Streets will not be shut off and businesses like grocery stores and delis will remain open, the governor said.
Noam Bramson, the mayor of New Rochelle, said that some businesses were suffering, in large part “because a fair percentage of the customer base is already quarantined” — including his own mother, who lives in a nursing home.
“Needless to say, there’s considerable concern,” he added.
The cluster in Westchester County first came to the authorities’ attention last week, after a lawyer who lives in New Rochelle and works in Manhattan, Lawrence Garbuz, became the second person in New York found to have the coronavirus. A number of people who came into contact with him also tested positive.
Mr. Cuomo said that 173 cases had been confirmed statewide, including 108 in Westchester County, which includes New Rochelle. New Jersey on Tuesday also announced new cases, bringing its total to 15, and reported that the infection had killed one resident.
Citing the virus, Sanders and Biden cancel primary eight events.
In the first major cancellations of the presidential campaign because of concerns about the coronavirus, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. both called off primary night campaign events Tuesday as they awaited the results of voting in six states.
The presidential campaign is now entering a new phase, with the coronavirus outbreak now threatening to upend political activities at the height of the Democratic primary season.
As the public has grown increasingly wary of the coronavirus outbreak, it has largely been business as usual for Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden Jr., who have continued shaking the hands of supporters.
That anxiety over the virus has now become impossible to avoid — even for a candidate whose strategy depends in part on staging enormous rallies — underscores the seriousness of the escalating health crisis.
Across Europe, no consistency in containment tactics.
With the first reported cases in Cyprus, the coronavirus is now present in every country in the European Union, health officials said on Tuesday, hours after Italy imposed sweeping travel restrictions across the whole country.
But the measures taken by the bloc’s member states to contain the virus varied widely from country to country, often with little relation to the actual size of the outbreaks, reflecting the lack of international coordination.
Greece and the Czech Republic announced that all schools and universities would close, though each country’s caseload is in the dozens, far fewer than some of their neighbors.
“We may decide on additional emergency measures later,” the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babis, said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is necessary to take active, exceptional measures at the start of an epidemic.”
Spain, with one of the largest outbreaks, closed all education centers in the Madrid region, but not nationwide. In Poland, Poznan, a city in the west of the country, closed schools, swimming pools and other public places after a single infection was discovered.
Worldwide, schooling has been disrupted for more than 300 million students.
Across the Continent, countries also increased travel regulations and guidelines.
Austria barred travelers from Italy without health certificates, and Switzerland was considering a similar measure.
Serbia has temporarily barred travelers from the worst-affected places, including Italy, while Croatian officials said that people entering from “highly infected areas” would face a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Italy, with the worst outbreak outside of China, had more than 10,000 infections and 600 deaths by Tuesday. France and Spain each reported on Tuesday that they had more than 1,600 cases; Germany, had more than 1,200.
The authorities in France were resisting taking the kind of sweeping preventive measures seen in Italy or Japan.
“We are only at the beginning of this epidemic,” President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Tuesday after visiting an emergency call center in Paris. “We have anticipated, we have prepared ourselves.”
Nursing homes should bar most family and friend visits, the industry says.
Nursing homes and assisted living centers should take unprecedented action to curtail most social visits, and should even take steps to keep some employees away, to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, the industry said on Tuesday.
The recommendation follows an outbreak of the virus in the region around Seattle, where five long-term care facilities have been hit with cases, including a facility in Kirkland, Wash., where 18 residents have died.
“The mortality rate is shocking,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association. He said that the death rate might well exceed the 15 percent reported in China for people aged 80 and older who were infected.
The challenge of the virus “is one of the most significant, if not the most significant” issues the industry has ever faced, he said.
Industry officials said they are recommending that nursing homes should allow people to enter only if it is essential.
Staff members, contractors and government officials should be asked, “Do you need to be in-building to operate?” said Dr. David Gifford, the health care association’s chief medical officer.
As for family members, he said, “Our recommendation is they should not be visiting.”
Anyone who does visit, he said, should be screened carefully at reception and anyone who has signs of illness should be turned away.
Coachella organizers are in talks to postpone the festival to avoid canceling.
Organizers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival are in talks to postpone next month’s event to avoid outright cancellation, according to a person briefed on the negotiations who was not authorized to speak about it.
The postponement is not certain and would require the festival’s top acts to agree to move their performances to October, from April 10-12 and April 17-19, this person said. This year’s lineup features Travis Scott, Frank Ocean and a reunion of Rage Against the Machine, along with dozens of other acts.
Even if rescheduled, the postponement of Coachella, the giant pop festival in the picturesque desert of Southern California, could disrupt the annual concert season. The event, founded in 1999, draws up to 125,000 people a day and is a bellwether for the multibillion-dollar touring business.
Coachella joins a long list of cultural events that have been postponed or canceled over coronavirus fears, including the South By Southwest festival, which was set to begin on Friday. On Monday, Pearl Jam announced the postponement of its North American tour, and Neil Young said he was considering postponing his own tour.
Pearl Jam wrote on its website that it had searched for other options, “but the levels of risk to our audience and their communities is simply too high for our comfort level.”
On Friday, the South by Southwest festival was canceled just a week before it was set to start. Festival organizers have since said that they would be laying off one-third of their full-time staff.
Executives at the major promotion companies and talent agencies — among them Live Nation, AEG, WME, Creative Artists Agency and Paradigm — have formed a task force to share information and establish practices for dealing with virus-related problems and delays.
The F.D.A. halts overseas inspections of drugs and devices.
The Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that it would stop routine inspections of food, drugs and medical devices overseas through April, citing the worldwide spread of the coronavirus.
The agency had already pulled back its inspectors from China, which is the largest source of raw ingredients for many drugs, like aspirin, ibuprofen and penicillin.
But this global action means that F.D.A. inspections would also be discontinued in India, the world’s leading manufacturer of generic drugs. Last year, the agency said it conducted 3,103 inspections at overseas plants. The agency also tests samples of food, drugs, tobacco, veterinary products and cosmetics imported to the United States.
In recent years, several types of drugs have had to be recalled because of contamination at the production level, many of which contained ingredients made in China. Those recalls prompted the F.D.A. to revamp some of its procedures.
The agency has also been monitoring the nation’s drug supply chain, identifying several drugs that could face shortages if the epidemic in China and elsewhere lasts for months. It has said that at least one drug is currently in short supply in the United States because of difficulties related to the coronavirus, but has not said which one.
Hospitals have struggled for years with hundreds of shortages of essential medicines, many of them generic products made overseas.
Concern grows for the homeless in America.
Medical researchers say the 550,000 people currently homeless across the United States are more susceptible to contracting the disease caused by the coronavirus because of the cramped quarters in shelters, the sharing of utensils and the lack of hand-washing stations on the streets.
Chronically homeless people often have underlying medical conditions and lack reliable health care, meaning that, once infected, they are far more likely to get very sick or die. One study last year found that 30 percent of homeless people had chronic lung disease.
“We should be very worried,” said Dr. Helen Chu, an infectious disease specialist in Seattle, which has high rates of homelessness. So far, none of the more than 100 confirmed cases in Washington State have been among the homeless population.
Several cities in California have large homeless populations that are vulnerable to an outbreak, as do Austin, Texas; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; and Washington D.C. Officials in New York City, which has the largest homeless population in the country, issued an 11-page document instructing shelters to screen people for symptoms and to quickly identify and isolate those who had contracted the virus “as much as possible.”
Under a single tent in downtown San Diego, one shelter sleeps more than 300 people, a majority of them older than 50. Numbered bunk beds are spaced just two feet apart.
“We’re just saying our prayers,” said Bob McElroy, the head of the shelter. “If it gets in here, it would be a disaster.”
On the Iran-Iraq border, friends are kept at arm’s length.
The border police commander rose quickly to meet the visitors who entered his office on the Iraq-Iran border recently, among them a fellow officer and a friend. Like many millions of Iraqi men, he usually hugs male friends and family, or kisses them at least once on both cheeks when they meet — a sign of friendship, of a bond between them.
But the commander, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Juma Abid, stopped short, and held his hands twisted together behind his back, looking down awkwardly.
“I am sorry,” he said, as if he were ashamed. “You know, corona.”
Instead of shaking the visitor’s hand, he reached out and squeezed his heavily clad arm, but kept him at arm’s length. General Abid, who runs a busy crossing with Iran — where the government has reported 8,042 cases and 291 deaths since the outbreak began — said he felt a responsibility to ensure the virus did not spread widely in Iraq.
“Frankly, our tradition is to embrace, kiss and shake hands,” he said. “But now, I say no,”
The lack of physical contact is not such an issue between women and men because typically the two sexes do not touch in public. Even shaking hands with the opposite gender is seen as slightly odd, or as a Western convention.
But for men, there is a sense of having to choose between safety from the virus, which is transmitted through touch, and rudeness.
It almost makes a person feel a little lonely, one tribal sheikh said. Another described the awkwardness of introducing physical distancing among his tribesmen.
Reporting and research was contributed by Alissa J. Rubin, Elisabetta Povoledo, Vanessa Swales, Iliana Magra, Raphael Minder, Constant Méheut, Joanna Berendt, Jason M. Bailey, Marc Santora, Jason Horowitz, Jorge Arangure, Jan Hoffman, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Peter S. Goodman, Clifford Krauss, Claire Fu, Ben Sisario, Annie Karni, Elsie Chen, Choe Sang-Hun, Maria Abi-Habib, Amber Wang, Nicholas Kulish, Zoe Mou, Niki Kitsantonis, Richard Pérez-Peña, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Nicholas Fandos and Noah Weiland.