Trump Foments Protests Against Governors; Experts Warn of Testing Shortages - The New York Times
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The president issued calls to ‘LIBERATE’ states, and several announced plans to ease restrictions. At least 7,000 of the virus deaths in the U.S. are connected to nursing homes.
- Published April 17, 2020Updated April 18, 2020
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Trump calls to “LIBERATE” states where people are protesting social distancing restrictions.
President Trump on Friday openly encouraged right-wing protests of social distancing restrictions in states with stay-at-home orders, a day after announcing guidelines for how the nation’s governors should carry out an orderly reopening of their communities on their own timetables.
In a series of all-caps tweets that started two minutes after a Fox News report on the protesters, the president declared, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” — two states whose Democratic governors have imposed strict social distancing restrictions. He also lashed out at Virginia, where the state’s Democratic governor and legislature have pushed for strict gun control measures, saying: “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”
His stark departure from the more bipartisan tone of his announcement on Thursday night suggested Mr. Trump was ceding any semblance of national leadership on the pandemic, and choosing instead to divide the country by playing to his political base.
Echoed across the internet and on cable television by conservative pundits and ultraright conspiracy theorists, his tweets were a remarkable example of a president egging on demonstrators and helping to stoke an angry fervor that in its anti-government rhetoric was eerily reminiscent of the birth of the Tea Party movement a decade ago.
Mr. Trump’s call for liberation from social distancing rules followed protests around the country as protesters — many wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats — congregated in packed groups around state capitols to demand that restrictions be immediately lifted and to demonize their Democratic governors.
In Michigan, protesters waved banners in support of Mr. Trump and protested Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by chanting, “Lock her up.” In St. Paul, Minn., a group calling itself “Liberate Minnesota” rallied against stay-at-home orders in front of the home of Gov. Tim Walz. In Columbus, Ohio, protesters crowded closely together as they pressed up against the doors of the state’s Capitol.
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington said Mr. Trump’s tweets “encourage illegal and dangerous acts” and said the president was “putting millions of people in danger of contracting Covid-19.”
Mr. Inslee added: “His unhinged rantings and calls for people to ‘liberate’ states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before.”
And in Michigan, Ms. Whitmer said she hoped the president’s comments would not incite more protests.
“The most important thing that anyone with a platform can do is try to use that platform to tell people, ‘We are going to get through this,’” she said.
Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
A detailed county map shows the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, with tables of the number of cases by county.
The lack of testing presents a serious challenge to reopening, health experts say.
Image A testing site in Brooklyn on Wednesday.Credit...Juan Arredondo for The New York Times
Any effort by states to begin to ease restrictions requires an expanded testing capacity to give people a sense of security, health experts say, and the country is far behind in conducting enough tests to responsibly inform those decisions.
But Vice President Mike Pence asserted on Friday that the United States currently has the testing capacity to allow all states to move to begin the first phase of the White House’s guidelines for reopening their economies.
“Our best scientists and health experts assess that today we have a sufficient amount of testing to meet the requirements of phase one reopening if state governors should choose to do that,” Mr. Pence said at the White House’s daily briefing. He was followed by several top public health officials, who provided a detailed description of the nation’s testing capacity, whose scale they said was underappreciated.
Speaking after Mr. Pence, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, said that “existing capacity” for testing nationwide can be utilized, but used the future tense when discussing the potential for states to scale back social distancing measures. “We will have, and there will be enough tests to take this country safely through phase one,” Dr. Fauci said.
The numbers the officials cited in the briefing — 3.7 million tests so far, and about 120,000 tests per day — represent the current snapshot of testing in the United States. But experts said that testing will have to be drastically expanded to get an accurate picture of how the virus is spreading around the country, and to be able to stamp out future outbreaks. The ultimate goal is to separate the sick from the healthy so that Americans feel safe returning to a somewhat normal life and the virus does not sweep through communities again, which requires more widespread testing.
The capacity for such testing has been growing but not fast enough, public health experts say. Supplies continue to run out and some areas are still only testing people who present specific symptoms. Tests to determine whether someone has already had the virus are slowly rolling out, but most have not been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration.
State health officials and medical providers nationwide say they still cannot diagnose as many people as they need. The biggest challenge is gettingthe supplies needed to process tests, including chemical reagents, swabs and pipettes. Manufacturers of those supplies are facing a huge global demand.
Without widespread testing and surveillance, said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University in New York, “we won’t be able to quickly identify and isolate cases in which the patients are presymptomatic or asymptomatic, and thus community transmission could be re-established.”
Mr. Trump, whose administration has been criticized for its slow rollout of tests as the virus took hold in the United States, again sought to portray testing as a state responsibility on Friday, even as many governors are pleading for more federal help.
At his briefing at the White House on Friday evening, Mr. Trump dismissed the concerns that public health experts have raised about testing, claiming that “the United States has the most robust, advanced and accurate testing system anywhere in the world.” He rejected criticisms of its shortcomings as “false and misleading” and reiterated his position that “the governors are responsible for testing.”
Earlier Friday, a telephone call between Mr. Pence and Senate Democrats grew heated as Democrats pressed the vice president about the lack of testing. Senator Angus King, the independent senator from Maine, called the lack of national testing a “dereliction of duty.”
In recent weeks, the F.D.A. has approved new tests that could make doing testing easier, such as one that measures the level of virus in saliva and does not need a swab. The F.D.A. also recently said a new kind of swab could be used to test for the virus, a polyester type that can be quickly manufactured in the millions. Both the saliva test and the polyester swab were cited by officials during the briefing.
Coronavirus Testing Needs to Triple Before the U.S. Can Reopen, Experts Say
As some governors look to ease coronavirus restrictions, public health experts say the country needs at least half a million tests per day to safely reopen.
Cuomo and Trump spar over the federal response to the outbreak.
Video transcript Back bars 0:00/1:37 -1:37
‘This Is Mayhem,’ Cuomo Says of Federal Response to Coronavirus
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said he was frustrated with the level of coordination between the federal government and states on coronavirus testing.
No government agency, no public health expert, people’s actions flatten the curve. We responded to the crisis. The federal government cannot wipe their hands of this and say, “Oh the states are responsible for testing.” We cannot do it. We cannot do it without federal help. I’m willing to do what I can do and more. But I’m telling you, I don’t do China relations. I don’t do international supply chain, and that’s where the federal government can help. Also remember, the federal government at the same time is developing, testing capacity. So we wind up in this bizarre situation that we were in last time: 50 states all competing for these precious resources. In this case it’s testing, and then the federal government comes in and says to those companies I want to buy the tests, also. This is mayhem. We need a coordinated approach between the federal government and the states. OK, it’s up to the states. But then don’t ask the states, don’t give them this massive undertaking that has never been done before, and then not give them any resources to do it. Let’s respond to the president: First of all, if he’s sitting home watching TV maybe he should get up and go to work, right? Second, the — let’s keep emotion and politics out of this and personal ego, if we can.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said he was frustrated with the level of coordination between the federal government and states on coronavirus testing.CreditCredit...Cindy Schultz for The New York Times
In another series of tweets on Friday, the president rekindled a fight with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, only days after heaping praise on him, by saying that the state’s chief executive should “spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining.’”
The retort came after Mr. Cuomo said that New York could not fully reopen its economy without more widespread testing and help from the federal government. Even before Mr. Cuomo had finished speaking during his televised daily briefing, Mr. Trump lashed out, tweeting, “We built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn’t need or use, gave large numbers of Ventilators that you should have had, and helped you with testing that you should be doing.” He said Mr. Cuomo owed the federal government a thank-you.
“First of all, if he’s sitting home watching TV, maybe he should get up and go to work, right?” Mr. Cuomo responded in real time. “Second, let’s keep emotion and politics out of this, and personal ego if we can. Because this is about the people.”
Mr. Cuomo said another 630 people died of the virus in New York on Thursday, according to official state figures, bringing the total confirmed death toll to 12,822. He said the toll was “breathtaking in its pain and grief and tragedy.”
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Prominent conservatives and donors are behind some statehouse protests.
The protests in Michigan, Ohio and elsewhere calling for easing the restrictions were reminiscent of the early days of the Tea Party movement, when angry activists stormed town hall meetings of Democratic members of Congress to protest President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Both featured impassioned demonstrators on the ground — and the behind-the-scenes involvement of prominent conservatives and donors.
The chairman of one of the groups behind Michigan’s protest on Thursday, the Michigan Freedom Fund, is Greg McNeilly, a close longtime associate of the education secretary, Betsy DeVos. Mr. McNeilly has denied any involvement by Ms. DeVos or others in her family, which has long financed conservative causes in Michigan.
Others organizing protests have been open about the involvement of outside donors.
Speaking on a YouTube program called “Freedom on Tap,” the Trump-allied economics commentator Stephen Moore said he was “working with a group in Wisconsin that wants to do a drive-in,” which he equated to the sit-ins of the civil rights era, only this time in protest of the restrictions put in place by Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat.
Speaking of the planned Wisconsin rally, he said he had one big donor who had promised to pay the bail and legal fees of anyone who was arrested.
“So this is a great time, gentlemen and ladies, for civil disobedience,” Mr. Moore said. “We need to be the Rosa Parks here, and protest against these government injustices.”
Mr. Moore serves on Mr. Trump’s coronavirus economic advisory group and has helped start another group urging a faster reopening of the economy, called Save Our Country.
Mr. Trump had briefly considered Mr. Moore last year for a seat on the Federal Reserve board, but Mr. Moore’s past comments about women, including that they should not earn more than men, drew criticism.
In an interview, Mr. Moore declined to name the donor he was referring to, but described him as “so upset about what’s happening with the abridgment of freedom.”
Likening the latest protests to the Tea Party, he said that to focus on donors is to miss true wellsprings of anger among everyday people. “These are people coming to us, but we’re not coming to them,” he said. “All we’re trying to do is just encourage people to participate.”
The federal government will direct $19 billion in aid to farmers.
President Trump said on Friday he would channel $19 billion to American farmers and ranchers who have been hurt by the fallout from the coronavirus, payments that come on top of tens of billions of dollars of assistance given to farmers in the last year to offset the pain of the trade war with China.
Most of the aid — $16 billion — will be in the form of direct payments to farmers who have experienced losses from the outbreak, Mr. Trump said in a briefing. The government will also buy $3 billion worth of fresh produce, dairy and meat that will be distributed to people in need through food banks and other community and faith organizations, he added.
“These are great people, great Americans,” Mr. Trump said of farmers. “It is money well deserved. Not only were they targeted at one point by China, and that was over a period of time, and you saw that happening, and they never complained.”
The Trump administration has extended $28 billion to American farmers and ranchers over the past year to help offset the pain of the president’s trade war with China. Mr. Trump ratcheted up tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese products in an effort to reach a trade deal, prompting China to respond with tariffs on American soybeans, pork, dairy and other products that crippled sales to one of the world’s largest markets.
The spread of the coronavirus has further disrupted agricultural supply chains. Outbreaks have shuttered meat processing plants, while the closure of restaurants and food service, a major consumer of American food products, means some dairy farmers have been forced to dump their milk.
“Having to dump milk or plow under vegetables ready to market is not only financially distressing, but it’s heartbreaking as well to those who produce them,” Sonny Perdue, the secretary of agriculture, said in the briefing.
At least 7,000 people living in or connected to U.S. nursing homes have died.
The first warning of the devastation that the coronavirus could wreak inside American nursing homes came in late February, when residents of a facility in suburban Seattle perished, one by one, as families waited helplessly outside.
In the ensuing six weeks, large and shockingly lethal outbreaks have continued to ravage nursing homes across the nation. Now a tally by The New York Times has found the number of people living in or connected to nursing homes who have died of the coronavirus to be at least 7,000, far higher than previously known.
In New Jersey, 17 bodies piled up in a nursing home morgue, and more than a quarter of a Virginia home’s residents have died. At least 24 people at a facility in Maryland have died; more than 100 residents and workers have been infected at another in Kansas; and people have died in centers for military veterans in Florida, Nevada, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.
Over all, about a fifth of deaths from the virus in the United States have been tied to nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, The Times review of cases shows. And more than 36,000 residents and employees across the nation have contracted it.
Covid-19 is on track to kill far more people in the United States this year than the seasonal flu, but determining just how deadly the new virus will be is a key question facing epidemiologists, who expect resurgent waves of infection that could last into 2022.
The virus is known to be more deadly to aging, immune-compromised people, and small, confined settings like nursing homes, where workers frequently move from one room to the next, are particularly vulnerable to spreading infection. But oversights and failures also have contributed to the crisis.
In interviews with more than two dozen workers in long-term care facilities as well as family members of residents and health care experts, a portrait emerged of a system unequipped to handle the onslaught and disintegrating further amid the growing crisis.
Governors in Texas, Minnesota and other states are looking to ease restrictions.
Texas will let all stores in the state open next week for “retail-to-go,” permitting pickup and delivery but not in-store shopping. Minnesota will allow golf courses and driving ranges to reopen this weekend. Vermont will let its farmers’ markets reopen on May 1.
Around the country, governors began announcing plans to ease restrictions in their states on Friday, even as cases continue to surge in some parts of the country and inadequate testing will make it difficult for them to identify and contain future outbreaks.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said that he would lift restrictions on some medical procedures and reopen state parks while requiring masks and social distancing. Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine described what things might look like beginning May 1: new social distancing guidelines at businesses, employees wearing masks, and staggered arrival times and lunch times.
“Businesses won’t be able to attract workers or customers if they feel they aren’t safe there,” said Mr. DeWine, a Republican. “A lot of this will be common sense and taking what we’ve learned so far and putting it into effect.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said on Friday that he would refer to the White House guidelines on reopening but not necessarily abide by everything they propose.
“We will obviously use that as a kind of baseline,” Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, said at a news conference in Fort Lauderdale. “It doesn’t mean Florida is going to do every single thing they say or not say.”
But just as much of the country entered life under quarantine in a patchwork fashion, it is poised to ease restrictions the same varied way, responding to the local needs to fight the virus.
In Maryland, where cases and deaths continue to rise, Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said at a news conference Friday that four things must be “solidly in place” before he moves to lift restrictions: expanded testing, increased hospital capacity for a surge in patients, more personal protective equipment, and a robust contact tracing operation. He said that he would give an update on the progress in those areas, and detail the state’s plans, next week. State officials said that schools there would remain closed through at least May 15.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced a bipartisan economic advisory committee on Friday that includes all four of the state’s living former governors and some of the nation’s leading corporate executives including the chief executive of Apple, Tim Cook, and the chairman of Disney, Robert A. Iger, as well as the former head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen.
Dallas homeless shelter is evacuated after 38 positive tests.
A Dallas homeless shelter was evacuated on Friday after 38 residents tested positive for the coronavirus, another example of the pandemic sweeping through one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations.
City officials said 164 residents at the privately run shelter, Dallas Life, were taken by bus to a hotel on Friday, and would be isolated in individual rooms for 14 days while the shelter was cleaned. Nobody was hospitalized, according to the shelter’s director, Bob Sweeney.
Mr. Sweeney said the shelter, which can house as many as 500 people, stopped taking new residents and reduced its staffing to a skeleton crew of about 12 in mid-March, as the pandemic escalated.
About eight days ago, he said, a resident with a fever tested positive for the virus. Two more residents tested positive this week, prompting health officials to order that everyone in the shelter be tested.
Advocates for homeless people said they were not surprised by the outbreak, given the risk that residents, many with respiratory illnesses, face when living in often cramped shelters. A week ago, 70 people at San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter tested positive for the coronavirus in the largest reported outbreak at a single shelter in the United States.
Doctors are prescribing hydroxychloroquine but don’t know if it works.
For weeks doctors around the country have been giving hydroxychloroquine to ill patients, and as a preventive measure to some who have been exposed to the coronavirus.
But even after treating hundreds of patients with the antimalarial drug, doctors interviewed did not report clear results or remarkable recoveries that can be traced to the drug.
At Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, most Covid-19 patients who are not on the verge of dying receive a five-day regimen of hydroxychloroquine, the long-used malaria drug that President Trump has repeatedly promoted as a “what have you got to lose” remedy. While his own top health officials are more cautious — noting there is limited evidence about the drug’s benefits — doctors across the country have been prescribing the drug for weeks.
Dr. Bushra Mina, the chief of pulmonary medicine at Lenox Hill, is well aware that there are no rigorous clinical trials showing that the drug works. But he can’t wait for the evidence to come in, he said, when people are dying.
“I think it’s a battle, and your options are very limited,” Dr. Mina said. “You’re really looking for what you can do with whatever evidence you have.”
Hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, have been used for decades to treat and prevent malaria, and hydroxychloroquine has been used by people with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis because it is known to calm the immune system. In laboratory tests, it has been shown to block the coronavirus from invading cells, although it hasn’t been proven in human trials. The drugs are not recommended for people who have abnormal heart rhythms.
Here’s a guide for those in need of financial help.
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Those we’ve lost: Israel Sauz, gas-station worker and new father, dies at 22.
Israel Sauz of Tulsa, Okla., couldn’t wait to see his first child, a baby boy named Josiah. And he couldn’t wait for the world to see him, too. So he got in close and took a picture for Facebook of his son, fast asleep in a green onesie, shortly after the boy came into the world one Sunday last month.
Just 21 days later, on April 5, Mr. Sauz was dead. He was 22.
The cause was complications related to Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to family friends and the school district where he attended high school.
Many in Tulsa may not have recognized his name, but they knew the smiling face — he was an assistant night manager at a busy QuikTrip gas station and convenience store about a mile east of downtown Tulsa. He was still a teenager when he first started working for QuikTrip, a popular chain based in Tulsa.
He lived in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow. He and his wife, Krystal, had celebrated their first wedding anniversary two weeks before Josiah was born.
Homemade or more professional: Which mask is best for you?
Face masks have become an emblem in the fight against the virus, with officials in the United States and elsewhere recommending — and in some cases mandating — that people wear them to help slow the spread of the deadly outbreak.
Figuring out what to wear is not so easy. N95 and medical masks, which offer the most protection and are heavily in demand, should be reserved for health care workers who are regularly exposed to infected patients.
Here’s a look at some of the types of masks you might encounter, how they work, what to consider when making your own and the level of protection they could provide.
A South Dakota mayor wrestles with the need for a stay-at-home order amid a local outbreak.
Mayor Paul TenHaken of Sioux Falls, S.D., has abandoned his effort to put in place a stay-at-home order in his city, which is at the center of a coronavirus outbreak that shut down a Smithfield pork processing plant.
He told the City Council on Friday that new data showed that local hospitals were able to handle an influx of coronavirus patients, The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.
Earlier this week, Mr. TenHaken, a Republican, said in an interview that he was frustrated by his inability to convince Sioux Falls residents to stay in their homes. He had unsuccessfully petitioned Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, for a countywide stay-at-home order.
“We’re starting to become a poster child for a lack of response,” he said, noting that hundreds of people in his city had tested positive for the coronavirus, many of whom worked at Smithfield.
The people in his city were deeply divided over his efforts to institute a stay-at-home order. “I have half the city saying, ‘Shut this entire place down and tell me when to come out,’” he said. “And I have the other half saying, ‘Don’t you dare.’”
Tim Cook, Bob Iger, Janet Yellen and former governors join California’s bipartisan economic advisory council.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced a bipartisan economic advisory committee on Friday that includes all four of the state’s living former governors and some of the nation’s leading corporate executives including the chief executive of Apple, Tim Cook, and the chairman of Disney, Robert A. Iger, as well as the former head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen.
The former governors are two Republicans, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and two Democrats, Gray Davis and Jerry Brown. The committee will be led by Tom Steyer, the billionaire businessman and former presidential candidate.
Mr. Steyer said the committee’s aim would be “to develop a strategy to help California recover as fast as safely possible from the Covid-19 induced recession.”
“Health and safety remain the most important points here,” Mr. Steyer said.
Mr. Newsom’s initiative to call on his predecessors is in contrast to President Trump who was asked in March whether he would consult with previous presidents for guidance on how to navigate the crisis. “I don’t think I’m going to learn much,” Mr. Trump said at the time.
Small Business Administration loans have so far flowed heavily to California and Texas.
Money from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of funds on Thursday, flowed heavily to California and Texas, with construction companies and manufacturers getting the largest number of loans, rather than harder-hit retailers and restaurants, according to new data.
The nearly $350 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program also disproportionately flowed to states that have suffered fewer infections and deaths under the virus, like Kansas, than to harder-hit states like New York and New Jersey, when adjusting for the size of the small-business economy in each state.
The new data, which include loan approvals through Thursday, show accommodation and food service firms have received less than 9 percent of the money from the program, about $30.5 billion, though they have suffered the largest job losses of any industry during this recession. Construction firms received the largest share, at just over 13 percent or about $45 billion worth.
The program was designed for banks to distribute the loans, which the federal government will pay off in most cases. That structure advantaged companies with existing relationships with banks.
S.B.A. officials included data on the largest lending institutions in the program, though they were not identified. The top lender distributed more than $14 million in loans with an average size of more than $500,000 per loan — suggesting that the institution was giving loans to relatively large businesses.
Meanwhile, stocks in the United States rallied on Friday, with efforts to reopen the economy taking center stage and investors undeterred by more data showing the economic damage.
The gains came after Mr. Trump told governors they could begin reopening, and Boeing — one of the nation’s largest manufacturers — said it planned to bring about 27,000 employees back to work in Washington State to resume aircraft production.
The announcement is the first attempt at large-scale resumption of business activity by a U.S. corporation since the much of the country most nonessential work. The S&P 500 rose 2.7 percent, while Boeing’s gains led the Dow Jones industrial average to a 3 percent jump.
After global stock markets nose-dived earlier this year, they have been rebounding since late March, as investors have routinely looked past evidence of the economic damage, and instead focused on hopes for an eventual recovery. Friday’s gains mean stocks ended the week higher, despite reports showing a historic plunge in retail sales and a continued surge in unemployment claim
Epidemiologists still don’t know the worldwide death rate for Covid-19.
Coroners in some parts of the United States are overwhelmed. Funeral homes in virus hot spots can barely keep up. Newspaper obituary pages in hard-hit areas go on and on. Covid-19 is on track to kill far more people in the United States this year than the seasonal flu.
But determining just how deadly the new virus will be is a key question facing epidemiologists, who expect resurgent waves of infection that could last into 2022.
As the virus spread across the world in late February and March, the projection circulated by infectious disease experts of how many infected people would die seemed plenty dire: around 1 percent, or 10 times the rate of a typical flu.
But according to various unofficial Covid-19 trackers that calculate the death rate by dividing total deaths by the number of known cases, about 6.4 percent of people infected with the virus have now died worldwide.
In Italy, the death rate stands at about 13 percent, and in the United States, around 4.3 percent, according to the latest figures on known cases and deaths. Even in South Korea, where widespread testing helped contain the outbreak, 2 percent of people who tested positive for the virus have died, recent data shows.
Those supposed death rates also appear to vary widely by geography: Germany’s fatality rate appears to be roughly one-tenth of Italy’s, and Los Angeles’s about half of New York’s. Among U.S. states, Michigan, at around 7 percent, is at the high end, while Wyoming, which reported its first two deaths this week, has one of the lowest death rates, at about 0.7 percent.
Virology experts say there is no evidence that any strain of the virus, officially known as SARS-CoV-2, has mutated to become more severe in some parts of the world than others, raising the question of why there appears to be so much variance from country to country.
With social distancing difficult on ships, the crew of the Mercy, a Navy hospital, moves ashore.
Aboard the hospital ship U.S.N.S. Mercy, docked in the Port of Los Angeles, most of the military crew is moving off the ship and into hotels ashore. Sailors will be bussed from their hotels to to work their shifts aboard the Mercy. Navy spokesman Lt. Andrew Bertucci said on Friday that the decision was made in order to better facilitate social distancing.
“The plan is to drastically decrease the amount of contact that the crew has with each other,” Lieutenant Bertucci said. “It will ultimately be safer for both the crew and the patients.”
Between 800 to 900 crew members had been living on the Mercy full-time, but that number will go down to about 100 to 200 in the coming days. On Thursday 150 sailors moved off the ship, and that same number is expected to move to hotels daily through Sunday. Lieutenant Bertucci noted that the crew aboard the U.S.N.S. Comfort, which is docked in New York City, recently moved most of its crew to hotels ashore as well.
The move comes after a total of seven crew members tested positive for Covid-19 since the ship arrived to help area hospitals treat non-Covid patients, and more than 100 of the crew who had been in contact with those seven have moved off the ship into precautionary quarantine. All of the Mercy sailors in quarantine have tested negative for the coronavirus and are regularly monitored in case they were to develop any symptoms.
The commanding officer of the Mercy’s medical treatment team, Capt. John Rotruck, is quarantined aboard the ship in his stateroom after an investigation found that he had been in proximity to a Covid-positive crew member. Captain Rotruck has tested negative for novel coronavirus, and said his ability to continue the ship’s mission is unchanged.
The ship will continue to treat the patients it already has onboard, and will take new patients as requested by local authorities.
There are 29 dead at one N.Y. nursing home. Or more. No one will say.
Berna Lee got the call from the nursing home in Queens on April 3: Her mother had a fever, nothing serious. She was assured that there were no cases in the home. Then she started calling workers there.
“One said, ‘Girl, let me tell you, it’s crazy here,’” Ms. Lee said. “‘Six people died today.’”
In a panic, Ms. Lee drove from her home in Rhode Island to the nursing home, beginning a two-week scramble for information, as workers at the facility, Sapphire Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing of Central Queens, told her privately that many residents had died, and that most of the home’s leadership was out sick or in quarantine.
Finally, she banged on her mother’s first-floor window to see if she was OK. It was unclear whether her mother understood what was happening, Ms. Lee said.
“I didn’t know how bad it was,” she said. “People told me bodies were dropping.”
The crisis at Sapphire highlighted the desperate state of nursing homes in the New York region and illustrated what relatives of residents said was a deeply troubling lack of information about what was going on inside the homes.
China’s economy shrinks for first time in decades, and the death toll in Wuhan is revised higher.
Chinese officials on Friday said the world’s second-largest economy had shrunk in the first three months of the year, ending a streak of untrammeled growth that survived the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the SARS epidemic and even the global financial crisis.
The data reflects China’s drastic efforts to stamp out the coronavirus, which included shutting down most factories and offices in January and February as the outbreak sickened tens of thousands of people.
The stark numbers make clear how monumental the challenge of getting the global economy back on its feet will be, and may help to explain why world leaders — including President Trump — are so eager to restart their own economies. Since it emerged from abject poverty and isolation more than 40 years ago, China has become perhaps the world’s most important growth engine.
But the leaders in Beijing have faced criticism over a lack of transparency in their handling of the epidemic.
Faced with mounting skepticism over its official figures, China on Friday revised up its death toll in the central city where the coronavirus first emerged.
Officials in the city, Wuhan, placed the new tally at 3,869 deaths, an increase of 1,290, or 50 percent, from the previous figure. The number of confirmed infections in the city was also revised upward to 50,333, an increase of 325.
Officials in Wuhan said the revised death toll now included those who died at home in the early days of the outbreak, as well as deaths that were not properly reported by hospitals or registered on death certificates.
Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Ellen Barry, Alan Blinder, Julie Bosman, Emily Cochrane, Michael Cooper, Michael Crowley, Manny Fernandez, Emily Flitter, Michael Gold, Amy Julia Harris, Adeel Hassan, John Ismay, John Leland, Michael Levenson, Andy Newman, Zach Montague, Roni Caryn Rabin, Jim Rutenberg, Marc Santora, Michael Schwirtz, Dionne Searcey, Michael D. Shear, Knvul Sheikh, Mitch Smith, Alyson Stamos, Matt Stevens, Eileen Sullivan, Ana Swanson, Kate Taylor, Katie Thomas, Tracey Tully and Meiying Wu.
Frequently Asked Questions and Advice
Updated April 11, 2020
When will this end?
This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In an American Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.
How can I help?
The Times Neediest Cases Fund has started a special campaign to help those who have been affected, which accepts donations here. Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities. More than 30,000 coronavirus-related GoFundMe fund-raisers have started in the past few weeks. (The sheer number of fund-raisers means more of them are likely to fail to meet their goal, though.)
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
Should I wear a mask?
The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.
How do I get tested?
If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.
How does coronavirus spread?
It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.
Is there a vaccine yet?
No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.
What makes this outbreak so different?
Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.
What if somebody in my family gets sick?
If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.
Should I stock up on groceries?
Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
Can I go to the park?
Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don’t live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.
Should I pull my money from the markets?
That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.
What should I do with my 401(k)?
Watching your balance go up and down can be scary. You may be wondering if you should decrease your contributions — don’t! If your employer matches any part of your contributions, make sure you’re at least saving as much as you can to get that “free money.”
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