President Trump hints at a short shutdown but his team warns of an alarming “attack rate” in New York.
President Trump, at his near-daily coronavirus briefing, hinted on Monday that the economic shutdown meant to halt the spread of the virus across the country would not be extended.
“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down,” he said. “American will again and soon be open for business,” the president added, without providing a timeline for he believes when normal economic activity can resume in the United States.
“This was a medical problem. We’re not going to let it turn into a financial problem,” Mr. Trump said.
But even as he seemed to see an end to the crisis, his team warned of an alarming spread in New York.
Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said that the New York metro area is experiencing a virus “attack rate” of nearly one in a thousand, or five times that of other areas.
“So to all of my friends and colleagues in New York, this is the group that needs to absolutely social distance and self-isolate at this time,” Dr. Birx said. “Clearly, the virus had been circulating there for a number of weeks to have this level of penetrance into the general community.”
Mr. Trump continued to push two traditional malaria medications, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, in combination with a common antibiotic, azithromycin, as a treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, despite caution by the government’s top doctors.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was not present for Mr. Trump’s White House briefing. Mr. Trump has been frustrated in recent days by some of Mr. Fauci’s public commentary contradicting his remarks. Mr. Fauci has been a frequent, though not daily, presence at the president’s side at coronavirus briefings.
Mr. Trump said that 10,000 units of chloroquine will be distributed in New York City on Tuesday. Dr. Fauci and others have said that its effectiveness remains highly uncertain, but Mr. Trump’s enthusiasm is undimmed.
“It would be a gift from God,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s something we have to try.”
Trump signs order to combat price gouging.
Mr. Trump signed an executive order to keep people and businesses from hoarding supplies needed in the fight against the novel coronavirus, and from engaging in price gouging.
Attorney General William P. Barr recently directed federal prosecutors across the country to prioritize fraud schemes related to the pandemic and to prosecute offenders.
“If you have a big supply of toilet paper in your house, this is not something you have to worry about,” Mr. Barr said at the White House briefing. “But If you are sitting on a warehouse full of surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door.”
On Saturday the department filed its first civil complaint against the operators of a sham website that sold fake vaccine kits that they site falsely claimed came from the World Health Organization.
A federal district court judge in Texas issued a temporary restraining order and demanded that the owners block access to the site, coronavirusmedicalkit.com.
There is currently no vaccine for the novel coronavirus and the World Health Organization is not distributing any such vaccine.
The operators of the website “were accused of wire fraud in seeking to profit from the confusion and fear that has been unleashed by the pandemic. Federal prosecutors are still investigating the website and its operators.
Senate debate turns angry as Schumer and Mnuchin try to salvage $1.8 trillion aid package.
Senate Democrats again blocked action on a $1.8 trillion economic stabilization package on Monday as talks continued with the Trump administration to resolve differences.
Tempers flared in the Senate as senators and senior Trump administration officials scrambled to strike a deal on a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue measure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, with Democrats blocking action on the package until they could secure stronger protections for workers and restrictions for bailed-out businesses.
“Are you kidding me?” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, demanded on the Senate floor. “This is not a juicy political opportunity, this is a national emergency.”
At the heart of the impasse is a $425 billion fund created by the bill that the Federal Reserve could leverage for loans to assist broad groups of distressed companies, and an additional $75 billion it would provide for industry-specific loans. Democrats have raised concerns that the funds do not have rules for transparency or enough guardrails to make sure companies do not use the funds to enrich themselves or take government money and lay off workers. They also argue the measure would give Mr. Mnuchin too much discretion to decide which companies receive the funds, calling the proposal a “slush fund” for the administration.
As the legislation is currently written, Mr. Mnuchin would not have to disclose the recipients until six months after the loans were disbursed. Some Democrats also objected to loopholes in the legislation they said could allow Mr. Trump’s real estate empire to take advantage of the federal aid.
The Democratic leader told reporters shortly after midnight that the bill as currently written would give bailouts to major corporations without accountability and that it would not provide enough funding to health care workers on the front lines.
The extraordinary scene on Monday unfolded the after Democrats blocked action on Sunday on the measure, which is emerging as the largest economic stimulus measure in modern history. The vote on Sunday evening shook markets around the globe and infuriated Republicans who said it ignored bipartisan talks that had yielded substantial compromises over the outlines of the measure.
The testy exchanges overshadowed an urgent set of negotiations that continued behind the scenes between Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, to iron out the remaining differences.
“We Democrats are trying to get things done, not making partisan speech after partisan speech,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor, pointing out he had met repeatedly with Mr. Mnuchin and Eric Ueland, the White House legislative affairs director, over the last 24 hours.
“Our goal is to reach a deal today, and we are hopeful, even confident, that we will meet that goal.”
Mr. Mnuchin declined to provide specifics, but said the two sides were “very close” to a deal. “We are knocking down the issues,” he said. “We have been working all morning and we are not leaving until we have a deal.”
Also on Monday, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, said that her husband, John Bessler, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Ms. Klobuchar, writing in a post on Medium, said that she and her husband have been in different places for the past two weeks, and that because 14 days had elapsed since she saw him, she was following her doctor’s guidance and not getting a test for the virus while there is a shortage of tests in the country.
Florida’s governor to New Yorkers fleeing to the state: Stay out.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said on Monday that he will sign an executive order directing the state’s surgeon general to require anyone flying to the state from New York or New Jersey to observe a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Many coronavirus cases in Florida, especially in the counties that include Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, have been tied to New York, and a recent uptick in travel from the region suggested New Yorkers were flying to Florida to flee shelter-in-place orders.
“Hopefully that will be a deterrent for people if you’re just trying to escape here,” Mr. DeSantis said.
The quarantine will not apply to people arriving by car.
Britain is placed under a virtual lockdown.
Facing a growing storm of criticism about his laissez-faire response to the fast-spreading coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that he would place Britain under a virtual lockdown, closing all nonessential shops, banning meetings of more than two people, and requiring people to stay in their homes, except for trips for food or medicine.
People who flout the new restrictions, the prime minister said, will be fined by the police.
The steps, which Mr. Johnson outlined in a televised address to the nation, bring him into alignment with European leaders like President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who have all but quarantined their countries in a desperate bid to slow the outbreak.
“No prime minister wants to enact measures like this,” an ashen-faced Mr. Johnson said. “I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.”
But while these were the most draconian restrictions placed on the British people since World War II, Mr. Johnson is still leaving a bit of breathing room.
The prime minister said people also could leave their houses for exercise, either alone or with family members, and he did not close parks in London.
The number of confirmed cases in Britain rose to 6,650 on Monday, up from 5,683 a day earlier, while the death toll jumped by 54, to 335. British officials believe that those numbers are about to balloon.
Across the Channel, in France, the deadly toll of the virus was coming into clearer view.
Five doctors in France have contracted the coronavirus and died — underscoring the heavy price being paid by health care workers on the front lines of the growing crisis.
“We will never forget them,” Olivier Véran, France’s health minister, said at a news conference in Paris on Monday.
The deaths of the French doctors come at a moment when doctors and nurses in many parts of the world, including France and the United States, have reported dire shortages of masks and other protective equipment that they need to keep safe as they treat patients.
France has reported 19,856 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 860 deaths, and said that more than 2,000 patients are currently in intensive care.
Édouard Philippe, France’s prime minister, said the government would tighten the lockdown rules beginning Tuesday: under the new rules, he said in a television broadcast, most people would only be able to leave their homes once a day, for a maximum of one hour, and they would be required to stay within a kilometer of their homes.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel tested negative for the virus days after being exposed to an infected doctor, a spokesman said on Monday.
The doctor had vaccinated Ms. Merkel against pneumonia on Friday. The chancellor has been isolating herself at home since learning that the doctor was infected on Sunday. She will receive more tests to confirm the results, since it may be too early to detect an infection.
On Monday morning, Ms. Merkel led a conference call with her cabinet from her Berlin apartment to discuss the biggest peacetime stimulus package Germany has ever seen.
She has been one of the world leaders urging residents to practice social distancing.
“Do what is right for our country,” Ms. Merkel told people in Germany on Sunday, after introducing measures that limit groups in public to just two people, aside from families — at a safe distance. “Show reason and heart.”
Wall Street struggles as the Fed acts and Congress stalls.
With a recession looming and the economy breaking down day by day in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, investors have been looking to leaders in Washington to cushion the economic impact of business closures, factory shutdowns and mass layoffs.
On Monday, they got some help, but not enough.
The Federal Reserve said it would vastly expand its efforts to shore up businesses and keep markets functioning, but lawmakers hit another wall in their attempt to push a record-breaking fiscal stimulus package through Congress.
Senate Democrats blocked the progress of the nearly $2 trillion government rescue package for a second time as they continued to negotiate for stronger protections for workers and restrictions for bailed-out businesses.
The S&P 500 fell about 3 percent Monday, adding to a 15 percent plunge last week as traders remained cautious about the Fed’s ability to shift the trajectory of an economy that appears to be in free-fall because of the coronavirus crisis.
The Federal Reserve said it would buy as much government-backed debt as it needs to keep financial markets functioning, and unrolled a series of programs meant to shore up both large and small businesses — a whatever-it-takes effort to cushion the economic blow of the pandemic.
“Aggressive efforts must be taken across the public and private sectors to limit the losses to jobs and incomes and to promote a swift recovery once the disruptions abate,” the central bank said in a statement on Monday, adding that the Fed was “using its full range of authorities to provide powerful support for the flow of credit to American families and businesses.”
The Fed this month resurrected a huge bond-buying program — last used in response to the 2008 financial crisis — saying that it would spend $700 billion on Treasury securities and $200 billion in mortgage-backed debt. On Monday, the central bank said it would not limit its purchases, instead buying “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning.”
Trading was volatile again Monday, with stocks falling as much as 5 percent. Major indexes in Europe were also lower, while stocks in Asia had already ended the day lower before the Fed announced its new plans.
States order more than 100 million Americans to stay home, as Trump questions restrictions.
As President Trump suggested that he would soon re-evaluate the federal guidance urging social distancing, more states moved Monday to impose their own sweeping stay-at-home orders, which will soon cover more than 100 million Americans in more than a dozen states.
The divide burst into public view after Mr. Trump suggested that his patience with some of the disruptive measures taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus might be limited, writing on Twitter Sunday night that “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.”
It was a starkly different message from the one being given by many health experts — and by state and local officials on the front lines of the fast-spreading outbreak, many of whom are urging more people to stay home to try to save lives.
On Monday states including Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Oregon became the latest to announce sweeping directives to keep more people home to try to slow the spread of the virus before it overwhelms the capacities of their hospitals to treat the sick.
“Stay at home,” Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana, a Republican, said Monday as he issued an order aimed to keep people indoors in his state, which he noted was in line with what other states were doing. “I’m telling you, the next two weeks are critical.”
But at the White House, in recent days, there has been a growing sentiment that medical experts were being allowed to set policy that has hurt the economy, and there has been a push to find ways to let people start returning to work.
Writing on Twitter Sunday night, Mr. Trump added that: “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”
The White House issued guidance last week urging Americans to avoid large gatherings, to work from home and to maintain distance from one another for an initial 15-day period.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious diseases expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has said in interviews that he believed it would take several more weeks before people can start going about their lives in a more normal fashion. Other infectious disease experts suggest even harsher measures than social distancing are required to truly beat back the outbreaks in the United States.
The president’s interest in potentially easing some of the social behavior guidelines met with pushback from one of his close allies, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.
“President Trump’s best decision was stopping travel from China early on,” Mr. Graham tweeted on Monday. “I hope we will not undercut that decision by suggesting we back off aggressive containment policies within the United States.”
And on Monday morning the U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, issued a stark warning in an appearance on NBC: “This week, it’s going to get bad,” he said, urging more Americans to take social distancing seriously.
Governors of both parties, fearing that the fast spread of the virus will soon clog their hospitals and leave them with too few ventilators to keep critically ill patients alive, continued to take action on their own, following in the footsteps of states including California, Illinois and New York that moved last week to try to keep residents home and close nonessential businesses.
“If we all do our part and simply stay home, we have a shot,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan said at a news conference on Monday, citing a study that projected that 70 percent of Michigan’s 10 million residents could become infected if nothing changed.
Ms. Whitmer, who is among a handful of Democratic governors who have exchanged jabs with President Trump over the virus, said that the action was necessary, in part, because of a lack of response from the federal government.
“Without a comprehensive national strategy, we, the states, must take action,” she said.
On Monday morning, Mr. Trump posted a video on Twitter in which members of his coronavirus task force called for more social distancing — but then retweeted his earlier post about not letting the cure be worse than the problem itself.
A growing number of officials have urged Mr. Trump to use the Defense Production Act to compel industry to produce desperately-needed masks and ventilators, or to take over the distribution of critical goods so states are not forced to compete against one another in bidding wars.
The Trump administration has sent mixed signals on using the act. At one point last week Mr. Trump claimed that he had used it, but he later said that he was against doing so, arguing that the market would come through on its own.
On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence reiterated the administration’s opposition to using the measure during a conference call with governors. “Industry is stepping up like never before,” Mr. Pence said on the call, a recording of which was obtained by The New York Times.
New York is now the center of the U.S. outbreak.
As New York became the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he would issue an emergency order requiring the state’s hospitals to increase their capacities by at least 50 percent.
The order was a mandatory directive from the state, Mr. Cuomo said, adding, “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say try to reach a 100 percent increase but you must reach a 50 percent increase.”
Data released Monday indicated that the state accounts for roughly 6 percent of coronavirus cases worldwide.
The jump stemmed from both the rapid growth of the outbreak and a significant increase in testing in the state. Health officials emphasized that testing was revealing how quickly the virus had spread.
There are now 20,909 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state and at least 157 deaths.
Moving to stem the crisis on multiple fronts, Mr. Cuomo pleaded with federal officials to nationalize the manufacturing of medical supplies and ordered New York City to crack down on people congregating in public. He suggested that some streets could be closed to traffic, allowing pedestrians more space.
The governor announced measures intended to prepare for a wave of patients, including setting up temporary hospitals in three New York City suburbs and erecting a large medical bivouac in the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side.
Already, hospitals across the New York region are reporting a surge of coronavirus patients and a looming shortage of critical supplies like ventilators and masks.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York told CNN on Monday that hospitals had only “days” to get critical supplies before doctors will be unable to save the lives of those who might otherwise survive.
He was being held in isolation at the Wende Correction Facility near Buffalo, according to the two people who spoke anonymously to discuss a private medical matter.
Planners for the Democratic National Convention are looking at contingency options in case the mid-July gathering in Milwaukee can’t take place because of the coronavirus, officials said on Monday for the first time.
“As we navigate the unprecedented challenge of responding to the coronavirus, we’re exploring a range of contingency options to ensure we can deliver a successful convention without unnecessary risk to public health,” said Katie Peters, a convention spokeswoman.
“This is a very fluid situation — and the convention is still more than three months away. We are committed to sharing updates with the public in the coming weeks and months as our plans continue to take shape.”
One person with knowledge of the discussions said Monday that “intensive scenario-planning” was taking place among officials from the Democratic National Committee, the convention committee and the Milwaukee host committee, who were all determining what to do about the convention, which is scheduled for July 13 to July 16 at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
Among the complicating factors are the uncertain nature of the professional basketball season — the arena hosting the convention is home to the Milwaukee Bucks, a top N.B.A. team likely to play deep into the playoffs if the league’s season were to restart — and how the party’s delegates will be selected. Delegates in most states are elected to the national convention from state conventions, but many state conventions, scheduled for late spring and early summer, are also being postponed.
Several states have moved or have proposed moving their primaries to June 2, which is quickly becoming a major date on the Democratic primary calendar.
That will now include Rhode Island, too. Gov. Gina Raimondo will sign an executive order to move the state’s presidential primary election from April 28 to and conduct it “primarily by mail ballot,” she said on Monday. The Rhode Island secretary of state said mail ballot applications would be sent to all registered voters.
Rhode Island is the eighth state to postpone its presidential primary amid the coronavirus outbreak. Pennsylvania may soon become the ninth: The state legislature was busy Monday discussing a bill to do so, according to a spokesman for the majority leader.
Patients are left in limbo as access to a drug touted by the president is suspended.
Overwhelmed by demand for an experimental treatment for coronavirus, the drug maker Gilead abruptly shut down its emergency access program, leaving doctors and families scrambling for answers.
The company said it was setting up a broader access program that could try to help more people, but some said the transition is leaving ill patients with fewer options.
“We know nothing,” said Genny Allard, the mother of Jack Allard, a 25-year-old New Jersey resident who is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator at Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J.
“I’m just, like, apoplectic at this point. I have a kid who is sick and the doctor wants to give him the next medicine that is supposed to help.”
The drug, remdesivir, is being studied in several large-scale clinical trials around the world, including a huge trial announced last week by the World Health Organization. But the results have not been reported yet, and it is still unclear whether the drug works against the coronavirus. It was studied to treat Ebola, but did not work well enough against that virus.
There is no known treatment for the new coronavirus.
Over the last week, President Trump has repeatedly referred to remdesivir and other drugs, like two long-used malaria drugs, as potential game-changers, despite pushback by top health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Fauci has corrected Mr. Trump in blunt ways during the daily White House briefings, saying that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove the drugs will work against the virus.
More than 13,000 Americans abroad are seeking help to get home.
An estimated 13,500 Americans abroad have asked the State Department for help getting back to the United States as borders are closed and flights are canceled, two senior department officials said on Monday.
About 5,700 additional U.S. citizens and legal residents have already been brought back on flights organized by the State Department, the officials said. They urged Americans abroad to decide whether they could remain living overseas for an extended period of time. If not, they should try to return to the United States immediately, in case commercial flights are shut down, one of them said.
The officials briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, citing State Department protocols.
Over the next five days, the State Department will charter 16 flights across the world to bring home an estimated 1,600 Americans who have asked for help, one of the officials said. There is still room on some of those flights for additional passengers, and Americans can register with the department’s travel enrollment system for information.
In addition to flights chartered by the State Department, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security are also flying Americans back to the United States on government aircraft, the official said.
The Indian authorities are grounding all domestic flights and putting most of the country, the world’s second most populous, in full lockdown.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India remains relatively low — about 400 — but the government wants to lock things down before the virus spikes in the densely populated country. It has steadily tightened restrictions, first ending all international flights and now grounding domestic ones, starting Wednesday at midnight.
The crackdown has also included religious gatherings. On Saturday, local authorities in Ayodhya said they would block as many as 1 million Hindu pilgrims that had hoped to visit the holy city in northern India starting Wednesday to celebrate the birthday of Ram, one of the most important Hindu gods.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted an urgent appeal on Twitter: “Many people are still not taking the lockdown seriously,” he said. “Please, save yourself, save your family, follow the instructions seriously.”
In New Delhi, the capital, the front page of all major newspapers featured a full-page announcement outlining the new restrictions. They reminded residents that the country has a long history of fighting disease, reaching back to the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 that was instituted in British-occupied India to combat the bubonic plague. The law has been used to combat outbreaks of swine flu, cholera and malaria.
But nothing on this scale has been tried before, and there was some confusion as to the scope of the new edict. For instance, food stores were supposed to be exempted, but in some neighborhoods the police ordered small grocery stores to close.
India was one of the first nations to essentially shut its borders, canceling visas and denying entry to all but a few foreigners. But the containment measures have been imperfect, and fear has started to spread.
The government, hoping that aggressive and swift action will spare the nation, is offering a clear slogan: “Say No to Panic, Say Yes to Precautions.”
Racing to save the sick, Spain’s health workers fall victim themselves.
As countries around the world grapple with shortages in protective equipment, health care workers in Spain are confronting the risks posed by the coronavirus. Doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers make up 12 percent of the country’s coronavirus cases, which by Monday totaled nearly 33,000, including 2,200 deaths.
“A nurse cannot work without protection,” Teresa Galindo, who leads a union that represents nurses in the Madrid region, said, adding that she never thought the health service’s resources “could be stretched so far to the limit.”
Videos shared on social media show dire conditions at hospitals in the region, with coughing patients lying on the floor or on beds in corridors, many hooked up to oxygen tanks, as overwhelmed health professionals shuffle past.
“There are people without rooms, sitting in plastic chairs for more than 30 hours,” Javier García, a union representative, told the newspaper El Mundo.
Hotels and exhibition centers are being converted into field hospitals. The aid organization Doctors Without Borders has set up a 100-bed unit on a university campus in Madrid, and the army is deploying to take patients to hospitals and alleviate the burden on the health sector.
The city hall of Madrid is preparing to transform an indoors ice skating ring into an emergency morgue, local media reported on Monday.
Spain is also racing to cope with a shortage of tests, so the number of infected may be far higher than the reported caseload. Hundreds of thousands of new test kits will be handed out in the coming days, the authorities say, and health professionals will be the first to be tested.
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
The pandemic’s spread is creating new challenges for doctors who usually care primarily for patients with particular medical needs. Physicians across every field are confronting a surge of patient questions and scrambling to keep up with advisories from governments and health agencies.
Singalongs from windowsills in Chicago and Dallas are lifting spirits, following an example set by Europeans who sang from their balconies.
“Daddy’s on an important phone call.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been a housekeeper and full-time parent for three children while running the nation, after his wife tested positive for the coronavirus.
A little joy in a difficult time.
It is reasonable to feel anxious and worried about the news. Today, we hope to offer you ideas for a small respite.
Reporting and research were contributed by Michael Cooper, Eileen Sullivan, Katie Robertson, Sarah Mervosh, Ellen Barry, Katie Thomas, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Michael Gold, Katrin Bennhold, Jonathan Martin, Adam Goldman, Hari Kumar, Jeffrey Gettleman, Vindu Goel, Lara Jakes, Reid Epstein, Karen Zraick, Elian Peltier, Aurelien Breeden, Raphael Minder, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Melissa Eddy, Jeanna Smialek, Ian Austen, Mariel Padilla, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Katie Van Syckle, Jesse McKinley, Emily Cochrane, Jim Tankersley, Nick Corasaniti, Stephanie Saul, Kate Taylor, Tiffany May, Patricia Mazzei and Mike Baker.