Policymakers around the world are debating when and how to start reopening businesses. Earlier interventions on the West Coast may have limited the virus’s effects. A major meat plant closes indefinitely after nearly 300 workers test positive.
The Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments by telephone over six days in May, including cases on subpoenas from prosecutors and Congress seeking the president’s financial records.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Trump publicly signals his frustration with Fauci.
- A major meat plant is closing indefinitely and a chief executive warns about supply chain.
- A study involving chloroquine is stopped over concerns of fatal heart complications.
- A stalemate in Congress over interim emergency aid seems likely to continue.
- A sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has died from virus complications.
- West Coast officials intervened earlier than their East Coast counterparts, limiting the virus’s spread.
- Some foreign medical workers who want to help are tied up in red tape.
ImageBusinesses are closed due to Covid-19 in Brooklyn.Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times
Trump publicly signals his frustration with Fauci.
President Trump publicly signaled his frustration on Sunday with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, after the doctor said that more lives could have been saved from the coronavirus if the country had been shut down earlier.
Mr. Trump reposted a tweet that said “Time to #FireFauci” as he rejected criticism of his slow initial response to the pandemic that has now killed more than 22,000 Americans.
Mr. Fauci, during an appearance on CNN on Sunday, was careful to say that many factors went into government decision-making, and he was at pains to stay focused on the science rather than the politics when asked if stay-at-home measures could have prevented deaths had they been put in place in February, instead of mid-March.
“I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives,” Mr. Fauci said. “Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those decisions is complicated.”
“If we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different,” he said. “But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then.”
The president privately has been irritated at times with Dr. Fauci, but the retweet was the most explicit he has been about those feelings.
The original tweet came from a former Republican congressional candidate, DeAnna Lorraine. “Fauci was telling people on February 29th that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US at large,” said the tweet by Ms. Lorraine, who got less than 2 percent of the vote in an open primary against Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month.
In reposting the message, Mr. Trump added: “Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up.”
As millions of Christians celebrated Easter separated from their extended families and fellow believers, Mr. Trump spent much of the day posting a flurry of messages defending his handling of the coronavirus, which has come under sharp criticism, and pointing the finger instead at China, the World Health Organization, former President Barack Obama, the nation’s governors, Congress, Democrats and the news media.
A major meat plant is closing indefinitely and a chief executive warns about supply chain.
Smithfield Foods said Sunday that its plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., one of the nation’s largest pork processing facilities, would remain closed indefinitely at the urging of the governor and mayor after 293 workers tested positive for coronavirus.
The plant, which employs 3,700 workers and produces about 130 million servings of food per week, is responsible for about half of the state’s total number of cases.
Meat production workers often work elbow to elbow, cleaning and deboning products in large open areas filled with hundreds of people. The closure at Smithfield follows the halting of production at several other poultry and meat plants across the country as workers have fallen ill with Covid-19.
Many meat processing facilities have been hit hard by the virus. Three workers have died at a Tyson Foods poultry plant in Camilla, Ga. Tyson also shut a pork plant in Iowa after an outbreak there among workers. JBS USA, the world’s largest meat processor, confirmed the death of one worker at a Colorado facility and shuttered a plant in Pennsylvania for two weeks.
In a statement announcing the closure, Smithfield’s chief executive warned that the closures were threatening the U.S. meat supply. The shuttered plant produces about 4 percent to 5 percent of the country’s pork, Smithfield said.
“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Kenneth M. Sullivan, the president and CEO and President of Smithfield, warned in a statement.
He continued, “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running.”
Several meat processing corporations are offering cash bonuses to workers who continue showing up for work amid the pandemic. Workers have said they feel pressured to do so, even if they are feeling unwell. Smithfield said it would continue paying Sioux Falls plant workers for two weeks, “and hopes to keep them from joining the ranks of the tens of millions of unemployed Americans across the country.”
A study involving chloroquine is stopped over concerns of fatal heart complications.
A small study of chloroquine, which is closely related to the hydroxychloroquine drug that President Trump has promoted, was halted in Brazil after virus patients taking a higher dose developed irregular heart rates that increased their risk of a potentially fatal arrhythmia.
The study, which involved 81 hospitalized patients in the city of Manaus, was sponsored by the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Roughly half the participants were prescribed 450 milligrams of chloroquine twice daily for five days, while the rest were prescribed 600 milligrams for 10 days.
Within three days, researchers started noticing heart arrhythmias in patients taking the higher dose. By the sixth day of treatment, 11 patients had died, leading to an immediate end to the high-dose segment of the trial.
The researchers said the study did not have enough patients in the lower-dose trial to conclude whether chloroquine was effective in patients with severe cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Patients in the trial were also given the antibiotic azithromycin, which carries the same heart risk. Hospitals in the United States are using azithromycin to treat virus patients, often in combination with hydroxychloroquine.
Mr. Trump has promoted them as a potential treatment for the virus despite little evidence that they work, and despite concerns from health officials. Companies that manufacture both drugs are ramping up production.
A stalemate in Congress over interim emergency aid seems likely to continue.
Top Democratic leaders on Monday doubled down on their insistence that any infusion of cash for a new loan program to help small businesses impacted because of the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic must include additional funds for state and local governments, hospitals, food assistance and rapid testing.
The demands, reiterated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, will likely further prolong a stalemate between lawmakers over what was intended to be an interim emergency package ahead of another broader, stimulus package. On Monday, during a brief procedural session in the Senate, lawmakers did not attempt to approve the administration’s request for an additional $250 billion for the loan program, which would have required unanimous approval from all 100 senators without the full chamber present.
Democrats on Thursday blocked such a maneuver to infuse $250 billion into the loan program, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, without the inclusion of additional funds as well as conditions to ensure the loan money is distributed fairly to small businesses. But Republicans, led by President Trump, have said that they would prefer to negotiate any additional funds and changes to the program in future legislation.
“We have real problems facing this country, and it’s time for the Republicans to quit the political posturing by proposing bills they know will not pass either chamber and get serious and work with us towards a solution,” the two leaders said in a joint statement.
The congressional standoff comes as administration officials warn that the loan program, created as part of the $2 trillion economic stimulus package signed into law last month, will soon run out of funds, even as businesses say they have yet to receive a majority of the billions slated. The National Governors Association on Saturday also called on Congress to allocate an additional $500 billion to states and governments to help offset state revenue shortfalls, more than double what Democrats initially demanded.
Their Republican counterparts, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, declared during the weekend that they rejected Democrats’ “reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril” and would continue to push for standalone funding for small businesses.
A sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has died from virus complications.
A sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt has died of complications stemming from the coronavirus, according to Navy officials, marking the first death for the ship’s crew, which numbers more than 4,800.
The sailor was admitted into intensive care at the naval hospital in Guam, where the Roosevelt is currently docked, on April 9, after being found unconscious.
The sailor, according to two military officials, had earlier been hospitalized for respiratory issues and was discharged four days before being found unconscious.
“The Sailor tested positive for COVID-19 March 30, was removed from the ship and placed in an isolation house on Naval Base Guam with four other USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Sailors,” the Navy said in a statement. “Like other Sailors in isolation, he received medical checks twice daily from Navy medical teams.”
There are more than 580 coronavirus cases aboard the ship, including its commander, Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was relieved earlier this month after submitting a letter to Navy officials requesting more help for his virus-stricken crew. Several other sailors with coronavirus symptoms are currently hospitalized.
West Coast officials intervened earlier than their East Coast counterparts, limiting the virus’s spread.
California, Oregon and Washington have more ventilators than they can use. As the nation struggles to scrounge up the lifesaving machines for hospitals overrun with Covid-19 patients, these three Western states recently shipped 1,000 spares to New York and other besieged neighbors to the East.
“All NYC needs is love …. From CA,” a worker scrawled in Magic Marker on a ventilator shipping box, shown in a video posted on Twitter by the governor of California, Gavin Newsom.
The ongoing effort of three West Coast states to come to the aid of more hard-hit parts of the nation has emerged as the most powerful indication to date that the early intervention by West Coast governors and mayors might have mitigated, at least for now, the medical catastrophe that has befallen New York and parts of the Midwest and South.
Their aggressive imposition of stay-at-home orders has stood in contrast to the relatively slower actions in New York and elsewhere, and has drawn widespread praise from epidemiologists. As of Saturday afternoon, there had been 8,627 virus related deaths in New York, compared with 598 in California, 483 in Washington and 48 in Oregon. New York had 44 deaths per 100,000 people. California had two.
Some foreign medical workers who want to help are tied up in red tape.
Foreign doctors and nurses want to come to the United States to help care for patients with the virus. But bureaucratic red tape and a lack of coordination — often within agencies that are part of the Department of Homeland Security — are keeping the much-needed health care workers from getting to American hospitals in need.
In some cases, foreign health care workers have already obtained the appropriate paperwork to travel to and work in the United States, yet they are not allowed into the country because of travel restrictions in place to contain the virus. And in other instances, American consulates are unable to manage the visa requests coming in.
For some foreign workers who are already in the country, the terms on their visas stipulate that they cannot leave the state they are in to travel to other areas that are in most need of reinforcements — coronavirus hot spots.
“There are gaps in communication at a time when they need to pull this together quickly,” said Beth Vanderwalker, vice president of operations at WorldWide HealthStaff Solutions. “We have hundreds of nurses who we could get here in a matter of weeks.”
In New York, not even a pandemic can repair the rift between the governor and mayor.
Late on Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio made the momentous decision to keep New York City’s 1,800 public schools closed through the end of June. He told just a select few, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, who gave his blessing.
But Mr. de Blasio did not reach out to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, his fellow Democrat and frequent political foe, until Saturday morning. The mayor’s top aides said that he called Mr. Cuomo just a few minutes before he was to announce the news to the public. Mr. de Blasio did not get through.
Less than three hours later, Mr. Cuomo used his news briefing to discount the mayor’s decision as a mere “opinion” and insisted that he, and not Mr. de Blasio, controlled the destiny of the city’s school system, the nation’s largest.
The disagreement between the mayor and the governor frustrated and confused parents, teachers and other school employees, many of whom have scrambled to adapt to the extraordinary challenge that online learning has created.
The episode was a glaring example of the persistent dysfunction between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio, an often small-bore turf war that has now resurfaced during an urgent crisis in which nearly 800 New Yorkers are dying daily.
Wyoming is the only state without a recorded death from the virus.
More than 22,000 people have died of the virus in the United States, but Wyoming has not recorded one fatality, according to a New York Times database.
At least 270 people have tested positive for the virus in the state, mostly around its largest cities, and Gov. Mark Gordon has imposed a series of restrictions, including closures of public schools and bans on gatherings of 10 or more people, that will stay in effect until at least April 30.
The virus has likely infected more people, but testing issues have almost certainly kept the authorities and the public from understanding the full scope of the virus’s spread in Wyoming. The state health officer acknowledged this month that necessary materials were in “very short supply.”
President Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for Wyoming over the weekend, opening a spigot of aid money and marking the first time in U.S. history that a disaster had been declared in every state simultaneously.
“Though Wyoming has not reached the dire situations of some states, this declaration will help us to prepare and mobilize resources when we need them,” Mr. Gordon said last week after he asked Mr. Trump to approve the declaration.
American Samoa, a U.S. territory, is the only other part of the country without a death that has been blamed on the virus. No infections have been reported there.
Tornadoes and the virus are a one-two punch for the South.
Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms killed at least 18 people in the South after raking across Mississippi and its neighbors on Sunday night, dealing the region another blow as coronavirus infections mount.
Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi declared a state of emergency, and parts of Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas were also hit by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms on Monday, the National Weather Service said.
“This is not how anyone wants to celebrate Easter Sunday,” Mr. Reeves said in a statement. “As we reflect on the death and resurrection on this Easter Sunday, we have faith that we will all rise together.”
The storms struck as the coronavirus ravaged pockets across the South, where public health officials fear potentially devastating effects because of a mix of bad health, poverty and flimsy insurance options for the working poor.
In Louisiana, where the outbreak in New Orleans has become one of the most explosive in the country, there have been more than 20,000 cases and more than 800 deaths. In Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp initially resisted more-stringent measures to stem infections, there have been more than 12,000 cases and more than 400 deaths.
In Mississippi, there have been nearly 3,000 cases and almost 100 deaths. In late March, Mr. Reeves received widespread criticism over an executive order that created confusion about what was an “essential” business and should stay open, versus what should close.
Driving and travel restrictions vary across the U.S.
Most people in the United States are under some form of stay-at-home order to try to curb the deadly coronavirus pandemic, yet some still have their reasons for wanting to drive across the country.
In the last several days, The New York Times has heard from people who have older parents in need of assistance, a new grandmother in Ohio whose daughter in North Carolina wants help with the baby, and those who were scheduled to move to a new job or home, all seeking advice on whether a road trip was advisable or even feasible.
Read the stories of people who have died in the pandemic.
More than 21,000 people have been claimed by the virus across the United States and more than 100,000 worldwide, including nurses on the front line, transgender activists, musicians, academics and religious leaders.
The New York Times began gathering stories of people who have died during the pandemic for the series, “Those We’ve Lost to the Coronavirus.”
Some, like Hilda Churchill, who survived both World Wars and the 1918 Spanish flu, and Rafael Gómez Nieto, the last member of the unit that helped liberate Paris, were a part of moments that made history. Many lived outside of the limelight, but were still a huge part of daily life, as children, siblings, parents and grandparents.
In an obituary written about Loretta Mendoza Dionisio, an outgoing and unstoppable woman, her family hoped that she would not simply become a statistic: “We didn’t want her to get lost,” they said.
Economic inequality makes it harder for some to shelter in place.
Access to private, controllable space has emerged as a new class divide — more valuable than ever to those who have it and potentially fatal to those who do not.
Inmates, farmworkers, detained immigrants, Native Americans and homeless families are among the discrete groups whose dilemmas have attracted notice. What they share may be little beyond poverty and one of its overlooked costs: the perils of proximity.
In addition to heightened risk of contagion, close quarters can worsen a host of ills, from flared tempers to child abuse and domestic violence.
“The pandemic is a reminder that privacy is at a premium among the poor — hard to find and extremely valuable,” said Stefanie DeLuca, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University. “Living in crowded conditions not only increases the risk of infection but can also impose serious emotional and mental health costs. The ability to retreat into one’s own space is a way to cope with conflict, tension and anxiety.”
‘The player-coaches for the real world.’
As Americans hunker down during the pandemic, free fitness workouts, many of them delightfully low-tech, have multiplied on social media platforms.
Oil-producing nations reach a deal to slash output.
Oil-producing nations on Sunday agreed to the largest production cut ever negotiated, in a coordinated effort by Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States to stabilize oil prices and, indirectly, global financial markets.
Russia and Saudi Arabia typically take the lead in setting global production goals. But President Trump, facing a re-election campaign, a plunging economy and American oil companies struggling with collapsing prices, took the unusual step of getting involved after the Moscow and Riyadh entered a price war a month ago. Mr. Trump had made an agreement a key priority.
It was unclear, however, whether the cuts would be enough to bolster prices. Before the coronavirus crisis, 100 million barrels of oil each day fueled global commerce, but demand is down about 35 percent. While significant, the cuts agreed to on Sunday still fall far short of what is needed to bring oil production in line with demand.
The plan by OPEC, Russia and other allied producers in a group known as OPEC Plus will slash 9.7 million barrels a day in May and June, or close to 10 percent of the world’s output.
Here’s what else is happening in the world.
Reporting was contributed by Jack Healy, Jesse McKinley, Eliza Shapiro, Jeffery C. Mays, Karen Schwartz, Clifford Krauss, Marc Santora, Peter Baker, Jason DeParle, Sandra E. Garcia, Aimee Ortiz, Christine Hauser, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, John Ismay, Katie Thomas, Knvul Sheikh, Vanessa Swales and Emily Cochrane.
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?
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.
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.”