The F.D.A. warned against the use of anti-malaria drugs that President Trump had also promoted. Businesses in Georgia began to reopen despite unease.
Nursing homes are being told to readmit Covid-19 patients to relieve overburdened hospitals, even as the virus has killed more than 10,500 residents and staff members at nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Stark warnings of the dangers of ingesting household disinfectants follow Trump’s White House remarks.
- Georgia moves ahead with some reopenings despite plenty of misgivings.
- Navy leaders recommend reinstating the Roosevelt captain fired over a virus warning.
- In some states, nursing homes are told to readmit the infected.
- With the federal deficit projected to hit $3.7 trillion, Trump signs the latest aid package.
- The F.D.A. issued a warning against using anti-malaria drugs that Trump has touted.
- Trump’s suspension of family-based immigration is just the start, an aide says.
ImagePresident Trump at the Oval Office on Friday.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times
Stark warnings of the dangers of ingesting household disinfectants follow Trump’s White House remarks.
President Trump’s assertion at the White House that household disinfectants might be able to kill the coronavirus inside the body was denounced as misguided and dangerous by doctors and elected officials — and prompted Lysol and Clorox to issue statements warning against the improper use of their products.
As the outcry grew, the president tried to suggest Friday that he had only been kidding, then took no questions from reporters — a highly unusual move — at the daily White House virus briefing that was one of the shortest yet.
Earlier, he claimed he had not been serious when he spoke about disinfectants. “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” Mr. Trump told journalists in the Oval Office as he signed the latest virus relief bill into law.
His explanation, which came after his comments were widely assailed and mocked, contrasted with his own press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, who had made no claim that the president was actually not being serious. Instead, in a statement earlier in the day, she said that the president had repeatedly made clear that Americans should consult with doctors, and blamed reporters for mischaracterizing Mr. Trump’s remarks, without saying how.
“Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines,” Ms. McEnany said.
The president made the initial remarks Thursday evening at the White House after a scientist, William N. Bryan, the head of science at the Department of Homeland Security, told reporters at the briefing that the government had tested how sunlight and disinfectants — including bleach and alcohol — could kill the coronavirus on surfaces in as little as 30 seconds.
“Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light,” Mr. Trump said. “And I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but we’re going to test it?” he added, turning to Mr. Bryan, who had returned to his seat. “And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, either through the skin or some other way.”
Apparently reassured that the tests he was proposing would take place, Mr. Trump then theorized about the possible medical benefits of disinfectants in the fight against the virus.
“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute — one minute — and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?” he asked. “Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
Bleach and other disinfectants may kill microbes, but they also can kill humans if swallowed or if fumes are too powerful. That is why bottles of bleach and other disinfectants carry sharp warnings of ingestion dangers. And experts have long warned that ultraviolet lamps can harm humans if used improperly — when the exposure is outside the body, much less inside. The link between ultraviolet light and skin cancer is well established.
The president’s comments were alarming enough that his own public health appointees felt the need to warn Americans not to take them seriously.
“A reminder to all Americans- PLEASE always talk to your health provider first before administering any treatment/ medication to yourself or a loved one,” Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, wrote on Twitter. “Your safety is paramount, and doctors and nurses are have years of training to recommend what’s safe and effective.
After the president’s comments on Thursday, searches soared for cleaning products including laundry detergent capsules like Tide Pods. By the afternoon, a hotline run by the state of Maryland had received more than 100 calls on the subject, Michael Ricci, the spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan, said on Twitter.
The calls prompted a response from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency: “Under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.”
“As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),” the company said. The words “under no circumstance” were highlighted in bold.
And the Clorox Company said on Friday that disinfecting surfaces with bleach was one way to help slow the spread of the virus, but added: “Bleach and other disinfectants are not suitable for consumption or injection under any circumstances.”
Mr. Trump has long touted various ideas against the virus despite a lack of scientific evidence, from sunlight and warmer temperatures to an array of drugs, including the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. But some of his recommendations, however, have had disastrous effects. Last month, an Arizona man died and his wife was hospitalized after the couple ingested a chemical found in hydroxychloroquine.
Social media companies have been struggling to address the spread of misinformation about the virus, including junk science and supposed cures. Last month, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, specifically mentioned a bleach “cure” as an example of “misinformation that has imminent risk of danger.”
“Things like, ‘you can cure this by drinking bleach,’” he said. “I mean, that’s just in a different class.”
Georgia moves ahead with some reopenings despite plenty of misgivings.
What Georgia Residents Are Saying About Easing Coronavirus Measures
Some businesses in Georgia reopened on Friday, a decision that is being watched closely and one that has divided the state’s residents.
“Have you been around anybody? Dry cough or anything?” “If I can take your temperature really quick. So these are the stickers that we’re using here at Salon 13. Basically they’re for checking the guest in, and letting all of our service workers know that they’re having no problems with any temperature.” “I ain’t crazy about wearing gloves cutting hair. I ain’t crazy about wearing a mask, but I’m going to comply with our government, and do what we need to do to be operating. But it’s better to do this then sit at home and lose my business.” “I booked the appointment. They went through all their procedures that they’re going to be taking, and so I felt at ease.” “I do not think it makes sense to open these businesses way before the curve, before we hit the peak.” “I wouldn’t go to a gym at this point because there’s too much sweating and breathing heavy, and all that stuff.”
Some businesses in Georgia reopened on Friday, a decision that is being watched closely and one that has divided the state’s residents.CreditCredit…John Amis/EPA, via Shutterstock
Salons, barbershops and other businesses reopened across Georgia on Friday after Gov. Brian Kemp defied opposition from the president, public health experts and some mayors in his state.
Lines started forming around 7 a.m. and snaked around some businesses. Mr. Kemp’s order generally allowed barbershops, nail salons, gyms, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen on Friday. Dine-in service at restaurants will be allowed to resume on Monday.
The move to reopen in Georgia, along with similar plans in Oklahoma and Alaska, is being closely scrutinized as other governors consider future steps for their own states.
In Oklahoma, customers waited in line Friday morning in their pickup trucks outside Joe’s Barber Shop in Midwest City. “I’m glad it’s starting to open up,” the owner, Joe Gann said, speaking through a white surgical mask as he gave a customer a tight crew cut.
But in Norman, where local restrictions remain in effect until at least May 1, Missy Gubitz, a salon manager and stylist, said she would not feel comfortable returning to work. “I love what I do and love to make people feel good about themselves,” she said. “But we are not essential.”
Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, urged people to stay home.
But at a shopping center on Auburn Avenue, the heart of Atlanta’s historic black business district, every spot in the parking lot was full. The two barbershops in the center were open and receiving a slow trickle of customers. Few employees wore masks.
Georgia has recorded more than 22,000 virus cases and that at least 892 people have died, and some parts of the state are still seeing cases rising, government statistics show.
Alaska lifted some restrictions for restaurants, retail stores and personal care services, like hair and nail salons. It plans to limit indoor seating at restaurants to 25 percent of their capacity, with tables kept 10 feet apart.
“There will be very few places capable of opening,” said Sarah Oates, the president and chief executive of the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association.
Businesses should weigh whether they can operate under the restrictions, said Ethan Berkowitz, the mayor of the state’s largest city, Anchorage. “My message is: Go slow, don’t rush into things,” he said.
While polls have shown that most Americans are more concerned with easing restrictions too soon than too late, protests calling to end them have erupted in several states, including in Wisconsin on Friday.
The different approaches means that there is no one unified strategy for reopening the nation. Some are opening up salons and barbershops first. Others started with retail stores and kept salons closed. There is even confusion within each state, with questions about whether a governor’s decision to reopen superseded local orders to stay home.
But most everywhere, officials seemed to agree that a phased-in approach was needed. In Colorado, where a stay-at-home order is to expire on Sunday, the governor described a new phase starting next week, in which doctors can do elective medical procedures and retail businesses will be able to open for curbside pickup. But he said residents should still expect to maintain physical distancing.
“We still have work to do,” he said. “We are not through the woods yet.”
Navy leaders recommend reinstating the Roosevelt captain fired over a virus warning.
Capt. Brett E. Crozier should be restored to command of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, the Navy’s top officials recommended on Friday.
But Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, who was briefed on the recommendations, has asked for more time to consider whether he will sign off on the reinstatement of the captain of the nuclear-powered carrier.
Mr. Esper received the recommendation that Captain Crozier be reinstated from the chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael M. Gilday, and the acting Navy Secretary, James McPherson, on Friday. Defense Department officials said earlier that they expected to announce the results of the Navy’s investigation into the matter on Friday afternoon.
Mr. Esper’s decision to hold up the investigation has surprised Navy officials, who believed that the defense secretary would leave the process in the hands of the military chain of command.
A reinstatement of Captain Crozier would be a stunning turnaround in a story that has seized the attention of the Navy, the overall military and even a nation grappling with the coronavirus. From the moment that his letter pleading for help from Navy officials first became public, Captain Crozier has taken on the role of an unlikely hero, willing to risk his career for the sake of his sailors.
In some states, nursing homes are told to readmit the infected.
Covid-19 has killed more than 10,500 residents and staff members at nursing homes and long-term care facilities nationwide, nearly a quarter of deaths in the United States from the pandemic.
But states are increasingly turning to nursing homes to relieve the burden on hospitals by accepting infected patients who are considered stable. Although there is no evidence so far that the practice has allowed infections to spread in nursing homes, many fear that it is only a matter of time. One lawsuit in New Jersey claims that a nursing home worker who died was likely to have been sickened by a patient readmitted from a hospital.
At the outbreak’s center, New York established a strict new rule last month: Nursing homes must readmit residents sent to hospitals with the virus and accept new patients deemed “medically stable.” On Thursday, the governor said nursing homes in New York would be investigated to ensure that they were following strict rules that were put in place during the outbreak. Those rules include notifying residents and family members within 24 hours if a resident tests positive or dies because of the virus and readmitting those infected only if homes can provide an adequate level of care.
New Jersey and California have also said that nursing homes should take in such patients. Homes can refuse patients if they claim they can’t care for them safely, but administrators worry that doing so could provoke scrutiny from regulators, and advocates say it could result in a loss of revenue.
With the federal deficit projected to hit $3.7 trillion, Trump signs the latest aid package.
The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that it expects the federal budget deficit to hit $3.7 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, which would be its largest size as a share of the economy since World War II.
In a new round of forecasts that officials cautioned were highly uncertain amid the pandemic, the budget office said it expects the economy to shrink by 5.6 percent over the course of this year, ending 2020 with an unemployment rate of nearly 12 percent.
The budget office said it expects a historic drop in economic activity to be recorded this spring, but that recovery will begin to set in as social distancing measures are relaxed but not eliminated at the end of June.
Still, it forecasts a slow climb back from the damage the virus caused the economy and the federal budget. It projects growth of 2.8 percent in 2021 — which would be nowhere close to the sharp rebound that some Trump administration officials have said they expect — and a budget deficit of more than $2.1 trillion for the 2021 fiscal year.
By the close of the 2020 fiscal year, which ends in September, the budget office now expects the size of the national debt to exceed the annual output of the economy.
The S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent by Friday afternoon, bucking a global decline. Shares in Europe and Asia had fallen earlier. Oil prices also rose on Friday adding to a sharp rebound earlier in the week. Still, they remain near historic lows amid concerns about oversupply.
The new projection from the budget office came as Mr. Trump signed the $484 billion relief bill into law on Friday, replenishing a fund for small businesses strapped by the lockdowns across the country and providing money for hospitals and increased testing.
He said the bipartisan legislation, which passed unanimously in the Senate and with just five negative votes in the House, would be “great for small businesses, great for the workers.”
Mr. Trump was joined in the Oval Office by a half-dozen Republican lawmakers. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader who steered the bill through Congress, was not present, nor were any Democrats.
In the past month, Congress has approved an astonishing $2.7 trillion in response to the pandemic. The latest measure contained no money for state governments, despite growing pleas from governors with state budgets stretched to the breaking point. Local governments have been overwhelmed with unemployment claims with more 26 million people losing their jobs in just five weeks.
Yet Republicans have resisted sending funds to the states, which Mr. McConnell has called “blue state bailouts.” Mr. McConnell alarmed and angered state officials this week when he suggested that states should consider filing for bankruptcy.
The federal government is kicking in an extra $600 per beneficiary, but states must pay the bulk of unemployment benefits using trust funds. At least three states — California, New York and Ohio — are expected to deplete their trust funds within two weeks, with Massachusetts, Texas and Kentucky close behind. Once those funds run out, the states can borrow money from the federal government.
The F.D.A. issued a warning against using anti-malaria drugs that Trump has touted.
The drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause dangerous abnormalities in heart rhythm in coronavirus patients and has resulted in some deaths, and should be used only in clinical trials or hospitals where patients can be closely monitored for heart problems, the Food and Drug Administration warned on Friday.
“The F.D.A. is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with Covid-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin” and other drugs that can disrupt heart rhythm, the agency said. The statement also noted that many people were getting outpatient prescriptions for the drugs in the hopes of preventing the infection or treating it themselves.
There is no proof that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine help coronavirus patients. They are approved to treat malaria and the autoimmune diseases lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. But reports from France and China suggesting a benefit sparked interest in the drugs, even though the reports lacked the scientific controls needed to determine whether the drugs actually worked.
Mr. Trump has advocated their use repeatedly, sometimes combination with azithromycin, an antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections, not viral diseases. His repeated promotion of the use of the anti-malaria drugs is at odds with many of his top public health officials.
With no proven treatments for the coronavirus, many hospitals have been using hydroxychloroquine, sometimes with azithromycin, in the hope that they might help.
Scientists have urged that the drugs be tested in controlled clinical trials to find out definitively whether they can fight the virus or quell overreactions by the immune system that can become life-threatening. Studies are underway.
Trump’s suspension of family-based immigration is just the start, an aide says.
President Trump’s decision to suspend family-based immigration for 60 days because of the coronavirus is just the beginning of a broader strategy to reduce the flow of foreigners into the United States, Stephen Miller, the architect of President Trump’s immigration agenda, told a group of conservative allies on Thursday.
During a private conference call with the president’s supporters, Mr. Miller sought to reassure them of the president’s commitment to their cause and urged them to publicly defend Mr. Trump’s executive order, pledging that it is just a first step in the administration’s longer-term goal of shrinking legal immigration.
“The first and most important thing is to turn off the faucet of new immigrant labor — mission accomplished — with signing that executive order,” Mr. Miller said, according to an audio recording of the conference call obtained by The New York Times and first reported by The Washington Post.
The executive order Mr. Trump signed this week bars foreigners from receiving green cards for 60 days, a move that was condemned by immigration advocates. But it does nothing to limit visa programs that draw tens of thousands of workers to the United States, infuriating groups which support reducing the flow of foreigners into the country.
Mr. Miller said that further restrictions on programs for foreign workers were likely.
“In terms of dealing with some of these seasonal flows of guest workers and developing a strategy for that, that’s what the president directed us to do,” he added.
Trump tells the Postal Service to raise prices if it wants a bailout.
Mr. Trump said on Friday that he would not authorize any financial assistance for the struggling United States Postal Service if it does not agree to enact dramatic price increases for shipping packages.
It is the latest threat in a long-running saga between Mr. Trump and the Postal Service that stems from his belief that Amazon and other online retailers have been profiting from low prices that have left it asking for a government bailout. The Postal Service has experienced a surge of demand with more Americans increasingly relying on delivery but is facing a $54 billion shortfall over the next decade, and projecting a $13 billion revenue shortfall this fiscal year because of the pandemic.
“The Postal Service is a joke because they’re handing out packages for Amazon and other internet companies, and every time they put out a package, they lose money on it,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
But later on Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he “will never let our Post Office fail.” He said the Postal Service “has been mismanaged for years,” but said, “The people that work there are great, and we’re going to keep them happy, healthy, and well!”
The Postal Service had appealed to lawmakers this month for an $89 billion lifeline and warned that it could run out of money by the end of September without help.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin scuttled a bipartisan effort to provide aid to the Postal Service in the economic relief package that passed last month. He insisted instead that his department be given new authority to lend up to $10 billion to the Postal Service on terms it helps set.
Mr. Mnuchin said on Friday that Treasury is working on a plan to put certain criteria for a Postal Service reform program as a condition for offering the loan. He also noted that a search is underway for a new postmaster general who will implement changes.
Hawaii is paying some tourists to go back home.
Hawaii has tried to discourage visitors during the coronavirus pandemic by requiring them to quarantine for 14 days.
Now, it is offering them a free return ticket home.
With a $25,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the nonprofit Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii has begun helping to return travelers who don’t have the means to follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine, which involves paying for lodging and food delivery.
Since starting the program on April 6, the organization has sent 20 visitors to their airports of origin, including travelers from Guam, Los Angeles, Denver and Birmingham, Ala.
“The majority of travelers we have sent back, in my opinion, have been irresponsible in traveling to Hawaii during the Covid-19 pandemic when they know we are trying to keep Hawaii safe from the spread of this disease,” said Jessica Lani Rich, the president and chief executive of the group. The organization typically provides visitor support, such as translation assistance.
Ms. Rich said some of the visitors being returned home told her they had been taking advantage of low airfares to travel.
Though visitor arrivals are down nearly 99 percent, some residents have reported seeing tourists on beaches despite quarantine restrictions and stay-at-home orders. All beaches in Hawaii are closed, though people may cross them to swim, paddle or surf while observing social distancing.
“I see maybe one or two tourists a day,” said Ryan Houser, a restaurant’s “fish sommelier” and Waikiki resident.
“It’s a little offensive,” he added. “I would love to go to the beach every single day if I could, but I want to minimize the Covid-19 spread and make sure the curve stays flat.”
Trump wants to make the commencement address, so West Point will summon its cadets back.
This was the year Mr. Trump was scheduled to deliver the commencement address at West Point, the only service academy where he has not spoken. Then the graduation was postponed because of the virus, the cadets were sent home and officials at the school were not sure when it would be held, or even whether it was a good idea to hold it.
Then, last Friday, the day before Vice President Mike Pence was to speak at the Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony in Colorado, Mr. Trump abruptly announced that he would, in fact, be speaking at West Point.
That was news to everyone, including officials at West Point, according to three people involved with or briefed on the event. The academy had been looking at the option of a delayed presidential commencement in June, but had yet to complete any plans. With Mr. Trump’s pre-emptive statement, they are now summoning 1,000 cadets scattered across the country to return to campus in New York, the state at the center of the outbreak.
“He’s the commander in chief, that’s his call,” said Sue Fulton, a West Point graduate and former chairwoman of the academy’s Board of Visitors. “Cadets are certainly excited about the opportunity to have something like the classic graduation, standing together, flinging their hats in the air.
“But everyone is leery about bringing 1,000 cadets into the New York metropolitan area for a ceremony,” she added. “It’s definitely a risk.”
Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the West Point superintendent, said in a telephone interview that returning seniors will be tested off-campus. Those who test negative will then be sent to the school, where they will be monitored for 14 days before graduation. While the campus has enough dormitory rooms for the 1,000 seniors, General Williams said that he was still deciding whether seniors would share bedrooms on their return.
“All 1,000 of them will not intermix,” he said. “They’ll be in their rooms. They’ll have their masks on. Groups will be segregated in the mess hall when they eat.”
Deaths in N.Y. fell to 422, the lowest one-day figure since April 1.
‘An Outbreak Anywhere Is an Outbreak Everywhere,’ Cuomo Says
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo provided New York’s latest coronavirus stats, and spoke about the lessons being learned from trying to contain the disease’s spread.
Luckily the disease did not go as high as they thought in the projections. You now have the corresponding question, how fast is the decline? How low is the decline? And again, the variable is going to be what we do — we change the projection on the way up, we can change the projection on the way down. So what is the lesson? An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. When you see in November and December an outbreak in China, just assume the next day it’s in the United States. What did we learn? How do we have a better health care system that can actually handle public health emergencies? How do we have a better transportation system, how do we have a smarter telemedicine system, how do we use technology in education better? The C.D.C. guidance says before any state should open, you need two weeks of flat or declining numbers, right? So by the feds’ C.D.C. guidance, we’re not there yet.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo provided New York’s latest coronavirus stats, and spoke about the lessons being learned from trying to contain the disease’s spread.CreditCredit…Cindy Schultz for The New York Times
Deaths from the virus continued their gradual descent, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday, with the state recording 422 more deaths, the smallest number since April 1. The official state death toll now stands at 16,162.
The number of virus patients in hospitals has fallen sharply, too, by more than 3,000 people since last Friday, according to statistics he cited. While polling places would remain open, he announced that he would direct the state Board of Election to send every voter a postage-paid application for an absentee ballot for the upcoming June 23 primary.
On Thursday, he described preliminary results showing that one of every five New York City residents has tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus, suggesting that the virus had spread far more widely than known.
If the pattern holds, the results from random testing of 3,000 people raised the prospect that many New Yorkers — as many as 2.7 million, the governor said — had been unwittingly infected. He added that such an elevated infection rate would seem to show that the death rate was far lower than believed. The results appear to conform with research from Northeastern University that indicated that the virus was circulating by early February in the New York area and other major cities. Thousands of people across the county have emailed The Times with accounts of their own experiences in January and February with illnesses that they think may have been the virus.
While the reliability of some early antibody tests has been questioned, researchers in New York have worked in recent weeks to develop and validate their own antibody tests, with federal approval. State officials believe that accurate antibody testing is a critical tool to help determine when and how to begin restarting the economy and sending people back to work.
A nation fights a pandemic: Take a look at some photos from the week.
CreditCredit…By The New York Times
Keep up with what else is happening around the world.
Reporting was contributed by Elaine Glusac, Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, Kim Barker, Alan Blinder, Eileen Sullivan, Michael Cooper, Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, William J. Broad, Sarah Mervosh, John Eligon, Dan Levin, J. David Goodman, Amy Julia Harris, Michael Rothfeld, Jim Tankersley, Ben Fenwich, Emily Cochrane, Miriam Jordan, Peter Baker, Denise Grady, Christine Hauser, Andy Newman, Frances Robles, Patricia Cohen, Richard Fausset, Amy Harmon, Carl Hulse, Rick Rojas, Simon Romero, Alan Rappeport, Thomas Fuller and Marc Santora.
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.
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.”