Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Borders With Mexico and Canada to Close This Weekend


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The U.S. Coronavirus Task Force holds a news conference about the Covid-19 outbreak.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

At a White House briefing on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that border closures to non-essential travelers from Canada and Mexico would go into effect at midnight on Saturday.

Mr. Pompeo also reiterated that the State Department had implemented a Level 4 travel advisory warning Americans against traveling abroad. He said U.S. citizens “should arrange immediate return” unless they intend to remain abroad for an extended time. “If you choose to travel, it may well be fairly disruptive,” he said.

President Trump said that the Education Department would suspend standardized testing for schools across the country, and that interest on federally held student loans would be suspended.

Mr. Trump said that Mr. Pompeo would be outlining a new initiative “having to do with the border,” and suggested that immigration would strain health care systems.

“During a global pandemic they threaten to create a public storm that would spread the infection to our border agents, migrants and the public at large,” Mr. Trump said, referring to people seeking to enter the country.

Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo used the term “Chinese virus,” continuing their efforts to rename a virus that causes a disease public health experts purposely named Covid-19 to avoid the spread of blame and xenophobia. On Thursday, a Washington Post photographer took an image of Mr. Trump’s speech materials on the White House podium that showed the word “coronavirus” crossed out and “Chinese” replaced in Sharpie.

Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told New Yorkers to stay indoors as much as possible and ordered all nonessential businesses to keep all their workers home in a wide-ranging executive order, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state jumped to over 7,000.

Here are the highlights of his executive order, which takes effect Sunday:

  • Healthy people under 70 years old should limit their outside activity to getting groceries and medicine, but are allowed to exercise and walk outside, as long as they stay six feet away from others.

  • Mass transit will keep operating but people should not use it unless it’s absolutely necessary. Roads will stay open.

  • Nonessential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason are banned.

  • Stronger restrictions for people 70 years of age and older, people with compromised immune systems and people with underlying illnesses include wearing masks when in the company of others not visiting households with multiple people.

  • Businesses considered nonessential must keep all of their workforce at home, which effectively means that if the business depends on a physical location, it must close.

  • Essential businesses that can remain open include: grocers and restaurants, health care providers, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, banks, hardware stores, laundromats and cleaners, child-care providers, auto repair, utilities, warehouses and distributors, plumbers and other skilled contractors, animal-care providers, transportation providers, construction companies and many kinds of manufacturers.

  • Any businesses violating the order would be fined and forced to close. The state does not plan to fine individuals who violated the regulations, Mr. Cuomo said.

“These provisions will be enforced,” the governor said at a briefing in Albany. “These are not helpful hints.” They will take effect Sunday night.

Mr. Cuomo said the state would not shut down public transportation, and he did not suggest roads would be closed.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City has pushed for days for a “shelter in place” order and the governor has repeatedly dismissed the idea, saying he would not quarantine New Yorkers in their homes.

On Friday, Mr. Cuomo chafed at calling this new order a “shelter in place” order, saying that term evoked active shooter situations and nuclear war.

“Words matter,” he said.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases stood at 7,102 on Friday morning, 4,408 of them in New York City, Mr. Cuomo said.

New York State, with only 6 percent of the country’s population, accounts for around half of the nationwide total of confirmed cases.

New York performed 10,000 tests overnight, bringing the total number of people tested in the state to 32,427. About 1,250 people are hospitalized, an 18 percent hospitalization rate, the governor said.

Mr. Cuomo said New York was now testing more people per capita than China or South Korea.

Mr. Trump and his advisers are resisting calls from some local officials and Democrats to use a federal law to mobilize industry to provide urgently needed resources to help halt the spread of the coronavirus.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city was weeks away from running out of crucial supplies, with doctors and nurses running out of the protective gear they need and hospitals facing shortages of lifesaving ventilators even as the number of critically ill coronavirus patients increases each day.

“In two weeks time or three weeks time, we will have nothing left, and I have not gotten a hint of an answer from the federal government about when these supplies are coming,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Medical leaders in Washington State, which has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the country, have begun preparing a bleak triage strategy to determine which patients may have to be denied complete medical care in the event that the health system becomes overwhelmed in the coming weeks.

Fearing a shortage of supplies, including ventilators, state officials and hospital leaders held a conference call on Wednesday night to discuss the plans, according to several people involved in the talks. The triage document, still under consideration, will assess factors such as age, health and likelihood of survival in determining who will get access to full care and who will merely be provided comfort care, with the expectation that they will die.

The coast-to-coast debates and deliberations have fueled criticism of Mr. Trump for not utilizing the Defense Production Act, a law the president invoked this week that gives him extraordinary powers to compel private industry to produce critically needed supplies and equipment.

“He should get the hell out of the way and let the military do its job,” Mr. de Blasio said.

But some of Mr. Trump’s advisers have suggested that he is reluctant to use the law’s powers, saying privately that they are adhering to a longstanding conservative view of federal small government, a view that has been reflected in the president’s public remarks — and which reflects the administration’s conflicted view of how it should handle a situation that the president declared a national emergency.

“First of all, governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work, and they are doing a lot of this work,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Thursday. “The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk.”

On Friday morning, the Senate’s top Democrat said Mr. Trump was responsive to growing calls to force the production of needed supplies. Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said he had spoken with the president and urged him to invoke the act. The president “told Schumer he would, and yelled to someone in his office to do it now,” according to Justin Goodman, the senator’s spokesman.

On Friday, Mr. Trump said he had done more to use the law’s powers.

“Last night we put it into gear,” Mr. Trump said without immediately elaborating on which industries had been called upon to produce supplies. Mr. Trump instead said that the government had stood up a national control center to coordinate response efforts.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday that Tax Day would be moved to July 15, giving Americans an additional three months to file their income tax returns.

Mr. Mnuchin said that the decision was made at the direction of President Trump.

The Treasury Department had already allowed individuals and companies to defer tax payments to July 15, but said that they were required to file their returns on April 15 as usual.

Mr. Mnuchin has said the delay will inject $300 billion of temporary liquidity into the U.S. economy. But he encouraged anyone expecting a refund to file sooner rather than later.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said Friday that he aimed to reach a bipartisan agreement in principle by the end of the day on a sweeping $1 trillion economic stabilization plan to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

If Mr. McConnell gets his wish, the Senate could vote on the legislation by Monday.

He outlined his timeline after a brief bipartisan huddle on Capitol Hill with Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, a number of top committee leaders in the Senate, as well as Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic adviser, and other Trump administration officials.

There is broad agreement on the need for the rescue package, which would be the third round of emergency aid Congress has considered this month to confront the crisis.

But Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided over the details, including which Americans should receive direct payments from the government, how much paid leave employers should have to cover for workers, and what form of assistance to provide to small and large businesses.

Mr. McConnell introduced a bill on Thursday that would send checks of up to $1,200 to taxpayers who earn up to $99,000 and offer large corporate tax cuts and loans for businesses and industries. It would also impose curbs on an emergency coronavirus paid leave program enacted this week.

Following the bipartisan meeting, the senators divided into smaller, bipartisan groups to hash out disagreements over the text, which Democratic leaders had complained favored corporations over workers.

“Senator McConnell’s bill is not pro-worker at all — it puts corporations ahead of people,” Mr. Schumer said. “We need workers first.” But he added of the negotiation, “We must make it work, and we will.”

Spain on Friday became the second European nation to register more than 1,000 deaths, and officials warned that the country’s health care system could soon be overwhelmed even as doctors were already being forced to choose which patients to save.

“Admitting someone may mean denying the entry to someone else who may benefit more,” a Spanish organization that represents intensive care providers wrote in a report released on Thursday. It recommended prioritizing patients with more than two years of life expectancy, and taking “social value” into account.

“The health situation in Madrid is critical,” said Ángela Hernández, the deputy secretary general of Amyts, an association of doctors in Madrid, which so far has accounted for most of the 1,000 deaths nationwide. She listed several problems, including shortages of protective gear for health care workers and a lack of ambulances.

“There’s a saturation of emergency services,” she said. “We’re no longer in a phase of health alert, but instead of alarm.”

In the Catalonia region, hospital patients are being housed in hotels. Some hospitals in the Basque region have now dedicated most floors to coronavirus cases.

Italy registered 1,000 deaths a week ago, and this week it surpassed China in nationwide fatalities, with more than 3,400 deaths so far. Across Europe, hospitals are racing to prepare for an influx of coronavirus patients that experts say will swell in the next week.

Health officials in Germany are attempting to increase the country’s capacity of 28,000 intensive care beds by setting up temporary hospitals in empty rehabilitation clinics, hotels and trade fair halls.

Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute for public health, warned that Germany was facing “exponential growth” and a similar situation to the one seen in Italy.

France has called in the military to build temporary hospitals even as health care workers have warned that they do not have enough protective gear, including face masks.

In Britain, letters are being sent to thousands of former doctors and nurses asking them to rejoin the National Health Service.

Doctors in Spain said they were increasingly unable to treat older patients in intensive care units.

“We have to choose whom we intubate,” said one doctor working in an emergency room in Madrid, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to comment publicly. “We can’t use it on everyone any more.”

Wall Street posted small gains on Friday, and global financial markets looked set to finish a tumultuous week on a more positive note.

The S&P 500 rose nearly 1 percent in early trading, extending a small gain from Thursday.

Investors, who have been rattled by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, were encouraged by fresh measures to shore up economies worldwide. In the United States, Senate Republicans presented a $1 trillion economic stimulus bill. The Federal Reserve continued its swift action with a plan to support money market funds and extend currency swap lines to nine countries in an attempt to keep dollars around the world.

News of European Central Bank’s massive bond-buying program also appeared to cheer investors, who piled money into exchanges in Europe, sending stocks in Paris and Frankfurt up more than 3 percent. In London, the FTSE 100 was up nearly 2 percent.

“The pledged policy response has been swift — and we expect total fiscal stimulus to be similar in size to that of the financial crisis but in a shorter time frame,” wrote analysts at BlackRock Investment Institute, a research arm of the world’s biggest money manager.

The rally comes after the worst week for U.S. markets in decades, and a month of selling that has brought major benchmarks back to levels last seen in 2017. A relentless barrage of troubling economic developments has battered stocks, bonds and oil prices.

The Labor Department on Thursday reported a surge in unemployment claims, one of the largest spikes on record. But Goldman Sachs analysts estimated in a research note that the claims for the week of March 15-21, which will be reported next Thursday, could be above two million.

The peril posed by the twin scourges of pestilence and material ruin brought on by the swift advance of the coronavirus deepened on Friday as the global death toll hit 10,000 and jobless numbers soared.

On both sides of the Atlantic, policymakers struggled to find an effective response for both a public health disaster and a growing economic crisis.

California extended its “shelter in place” orders to all 40 million residents of the state, saying people should leave their homes only for essential business. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has expressed his dislike of the term, but with more than 5,200 confirmed cases — the highest in the nation — the state has asked for much the same thing.

The State Department warned Americans not to leave the country, and said that citizens who are already abroad should either return home or stay where they are.

A Senate debate over a $1 trillion relief package was hamstrung by the kind of partisan division that had largely paralyzed Congress before the pandemic.

Economists warned that the suspension of ordinary commerce was already savaging businesses and producing record levels of job losses.

The Labor Department reported a 30 percent increase in unemployment claims last week, one of the largest spikes on record. The department also asked state officials not to release precise figures, according to an email reviewed by The New York Times.

And as countries around the world try to confront a crisis within their own borders, there has been a creeping sense that nationalistic interests are also at work.

Vaccine trials are underway in the United States, Europe and China. While there is cooperation, governments will try to ensure that their own people are the first in line. And an effective vaccine is likely to be 12 to 18 months away, public health experts say.

The immediate challenge remained trying to slow the spread of the virus, and limit the corresponding surge of patients that could overwhelm health systems, as happened in China and Italy.

The death toll in Italy, which has 64 million people, surpassed China’s, with a population of 1.4 billion, raising profound questions about the effectiveness of restricting movement in Western democracies unable to enforce those measures with the efficiency of an authoritarian regime.

With other European countries seeing exponential increases in confirmed cases, officials said it was only a matter of days before hospitals throughout the continent would begin to be overwhelmed.

Germany has 14,000 confirmed infections and 31 deaths. Starting at midnight, residents across the southern state of Bavaria will no longer be allowed to leave their homes without a justifiable reason such as grocery shopping or caring for a relative — but only alone or with family members.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Thursday ordered all 40 million Californians to stay at home as much as possible in the coming weeks as the state confronts an escalating coronavirus outbreak. Mr. Newsom made the announcement from the state’s emergency operations center in Sacramento, which normally coordinates responses to wildfires and earthquakes, and spoke in stark terms of the risk the virus poses to the population.

Mr. Newsom cited a model used by state planners suggesting that more than 25 million Californians could be infected over eight weeks. “This is not a permanent state, this is a moment in time,” he said. “We will look back at these decisions as pivotal.”

Several counties in the Bay Area, plus Sacramento, had already issued similar orders, although there are several exceptions such as buying groceries or picking up prescriptions. Those exceptions also apply to the state order.

The restrictions came as cases in the United States surged past 10,000 on Thursday, prompting sweeping action from other state leaders who had previously been reluctant to order imposing changes to daily life.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott declared a public health disaster for the first time since 1901 and issued an executive order stopping dine-in service at restaurants and bars. The order also called for closing schools, and a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people statewide.

Florida’s southernmost county, which includes the Florida Keys, ordered all of its hotels to close. The move, at the height of the state’s tourism season, is expected to deal a severe blow to the local economy.

The state government had previously told nonessential businesses in New York City to keep 75 percent of their workers home, bringing one of the busiest cities in the world to a grinding halt. On Friday, cases in New York State topped 7,000, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo told all residents to stay indoors as much as possible and ordered all nonessential businesses to keep workers home.

Luca di Pietro, who owns five restaurants in Manhattan, described the pain of telling his staff that his restaurants would be closing.

“There is no money, there is no money to pay salaries,” he said, becoming emotional. “It pains me greatly to let people down.”

Chinese health experts visiting Italy warned that the country may not be taking the stringent lockdown measures seriously enough, even as outside aid groups begin to set up systems to lend support.

The number of coronavirus deaths in Italy passed the total for China on Thursday. And as new infections in China continued to drop, numbers across Europe have exploded.

On a visit to Milan, the vice president of the Chinese Red Cross, Sun Shuopeng, chided Italians for not taking restrictive measures more seriously. The situation in the northern region of Lombardy region, which has been hit hardest by the outbreak, echoed that in Wuhan, China, during the peak of its epidemic, he said.

Italy was the first Western country to introduce lockdown measures, following the model established by the Chinese government. But Mr. Sun said the Italian authorities had not gone far enough.

In Milan, public transportation was still moving, and people were still on the streets.

“We need to close the town,” Mr. Sun added, prompting Attilio Fontana, the president of Lombardy, to nod vigorously. Mr. Fontana has been pushing the national government to adopt stricter lockdown measures.

With hospitals overwhelmed, aid groups have also begun setting up in Italy. Samaritan’s Purse, the international Christian relief agency, opened a field hospital on Friday in Cremona to deal with the overflow patients.

Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs and government relations for the aid group, described the situation in the region as “horrific” and “a raging fire.”

The agency had already sent equipment and disaster relief personnel, including doctors and nurses to work with the Italian medical staff.

“They’re so exhausted,” Mr. Isaacs said of the medical workers. “We’ve brought some hope.”

Reaching out to provide assistance or charity in this trying time can ease your own anxiety too. Consider supporting local businesses, safely donating blood or reaching out in more creative ways.

A global arms race for a coronavirus vaccine is underway.

In the three months since the virus began its deadly spread, China, Europe and the United States have all set off at a sprint to become the first to produce a vaccine. But while there is cooperation on many levels — including among companies that are ordinarily fierce competitors — hanging over the effort is the shadow of a nationalistic opportunity for the winner to potentially gain the upper hand in dealing with the economic and geostrategic fallout from the crisis.

What began as a question of scientific accolades, the patents and ultimately the revenue from a successful vaccine have become a broader issue of urgent national security. And behind the scramble is a harsh reality: Any vaccine that proves potent against the coronavirus is sure to be in short supply as governments try to ensure that their own people are first in line.

In China, 1,000 scientists are at work on a vaccine, and the issue has already been militarized: Researchers affiliated with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences have developed what is considered the nation’s front-runner candidate for success and is recruiting volunteers for clinical trials.

President Trump has talked with pharmaceutical executives about making sure a vaccine is produced on American soil, to assure the United States controls its supplies. German government officials said they believed he tried to lure a German company, CureVac, to do its research and production in the United States.

The company has denied it received a takeover offer, but its lead investor made clear that some kind of approach had been made.

Hong Kong saw its biggest daily jump in confirmed coronavirus infections on Friday, as the city grappled with a second wave of cases in travelers returning from abroad as well as some local transmissions.

The city reported 48 new infections on Friday, bringing its total to 256. Most new patients had recently traveled to Europe, North America or Southeast Asia, a spokeswoman for the department of health said at a news conference Friday.

The sudden spike in Hong Kong came as Taiwan confirmed 27 new cases and its second death from the coronavirus on Friday. Singapore also saw a record high of 47 new infections on Wednesday, driven by imported cases as residents returned from overseas.

Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong have been lauded for their strategies in keeping the epidemics at bay, but health officials and residents are gearing up for a longer fight.

The Hong Kong health authorities are also looking into a string of cases potentially linked to the nightlife district of Lan Kwai Fong, which includes many bars and gyms and is popular with expatriates. Several restaurants in the city have begun to refuse entry to anyone who has traveled abroad in the past 14 days.

Cathay Pacific, the main Hong Kong airline, said on Friday it would scrap 96 percent of its passenger flights in April and May as the pandemic brought travel to a virtual shutdown. HK Express, a low-cost carrier owned by Cathay, plans to suspend all flight operations from March 23 to April 30.

The health authorities in Australia are trying to track down thousands of passengers who left a Princess Cruise ship in Sydney on Thursday after four people tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Three passengers, one of whom is in serious condition, and one crew member from the Ruby Princess were confirmed to have the virus.

The ship tested 13 people who displayed symptoms but allowed 2,700 passengers to disembark before the results were known. Of the known cases, one person was a passenger who was not tested onboard but later visited a hospital after feeling sick.

The ship, which was traveling from New Zealand to Australia, has been quarantined off the eastern coast of Australian with about 1,100 crew members on board.

In a signal that Japan believes it may be over the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated that the nation’s schools, closed since the beginning of March, could reopen in April.

Mr. Abe shocked Japan’s teachers and parents late last month when he abruptly asked all schools in the country to close, disregarding the advice of experts and circumventing the Education Ministry. On Friday, he said he was requesting that the ministry draw up plans to reopen the schools for the start of the school year, which begins in April in Japan.

A panel of epidemiological experts released a report on Thursday saying they could not determine if the school closures had been effective in helping to slow the spread of infections.

“We don’t have a scientific conclusion,” said Hiroshi Nishiura, a professor at the Hokkaido University medical school who specializes in modeling infectious diseases. “We don’t know the effectiveness of school closure.”

The peace agreement in Afghanistan, already stalled by delays in the release of Taliban prisoners and by a political stalemate in Kabul, is increasingly being defined and constricted by the coronavirus crisis.

The U.S. peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, fired off a series of Twitter posts this week that cited the coronavirus as both an impediment to negotiations and a reason to urgently resolve political differences.

“It’s time for Afghans to compromise,” one of Mr. Khalilzad’s posts read. In another, he wrote, “coronavirus makes prisoner releases urgent.”

Mr. Khalilzad also acknowledged that disruptions triggered by coronavirus measures have made face-to-face negotiations increasingly difficult.

“Coronavirus and the resulting travel restrictions likely requires virtual engagement now,” he wrote.

Already, President Ashraf Ghani, 70, is spending time in self-imposed isolation in his private residence at the palace complex in Kabul. The palace Facebook site posted photos of Mr. Ghani alone at home, conferring with cabinet ministers and aides by video link.

Reporting and research were contributed by Michael Cooper, Alan Blinder, Katie Rogers, Maggie Haberman, Emily Cochrane, Andy Newman, Kenneth P. Vogel, Catie Edmondson, Jesse Drucker, Raphael Minder, Elaine Yu, Motoko Rich, Elian Peltier, Megan Specia, Marc Santora, Elisabetta Povoledo, Katie Robertson, Aurelien Breeden, Melissa Eddy, Edward Wong, David E. Sanger, David D. Kirkpatrick, Sui-Lee Wee, Katrin Bennhold, Richard Pérez-Peña, Tim Arango, Jill Cowan, Jim Tankersley, Alan Rappeport, Maya Salam, David Zucchino, Isabella Kwai and Dan Barry.