Coronavirus Live Updates: Job Losses in America Soar, Part of Global Economic Collapse
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Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times
With the coronavirus pandemic shuttering businesses and forcing vast layoffs, many economists are expecting that the United States will suffer an economic shock that rivals the Great Depression.
Another grim piece of news came on Thursday, when the Labor Department reported that about 6.6 million people filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the figure for the past two weeks to nearly 10 million.
The scale and speed of such losses have no precedent. Until last month, the worst week for U.S. unemployment filings was 695,000, in 1982.
“What usually takes months or quarters to happen in a recession is happening in a matter of weeks,” said Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The economic damage from the pandemic was initially concentrated in tourism, hospitality and related industries. But now the pain is spreading much more widely.
The Institute for Supply Management said on Wednesday that manufacturing, which had only recently begun to recover from last year’s trade war, was contracting again. Data from the employment site ZipRecruiter showed a steep drop in job postings even in sectors that are usually insulated from recessions, like education and health care.
As global coronavirus numbers approached one million detected infections and 50,000 deaths, the measures taken have yet to slow the pace of the pathogen’s spread in most countries.
But the economic and social consequences of closing down global business grew by the day.
And the threat to public health is also growing more acute.
From Florida, which joined other states telling people to stay at home, to Panama, where men and women were told to go out in public on alternating days, governments increased restrictions on the movement of people.
The United States leads the world in total cases, and an increasingly somber sounding President Trump said that he was considering steps once thought unimaginable, like banning some domestic flights.
“I am looking where flights are going into hot spots,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday evening. “Closing up every single flight on every single airline, that’s a very, very, very rough decision. But we are thinking about hot spots where you go from spot to spot, both hot. And we’ll let you know fairly soon.”
Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak
The virus has infected more than 946,000 people in at least 171 countries.
Nearly 2,400 people have died in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — half the national total. More than 1,300 of those deaths were in New York City.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that 12,000 Covid-19 patients hospitalized across New York State and more than 3,000 in intensive care, but that the health care system, while stretched, had not yet reached capacity.
He added, however, that he expected the state to reach that moment in seven to 21 days, though exactly when was, “the $64,000 question.”
With supplies dwindling, there might not be enough ventilators or other critical equipment, leaving doctors in New York to wrestle with the kind of agonizing choices confronting health care workers daily in Italy and Spain.
The U.S. government has nearly emptied its emergency stockpile of protective medical supplies like masks, gowns and gloves, a senior official said. Some states receiving desperately needed ventilators discovered that the machines did not work.
For weeks, people in Spain have been ordered to remain in their homes unless they had an urgent reason for going outside. But outside a social security office in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona on Thursday, hundreds of people said they had no choice but to join the line.
“I have one week left of savings to buy food for my family,” said Mafus Rohman, 33, who said he had opened a bar a week before Spain went into lockdown on March 14.
Mr. Rohman said if the owner of his apartment had not frozen the rent, he would have been on the streets with his wife and their 5-year-old twins. “I don’t have anything else but a huge loan to reimburse,” he said.
Similar scenes played out across the country, where more than 10,000 deaths have been reported. On Thursday, the country recorded its highest daily toll: 950 dead.
The unemployment numbers released on Thursday suggest that the impact on Spain’s work force could be greater than that of the 2008 financial crisis. Over 800,000 workers withdrew from the Spanish social security system in March, the highest monthly drop in modern history.
“The conscious decision not to take measures to protect production is leading us to a crisis without precedent,” said Daniel Lacalle, an economist who is forecasting that Spanish unemployment could reach 35 percent, up from 14 percent before the coronavirus outbreak.
Myrna Mosca, a 42-year-old housekeeper, waited in line with two friends for food credits. Ms. Mosca said her two employers had asked her to stop coming. “We’ve all been thrown into the unknown,” she said. “All of us.”
New Yorkers have watched in helpless fear as the coronavirus, with dizzying speed and ferocity, truly took hold of the city in recent days. With almost 1,400 dead, many have already lost someone in their circle — a co-worker, an old friend from high school, the parent of a child’s classmate. The parish priest, the elderly neighbor upstairs. A mother, a father.
The story is told in the numbers: There were 47,349 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in New York City as of Wednesday. But the reality of its reach is far worse — one study of cases in China suggested that up to 10 times the people who have tested positive may be infected, which would make the true number in the city close to half a million. And the apex is believed to still be weeks away.
The rising numbers have conversely shrunk the private worlds of some 8 million individual people. It is as if the microscopic enemy, once an abstract nuisance to many, something happening someplace else, seemed to be closing in, its arrival announced with the now-constant peal of the ambulance siren.
If the pandemic can be thought of as playing out in weeks — the week the restaurants closed, the week schools closed, stores closed — this has been the week its true grip was felt throughout the city.
“It is the great equalizer,” said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday at a briefing. “I don’t care how smart, how rich, how powerful you think you are. I don’t care how young, how old.”
Stay-at-home orders have nearly halted travel for most Americans, but people in Florida, the Southeast and other places that waited to enact such orders have continued to travel widely, potentially exposing more people as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates, according to an analysis of cellphone location data by The New York Times.
Where America Didn’t Stay Home Even as the Virus Spread
People in Florida and elsewhere continued to travel widely last week, potentially exposing more people to the coronavirus, phone data shows.
The divide in travel patterns, based on anonymous cellphone data from 15 million people, suggests that Americans in wide swaths of the West, Northeast and Midwest have complied with orders from state and local officials to stay home. Disease experts who reviewed the results say those reductions in travel — to less than a mile a day, on average, from about five miles — may be enough to sharply curb the spread of the coronavirus in those regions, at least for now.
As Britons planned to once again take to their balconies and gardens on Thursday to salute the National Health Service, the news that only 2,000 medical workers had been tested for the virus drew widespread outrage, underscoring the country’s struggles to ramp up its capabilities even as the death toll mounts.
Britain reported 563 deaths on Wednesday, the highest daily tally to date, raising the national toll to 2,352.
He said the country would be “massively increasing testing.”
“This is how we will unlock the coronavirus puzzle,” he said. “This is how we will defeat it in the end.”
Many have compared the limited response in Britain to Germany, where testing is widespread and the death rate is relatively low.
Chris Hopson, the chief executive of N.H.S. Providers, which represents hospitals in the National Health Service, told the BBC’s Radio 4 program Today that just 2,000 front-line health care workers had been tested for the virus and that Britain had the capacity to process only about 13,000 tests per day.
He cited shortages in swabs and the reagent needed to process the tests, and said in a statement posted to Twitter that testing capacity was “so constrained” that hospitals were asked to allocate only 15 percent of tests to staff.
The shortages have been a chronic global challenge as governments and health care providers scramble to obtain diagnostic kits, with major disparities in testing capacity. Much of Western Europe has found itself short of kits, and governors across the United States pleaded with the federal government for help in bolstering their own testing capacity.
Think of it as the world’s strictest ladies’ night.
The authorities in Panama, alarmed by widespread violations of its quarantine rules, have announced new restrictions, dependent on gender. Under rules that will be in place for the first 15 days of April, men and women will have separate days that they are permitted to leave their homes.
Women will be allowed outdoors on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Men will have Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Everyone is required to stay home on Sunday. The new rules will help the authorities keep tighter control over who is on the streets.
“The large number of people circulating outside their homes, despite the mandatory national quarantine, has led the national government to take more severe measures to protect the health of the population,” a government statement said.
The time of day one can go out was already limited by personal identification or passport number. If the last number on your ID is 7, you can go out between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. For the number 8, the window is 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The final window is 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the number 6. People over 60 have a special time slot between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Between March 19 and March 31, 5,339 people were arrested after violating the quarantine regulations, the Ministry of Public Security said.
As of Wednesday, Panama reported 1,317 confirmed coronavirus cases and 32 deaths.
A few weeks ago, a 911 call for “respiratory distress” would have sent emergency medical technicians — E.M.T.s — rushing into the building to examine the person and take vitals. Now with coronavirus infections sweeping through the region, the emergency medical workers of Paterson, a poor, industrial city in the penumbra of pandemic-stricken New York, are working in a new, upside-down reality: Don’t go in a home, don’t touch the patient and don’t take anyone to the hospital, unless absolutely necessary.
Day and night, ambulances crisscross the streets of Paterson, the eerie silence of a once-raucous city shredded by siren shrieks so pervasive it sounds as if the city is under attack.
Which, in a sense, it is.
With colossal public housing projects and families crammed into sagging, multiunit homes, Paterson is a densely populated city of nearly 148,000. These days, the city’s ambulance call volume, per capita, is as great as New York City’s, asserted Brian J. McDermott, the exhausted chief of the Fire Department.
There were 576 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Paterson as of late Wednesday afternoon, a number constantly rising. The emergency department at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson is being hammered with patients; the 650-bed hospital, currently handling about 100 Covid-19 cases, is searching for outside locations for more beds. Despite the efforts of the E.M.T.s to keep moderately ill people at home, nearly 80 percent of ambulance calls for suspected coronavirus have been serious enough to require transportation to the hospital.
The Paterson Fire Department allowed New York Times journalists to accompany a 12-hour shift of E.M.T. crews outfitted specifically to respond to potential Covid-19 cases. The grueling day offered a glimpse into the chaotic, risk-filled lives of emergency workers who are reaching directly into the jaws of the pandemic.
As the virus spreads across the world, reaching into every community, fears in Europe are growing that a major outbreak could erupt in makeshift camps that house thousands of migrants.
The Greek authorities on Thursday quarantined residents of a state facility for refugees after 20 people there tested positive for the coronavirus. Officials conducted tests after a woman at the facility in Ritsona, which hosts around 2,600 people, tested positive for the virus after giving birth at a hospital in Athens.
It was the confirmed coronavirus infection among the tens of thousands of migrants living in camps across Greece. Residents will now be restricted to the area for two weeks while access to health workers will be limited.
Restrictions were imposed last month on migrant camps on the Aegean Islands, notably the Moria facility on Lesbos, which has around 20,000 people, 10 times its intended capacity. Notis Mitarakis, the Greek migration minister, told Greek radio on Thursday that migrants would be segregated in the event of an outbreak.
Migrants on the Greek islands are particularly vulnerable to the spread of the virus, as they live in cramped conditions with little sanitation, and medical charities have called for their evacuation.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday night called for moving the Democratic National Convention from mid-July to August, making him the most prominent member of his party to say the convention must be rescheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“I doubt whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July, early July,” Mr. Biden told Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show.” “I think it’s going to have to move into August.”
Mr. Fallon had not asked Mr. Biden about the convention’s timing. The former vice president was responding to a question about how the virus would affect the election.
Katie Peters, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Convention Committee, said after Mr. Biden’s remarks that she expected the committee to reveal more details about changes to convention plans by the end of this week.
Your home is currently serving as a work space, living space and possibly a school and playground. It wasn’t designed for all these disparate tasks, but there are things you can do to make your home more comfortable for you and your family in these times.
No sooner had Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel ventured out of quarantine, than he was back in on Thursday, as the country and its high officials scrambled to keep up with the spread of the coronavirus, particularly among the country’s ultra-Orthodox population.
Mr. Netanyahu was supposed to have ended a three-day period of self-isolation on Wednesday night after an aide, Rivka Paluch, his adviser on parliamentary and ultra-Orthodox affairs, was found to have contracted the virus.
But overnight Israel’s health minister, Yaakov Litzman, tested positive, as did his wife. That sent Mr. Netanyahu back into quarantine until April 8, according to a statement from his office. It added that the period of quarantine was in line with Ministry of Health guidelines, which mandates 14 days of isolation, to be calculated from the last day of contact with an infected person. Mr. Netanyahu has already tested negative twice.
Israel has more than 6,000 known cases and at least 32 deaths. Israelis are on lockdown, other than for essential work or errands.
In a televised address on Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu said restrictions would be tightened on movement to and from Bnei Brak, a largely ultra-Orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv, where the rate of infection has raised alarms. The police set up roadblocks in the town on Thursday and questioned drivers.
Mr. Netanyahu has looked a bit worn down in his recent television appearances, but explained that he had to do his own hair and makeup.
More than 1,200 U.S. military personnel and their family members are affected by coronavirus, leaving the Defense Department virtually at war with itself over two competing instincts: protecting troops from the virus and continuing its decades-old mission of patrolling the globe and engaging in combat, if ordered to do so.
The Navy is thus far refusing to completely evacuate an aircraft carrier where 93 service members have been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper has put himself on the side of business as usual in maintaining readiness while also saying that force protection is a top priority. President Trump, for his part, threatened a familiar foe, tweeting on Wednesday that Iran would “pay a very heavy price” if its proxies attacked American troops or assets in Iraq. Other Defense Department officials continued to insist that the aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, remain ready to carry out its missions.
The commander of the Roosevelt, Capt. Brett E. Crozier, pointed out in a strongly worded letter that “we are not at war.” That statement raised questions from the Pacific to the Pentagon of what was so important about the aircraft carrier’s presence off the coast of Guam that the Defense Department could not evacuate the ship and do a deep cleaning, as suggested by Captain Crozier.
U.S. warships typically spend months at sea monitoring the activities of adversaries. The ships assigned to the Pacific Fleet patrol the South China Sea, the East China Sea and areas in between, sometimes undertaking so-called freedom of navigation operations that bring them close to disputed islands in the area. The goal of these voyages is to drive home to China that the United States does not recognize Beijing’s claims of ownership.
American warships in the region are also keeping an eye on the nuclear and missile threat from North Korea. And they sit ready to deploy to the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf if tensions — with, say, Iran — flare up.
But for the moment, the virus has proved far more damaging than any recent encounters with traditional adversaries and exposed a vulnerability of a force often referred to as the world’s policeman. For all the focus on the battles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the power conflict with China and Russia, none has come close to crippling an American aircraft carrier in days.
The Pentagon said on Wednesday it would send 540 additional troops to the Southwest border to counter any potential flow of migrants who are infected with the coronavirus.
Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson of the military’s Northern Command told reporters on Wednesday that the deployment would be happening “very soon.”
Among the many questions raised amid the coronavirus pandemic is whether healthy people should wear a mask when they’re outside.
While masks were a common sight across East Asia long before the coronavirus outbreak — worn for a variety of reasons — the official advice from both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been that only the sick or their caregivers should wear masks. But those guidelines may be shifting, and some local officials are moving to get in front of a rule change.
Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles urged residents on Wednesday to use face coverings when in public.
Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor, wrote on Twitter on Monday that masks would be handed out at supermarket entrances, and that it was mandatory for shoppers to wear them.
Covering the nose and mouth in public has been required in the Czech Republic since last month. The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babis, addressed President Trump on Twitter on Sunday, asking the American leader to follow the Czech example.
The president of Slovakia, who made waves on social media last month for wearing fashionable face masks that matched her clothes on official engagements, has also made facial protection in public mandatory. Officials in Jena, a city in eastern Germany, said on Monday that protective masks should be worn inside shops and on local transport, among other places.
Reporting was contributed by Elian Peltier, Megan Specia, Marc Santora, Damien Cave, Austin Ramzy, Michael Wilson, Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Eric Schmitt, Jan Hoffman, Keith Collins, David Yaffe-Bellany, Andrew Das, Maya Salam, Ana Swenson, Raphael Minder, Iliana Magra, Ben Casselman, Isabel Kershner and Niki Kitsantonis.