COVID-19 Daily Update: March 20, 2020

Washington, DC Announces First Coronavirus Death 

A 59-year old man is the first death of COVID-19 in Washington, DC.  He had an underlying medical condition and had developed a fever and a cough about a week ago and was admitted to a local hospital after testing positive for coronavirus.  

More than 200 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. 

President Trump Moves on Invoking Powers to Spur Virus Supplies

President Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to get needed medical supplies on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak and the private sector mobilized against it.

Trump had said earlier in the week he would tap the act as needed. He said Friday he has put that “in gear.”

Trump also announced an effective closure of the U.S. border with Mexico, prohibiting most travel except for trade. That brings it in line with the restriction on the Canadian border earlier this week. The U.S. is also suspending interest on student loans to help young people cope with job losses and the financial crunch.

As Virus Grips Nation, Advocates Move to Halt Evictions

President Donald Trump has announced a package that he says includes, “Immediate relief to renters and homeowners” by suspending evictions and foreclosures for 60 days. But the vast majority of renters, who are generally low income and disproportionately African American, Latino and other minorities, will not be covered. 

At least three dozen U.S. cities and states have put in place policies to halt evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs out of concern that economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis will push many families to the brink of homelessness.

U.S. housing advocates welcome the measures as good first steps but say people facing eviction and foreclosure prior to the virus outbreak will need much more than temporary forbearance to remain housed.

New York Joins California in Locking Down Against the Virus

New York state moved to join California on Friday in confining nearly all residents to their homes, as governors undertook their most sweeping efforts yet to contain the coronavirus and fend off the kind of onslaught of patients that has caused southern Europe to buckle.

“We’re going to close the valve, because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said as cases in the state climbed to more than 7,000 and the death toll reached at least 38.

Cuomo said that starting Sunday, all workers in nonessential businesses must stay home as much as possible and all gatherings of any size will be banned in the state of more than 19 million people. He acted after California all but confined its 40 million residents in the biggest lockdown in the nation.

Two Regional Airlines That Fly Feeder Flights for United, Delta and American Airlines will Halt Operations in the Next few Weeks, Marking the First U.S. Carriers to be Grounded by the Coronavirus Outbreak

The group representing these carriers, the Regional Airline Association, says the closures are only the beginning. The airline bailout bill, as currently written, won’t help small carriers, it said, and the sector could be wiped out by the crisis.

That would leave hundreds of smaller cities served only by regional jets with very limited air service — or perhaps none at all.

The carriers shutting down are Compass Airlines, which will halt its Delta Connection operations on April 1st and its American Eagle flights on April 7th. Trans States Airlines, which has common ownership with Compass, will shut its United Express operations on April 1st.

40 Million Californians Ordered to Stay Home to Halt Virus

California’s governor has issued stay-at-home orders for 40 million people in the most sweeping move of any state yet to curb the spread of the coronavirus. With half the state already under local stay-home requirements, on Thursday Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order, warning that unless the rise in cases of COVID-19 slows, it might overwhelm the state’s medical system. Newsom says people will be able to shop for food and seek medical care but should practice social distancing. In a letter to President Donald Trump, Newsom said the virus eventually could infect more than half the state’s population.

More Hopeful News from China

China recorded no new local coronavirus cases for the second day in a row, officials announced on Friday, as outbreak hotspots elsewhere remain inundated with patients.

The country recorded 39 cases of coronavirus on Thursday, all of which were imported from abroad, officials said. Three deaths were also recorded Thursday.

China has cracked down on new arrivals to the country in recent days, forcing many people into government-mandated quarantine in order to limit the spread of the virus and prevent new local clusters from emerging.

Trump’s Team, Senators to Negotiate $1T Economic Rescue Deal

Members of President Trump’s economic team will convene on Capitol Hill Friday to launch negotiations with Senate Republicans and Democrats racing to draft a $1 trillion-plus economic rescue package. It’s the biggest effort yet to shore up households and the U.S. economy as the pandemic and its nationwide shutdown hurtles the country toward a likely recession. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan would pump $1,200 checks directly to taxpayers, $300 billion to small businesses to keep idled workers on payroll and $208 billion in loans to industries. The negotiations are certain to encounter difficulties ahead, as some Republicans object and Democrats say it doesn’t go far enough.

Asian Stocks Rise After Wall Street Advance on aid Hopes

Asian stock markets are mostly higher after Wall Street gained on hopes government aid and central banks can shield the global economy against the rising impact of the coronavirus pandemic. On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose half a percent in a relatively modest change compared with violent price swings over the past week. Investors were encouraged after seeing more steps by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to support credit markets and the economy. Forecasters say a global recession looks increasingly likely.

Senators Sold Stock Before Steep Market Losses From Virus

Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler sold stocks worth millions of dollars shortly after senators received a private briefing on the novel coronavirus, weeks before fear over COVID-19 caused U.S. markets to plunge, the Daily Beast reported. The news came just hours after similar reports about North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr. Like the Georgia lawmaker, Burr had publicly insisted that the country was prepared to handle the outbreak and calls for both to resign poured in overnight from figures across the political spectrum.

Senate records show that Burr and his wife sold between roughly $600,000 and $1.7 million in more than 30 separate transactions in late January and mid-February. That was just before the market began to fall.

“This is a ridiculous and baseless attack,” Loeffler said on Twitter early on Friday.

According to the New York Times, two other senators, Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) and James M. Inhofe (R-Ok.) also sold significant holdings around the same time.

Olympic Flame Arrives in Japan

The Olympic flame has arrived in Japan from Greece and was greeted in a scaled-down ceremony at an air base in northern Japan. The flame touched down amid doubts if the Tokyo Games can open as scheduled on July 24th. Organizers and the IOC say it will, but postponement or cancellation is seen as a growing option.  The flame will stay in northern Japan for almost a week until the four-month torch relay begins officially on March 26th from the northern Fukushima prefecture. This is the northeastern part of Japan that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and meltdown of three nuclear reactors.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Tests Positive

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton told ESPN that he learned Thursday he has tested positive for the new coronavirus. Payton is the first employee of either an NFL team or the league to make such a diagnosis public. He tells the network he came forward to motivate people to educate themselves about what they can do to help fight the pandemic. Payton says he has not been admitted to a hospital and does not have a fever or cough. The 56-year-old coach says he has been resting comfortably at home, where is in in self-quarantine.

COVID-19 spreads within the NBA

The number of known coronavirus cases within the NBA has doubled to 14. Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics revealed that he tested positive and the Los Angeles Lakers said two of their players tested positive as well. The Philadelphia 76ers said three members of their organization tested positive and the Denver Nuggets said someone within their franchise was positive as well. 

In response, the NBA has told its teams to close their training and practice facilities to all players and staff starting Friday. The league says the shuttering will last indefinitely in the latest response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

What You Can Do to Keep Yourself and Your Family Healthy

  • Take everyday preventive actions to stay healthy.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

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