Coronavirus Live Updates: Global Leaders Beg Public to Stay Home; Fed Vows to Buy as Much Debt as Needed

[ad_1]

The Indian authorities are grounding all domestic flights and putting most of the country, the world’s second most populous, in full lockdown.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India remains relatively low — about 400 — but the government wants to lock things down before the virus spikes in the densely populated country. It has steadily tightened restrictions, first ending all international flights and now grounding domestic ones, starting Wednesday at midnight.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted an urgent appeal on Twitter on Monday: “Many people are still not taking the lockdown seriously,” he said. “Please, save yourself, save your family, follow the instructions seriously.”

In New Delhi, the capital, the front page of all major newspapers featured a full-page announcement outlining the new restrictions. They reminded residents that the country has a long history of fighting disease, reaching back to the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 that was instituted in British-occupied India to combat the bubonic plague. The law has been used to combat outbreaks of swine flu, cholera and malaria.

But nothing on this scale has been tried before, and there was some confusion as to the scope of the new edict. For instance, food stores were supposed to be exempted, but in some neighborhoods the police ordered small grocery stores to close.

India was one of the first nations to essentially shut its borders, canceling visas and denying entry to all but a few foreigners. But the containment measures have been imperfect, and fear has started to spread.

The government, hoping that aggressive and swift action will spare the nation, is offering a clear slogan: “Say No to Panic, Say Yes to Precautions.”

The Federal Reserve said it would buy as much government-backed debt as it needs to keep financial markets functioning, and unrolled a series of programs meant to shore up both large and small businesses — a whatever-it-takes effort to cushion the economic blow of the pandemic.

“Aggressive efforts must be taken across the public and private sectors to limit the losses to jobs and incomes and to promote a swift recovery once the disruptions abate,” the central bank said in a statement on Monday, adding that the Fed was “using its full range of authorities to provide powerful support for the flow of credit to American families and businesses.”

The Fed this month resurrected a huge bond-buying program — last used in response to the 2008 financial crisis — saying that it would spend $700 billion on Treasury securities and $200 billion in mortgage-backed debt. On Monday, the central bank said it would not limit its purchases, instead buying “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning.”

Wall Street fell on Monday even after the Fed unveiled its expansive new bond-buying program. The S&P 500 was down about 1 percent in early trading.

Markets stumbled on the news that a political stalemate in the Senate had slowed a rescue plan for the U.S. economy. Senate Democrats on Sunday blocked action on an emerging deal to prop up the economy, halting the progress of a nearly $2 trillion government rescue package. They contended that the legislation failed to adequately protect workers or impose strict enough restrictions on bailed-out businesses.

Major indexes in Germany, Britain and France were lower, and most Asian markets also closed down.

As countries around the world grapple with shortages in protective equipment, health care workers in Spain are confronting the risks posed by the coronavirus. Doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers make up 12 percent of the country’s coronavirus cases, which by Monday totaled nearly 33,000, including 2,200 deaths.

“A nurse cannot work without protection,” Teresa Galindo, who leads a union that represents nurses in the Madrid region, said, adding that she never thought the health service’s resources “could be stretched so far to the limit.”

Videos shared on social media show dire conditions at hospitals in the region, with coughing patients lying on the floor or on beds in corridors, many hooked up to oxygen tanks, as overwhelmed health professionals shuffle past.

“There are people without rooms, sitting in plastic chairs for more than 30 hours,” Javier García, a union representative, told the newspaper El Mundo.

Hotels and exhibition centers are being converted into field hospitals. The aid organization Doctors Without Borders has set up a 100-bed unit on a university campus in Madrid, and the army is deploying to take patients to hospitals and alleviate the burden on the health sector.

Spain is also racing to cope with a shortage of tests, so the number of infected may be far higher than the reported caseload. Hundreds of thousands of new test kits will be handed out in the coming days, the authorities say, and health professionals will be the first to be tested.

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts on Monday ordered all nonessential businesses to close for two weeks, beginning Tuesday — though he emphasized that this was not a shelter-at-home order for the state’s nearly seven million residents.

“I do not believe I can or should order U.S. citizens to be confined to their home for days on end,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense from a public health point of view, and it’s not realistic.”

Governors from several states have issued urgent pleas for assistance from the federal government as they brace for an influx of coronavirus patients. At the same time, concerns remain about protecting the public, including older people and those with underlying health conditions.

Washington State, which has already endured a nursing home outbreak linked to 35 deaths, is now dealing with another facility with dozens of infections. The Whatcom County Health Department said on Sunday night it had identified 32 infections, including one death, associated with Shuksan Healthcare Center, a nursing and rehabilitation facility in Bellingham. Officials said that 26 of the infections were residents and six of them were employees.

Early last week, the White House released guidelines — effective for 15 days — urging Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and recommending that people work from home, avoid unnecessary shopping trips and refrain from eating in restaurants.

Many states and cities have since imposed even stricter measures, with one in four people in America now under some form of restricted movement.

The point of locking down entire cities and nations has been to give health care systems time to gear up so they do not find themselves overwhelmed by a surge of patients. And as the number of known cases in the United States crossed 31,700, governors from multiple states warned that they were still not ready.

Mr. Trump said that major disaster declarations were in process for New York, California and Washington — the three states hardest hit by the virus — and that they would not have to pay for deploying National Guard units.

Mr. Trump also said he had directed FEMA to supply four large federal medical stations with 1,000 beds for New York, eight stations with 2,000 beds for California, and seven stations with 1,000 beds for the state of Washington. The stations for New York, to be built in Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, were announced earlier in the day by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Many state and local officials have pressed Mr. Trump to use his authority under the Defense Production Act to mobilize industry to manufacture scarce goods. At the news conference on Sunday, Mr. Trump defended his decision not to do so.

“Call a person over in Venezuela,” he said. “Ask them: How did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well. The concept of nationalizing our businesses is not a good concept.”

Senators and senior Trump administration officials were scrambling on Monday to strike a deal on a $1.8 trillion measure to bolster the economy, after Democrats blocked action on the package on Sunday, demanding stronger protections for workers and restrictions for bailed-out businesses.

The vote on Sunday shook markets around the globe and threatened to derail bipartisan talks that had yielded substantial compromises over the outlines of the package, which is emerging as the largest economic stimulus measure in modern history.

“We need this to pass today,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Fox Business Network on Monday, just before heading to Capitol Hill to meet with Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, to try to cement a deal.

Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Schumer met late into the night on Sunday after the failed vote, but did not come to terms.

The Democratic leader told reporters shortly after midnight that the bill as currently written would give bailouts to major corporations without accountability and that it would not provide enough funding to health care workers on the front lines.

“This bill is going to affect this country and the lives of Americans — not just for the next few days, but in the next few months and years,” Mr. Schumer said, “so we have to make sure it is good.”

He said he hoped to have a compromise bill ready on Monday.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has scheduled three procedural votes at noon Eastern in an effort to intensify pressure on Democrats to cement an agreement.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia said on Sunday that if people didn’t comply with social distancing measures, he was ready to introduce “far more draconian measures,” after crowds thronged Australia’s beaches over the weekend.

“Do what is right for our country,” Chancellor Angela Merkel told people in Germany on Sunday, after introducing measures that limit groups in public to just two people, aside from families — at a safe distance. “Show reason and heart,” she said.

As increasingly drastic restrictions are introduced across the world, leaders are making it abundantly clear that while many people are complying, in order for social distancing to work, everyone has to limit interactions.

Local leaders in some Italian towns and regions have taken to the streets to demand that residents return home and called out those who fail to adhere.

Vincenzo De Luca, the president of the regional government of Campania, issued a threat in a video message to those planning to throw graduation: “We will send the police over, with flamethrowers.”

In some places, fines have been introduced for people who break the rules. In the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, people who unnecessarily leave their homes can face fines of up to 25,000 euros, about $26,700.

Alain Thirion, a top security official at France’s interior ministry, told reporters in Paris on Sunday that the police had carried out checks on over 1.7 million people and that over 90,000 of them were in violation of a mandatory lockdown. Repeat offenders could face up to €3,700 in fines and six months in prison, under legislation passed on Sunday by France’s Parliament.

Already, hospitals across the New York region are reporting a surge of coronavirus patients and a looming shortage of critical supplies like ventilators and masks.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said told CNN on Monday that hospitals had only “days” to get critical supplies before doctors will be unable to save the lives of those who might otherwise survive.

In the interview with Axios, the Chinese ambassador, Mr. Cui, reiterated his criticism of people in the United States who were promoting unproven theories about the virus. “This is the job for the scientists to do, not for diplomats, not for journalists to speculate,” he said. “Because such speculation will help nobody. It’s very harmful.”

But he deflected questions about Mr. Zhao’s remarks, saying it wasn’t his job to explain the view of his colleague.

The fringe theories on the virus’s origins first came to the fore last month when Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas claimed that the deadly coronavirus, which first emerged in Wuhan, was manufactured by the Chinese government. In a February interview on “Face the Nation,” Mr. Cui called such claims “crazy.” He said other rumors asserting that the virus had originated from an American military laboratory were similarly unbelievable.

It is reasonable to feel anxious and worried about the news. Today, we hope to offer you ideas for a small respite.

Reporting and research were contributed by Eileen Sullivan, Katie Robertson, Hari Kumar, Jeffrey Gettleman, Elian Peltier, Raphael Minder, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Melissa Eddy, Jeanna Smialek, Ian Austen, Mariel Padilla, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Katie Van Syckle, Jesse McKinley, Emily Cochrane, Jim Tankersley, Jeanna Smialek, Kate Taylor, Tiffany May and Mike Baker.



[ad_2]

Source link