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With the United States entering its 15th day of lockdown Monday and the death toll soaring, President Trump steeled the nation late Sunday for an extended shutdown, dashing hopes of a quick resumption of normal life.
The global number of confirmed cases topped 700,000 on Sunday, with over one in seven in the United States.
As world leaders warned that the outbreak could take months, if not years, to fully get over, financial markets looked set for another depressed week with Asian stocks extending their losses on Monday.
Here are some significant developments:
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New Yorkers who defy police orders when told to break up gatherings can be fined up to $500, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio (D) told reporters on Sunday.
Gatherings of any size are prohibited in New York state, and the New York Police Department has been authorized to issue summonses and fines at parks, playgrounds and places of worship where people ignore social distancing regulations and refuse to disperse, De Blasio said. Those fines can range from $250 to $500, and will also apply to people who return to gatherings after being told to leave.
De Blasio emphasized that the penalty would be only used as a last resort, saying that he didn’t want to fine people “when so many folks are going through economic distress.” But, he added, “if they haven’t gotten the message by now, and they don’t get the message when an enforcement officer’s staring them in the face […] that person then deserves the fine.”
“You’ve been warned and warned again,” De Blasio said.
South Korea announced 78 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, along with six deaths, according to an announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
The country has seen a steady rate of new cases for almost two weeks, with roughly 100 new cases each day since March 11. The total number of deaths from the country’s outbreak is 158 so far.
However, concerns grew that greater Seoul, the country’s bustling capital and its sprawling satellite towns, had become new hub for the outbreak.
New infections reported in Seoul and neighboring Gyeonggi Province and Incheon came to 31, surpassing the number found in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, earlier epicenters of the Korean outbreak.
The outbreaks in the Seoul region have been linked to a call center and a church that held services in violation of the government’s social distancing policy.
One odd side effect of covid-19 has been what it does to taste. Even those who have avoided the illness enjoy things they once disliked: Government spending. Facetiming with family.
Andrew M. Cuomo.
The governor of New York’s morning news conferences have become part of the country’s new daily rhythm. And to the surprise of anyone who has watched his State of the State, it’s must-see television.
First come the facts. In a matter of days, there are no cases, then 30,000 cases, then nearly 45,000 cases in New York state. “That’s a problem,” he says. They are running out of beds and ventilators. He doesn’t shy away from that. “That’s a challenge.” He pauses.
“Take a breath,” he says, and when he starts to talk again it is the revival portion of the meeting. There are moving stories about New York, his mother, his father and all of humanity. The density of the state — its “closeness,” he says — is its vulnerability in this moment. But it is also what will get it through. He is talking to New York but the whole country is listening to the Cuomo Monologues: part briefing, part sermon, part inspirational talk.
The coronavirus crisis has reintroduced the nation to a different cast of Democratic leaders. Former vice president Joe Biden — the supposed standard-bearer of the party — has been largely missing, as governors like Jay Inslee of Washington state, Gavin Newsom of California and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan find the spotlight. And no one is on a bigger stage right now than Cuomo.
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For six days straight, President Trump talked about reopening the country quickly. He wanted people filing into offices again, diners returning to restaurants and shoppers gathering at malls without fear of contagion.
Trump mused about a reopening date of April 12, picking it arbitrarily because he thought it would be beautiful to see church pews packed with parishioners on Easter. Then he dug in, seeming to tune out the nearly unanimous assessment of public health experts and governors and mayors fighting to help save lives, which was that Easter would be far too soon because the worst still was yet to come. As the self-described wartime president saw things, the novel coronavirus was a “silent enemy” and America was defeating it.
What a difference a week makes.
Trump beat a hasty retreat on Sunday, announcing from the Rose Garden just before dusk that the federal government’s stringent social distancing guidelines, set to expire on Monday, would be extended through April 30.
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TOKYO — In East Asia, two rivals are grappling with the coronavirus pandemic in very different ways: mass testing versus targeted testing.
It’s a debate over tactics that has profound implications in the United States and elsewhere, as health officials struggle to find the best methods to track and contain the virus.
South Korea has won global praise for swiftly making coronavirus tests widely available and has already tested more than 394,000 people. It has found 9,583 infected people.
Japan, a country whose population of about 127 million is more than twice that of South Korea, has conducted more than 48,000 tests on approximately 28,000 people and found 1,724 cases.
For weeks, Japan has been gripped with a debate. Is the country seeing fewer infections than South Korea simply because it is testing fewer people? Is the Japanese government marshaling its resources wisely, or burying its head in the sand?
As in the United States, Japan’s government was criticized in the early weeks of the outbreak for failing to expand its testing capacity.
Japan has since expanded testing capacity, but the Japanese Medical Association said it has identified 290 examples in which doctors requested tests for sick people but were unable to obtain them.
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As a mysterious respiratory illness tore through China and other countries in mid-January, Kyle Coleman, an emergency management coordinator in Texas, took inventory of his team’s personal protective gear at a warehouse in Bexar County.
The hazmat suits and gloves were in good condition. Some of the respirator masks had expired. Three pallets of hand sanitizer seemed like enough because they seldom used more than one pallet a year.
Over several weeks in January, Coleman followed the outbreak of the novel coronavirus: the first death reported in China on Jan. 11, the spread to Thailand and Japan, and then the first U.S. case in Washington state confirmed on Jan. 21.
The next day, President Trump, in an interview on CNBC, assured the public: “We have it totally under control.”
But Coleman thought it was only a matter of time before it arrived in Bexar County, home to nearly 2 million residents, including those in the city of San Antonio. So on Jan. 23, Coleman purchased another 25,000 respirator masks.
“You would read one story one day, and then you get another story the next day, and it wasn’t the same message coming out,” Coleman said. “But it kind of looked like it was bad, so we started ordering supplies.”
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Market indexes in Tokyo, Hong Kong and other Asian financial centers extended their losses on Monday, suggesting continued pessimism about the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Japan’s Nikkei was down over 3 percent in the early afternoon, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and China’s Shanghai indexes were down over 1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was one of the few indexes to see gains by early Monday, rising over 3 percent as of the afternoon.
At the same time, the price of oil continued to hang lower, with Brent futures were down to $23.03, the lowest since November 2002, before bouncing up to $27 a barrel. The U.S. benchmark West Texas fell as far as $19.92.
Financial markets were a rollercoaster last week amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the attempts of bankers and central bankers to mitigate the outbreak’s financial impact and a concurrent oil price war led by Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Despite some record gains last week, including a 12.8 percent weekly gain for Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average that was its biggest since 1938, analysts suggested that the relief may be temporary.
“The rally seen for Wall Street last week may amount to little more but a relief rally with sentiment turning sour once again going into a fresh week,” Jingyi Pan, a Singapore-based market strategist for IG foreign-exchange trading platform, wrote in a note Monday.