Still, there were hopeful signs, showing that social distancing, the only proven strategy for slowing the spread, was getting results. In Italy, which has the highest confirmed fatalities in the world, the rate of infection slowed for a fourth consecutive day on Wednesday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said there was early evidence that the restrictions on movement were reducing the rate of infection there. “The theory is given the density that we’re dealing with, it spreads very quickly,” he said. “But if you reduce the density you can reduce the spread very quickly.”
The Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion stimulus plan.
The Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a sweeping $2 trillion fiscal measure to shore up the U.S. economy as it weathers the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, advancing the largest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history.
The House was expected to quickly take up the bill on Friday and pass it, sending it to President Trump for his signature.
The legislation would send direct payments of $1,200 to Americans earning up to $75,000 — which would gradually phase out for higher earners and end for those with incomes more than $99,000 — and an additional $500 per child. It would substantially expand jobless aid, providing an additional 13 weeks and a four-month enhancement of benefits, extending them for the first time to freelancers and gig workers, and adding $600 per week on top of the usual payment.
The measure would also provide $350 billion in federally guaranteed loans to small businesses and establish a $500 billion government lending program for distressed companies reeling from the crisis, allowing the administration to take equity stakes in airlines that received aid to help compensate taxpayers. It would also send $100 billion to hospitals on the front lines of the pandemic.
The bill was the product of intense bipartisan negotiations among Republicans, Democrats and the White House. Three senators were absent from the late-night roll call because of the virus. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, has contracted Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, while two Utah Republicans, Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, were in self-isolation after spending time with Mr. Paul.
Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Republican, also missed the vote because he wasn’t feeling well and had left Washington to return home, a spokesman said.
What the stimulus means for you.
How much money will I get?
Those earning up to $75,000 will receive $1,200, plus an additional $500 per child. The amount received will gradually phase out for people making more than $75,000, with support ending at $99,000. Joint filers making less than $150,000 will receive $2,400.
When will I get the money?
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that the money would arrive for most Americans within three weeks.
How will it help the unemployed?
The legislation adds 13 weeks of unemployment payments to the usual duration, which in most states is 26 weeks, and adds an extra weekly $600 on top of the usual payments for four months. It also extends benefits for the first time to freelancers and gig workers.
Will it save my job?
That’s unclear, but it will provide $350 billion in federally guaranteed loans to small businesses and establish a $500 billion government lending program for distressed companies.
At one New York City hospital, an ‘apocalyptic’ surge.
At Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, Dr. Ashley Bray performed chest compressions Tuesday on a woman in her 80s, a man in his 60s and a 38-year-old who reminded the doctor of her fiancé. All had tested positive for the coronavirus. All eventually died.
Elmhurst, a 545-bed public hospital, has begun transferring patients not suffering from coronavirus to other facilities as it moves toward becoming a facility dedicated entirely to the outbreak. Doctors and nurses have struggled to make do with a few dozen ventilators.
Calls over a loudspeaker of “Team 700,” the code for when a patient is on the verge of death, come several times a shift. Some have died inside the emergency room while waiting for a bed.
A refrigerated truck has been stationed outside to hold the bodies of the dead. Over the past 24 hours, New York City’s public hospital system said in a statement, 13 people at Elmhurst had died.
“It’s apocalyptic,” said Dr. Bray, a general medicine resident at the hospital.
All of the more than 1,800 intensive care units in New York City are expected to be full by Friday, according to a FEMA leadership briefing obtained by The New York Times. Patients could stay for weeks, limiting space for newly sickened residents.
Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
A detailed county map shows the extent of the coronavirus outbreak, with tables of the number of cases by state and county.
The virus is spreading swiftly in New Orleans even as states try to isolate themselves.
As cases in New York soar and outbreaks in other U.S. locations edge higher, the coronavirus crisis has sowed divisions among states competing for vital resources and communities looking to protect their residents.
People fleeing New York City have been greeted with suspicion by residents of the beach communities and villages where many have sought refuge. Florida now requires a 14-day quarantine of anyone who has arrived from the New York region over the past three weeks.
In Alaska, even more stringent measures were introduced, requiring everyone arriving in the state — whether residents or visitors — to self-quarantine for 14 days.
But the virus has already taken root far from New York City.
Louisiana is experiencing the fastest growth in new cases in the world, according to one study. Gov. John Bel Edwards said that the current trajectory of case growth in Louisiana was similar to those in Spain and Italy. This week, President Trump approved the governor’s request for a major disaster declaration, which unlocks additional federal funding to combat the outbreak.
The situation in and around New Orleans is particularly acute, with the city reporting 827 confirmed cases as of Wednesday night, more than the total number of cases in all except 15 states. Hospitals are overwhelmed, and critical safety gear is running low.
Orleans Parish, which shares its borders with the city of New Orleans, has suffered the highest number of deaths per capita of any county in the nation. Of the parish’s 37 deaths — nearly three times the death toll in Los Angeles County — 11 are from a single retirement home, where dozens more residents are infected.
How to manage your anxiety and its side effects.
Coronavirus-related anxiety is real and probably impacting many aspects of your life, from your eating habits to the way your children are acting. There is also a grief that comes along with the loss of our daily routines and rituals. Here are some tips to help you get through these tough times.
As Afghans return from Iran, the risk of a major outbreak grows.
Afghanistan has already imported its epidemic. And each day it adds to it, as thousands more displaced Afghans flow across the border from Iran, which has reported some of the world’s highest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.
The returnees, some infected with the coronavirus while in Iran, cluster shoulder to shoulder in huge crowds on both sides of the crossing, where toilet facilities are primitive and soap and potable water are scarce.
More than 115,000 Afghans returned from Iran from March 8 to 21, according to the International Organization for Migration. The agency said that even if the border crossing were to be closed, Afghans who wanted to get home could easily find a way, given how porous the border is.
Herat, the sprawling hub of western Afghanistan, has reported 58 of the country’s 80 confirmed virus cases, the health ministry said. Only two deaths from the virus have been reported nationwide, with three patients reported to have recovered. But health professionals say the true number of cases is probably far higher because testing is minimal.
Sickened celebrities put faces to an invisible scourge.
The revelation on Wednesday that Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the British throne, had contracted the coronavirus was the latest example of a well-known figure humanizing the spread of the virus.
For those who don’t yet personally know anyone who has been confirmed ill, the steady flow of well-known names has put a face to the crisis. Those who have tested positive include:
Entertainers: Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Idris Elba, Daniel Dae Kim, Andy Cohen.
Athletes: Kevin Durant, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Sean Payton.
Public figures: Senator Rand Paul, John Bessler (the husband of Senator Amy Klobuchar), Sophie Grégoire Trudeau (the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada), Prince Albert II of Monaco.
The Times is maintaining a running list of high-profile people who have the virus and have shared information about their experiences. Last week, we examined whether the rich and famous have had better access to limited testing.
In a divided country, masks become a symbol of solidarity.
A year ago, hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of Prague in the largest demonstrations against the government since the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The Czech Republic was a country divided, with the Prime Minister Andrej Babis at the center of the storm.
But as the country entered its second week locked down because of the coronavirus, a nationally televised addresses from Mr. Babis urging calm and resolve have been applauded by supporters and critics alike.
And in addition to the near universal applause, there was something else unusual: Mr. Babis has worn a mask during his appearances — a reflection of how the surgical mask has become a symbol of resistance and solidarity.
As the Czech government struggled to provide enough masks for all in the country, it has been aided by fashion designers, actors and tens of thousands of citizens who put have their sewing machines to work.
“Our business was locked down and as we did not want to just sit around, we started making masks,” said Jana Rabova, a tailor from a small village in Central Bohemia. “My boyfriend created a hanger for the them,” she said. “We called it a mask tree.”
The photo went viral and has been widely emulated.
School vending machine in the town of Vyskov, in Moravia, that previously provided snacks for thousands of students have also been repurposed to sell mask, with the small fee donated to charities. One vending machine can carry about 1,500 pieces.
“It sold out within an hour,” says Petr Caslava, the man behind the initiative.
The Czech Republic, like just about every other country in Europe, ordered all residents to stay home except for necessary outings to go to a doctor, work or grocery shopping. All other shops, restaurants and schools are closed.
The country hopes to shift to what the government calls an “intelligent quarantine,” using data from mobile phones and payment cards that would allow thr health authorities to map the whereabouts of an infected person over the past five days and track down all of the person’s contacts.
The measure has raised concerns among privacy advocates and fears that it could be abused, but many seemed willing to put those worries aside for the moment.
Millions can now leave Hubei in China, but getting home could be tough.
Finally free after a two-month lockdown, millions of people in Hubei Province, where the pandemic began, are starting to return to their homes and workplaces across China. But some are finding that the restrictions in Hubei were just the first of the obstacles.
Train tickets are hard to find. So are cars, for getting to a train station. Those who manage to arrange transportation are sometimes barred from entering neighborhoods in their destinations.
And many of those who get where they want to go must then navigate more rules. Some cities, including Beijing, require arrivals to quarantine at home or at designated observation spots for 14 days — and pay for it themselves.
Luo Wenxi, 29, who has been stuck in the city of Jingmen in Hubei, said she had called her community in Beijing on Wednesday, the day the Hubei authorities lifted the lockdown. Workers there said they had not been told they were allowed to receive people from Hubei and asked her to wait, even though Beijing’s municipal government had issued instructions for receiving people from the province.
“I can’t go back right now, and even if I could go, the quarantine fee is too high,” said Ms. Luo, whose company had cut her pay in recent weeks. “The fee is probably higher than my one month’s pay.”
Arrivals in the cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou have been smoother, according to social media reports, and not all returnees there must be quarantined.
Wuhan, Hubei’s capital, the Chinese city hardest hit by the outbreak, will stay under lockdown until April 8, according to officials there. Nearly 200,000 people in Wuhan are waiting to return to Beijing, Bao Liqun, a railway official, told state television.
For Peace Corps volunteers, a sudden and sad evacuation.
The urgent update from the Peace Corps landed abruptly in the email inboxes of volunteers on March 15: It was time to evacuate.
Miguel Garcia, a 27-year-old volunteer leader in the Dominican Republic, had a job to do. He had 24 hours to get 32 volunteers scattered across the country to Santo Domingo, the capital. Several were about eight hours away in hard-to-reach communities.
“Panic took over, and I was just mindlessly doing things,” Mr. Garcia said. “It wasn’t until I came home to an apartment that needed to be packed that it all hit me. I showered in cold water for about 45 minutes and cried, overwhelmed by all of the people I needed to communicate with and say goodbye to.”
For the first time in its nearly 60-year history, the Peace Corps has temporarily suspended its operations, evacuating more than 7,000 volunteers from posts in more than 60 countries because of the coronavirus pandemic.
An independent agency of the U.S. government created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, the corps sends volunteers abroad to help with social and economic development projects. They dig wells, teach in schools and train people in things like sewing and healthy breastfeeding.
In an open letter, Jody Olsen, the director of the Peace Corps, said the move was meant to protect volunteers and prevent them from being stranded during the pandemic. Within hours, volunteers were packing their bags, saying their farewells and rushing to designated meeting places as airlines canceled flights and countries began closing borders.
In interviews, volunteers described shock, confusion and heartbreak as they arrived back in the United States.
“The situation in Morocco went so fast,” said Elizabeth Burke, 54, who had been in the country for less than a year, teaching English and working at a sewing cooperative. “It went from Moroccans not being aware of the coronavirus and what was going on to a complete shutdown.”
Essential businesses? Given latitude, some retailers stay open.
In states hit hard by the coronavirus, like New York and California, governors and mayors have mandated the closing of all but the obviously essential stores, like supermarkets and pharmacies. And the Department of Homeland Security has laid out guidelines for businesses across the country to follow when deciding whether to stay open, even in regions not known to be hot spots for the virus. The agency is careful to note that its definition of a “critical” work force is not an official standard, leaving it up to corporations to decide for themselves.
Given this latitude, retailers have kept thousands of stores open, even as health experts warn that the virus is likely to spread more widely across the country in the coming weeks.
At some Guitar Center stores, employees are still allowing customers to try out models of guitars. Dillard’s, a department store chain popular in the South, is still welcoming shoppers looking for clothing and makeup. And Michaels, the arts and crafts chain, says it is keeping many of its stores open to provide supplies to parents teaching their homebound children. “We are here for the makers,” the retailer said in an email to one concerned customer.
That some retail stores are staying open while other businesses have closed reflects the piecemeal approach to combating the pandemic in the United States. There are emergency orders limiting business to essential retailers in about half the country, but much of the South and West has no such restrictions.
Reporting was contributed by Katy Reckdahl, Campbell Robertson, Richard Fausset, Paticia Mazzei, Julie Bosman, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Julie Davis, Daniel Victor, Emily Cochrane, Nicholas Fandos, Michael Corkery, Sapna Maheshwari, Mariel Padilla, Fatima Faizi, David Zucchino, Vivian Wang and Yiwei Wang.