New York region suffers record deaths, and small businesses struggle to secure loans.
While New York area officials are seeing hopeful signs in a slowing rate of new coronavirus infections, mortality figures — a lagging indicator — have continued to rise.
New York State, with a population of nearly 20 million, now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than Italy, a nation of 60 million that was the first in Europe to be ravaged by the disease. And in New York City, where the total number of recorded fatalities surged to 4,009, the virus has claimed more lives than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all announced their highest daily death tolls this week, accounting for 1,034 of the 1,800 nationwide deaths.
The rising toll reflects the often considerable lag between the time people are infected and the day they die, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. He also warned that the gains could quickly be undone if people stopped following social distancing protocols.
Like Italy within Europe, New York has had the misfortune of being the first place in the United States where the virus deeply seeded itself in the population. But a New York Times investigation also found that early missteps, including delays in closing schools and failing to break the chain of transmission within households, have proved costly.
The virus has since spread rapidly around the country, and even President Trump, otherwise eager to put a positive spin on his much maligned response to the pandemic, has said that Americans faced a week of death and sorrow. And it surely will not be the last, as many states have still not felt the pathogen’s full wrath.
Nor will that be the end of the hardship, as economists warn of a long healing period for the economy after the health crisis.
Small businesses, which are unlikely to have cash buffers to survive the economic shutdown, have been especially hard hit. Yet the federal agency responsible for disbursing $349 billion in emergency relief has not been able to cope with the explosive demand for funds.
Even as Congress discussed injecting billions more into the economy, Mr. Trump sidelined the top watchdog in charge of monitoring how the administration spends the $2 trillion in virus relief that Congress has approved. Democrats criticized the move as “corrupt,” saying the president wanted a less independent voice.
He threatened to cut off funding for the organization even as the virus continues to haunt the world. With the health care systems of wealthy nations stretched to the breaking point when confronted by an outbreak, there is growing concern about the damage the virus could inflict on poorer countries.
Those same strains have become painfully evident across America, where entrenched inequalities in income and access to health care have been evident in the disproportionately high rates of infection and death among black people.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said late Tuesday that the state had secured nearly 200 million masks a month for health care workers, an extraordinary amount amid a global shortage of masks.
He also expressed optimism that lockdowns were “bending the curve” and slowing the spread of the virus, buying time for the state’s health care system as it works to treat patients.
“Let me give you a sense of optimism in terms of the curve in California bending: It is bending, but it’s also stretching,” Mr. Newsom said at a news conference.
The rate of people going to the hospital and needing intensive care had eased, he said.
“These are not the double-digit increases we were seeing in hospitalization rates or I.C.U. rates that we saw even a week or so ago,” he said, though he cautioned: “That’s not to suggest by any stretch of the imagination that we’ll continue to see these declines. It’s to only reinforce the importance of maintaining physical distancing and continuing our stay-at-home policy.”
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti stepped up precautions, ordering all residents to wear masks when visiting essential businesses starting Friday.
“Cover up, save a life — it’s that simple,” Mr. Garcetti said.
A spokesman for Mr. Newsom said the state would buy millions of new masks from overseas manufacturers in two separate deals with a California nonprofit and a California company. The spokesman did not disclose the names of the nonprofit of the company, or the price.
Demand for masks has far outstripped supply in recent weeks, driving some prices 10 times higher than before the pandemic. Mr. Newsom said the state had previously bought smaller amounts on a case-by-case basis but decided to pool its resources for bigger deals.
The official, Glenn A. Fine, has been the acting inspector general for the Defense Department since before Mr. Trump took office and was set to become the chairman of a new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to monitor how the government carries out the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. But Mr. Trump replaced Mr. Fine in his Pentagon job, disqualifying him from serving on the new oversight panel.
Critics said the move sent a message to government watchdogs to tread softly. “I cannot see how any inspector general will feel in any way safe to do a good job,” said Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit group. “They are all at the mercy at what the president feels.”
“We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the W.H.O.,” Mr. Trump said during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House. “We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re going to see.”
In effect, Mr. Trump sought to denounce the W.H.O. for the very criticisms that have been leveled at him and his administration. Public health experts have said that the president’s public denials of the virus’s dangers slowed the American response, which included delayed testing and a failure to stockpile protective gear.
In fact, the W.H.O. sounded the alarm in the earliest days of the crisis, declaring a “public health emergency of international concern” a day before the United States secretary of health and human services announced the country’s own public health emergency and weeks before Mr. Trump declared a national emergency.
After saying that the United States would “put a hold” on the organization’s money, the president later denied having made those remarks and appeared to back down. “I’m not saying that I’m going to do it, but we’re going to look at it,” he said.
Near Miami, aerial videos showed hundreds of people packed closely together in lines to pick up unemployment benefit applications on Tuesday, a sign of the desperation among newly jobless Floridians and of the state’s embattled unemployment system.
The lines, in Hialeah, came as the state unemployment website was overwhelmed with submissions, leading people to seek paper forms amid a record number of unemployment claims in Florida and across the country. Nearly 10 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits in the past two weeks alone.
The aerial videos recorded by WPLG, a local television station, show people clamoring for unemployment forms near a local library. Some applicants wore masks and gloves, but others went without protective gear.
As tensions rose among those in line, some shouted and others pushed in front of one another to get to a police officer who was handing out forms.
“We don’t want to turn this into a riot, into a shoving match,” Carl Zogby, a member of the Hialeah City Council, told WPLG. “We cannot forcibly make them comply.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, for weeks resisted stringent social distancing measures, but ultimately ordered most of the state’s more than 21 million residents to stay at home beginning last week. He has faced mounting criticism over the difficulty Floridians have had filing for unemployment benefits.
Miami-Dade County officials said paper unemployment benefit applications would be available at 26 libraries beginning on Wednesday. In a statement, the county said the library system would be encouraging people to stand six feet apart with “informational signage and markings on the ground.”
Epidemiologists have pointed to New York City’s density and its role as an international hub of commerce and tourism to explain why the coronavirus has spread so rapidly there. And it seems unlikely that any response by the state or city could have fully stopped the pandemic.
State and city officials were hampered by a chaotic federal response from the onset, including significant problems with the expansion of coronavirus testing, which made it far harder to gauge the scope of the outbreak.
Normally, New York would get help from Washington, as it did after the Sept. 11 attacks. But President Trump in February and early March minimized the coronavirus threat and declined to marshal the might of the federal government when cases emerged in the United States.
The initial efforts by New York officials to stem the outbreak were also hampered by their own confused guidance, unheeded warnings and political infighting, a New York Times investigation found.
Last month, Dr. Bertha Mayorquin, a New Jersey physician, told her soon-to-be ex-husband that there was a change in plans. After two weeks of providing treatment by video as a precaution against the coronavirus, she would resume seeing patients in person.
But when she left work on a Friday to pick up her two daughters for the weekend, her husband presented her with a court order granting him sole temporary custody of the girls. His lawyer had convinced a judge that Dr. Mayorquin could expose the children, 11 and 8, to Covid-19.
The doctor, an internist, had intended to spend the weekend celebrating her younger daughter’s birthday. Instead, she spent it assembling 50 pages of paperwork to try to reverse the order.
“Many people working in the hospitals — doctors, nurses, so many of us — are parents,” said Dr. Mayorquin, whose hospital had asked her to starting treat non-coronavirus patients at an urgent care center to ease the burden of the pandemic. “Are our children going to be taken away from us because we are on the front lines helping people?”
That question is arising across the United States as a growing number of parents have begun withholding access to their children from former spouses or partners over fears of infection, according to families, lawyers and judges.
For health care and other essential workers, some say they shouldn’t be punished for doing crucial services. Their counterparts say that the jobs pose too great a risk to other family members.
John Prine, the raspy-voiced country-folk singer whose ingenious lyrics to songs by turns poignant, angry and comic made him a favorite of Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and others, died on Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn. He was 73.
The cause was complications from Covid-19, his family said.
Mr. Prine was a relative unknown in 1970 when Mr. Kristofferson heard him play one night at a small Chicago club called the Fifth Peg, dragged there by the singer-songwriter Steve Goodman. Mr. Kristofferson was performing in Chicago at the time at the Quiet Knight.
At the Fifth Peg, Mr. Prine treated him to a brief after-hours performance of material that, Mr. Kristofferson later wrote, “was unlike anything I’d heard before.”
His debut album, called simply “John Prine” and released in 1971, included songs that became his signatures. Some gained wider fame after being recorded by other artists.
Mr. Dylan, listing his favorite songwriters for The Huffington Post in 2009, put Mr. Prine front and center. “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism,” he said. “Midwestern mind trips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs.”
Read the full obituary here.
By the middle of March, northern Italy had become the epicenter of a pandemic. The coronavirus had infected tens of thousands of people in Italy, devastating the country with Europe’s oldest population. In the region of Lombardy, where the virus first exploded in the West, a wealthy and advanced health care system had suddenly become a war zone.
Hospitals expanded intensive-care capacity, lined entire wards with ventilators and crowded corridors with oxygen tanks and beds. The doctors, nurses, paramedics and volunteers had little choice but to soldier through day and night with little rest.
Quarantined at home, Italy’s civilians took notice. They applauded from their balconies and shared on the web photos of nurses collapsed at a desk or bearing the bruises of tight masks.
Those images reached the photographer Andrea Frazzetta in the Milan apartment where he was sheltering in place with his wife and their 4-year-old son, who had recovered from pneumonia several months earlier.
Mr. Frazzetta had strongly urged his mother and father to do the same. But like many in and around Milan, they took the threat lightly and stayed home only when the central government in Rome ordered a shutdown, first in the north and then in the entire country.
Looking at the selfies of those bruised nurses, Mr. Frazzetta decided to document the historic struggle unfolding around him.
Air pollution has been linked to a higher coronavirus death rate.
Coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die from the infection than patients in cleaner parts of the United States, according to a new nationwide study that offers the first clear link between long-term exposure to pollution and Covid-19 death rates.
In an analysis of 3,080 counties in the United States, researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease.
For weeks, public health officials have surmised a link between dirty air and death or serious illness from Covid-19, which is caused by the coronavirus. The Harvard analysis points to a “large overlap” between Covid-19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to fine particulate matter.
The paper found that if Manhattan had lowered its average particulate matter level by just a single unit, or one microgram per cubic meter, over the past 20 years, the borough would probably have seen 248 fewer Covid-19 deaths by this point in the outbreak.
Over all, the research could have significant implications for how public health officials allocate resources like ventilators and respirators as the coronavirus spreads. The paper has been submitted for peer review and publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.
It found that just a slight increase in long-term pollution exposure could have serious coronavirus-related consequences, even accounting for other factors like smoking rates and population density.
Time is of the essence for disinfecting your home and hands.
You’ve been cleaning your home and washing your hands all these years, and probably never stopped to consider whether you were doing it effectively. But time matters when it comes to fully disinfecting your household surfaces and your skin.
In the case of some disinfectants, it can take up to 10 minutes for them to fully work. As for your hands? Scrubbing for a full 20 seconds is the way to go.
When Citadel Securities, a sibling to the hedge fund company Citadel, decided to isolate a team of stock traders to keep business humming during the coronavirus pandemic, the firm’s billionaire founder, Kenneth Griffin, secured sumptuous Florida quarters: the Four Seasons hotel in Palm Beach, Fla.
The firm booked the hotel for New York and Chicago traders just before Palm Beach County put a hold on March 26 on new hotel reservations, and it began operations there on March 30. A few days later, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order across Florida.
The resort is guarded by Palm Beach Police Department patrols hired by Citadel Securities. No one other than employees for the firm or the hotel is allowed inside. Mr. Griffin, a prominent political donor and top contributor to Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, owns property nearby. He is not staying at the hotel.
Local and state orders require social distancing and the closing of nonessential businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Yet officials in the town of Palm Beach say the unusual arrangement at the Four Seasons is not in violation of public health rules because Citadel Securities is the hotel’s only tenant.
The town is treating the property as a private residence where people inside can work — or swim in the pool — as they would in any home, said Michael Ogrodnick, a Palm Beach spokesman.
“As far as we’re concerned, they’re in their own bubble,” Mr. Ogrodnick said.
Reporting was contributed by Megan Twohey, Marc Santora, Charlie Savage, Peter Baker, William Grimes, Lisa Friedman, Julia Echikson and Patricia Mazzei.