The race to get home was in full swing Sunday for Americans abroad while millions of students at home were facing a Monday without school as the coronavirus crisis continued its dangerous spiral around the world.
The weekend brought more important news on the coronavirus front: Thousands of schools closed nationwide, President Trump tested negative for the virus and the U.S. expanded its European travel ban to include the United Kingdom and Ireland. Stores and supermarkets curbed hours or shut down all together. Cities and states tightened restrictions.
Almost 3,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S., with a death toll of more than 50. Globally, more than 150,000 cases and almost 6,000 deaths have been reported. In Hoboken, New Jersey, the mayor has enacted a curfew and ordered restaurants to shut their dining rooms. Many Walmarts and grocery stores are limiting their hours. Nike and Urban Outfitters are closing their stores worldwide.
Today’s quick read on coronavirus headlines is as follows:
- There are long lines and frustrated travelers at airports like Chicago’s O’Hare, New York’s JFK, Dallas-Fort Worth as Trump travel restrictions hit hard.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci told Americans to get ready to ‘hunker down’ and doesn’t believe a 14-day nationwide shutdown would be overreacting.
- Parents are bracing to have their kids home on an extended break as schools across the U.S. close their doors this week. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told CNN: “It would not surprise me at all if schools didn’t open again this year.”
- US service members — and their families — are dealing with the reality of not being able to travel domestically. That means they can’t move to new bases, as many had planned.
- Google updates its homepage. ‘Do the five’ delivers coronavirus-related information to the masses.
Refresh this page for the latest updates on coronavirus.
Long lines greet Americans returning from abroad
U.S. travelers flying back from Europe late Saturday were greeted with snaking lines and hours-long waits at major airports as expanded coronavirus screenings required by the government’s new European travel restrictions took effect. The restrictions ban Europeans from flying to the United States for 30 days and require U.S. travelers to be screened upon arrival at 13 U.S. airports.
Travelers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, New York JFK and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport took to social media to complain about the waits, with many worried that the resulting crowds would do more harm than good in the fight to contain the coronavirus. The situation was so bad at O’Hare that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called out the Trump administration on Twitter. Get the latest updates on the situation at American airports here.
– Dawn Gilbertson
Parents brace for kids at home; thousands of schools close
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz ordered the state’s public schools closed as the wave of widespread closings in the U.S. continued to grow. More than 20 states and a number of large urban school districts — including Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest — are shutting down all K-12 schools as part of a sweeping attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington are among states shutting down schools. Major metropolitan districts such as Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, have also shuttered. And a growing number of smaller districts around the country have also chosen to close.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who closed school for three weeks, says he expects confirmed coronavirus cases to rise “dramatically,” suggesting 100,000 could be infected in his state. “While we have closed schools for three weeks, the odds are this is going to go on a lot longer,” DeWine told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It would not surprise me at all if schools did not open again this year.”
– Erin Richards
‘You can’t Netflix them all day’:Coronavirus closed this school. The kids have special needs.
Fauci: US should brace to ‘hunker down’ even more
A top official in the coronavirus response says the U.S. should be prepared “to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that it is not clear whether the spread of the virus has been blunted.
Asked if he would prefer something like a 14-day national shutdown, Fauci told NBC: “You know, I would prefer as much as we possibly could. I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting.”
Fauci, making the Sunday talk show rounds, told ABC’s “This Week” that domestic travel restrictions have not been seriously considered by the federal task force – yet.
“I do not see that right now in the immediate future,” Fauci said. “But, remember, we are very open minded about whatever it takes to preserve the health of the American public.”
— David Jackson
Coming soon: Lifesaving treatments for the coronavirus
Researchers are conducting a full-court press to develop treatments for helping patients suffering from the virus. With no vaccine expected soon, treatments are crucial to saving lives, especially high-risk patients such as the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease.
Robert Kruse, a doctor in the Department of Pathology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, says the quickest option could be the use of antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients. It could turn out that serum from one recovered patient is only enough to save a single sick one, he acknowledged. “It’s a logistical challenge to put it together, but at the very least there are no (federal) hurdles to producing the therapy.”
– Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Military restrictions slam brakes on moves for thousands of families
The Pentagon has issued new travel restrictions forcing thousands of service members and their families to cancel trips and delay scheduled moves to installations across the nation. The restrictions, which also apply to civilians who work for the Defense Department, halt all change-of-station moves. Spring is usually the busiest time of year for the moves, and the restrictions take effect Monday through May 11 – at least. Some families have signed leases at new locations they now can’t go.
Troops also will be able to travel only locally during their leaves under the restrictions.
Lt. Col. Mike Burns, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, said division officials are aware of the restrictions’ consequences. “We’re doing everything we can to help any soldier affected by this new change in policy,” he said.
– Steve DeVane, The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
Walmart cuts hours at 24-hour stores, some other locations starting Sunday
Walmart stores normally open 24 hours will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. until further notice, the company said late Saturday. Other stores, which are typically open until midnight, will also have reduced hours.
“This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing,” Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Walmart U.S., wrote in a blog post.
Grocery store chains including Florida-based Publix, New York-based Wegmans and H-E-B are among retailers closing earlier. Urban Outfitters is among retailers closing all of its stores globally because of the coronavirus. Apple announced it will close all its retail stores outside Greater China until March 27. Changes at more regional and national retailers are expected in the coming days.
– Kelly Tyko
How late is your store open?:Coronavirus cuts store hours at Walmart, Publix, Kroger, H-E-B, and more
Puerto Rico imposes curfew, shuts non-essential businesses
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced an island-wide curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. to combat the outbreak. Her executive order also shuts down non-essential businesses, with the exception of food stores, pharmacies, gas stations, banking or financial institutions and others related to the distribution of food, medicine, medical items or fuel. The order applies to shopping malls, concert halls, theaters, gyms, gaming halls, casinos or other places that encourage group gatherings. Four cases of coronavirus have been confirmed on the island of 3.2 million people.
Google joins the battle
Google’s homepage has added a link urging the masses to “DO THE FIVE: Help stop coronavirus.” Clicking the link, which appears under the “Google search” and “I’m feeling lucky” tabs, sends you to a page that lists five recommendations – wash your hands often, cough into your elbow, don’t touch your face, stay more than three feet from other people and stay at home of you are sick.
Click the “more information” tab and it brings you to a World Health Organization page that provides, well, more information on the pandemic. Google provides reach for the message: In October 2019, Google had close to 259 million unique visitors in the U.S., according to an analysis by Statista.
– Dalvin Brown
Coronavirus tips: What you need to know
Here are some important reads from USA TODAY:
In Hoboken, New Jersey: A curfew, and no going out to eat, in South Boston bars closed
Mayor Ravinder Bhalla tweeted that due to concerns over the coronavirus, bars and restaurants would no longer be permitted to serve food in their dining rooms. These businesses will only be allowed to offer food takeout and delivery services.
Hoboken bars that do not serve food are to shut down by 11 a.m. Sunday, March 15. They are no longer permitted to serve alcohol, the mayor said.
Bhalla did not give an end date for the new policy. The city also is imposing a curfew that will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily as of Monday, March 16, until further notice, requiring residents to remain in their homes outside of emergencies or being required to work.
With a day of St. Patrick’s Day partying in the forecast, South Boston’s bars and restaurants will instead be closed Sunday as part of “voluntary agreement” in response to the nation’s coronavirus outbreak.
The move, part of the city’s social-distancing efforts, comes after photos went viral showing patrons Saturday lined outside to get into bars.
“We are in unchartered waters and all need to heed the advice of public health professionals to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn.
– Debbie Waldeyer, Bergen Record and Joey Garrison, USA TODAY
US hospitals will run out of beds if coronavirus cases spike
No state in the U.S. will have enough room to treat novel coronavirus patients if the surge in severe cases here mirrors that in other countries.
A USA TODAY analysis shows that if the nation sees a major spike, there could be almost six seriously ill patients for every existing hospital bed.
That analysis, based on data from the American Hospital Association, U.S. Census, CDC and World Health Organization, is conservative. For example, it assumes all 790,000 beds will be empty.
Since two thirds are not, the reality could be far worse: about 17 people competing for each open bed. Read USA TODAY’s full analysis here.
– Jayme Fraser and Matt Wynn
Map: Which states have coronavirus cases?
There have been almost 3,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with more than 50 deaths, according to a dashboard run by Johns Hopkins University. The majority of the deaths have been in Washington state, while California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, New Jersey and South Dakota have all reported deaths.
Here’s a look at which U.S. states have reported cases of COVID-19: