China is delaying medical equipment exports. Israel is barring international flights after some arriving passengers skipped mandatory checks. Austrian energy workers live in quarantine at their plant to keep Vienna’s lights on.
The U.S. surpassed Italy in the total number of confirmed deaths.
Credit…Samuel Aranda for The New York Times
In Spain, some nonessential employees can go back to work starting Monday.
Spain, the only European country hit harder than Italy by the pandemic, is preparing to ease restrictions as the number of deaths fall, allowing some nonessential employees to return to work on Monday. But Health Minister Salvador Illa insisted his country was not in a “de-escalation phase” and the World Health Organization warned that any loosening of limits carries risk.
The easing of workplace rules during the nationwide lockdown comes as Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has outlined plans to extend the state of emergency past the current deadline, April 26. Addressing Congress on Thursday, Mr. Sánchez said that he was “convinced” that he would need to prolong the lockdown, in force since mid-March.
The switch comes as Spain has reported a falling death rate and a daily growth in new cases of about 3 percent, compared with 20 percent in mid-March. On Saturday, officials announced a further 510 deaths from the coronavirus — a dip from the day before — bringing the total to 16,353. Spain has also had one of the world’s highest rates of hospital recoveries, with more than 55,000 coronavirus patients returning home since the start of the crisis.
As of this weekend, factories and construction sites can recall workers after the Easter holiday. Trains and other public transport will slowly start increasing operations, but the health minister called on all those who could to continue working from home. The government also said that it would distribute masks at subway and train stations.
“Spain continues in a state of lockdown,” Mr. Illa said during a news conference after a meeting of the Spanish cabinet on Friday. “We are not yet in a de-escalation phase.”
The World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, warned this week, “Now is not the time to relax measures.” He said that Europe remained “very much at the center of the pandemic,” with seven of the world’s top 10 most affected countries.
Spain is not the only country easing up on restrictions. Austria plans to reopen smaller shops after Easter, the Czech Republic is opening small stores, and people can play tennis and go swimming; Denmark may reopen kindergartens and schools from next week; and Norway will allow pupils to kindergarten.
China delays exports of ventilators and other crucial medical supplies.
The Chinese government has ordered that no more N95 respirators, ventilators, hospital gowns and other key medical supplies be exported until customs officials perform quality inspections on each shipment.
The new policy, announced by China’s General Administration of Customs on Friday, produced immediate delays to cargos on Saturday as manufacturers, freight agents and traders tried to understand how to comply. China is the world’s dominant producer of a wide range of medical supplies, and its manufacturing lead has widened in many sectors as it has engaged in a nationwide mobilization of medical supplies production since late January.
The Chinese customs agency said that it had previously checked whether medical supplies were accurately counted, whether they infringed foreign patents and other intellectual property, and whether they had fraudulent documents. But now the agency will also assess the quality of goods.
The agency gave no indication of how long the quality testing might take.
The policy comes after a series of complaints from Europe that medical supplies from China had problems. Chinese officials have countered that many of these supplies were industrial respirators that were not designed to meet medical standards and should not be expected to do so.
The new rules cover China’s exports in 11 categories: medical respirators and surgical masks, medical protective clothing, infrared thermometers, ventilators, surgical caps, medical goggles, medical gloves, medical shoe covers, patient monitors, medical disinfection towels and medical disinfectants.
A Times examination reveals the extent of President Trump’s slow response as the virus spread.
Throughout January, as President Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.
Dozens of interviews and a review of emails and other records by The New York Times revealed many previously unreported details of the roots and extent of Mr. Trump’s halting response. Read the full investigation.
The country now has more than 490,000 confirmed cases, by far the world’s largest count, and more than 18,000 deaths. More than 16 million Americans have lost their jobs.
Here’s what else is happening in the United States:
The largest states are split on when and how to reopen. The governors of Texas and Florida, both Republicans, have started talking about reopening businesses and schools, echoing signals from Mr. Trump. But the leaders of California and New York, both Democrats, are sounding more cautious notes. Read the latest updates for the United States.
Top officials in New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, appear to disagree over whether New York City schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Read the latest updates for the New York region.
Government projections obtained by The New York Times found that without any mitigation, the death toll from the virus could have reached 300,000 — and that it could reach 200,000 if the Trump administration lifts 30-day stay-at-home orders.
Citing the virus, the Trump administration announced that it would issue visa penalties on countries that refuse to accept people the U.S. aims to deport.
Israel bars flights from abroad after some passengers skip quarantine measures.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered air traffic to Israel halted after lapses allowed more than 70 people who disembarked from a flight from Newark, N.J., on Saturday morning to skip verifications of their mandatory quarantine plans and checks of their temperatures.
Planes in the air already will be allowed to land, but no other commercial flights will be permitted until Israel’s Home Front Command has been empowered to force all arriving passengers into quarantine in hotels commandeered by the state, officials said.
Mr. Netanyahu had previously ordered all arriving passengers into quarantine in a number of repurposed hotels around the country, but the order was not legally enforceable. Some passengers acknowledged lying about having a place to isolate themselves for two weeks.
Most of the passengers from the United Airlines flight from New Jersey on Saturday were allowed to leave Ben Gurion Airport in taxis without having their temperatures taken or completing forms saying where they would stay during the 14-day mandatory quarantine, Israeli news outlets reported.
Israel’s difficulty enforcing its own rules are partly a result of siloed arms of the government not working effectively together, but it also reflects the country’s notorious lack of discipline — a problem visible at many levels.
The health minister, Yaakov Litzman, reportedly disregarded his own agency’s social-distancing rules before becoming infected with the coronavirus. Mr. Netanyahu and one of his sons broke the rules by sharing a videotaped family Passover Seder when the prime minister was still supposed to be in isolation. And the president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, enjoyed a Seder with his daughter and her children at his official residence, also in violation of rules limiting such gatherings to residents of the same household.
Modi signals that India will extend its lockdown, the world’s largest.
India appears set to extend a nationwide lockdown for all 1.3 billion citizens, government officials said on Saturday.
A statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office said the chief ministers of India’s states had reached a consensus to extend the existing 21-day lockdown for two weeks when it ends on April 15.
During a meeting with top officials, Mr. Modi said the lockdown had helped stunt the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and that “constant vigilance is paramount,” according to the statement.
The statement did not make clear Mr. Modi’s final decision, but some states have already extended the restrictions to the end of the month.
“PM has taken correct decision to extend lockdown,” Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, wrote on Twitter, without elaborating. “If it is stopped now, all gains would be lost.”
Indian officials have faced staggering challenges in enforcing the lockdown, which went into effect on March 25 with four hours’ notice. It shut down almost all businesses and transportation in a country of 1.3 billion people.
Supply chain disruptions have complicated the distribution of food to Indians who rely on subsidies. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers living hand-to-mouth found themselves trapped in big cities. Some embarked on hundred-mile journeys on foot to reach their villages.
India has a relatively low number of confirmed cases — about 7,500 — but testing is extremely limited, and large numbers of cases would be disastrous. Health care across the country is poor, and millions of people live in packed urban areas, making social distancing nearly impossible.
Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist government continues to draw criticism that it is curtailing press freedom.
On Friday, the police served a notice to one of the country’s leading editors and summoned him for questioning, saying he had made an “objectionable comment” about a senior government official in describing a Hindu gathering that was permitted to go ahead in the state of Uttar Pradesh despite the lockdown.
As coronavirus cases rise in Latin America, murder rates fall.
As countries contend with escalating body counts from the pandemic, some are experiencing an unanticipated decline in a different form of death: murder.
Lockdowns have reduced opportunities for homicides and other crimes, and the virus has taken some criminals out of action as they hunker down in their homes. Some gangs have even led efforts to impose curfews in neighborhoods where they hold sway.
The drop in murders is especially notable in Latin America, the region with the highest homicide rates in the world outside of war.
In El Salvador, for example, there were just 65 homicides in March, down from 114 in February. Neighboring Honduras has also seen a falloff in killings in recent weeks, as has Colombia and the most populous state in Mexico.
The pandemic is “taking people off the streets,” said Alejandro Hope, a security analyst in Mexico City. “The rule of thumb is: the stricter the lockdown, the bigger the effect on crimes committed against strangers on the street.”
More than 50 workers chose isolation at their power plant to keep Vienna’s lights on.
The global pandemic has forced countless people into isolation. In Vienna, for the sake of the entire city, 53 people volunteered.
They raised their hands to ensure that whatever else happens, the power plants that provide electricity to Austria’s capital and its 2 million people would keep running.
The 53 employees of the Wien Energie company have been holed up in four power plants since March 20, after volunteering to go into their own version of a lockdown until April 16. Depending on how things go, they could be asked to stay on longer.
The workers miss their families, but shrug off the idea that they are making a big sacrifice, pointing out that doctors, nurses and other health workers had it much tougher.
“We are just a cog in a much bigger wheel,” said Steven Sacher, 24, an engineer at the Flötzersteig plant.
Wien Energie turned conference rooms into dormitories, and outfitted the plants with washing machines, fitness equipment, wireless internet — and, crucially, board games and jigsaw puzzles.
“We have finished about 20 puzzles with 2,000 pieces,” Mr. Wallner said. “Everyone who has time stops and works on it a bit.”
Mr. Sacher said his team has been piecing together a puzzle showing the Brooklyn Bridge at night, which gives way to an evening ritual.
“Every night at 9 p.m. sharp, the four of us who aren’t working get together and play Parcheesi,” he said.
At over 100 years old, they’ve defied the odds and beat the virus.
As the coronavirus pandemic takes a disproportionate toll on older people around the world, several over the age of 100 have survived the brutal toll the disease takes on the body.
Cornelia Ras, 107, of the Netherlands is believed to be the oldest known survivor of the new coronavirus. She became ill last month after attending a church service on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee in the southwest part of the country.
Ms. Ras was given the all clear by her doctor on Monday.
“We did not expect her to survive this,” her niece Maaike de Groot told the Dutch newspaper AD. “She takes no medicines, still walks well and gets down on her knees every night to thank the Lord. From the looks of it, she will be able to continue to do so.”
Keith Watson, a 101-year-old man from western England, was in a hospital last month awaiting surgery when he developed a fever that prompted doctors to test him for the coronavirus, local health officials said.
But he pulled through, and on Thursday, he was discharged after recovering from the virus. “He’s amazing for his age,” his daughter-in-law Jo Watson told the BBC.
On March 9, Ada Zanusso, 103, was one of several residents of a nursing home in the town of Lessona, Italy, to become ill with the coronavirus. Twenty people had already died there, the newspaper La Repubblica reported.
“She was ill for a week, even with critical moments,” said Carla Furno Marchese, Mrs. Zanusso’s family doctor since 1986, who also works with the nursing home.
Then, “miraculously,” Dr. Furno Marchese said in an interview, Ms. Zanusso improved.
“She reacquired some strength, started eating again and then she got out of bed,” the doctor said. “Now she’s perfectly normal, like before. She’s doing great. She remembers everything.”
Her recovery has been embraced by many Italians still reeling from the toll the virus has taken on the country, which is enduring a lockdown. Ms. Zanusso had lived alone at home until four years ago, when she broke her femur and her children decided she would be better off in a care home. She had always been in good health, and has a deep faith.
“She accepts everything that happens to her,” the doctor said.
Tech giants team up to track the virus, as South Korea tightens its leading program.
In one of the most far-ranging attempts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Apple and Google said they were building software into smartphones that would tell people if they were recently in contact with someone who was infected with it.
The technology giants, usually fierce rivals, said they aimed to release the tool within several months, building it into the operating systems of billions of iPhones and Android devices around the world.
Users would opt in and voluntarily report if they became infected, and the smartphones would log other devices they came near, enabling “contact tracing” of the disease, a measure that has proved effective, alongside mass testing in places like South Korea.
“It could be a useful tool, but it raises privacy issues,” said Dr. Mike Reid, an assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, who is helping San Francisco officials with contact tracing. “It’s not going to be the sole solution, but as part of a robust sophisticated response, it has a role to play.”
South Korea, which has used a government-issued tracking app to trace contacts and enforce quarantine, said on Saturday that it planned to strap tracking wristbands on those who violated self-quarantine orders.
Health officials worry that some of the 57,000 people who are under orders to stay home for two weeks have slipped out, leaving their smartphones behind.
Yoon Tae-ho, a senior disease-control official, told reporters on Saturday that the bands would be deployed within two weeks.
Officials admitted that they lacked a legal power to enforce wristband-wearing, but could consider lighter quarantine-breaking penalties to those who agreed to wear them.
South Korea has reported between 27 and 53 new cases per day this week compared with several hundred a day between late February and early March.
Singapore bans teachers from using Zoom, citing security concerns.
Singapore has suspended the use of videoconferencing service Zoom by teachers following reports that two men made lewd comments and showed obscene images during a geography class for teenagers.
As Zoom becomes a staple of life during the pandemic, the company is scrambling to deal with a rise in trolling, graphic content and harassment by uninvited participants. Germany and Taiwan have restricted its use, and Google has banned it from employees’ laptops.
Singapore’s Education Ministry said it was investigating “very serious incidents” on the platform and halting use “as a precautionary measure.” The city-state’s schools had closed this week and moved to home-based learning in an effort to curb coronavirus infections.
Here are other developments in the pandemic around the world:
Tokyo reported a record number of new cases on Saturday, at 197. The city has confirmed a total of 40 deaths from the virus. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan had not yet hit its target of reducing commuting by at least 70 percent, and asked all businesses to let employees work from home.
Chile will start handing out certificates to people who have recovered that will exempt them from quarantines and other restrictions.
The World Health Organization said on Saturday that it was looking into reports of some Covid-19 patients testing positive again after testing negative while being considered for discharge. South Korean officials on Friday reported that 91 previously cleared patients had tested positive again. Jeong Eun-kyeong, the director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a briefing that the virus might have been “reactivated” rather than the patients being reinfected.
With 2 hours’ notice, Turkey puts millions under a lockdown.
Turkey’s cities fell quiet on Saturday, a day after the authorities ordered a two-day curfew for 31 provinces, and as the country’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic climbed above 1,000.
The lockdown, which came with two hours’ notice, affected Istanbul and Ankara, where international flights were halted and schools and bars closed three weeks ago.
“We urge all citizens who live in these 31 provinces to comply with this weekend’s lockdown without panicking,” Fahrettin Altun, the country’s communications director, said on Twitter.
Mr. Altun asked people to maintain their social distance in the time before the lockdown went into effect at midnight. But soon after the news was announced, hundreds of people rushed to late-night stores to shop for essentials in Istanbul, a city of 16 million.
Video posted to Twitter and Facebook showed the chaos as scores of densely packed crowds — some people wore no masks — jostled to enter a store and fights broke out.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that bakeries, pharmacies and health facilities could operate during the lockdown. Certain energy companies, distribution firms and some gas stations were also exempted.
The number of cases of Covid-19 increased by 4,747 and 98 people died in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 1,006, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
Pope Francis will say Easter Mass and deliver an annual message by live-stream.
Last year, the Vatican’s police force estimated that 70,000 faithful crammed into St. Peter’s Square on Easter morning to hear the pope deliver his “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the City and to the World”) message after the Easter Mass.
But on Sunday, Pope Francis won’t impart his Easter message and blessing from a window in the apostolic palace, from where he greets the faithful most Sundays. Instead, Francis will live-stream the Mass, followed by the message and a blessing, on the Vatican news website, starting at 11 a.m. local time (5 a.m. Eastern).
People are prohibited from gathering in the square. And the Francis will celebrate Mass with just a few assistants inside the empty basilica.
The Vatican also live-streamed the Via Crucis, the traditional Good Friday procession that evokes the Stations of the Cross leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, in St. Peter’s Square instead of Rome’s Colosseum, where it is traditionally held. At the end of the procession, Francis prayed silently before a wooden crucifix that had been carried during Rome’s 16th-century plague.
Earlier Friday, Francis called an Italian state TV Good Friday special to say he felt close to the victims of the pandemic, and that he was thinking about the “doctors, nurses, nuns and priests who had died on the front lines as soldiers, giving their life for love.”
In this pandemic, many are resisting, in their communities, in hospitals, caring for the ill. “Even today people are crucified, and die for love,” Francis said.
The virus has killed more than 100 priests in Italy.
Italy’s coronavirus outbreak is one of the world’s deadliest, and while doctors and nurses have become symbols of sacrifice against an invisible enemy, priests and nuns have also joined the fight.
Especially in deeply infected areas like Bergamo, they are risking, and sometimes giving, their lives to attend to the spiritual needs of the often older and devout Italians hardest hit by the virus.
Across Italy, the virus has killed nearly 100 priests, many of them retired. Avvenire, the newspaper run by the Italian bishops conference, is honoring the dead with the hashtag “PriestsForever.”
One of those who succumbed was the Rev. Fausto Resmini, 67, chaplain of Bergamo’s prison for nearly 30 years and the founder of a center for troubled youth. His fellow priests said that he caught the virus in the course of his work last month, and died on March 23.
The priests embody a vision of the church articulated by Pope Francis, who has often invoked the characters of the Italian masterpiece “The Betrothed,” in which priests selflessly treat those afflicted by the plague.
Those joining the fight against the coronavirus offer solace through WhatsApp groups, wave from behind car windows as they bring food to the sick, lean against the door frames of infected bedrooms as they deliver last rites and shroud themselves in personal protective equipment as they whisper prayers and encouragement at hospital bedsides.
They complain they cannot get closer, that the last touch the faithful feel is a gloved one, that the last face they see is often on a screen.
A British minister draws backlash for urging no ‘overuse’ of protective gear.
The British health secretary, Matt Hancock, has sparked anger among workers in the country’s National Health Service after he urged them not to waste personal protective equipment.
The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, warned on Saturday that supplies of personal protective equipment, or P.P.E., were dangerously low in London and part of northern England, and said that doctors were putting their lives at risk to treat patients with the coronavirus.
“It’s really important that people don’t overuse P.P.E.,” Mr. Hancock said in a BBC radio interview on Saturday. “It’s a precious resource.”
At a daily briefing on Friday, he said that masks and aprons did not have to be changed after treating each patient.
But the Royal College of Nursing’s general secretary, Donna Kinnair, told BBC’s “Breakfast” show: “I take offense, actually, that we are saying that health care workers are abusing or overusing P.P.E. I think what we know is, we don’t have enough supply.”
The opposition Labour Party leader, Keir Starmer, also said on Twitter: “It is quite frankly insulting to imply frontline staff are wasting PPE. There are horrific stories of NHS staff and care workers not having the equipment they need to keep them safe.”
Mr. Hancock also said on Saturday that 19 health service workers had died so far in the outbreak. Britain reported a daily total of 917 deaths in hospitals on Saturday, after a high of 980 on Friday. The total death toll stood at 9,975 as of Saturday.
He said the outbreak had yet to peak, although there were signs of hospital admissions “starting to flatten.”
With temperatures expected to reach up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend, government officials have warned the British public to continue to abide by lockdown restrictions.
The condition of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has continued to improve, his office said in a statement on Friday, adding that he had “been able to do short walks, between periods of rest.” He left intensive care on Thursday after three nights but remains in a hospital.
Ireland’s leader wins praise for heading to the front lines — as a doctor.
Last month, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland reactivated his registration as a medical doctor and said he would spend half a day each week fielding calls from people who believe they have contracted the coronavirus.
Although Dr. Varadkar, 41, was considered a spent force in Irish politics after his party finished last in a three-way Parliamentary race in February — he has remained in office on a caretaker basis — he is now winning praise for his energetic handling of the crisis. He canceled St. Patrick’s Day festivities, oversaw an aggressive early testing program, closed pubs and schools earlier than other European leaders and has spoken to the public about the contagion in honest, humane terms — in other words, like the general practitioner he once was.
Still, Ireland has not escaped the scourge of the coronavirus, with 263 deaths, 6,574 confirmed cases, and the expectation is that both numbers will spike in the coming weeks.
“He was at sixes and sevens after the election, but he is perceived as having gotten back on track,” said Pat Leahy, the political editor of The Irish Times. “There is a sense that he showed strong, quick leadership.”
Congo was on the brink of defeating Ebola, but one more case emerged.
In early March, health care workers celebrated what they hoped would be the last patient treated for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Their fight to conquer the epidemic appeared to be almost over. If the African nation could just make it to Sunday — the equivalent of two incubation periods — without any more cases, then the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history would officially be at an end.
But on Friday, the World Health Organization announced that a new case of Ebola had been confirmed in Beni. The news came as health care professionals had already begun to turn their attention to the arrival of the coronavirus in Congo.
Now, while medical workers push to stop any further resurgence of Ebola, they must also fight a flare-up of the coronavirus, in a region that has been overwhelmed for years with instability and violence.
“This is now a triple emergency,” said Kate Moger, a regional vice president with the International Rescue Committee.
The pandemic is bringing old internet dreams to life.
It’s been decades since utopian thinkers dreamed that cyberspace would miraculously fix societal woes. Yet the pandemic has prompted some to realize that social media — where we normally just promote ourselves — can be mobilized for building a sense of community.
In the United States, artists are singing opera, reading poetry and doing standup comedy on You-Tube and Instagram. These days, our reporter writes in The New York Times Magazine, online performances feel “as though they were really less about pure entertainment and more about serving a nation, a world even, that was suffering in isolation and fear.”
Healing practitioners have also made meditation sessions, yoga classes and other mental-health assistance available free online. And GoFundMe is a vehicle for distributing money to people hit hardest by the crisis, including sex workers and underinsured artists.
Reporting was contributed by Raphael Minder, Carlotta Gall, Abdi Latif Dahir, Keith Bradsher, Ceylan Yeginsu, David Halbfinger, Jason Horowitz, Elisabetta Povoledo, Yonette Joseph, Choe Sang-Hun, Kai Schultz, Motoko Rich, Jenna Wortham, Kirk Semple, Azam Ahmed, Ian Austen, Andrew Higgins, Elaine Yu, Jason M. Bailey, Dan Bilefsky, Melissa Eddy, Ana Swanson, Adam Nossiter, Stanley Reed, Jack Nicas and Daisuke Wakabayashi, Ian Austen, Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Mark Mazzetti and Julian E. Barnes
Updated April 11, 2020
When will this end?
This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In an American Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.
How can I help?
Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities. More than 30,000 coronavirus-related GoFundMe fund-raisers have started in the past few weeks. (The sheer number of fund-raisers means more of them are likely to fail to meet their goal, though.)
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
Should I wear a mask?
The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.
How do I get tested?
If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.
How does coronavirus spread?
It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.
Is there a vaccine yet?
No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.
What makes this outbreak so different?
Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.
What if somebody in my family gets sick?
If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.
Should I stock up on groceries?
Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
Can I go to the park?
Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don’t live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.
Should I pull my money from the markets?
That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.
What should I do with my 401(k)?
Watching your balance go up and down can be scary. You may be wondering if you should decrease your contributions — don’t! If your employer matches any part of your contributions, make sure you’re at least saving as much as you can to get that “free money.”
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