Coronavirus update: ‘Shutdown’ urged, hoarding discouraged

in Breaking News/COVID-19/Health/News

By Wausau Pilot and Review and the Associated Press

As shelves emptied at grocery stores nationwide, President Donald Trump advised Americans Sunday that “there’s no need to hoard” food and other items.

Meanwhile, more states and cities announced restrictions to contain the COVID-19 virus. And the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Sunday he would like to see a 14-day national shutdown that would require Americans to hunker down even more to help slow disease spread.

The death toll in the United States has exceeded 50, while infections neared 3,000 across 49 states and the District of Columbia. Those numbers are modest compared to some other countries, but the virus can take up to two weeks to show symptoms.

Wisconsin has reported no deaths, but 33 positive test results were recorded statewide as of Sunday including one in Wood County.

Public worship was curtailed in many places as pastors gave sermons to empty pews or moved to online services. Muslim authorities announced that the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City would be closed indefinitely, and the Vatican said next month’s Holy Week services would not be open to the public.

Americans returning from abroad faced chaos at airports as overwhelmed border agents tried to screen passengers for illness.

In Spain, long lines for food and police patrols marked the first day of a nationwide quarantine. In the Philippines, soldiers and police sealed off the densely populated capital of Manila from most domestic travelers. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced plans to limit movement nationwide, and Lebanon’s government ordered a lockdown in the country, closing down Beirut’s famed seaside corniche.

Ireland ordered all pubs and bars to close for two weeks — including on Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day — and urged people not even to hold house parties. Two pub industry groups had warned of the “real difficulty” in keeping people apart in the country’s famous watering holes.

With new infections dwindling in Asia, Europe has become the main front line of the fight against COVID-19. The virus has infected 162,000 people and killed over 6,000, but nearly 75,000 people have already recovered.<

“People should go out “only alone or with the people who live in their apartment,” said Austria’s Kurz, whose country has 800 infections.

That was echoed by one of America’s top infectious disease experts.

“I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told NBC’s ”Meet the Press.’’

Among developments Sunday:

  • California’s governor called for closure of all bars and wineries, and home isolation of everyone 65 and older. Illinois said all restaurants and bars will be closed to dine-in customers beginning Monday night until the end of the month.
  • The Fed took emergency action to slash short-term rate to nearly zero and ease banking rules to encourage lending. State and local government tax revenue is expected to take a hit amid the coronavirus outbreak as businesses close or severely curtail operations.
  • The U.S. is trying to add additional screening capacity for the coronavirus at airports where travelers are returning from Europe, the acting Homeland Security secretary says. People have had to wait in crowds for hours, elevating their risk of exposure.
  • Movie theater box offices suffered their worst weekend in two decades with fewer people going to movie theaters.
  • Schools across the country, including New York City’s 1,900 public schools, continued to announce closures or extended breaks.
  • Italy saw a big one-day increase in coronavirus cases. Health officials say 3,590 more cases were reported Sunday, bringing the country’s total to 24,747. The number of deaths rose 368 to 1,809.
  • The Vatican in Rome said Holy Week ceremonies will go ahead next month without attendees. Tens of thousands usually turn out for those ceremonies.
  • Spain says deaths from the coronavirus have more than doubled in one day to 288. The country now has 7,753 infections, up from 5,700 on Saturday, with around half of them concentrated in the capital of Madrid, health officials say.
  • Iran says coronavirus has killed another 113 people, raising overall death toll to 724 amid over 13,900 confirmed cases. Several African countries have announced sweeping restrictions to try to contain the steady spread.