Italy Goes Full "Wuhan", Orders Most Restrictive Lockdown Yet, As Global Case Total Passes 300k: Live Updates

Summary:

  • Massive surge in number of deaths and cases in UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, and France
  • New York, New Jersey deaths, cases accelerate
  • Italy goes under full lockdown
  • Rikers outbreak worsens: 21 inmates
  • NY Gov Cuomo: "months, not weeks" to control virus
  • Ukraine declares total quarantine
  • Belgium sees 25% jump in cases
  • Saudi Arabia reports 10% spike
  • German gov't ends years of fiscal restraint with 365 billion euro aid package
  • NYC airspace closed after positive Air Traffic Controller test
  • NJ declares full state lockdown; "will take action" for people not following precautions
  • FDA authorizes first 45-minute COVID-19 test
  • US Fiscal Aid package around $2 trillion (10% of GDP), Kudlow
  • Officials increasingly calling for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics

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Update (0940ET): After one of his aides tested positive, VP Pence was tested, and as it turns out, has tested negative, along with his wife, Karen Pence.

In other news, as New York emerges as America's premier hot spot, the situation on Riker's Island, the nation's second-largest prison system, is growing increasingly dire. According to information from the city's Board of Correction, 21 Rikers inmates, 12 jail employees and five correctional health workers have tested positive for COVID-19, up from just 8 the day before.

Already, one worker at the complex has died. Just like the prison outbreaks in China, the virus spread rapidly from workers on the periphery to the corrections officers to the prisoners. According to the New York Times, It started with a jails investigator in an office three miles from Rikers Island. Then, a correction officer at a security checkpoint near the entrance to the jail complex got it. Hours later, it was an inmate in a crowded housing unit.

Within days, the investigator had died and three more correction officers and two other staff members had tested positive for the coronavirus, confirming fears that the highly contagious disease had arrived in the nation’s second-largest jail system, endangering 5,300 inmates and twice as many guards.On Thursday, the jail system’s chief physician, Ross MacDonald, took to Twitter with a warning: "A storm is coming."

Civilian employees in the prison system were ordered to remain home for two weeks to limit the number of people entering the prisons. More controversially, visits by friends and family have been suspended, something that the inmates aren't exactly thrilled about.

Let's hope they don't react like some prisoners in Italy did.

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Update (1835ET): Even after threatening Italians in some areas with serious criminal penalties for violating their stringent quarantine orders, it seems Italy's coronavirus containment efforts have failed.

After reporting another shocking jump in deaths, the Italian government has gone full "Wuhan", ordering a complete shutdown of industrial production for 15 days.

In a speech delivered just before midnight on Saturday in Rome, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that he is ordering ALL non-essential businesses to be closed, and for Italians to stay home.

These measures are slightly more restrictive than the current measures, which allow Italians more freedom to move about their towns and communities. They will also likely result in a much larger economic hit, as Italy's industrial stalwarts are forced to pause operation.

And just like that, an entire country - 60 million Italians - is now under 'shelter in place.'

Elsewhere, as Middle Eastern countries escalate their crackdowns, Kuwait announced that it would start imposing a curfew between 5pm and 4am due to what the government called “non-compliance with Ministry of Health’s instructions to stay indoors." Meanwhile, the UAE has closed beaches and parks for two weeks.

As the number of confirmed cases in Europe and North America soar, the total global case total has surpassed 300k on Saturday.

Finally, an interesting snippet from the FT: Researchers on multiple continents say an usual symptom has emerged in the majority of Covid-19 patients: a loss of the sense of smell.

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Update (1510ET): Across Europe on Saturday, deaths accorded to COVID-19 soared, with Italy reporting a record 793 deaths on Friday, and Spain reporting another 300 cases, bringing their totals to 4,825 and 1,326.

The UK also reported another string of deaths, as millions await a lockdown order on London, while hospitals and intensive care units in Italy and Spain are struggling to cope, despite some Madrid hotels being temporarily converted and of the Fair of Madrid, the capital’s main exhibition space.

As we've mentioned before, now is a good time for coffinmakers and funeral homes in Italy.

But these weren't the only states seeing a spike. The total number of cases of coronavirus in Belgium rose by over 500 in 24 hours, a 25% jump bringing its total number to 2,815. The government also reported deaths had risen to 67, an increase of 30 over the same time period. According to the FT, a spokesman for the Belgian government’s crisis center advised people to establish a clear daily routine to avoid mental health issues.

In Ukraine, Arsen Avakov, the country's interior affairs minister, called for a nationwide "total full quarantine," warning that strict lockdowns and possibly martial law would soon be declared to stop the spread of the virus.

As we mentioned earlier, Germany is set to abandon six years of fiscal restraint with a blow-out budget designed to save its economy from the brutal effects of the coronavirus pandemic of €356 billion .

Even Saudi Arabia saw a 10% spike in cases announced on Saturday, with 48 new cases confirmed, bringing the total number in KSA to 392.

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Update (1415ET): Just as Gov. Cuomo hinted earlier this week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed an executive order mandating that all non-essential workers living in the state stay home.

Meanwhile, a group of European countries have reported new figures, including Spain, which announced that more than 5,000 new cases and ~300 new deaths were confirmed over the past day, increasing the total number of cases in the country by 25% to 24,926, according to the Spanish Ministry of Health.

The death toll in the country is at 1,326.

Germany confirmed that it has agreed to take on over €150 billion of new debt as part of a €350 billion package of emergency measures to save its economy from the brutal effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

More devastating figures were released from Italy on Saturday, including announcing 793 new deaths, the highest total yet, bringing its total to 4,825, well above China's total, and the latest in a grim string of records that has so far tracked the worst fears of epidemiologists. In total, more than 53,578 cases have been confirmed.

UK today saw total deaths reach 233 as the number of cases soared by more than 1000 to 5,015 from 3,983 on Friday. Italy was at that death figure on March 7. The UK patients were aged between 41 and 94 years old and all had underlying health conditions, according to NHS England. Earlier, two more deaths were recorded in Wales, bringing its total to five, and another death in Scotland, taking the number to seven. Northern Ireland has recorded one death.

Finally, France also just reported the biggest daily jump in covid cases, which soared by 1,847 to 14,459, while the number of deaths spiked the most yet, or 112 to 562 overnight.

Meanwhile, in Asia, Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, imposed a partial shutdown from Sunday as the number of confirmed cases surged past 400 with a rising number of people in critical condition. Malls in Bangkok will be closed, and shops offering food and essential services will be among the few allowed to remain open, Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang said during a press briefing on Saturday. The restrictions will begin Sunday, and continue until at least April 12, he said.

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(1230ET): New cases are being reported out of New York State and NYC are being reported faster than we can keep up, as the state ramps up testing.

NYC officials just announced that the total number of confirmed cases in the city has climbed to 7,530. An hour ago, Gov. Cuomo put the number at 6,211.

By our count, this puts the new total cases in New York State at 11,675.

Last night, de Blasio described NYC as the "epicenter" of the US outbreak.

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Update (1145ET): During Saturday's press briefing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made clear that he wasn't waiting around for the military and FEMA to solve his state's problems.

After announcing new restrictions that closed all "non-essential" businesses and threatened fines and other punishments for any "non-essential" New York workers who violate his 'stay at home' order (though, of course, certain activities like buying food, medication and doctors appointments will be permitted).

As state's scramble to follow President Trump's advice to try and acquire equipment through their own supply chains, Cuomo revealed that New York State had ordered 6,000 ventilators.

He also announced that he would be traveling around the state on Saturday with state workers looking for appropriate staging areas for the Army Corp of Engineers, which is preparing to renovate buildings to prepare more space for COVID-19 patients.

With a federal cost-sharing rate of 75%, New York State will be able to dole emergency funds out to counties, towns and cities, as well as the state's Native American tribes. Nonprofits working in the state can also receive money if they meet certain criteria. Part of the money will pay for 'crisis counseling' for New Yorkers who are psychologically or physically impacted by the crisis.

As Cuomo's press conference was ending, the state reported another 3,254 new cases of the virus, bringing its total to 10,356, making New York State the first in the US to pass 10,000.

Here's a video from Cuomo's press briefing:

In addition to ordering all nonessential businesses to cease operating outside the home, Cuomo ordered all people over 70 or with underlying health conditions to avoid public transportation and stay home except for solitary exercise.

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For nearly a week now, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been begging the White House or the Pentagon to send in the Army Corp of Engineers to quickly transform existing businesses into coronavirus hospitals where patients from the impending surge can be isolated and treated.

If the state doesn't quickly make up for its twin shortages of hospital beds and medical equipment, Cuomo warned, it could lead to thousands of preventable deaths.

Now, a few days after President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper dispatched a Navy hospital ship to New York to help with the outbreak, President Donald Trump formally approved FEMA aid to the state late Friday night after declaring New York the nation's first "major disaster area" since the start of the national outbreak.

Billions of dollars in emergency funding are now available to help combat the outbreak in the state, FEMA said in a statement.

"Federal funding is also available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures," FEMA said in a statement.

President Trump's national emergency declaration earlier this month activated FEMA, and made a pot of $42 billion in disaster-relief funds available.

The decision comes after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed that his city has become the epicenter of the national outbreak, as public health authorities in the city counted at least one coronavirus-linked death per hour on Friday.

Between just 10 am and 6 pm, 14 people in NYC died from the virus, raising the death toll in America's largest city to 43. It was the first time NYC's daily death toll hit double-digits.

NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot warned on Saturday morning that double-digit increases in deaths may become the new normal for New Yorkers, for at least a time.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if we get to a day when we have double-digits new people dying every day," she said at a City Hall press conference Friday afternoon.

"With more and more cases confirmed here each day, it’s imperative that the federal government does everything within its power to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus."

In another rare moment of political unity, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised the president's decision.

Yesterday, Cuomo ordered 100% of the state's workforce to stay home, effective Sunday evening. Only essential businesses are allowed to stay open. And that's not a request, that's an order.

"These are not helpful hints...they will be enforced," as Cuomo said during his Friday press conference, as we reported.

The latest data show 8,299 confirmed cases in New York State. And as the state runs out of hospital beds and precious ventilators, Trump is sending in the military, which is now working on plans to takeover hotels, college dormitories and sports arenas and turn them into ICU-like medical facilities, as the Daily Mail reports.

According to the latest federal data, at least 19,624 people have been diagnosed with the virus, and at least 260 deaths have been recorded. So far, 147 people have recovered. Globally, there have been at least 275,000 diagnosed cases and more than 11,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

With billions in federal funding flowing into New York, Trump's decision to declare New York a "major disaster" will open up money available to eligible local and tribal governments and even nonprofits who meet the criteria, so long as they operate in areas affected by COVID-19 in New York State.

Initially, it seemed like the outbreak was developing in the suburbs,

Public health officials in New York State were gripped with anxiety earlier this month as a cluster of cases was confirmed in New Rochelle, including the town's "patient zero", a lawyer who commuted into Manhattan into his wife, also a lawyer. Both contracted the virus, kicking off a wave of infections in a Jewish community in and around New Rochelle.

Now, it appears swift action in wealthy Westchester County has brought the outbreak under control (or so it seems, at least).

The bigger problem now is an outbreak in Jewish communities in Brooklyn, based in the neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Borough Park. The clusters, though so far not explicitly acknowledged as such by the state, appear to be the biggest centers of infection in the city. De Blasio even admitted that Brooklyn is seeing the worst of the outbreak.

Switzerland reported another batch of new cases, bringing its total to 6,100 infections and 56 deaths.

As the global panic deepens, and the number of cases continues to multiply at an alarming rate, more officials are calling for the 2020 Tokyo Games to be postponed - an unprecedented event that would probably rattle confidence in global markets, at least momentarily, as the world grapples with the unprecedented situation at hand. The IOC chief rebutted these calls again Saturday morning, according to reports in the Japanese press, but it definitely makes one wonder: If things keep getting worse, how much longer can they hold off?