Surpass 60,000 in U.S.; Spain Death Toll Overtakes China

The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the U.S. surpassed 60,000, led by a continued surge of infections in New York, as lawmakers worked to soften the economic consequences of the pandemic that has shut down wide swaths of the country.
World-wide there were more than 458,000 cases Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 20,800 people have died, and in a grim milestone, Spain on Wednesday surpassed China’s death toll from the virus. Infections in Italy rose to 74,386, closing in on China’s 81,661.
India, meanwhile, implemented the world’s most extensive stay-at-home order, and Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the British throne, tested positive for the virus.
The U.S. now trails only China and Italy in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with 62,086 infections, according to Johns Hopkins data. More than 860 people have died.

As hospitals strain under the onslaught of new cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is focused on increasing capacity to up to 140,000 beds and acquiring needed equipment, including an additional 15,000 ventilators.
“We’re looking at hotels. We’re looking at former nursing homes, converting other facilities to make up the differential,” Mr. Cuomo said. New York City has already tapped Manhattan’s Javits Center, normally used for large conventions, as a makeshift hospital.
The rise in cases comes even as the state and New York City are virtually at a standstill. New York City’s density, particularly in parks, continues to be a problem, Mr. Cuomo said. He said he has signed off on a pilot program to close some city streets to cars to allow pedestrians more room to walk.
Still, Mr. Cuomo said there was some evidence to suggest that restrictions were producing some results, pointing to the fact that the rate at which hospitalizations were doubling was going down. “I’m not 100% sure it holds or it’s accurate, but the arrows are headed in the right direction,” he said.
Another good sign, the governor said, was the situation in Westchester County, one of the first places in the U.S. to have quarantine restrictions put in place. “We have dramatically slowed what was an exponential increase,” Mr. Cuomo said.

State leaders across America have urged residents to stay home in clampdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the virus by limiting human interaction. Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez joined that growing list on Wednesday.
But the restrictions are dealing a sharp blow to businesses. Cities and states are also scrambling to figure out how to relieve new budget pressures, even as they look to add resources to deal with the new reality. Chicago said it is turning United Center, home to the Bulls and Blackhawks, into a logistical hub for virus-related assistance in the city, including food distribution, first responder staging and the collection of medical supplies.
To help cushion the economic fallout, Congress was expected to pass an estimated $2 trillion stimulus package that includes direct checks to many Americans, an expanded unemployment-insurance program, loans to businesses and additional resources for health-care providers.
President Trump also said he hopes to have the country reopened in just over two weeks, a significantly shorter timeline than what many public-health experts have recommended.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that four of the five biggest banks have promised to waive mortgage payments for 90 days for California customers experiencing financial hardship related to Covid-19. Previously, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said they would offer deferrals on home mortgages and postpone foreclosures for homeowners affected by coronavirus whose loans they back.
Mr. Newsom didn’t issue a statewide moratorium on evictions, something dozens of state legislators urged him to do in a letter Wednesday. The Democrat said his staff was reviewing legal issues around such an order.
U.S. stocks rose Wednesday in frenetic trading, amid renewed optimism over the stimulus package.

Officials in Europe, the current global center of the pandemic, are also seeking a fiscal response. They said there is broad support for allowing countries to tap precautionary credit lines from the eurozone’s €410 billion ($440 billion) bailout fund. European Union leaders plan to meet by teleconference Thursday to discuss the proposal.

Over the past two weeks, Spain has suffered one of the fastest-growing outbreaks in the world. Health officials there on Wednesday reported 738 fatalities from Covid-19, the pneumonialike illness caused by the virus—the steepest daily increase in a national death toll that has risen to 3,434. The situation is so serious that authorities found elderly people unattended and dead in their beds in more than one nursing home.
Only in Italy, which has 7,503 reported deaths, has the coronavirus taken more lives.

In the U.K., where confirmed cases have grown to more than 8,300, Prince Charles tested positive for the virus and has mild symptoms, his office said. Queen Elizabeth is in good health, her spokesman said, declining to comment on whether she had been tested for the virus.
As the virus spreads across the globe, governments are bracing for a monthslong siege. More countries are enforcing or considering nationwide lockdowns, even as authorities grapple with how much economic pain their countries are ready and able to endure.

Canadian officials said Wednesday they would make it mandatory beginning at midnight for all travelers to isolate themselves for a 14-day period after returning to Canada. Under Canadian law, people who contravene a mandatory quarantine can face fines or jail time.
In India, the new lockdown affects 1.3 billion people and closes all private businesses and government offices deemed nonessential. Iran and Saudi Arabia also announced tighter travel restrictions.

While World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised countries that have put restrictions in place to contain the virus’s spread, he warned about lifting limitations too soon. “The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses only to close them again because of a resurgence,” Dr. Tedros said.
Places that were quick to contain the first wave of infections originating in China—including Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan—are now confronting fast-rising numbers, largely linked to returning travelers. China also continues to report new cases among travelers from abroad, though it has reported several days without new domestic infections in the past week.
“We have been saying for more than two months now that this virus is public enemy number one,” Dr. Tedros said. “The time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago. But we still believe that there is opportunity.”
Surpass 60,000 in U.S.; Spain Death Toll Overtakes China Surpass 60,000 in U.S.; Spain Death Toll Overtakes China Reviewed by Anson Moore on March 25, 2020 Rating: 5

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