Half-million infected worldwide; economic toll grows

  • An undertaker wearing a garbage bag atop of a gown as a safety mesure during the coronavirus outbreak works at cemetery in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, March 25, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) Bernat Armangue

  • A doctor gathers information from a driver arriving to get tested for COVID-19 at private laboratory Biomedica de Referencia, in the Lomas Virreyes neighborhood of Mexico City, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) Rebecca Blackwell

  • Volunteer workers of a regional search and rescue move a stretcher, close to Navarra Hospital, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) Alvaro Barrientos

  • German Lufthansa planes sit parked in a line at the airport in Munich, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The planes are not in use because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) Matthias Schrader

  • In this photograph taken from behind a window, doctors inside a Covid-19 intensive care unit of San Matteo Hospital, in Pavia, northern Italy, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The San Matteo hospital is where Patient 1, a 38-year-old Unilever worker named Mattia, was kept since he tested positive for Covid-19 on Feb. 21 and opened Italy’s health care crisis. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing... Claudio Furlan/LaPresse

  • A vendor waits for customers at a market during the movement control order due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus in Kajang, outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, March 26, 2020. For most people the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, but for some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) Vincent Thian

  • FILE - In this March 19 2020 file photo, the mostly empty Champs Elysees avenue is pictured in Paris, Thursday, March 19, 2020. The confinement measures in and around Paris have had an impact in reducing the French capital's noise pollution levels. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) Michel Euler

  • Pallbearers carry a coffin of a person who died of coronavirus at the cemetery of La Almudena in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, March 26, 2020. For some people the COVID-19 coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, but for some, it can cause severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez) Manu Fernandez

  • A woman wearing a mask takes photos of cherry blossoms at the Yuyuantan Park in Beijing on Thursday, March 26, 2020. While many of the city's world-famous tourist sites, including the sprawling Forbidden City ancient palace complex, remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, spring weather and budding cherry blossoms are coaxing outdoors citizens who have been largely confined to home for the last two months. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) Ng Han Guan

  • Workers spray disinfectant over spectator seats at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara) Dita Alangkara

  • A commuter wears face mask to protect himself from new coronavirus at a skytrain in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Department of Rail Transport issued regulation requiring commuters to wear face marks while inside station and riding on train. First day of month long state of emergency was enforced in Thailand to allow its government to impose stricter measures to control the coronavirus that has infected hundreds of people in the Southeast Asian country. (AP Photo/Sakchai... Sakchai Lalit

  • Military trucks moving coffins of deceased people line up on the highway near Bergamo, Italy, one of the areas worst hit by the coronavirus infection, after the local crematory exceeded its maximum capacity, Thursday. AP PHOTO

  • A man wearing a mask is silhouetted against a wall as he walks into the shade of a building Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Tokyo. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is setting up a special task force to discuss coronavirus measures and emergency responses as the government now considers the spread of the COVID-19 virus rampant in the country, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Jae C. Hong

  • Passengers gather for a flight to Kuwait at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Michael Probst) Michael Probst

  • A woman walks through a terminal at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Michael Probst) Michael Probst

  • Homeless and impoverished Indians receive food at a government shelter in New Delhi, India, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Some of India's legions of poor and people suddenly thrown out of work by a nationwide stay-at-home order began receiving aid distribution Thursday, as both the public and private sector work to blunt the impact of efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo)

  • A Red Cross volunteer looks at beds set up for homeless people in the gymnasium of Uranienborg school, which is closed due to the corona eruption, in Oslo, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix via AP) Heiko Junge

  • A man walks a long an empty street in downtown Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) Emilio Morenatti

Published: 3/27/2020 9:37:54 AM

The human and economic toll of the lockdowns against the coronavirus mounted Thursday as India struggled to feed the multitudes, Italy shut down most of its industry, and a record-shattering 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in a single week.

As the number of infections worldwide reached a half-million and deaths climbed to about 23,000, the damage to people’s livelihoods and their well-being from the effort to flatten the rising curve started to come into focus.

In India, where the country’s 1.3 billion people were under orders to stay home, legions of poor were suddenly thrown out of work, and many families were left struggling for something to eat.

“Our first concern is food, not the virus,” said Suresh Kumar, 60, a bicycle rickshaw rider in New Delhi whose family of six relies on his daily earnings of 300 rupees, or $4. “I don’t know how I will manage.”

India has the world’s second-highest number of people living in extreme poverty. Rickshaw drivers, produce peddlers, maids, day laborers and other low-wage workers form the backbone of the economy, and many live day to day on their pay and have no savings to fall back on.

The Indian government announced a 1.7 trillion rupee ($22 billion) economic stimulus package that will deliver monthly rations of grain and lentils to a staggering 800 million people.

Around the globe, the death toll rose to about 8,200 in Italy, 4,100 in Spain and 1,700 in France, including a 16-year-old. The U.S. had more than 1,000 deaths, about 400 of them in New York State, the worst hotspot in the nation. Most of those were in New York City, where hospitals are getting swamped with patients.

But Louisiana was quickly becoming another smoldering hotspot. The number of new cases there jumped by more than 500 Thursday, surpassing 2,300, with 86 deaths, including a 17-year-old, the state health department said. The higher infection numbers reflected an increase in testing.

From New York’s Fifth Avenue and London’s Piccadilly Circus to the boulevards of Paris and the streets of Rome and Madrid, restaurants, hotels, airlines, giant chains and small shops are all shuttered, and factories across both continents have ground to a halt, as cities, states and entire countries have ordered the closing of nonessential businesses and instructed people to stay home.

Companies in Europe are laying off workers at the fastest pace since 2009, according to surveys of business managers. And the U.S. is bleeding jobs as well: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week was nearly five times the old record, set in 1982.

Dann Dykas, 37, of Portland, Oregon, was laid off from his job helping design and set up displays for trade shows.

“Everything is so surreal,” he said. “I can’t even get an interview for another job, and we now have to worry more about being careful and taking care of ourselves.”

In Georgia, 33-year-old Ian Smith was let go from his job at a wine bar and is working “side hustles” and relying on the generosity of friends.

“On my worst days, it’s hopelessness, and on some of my better days, it’s ‘What possibility can I create in all of this?’” he said. “I can’t pretend that I always feel that, though.”

In a rare positive sign, stocks rallied on Wall Street for the third straight day after an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package to help businesses, hospitals and ordinary Americans pull through the crisis cleared the Senate. The plan, which is expected to be voted on in the House on Friday, would dispense checks of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.

President Donald Trump announced that federal officials are developing guidelines to rate counties by risk of virus spread, as he aims to ease the restrictions meant to slow the outbreak.

The British government unveiled another relief effort, this time aimed at the gig economy, many of whose workers are facing financial ruin. The government will give the self-employed grants equal to 80% of their average monthly profits, up to 2,500 pounds ($2,975) per month.

South Africa, with the most industrialized economy in Africa, headed into a three-week lockdown starting Friday. The country is already in recession, with an unemployment rate of 29%.

Italy, the eurozone’s third-biggest economy and a major exporter of machinery, textiles and other goods, became perhaps the first Western developed nation to idle most of its industry, extending a shutdown on smaller, nonessential businesses to heavy manufacturers.

Among the companies in Italy that have shut down or rolled back production: Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, Pirelli tires and Luxottica eyewear, maker of Ray-Bans and Oakleys.

The industrial lobby Confindustria estimates a cost of 70 billion to 100 billion euros ($77 billion-$110 billion) of national wealth a month if 70% of companies are closed, as anticipated.

“We are entering a war economy,’’ said Confindustria President Vincenzo Boccia.

In other developments:

■ China said it is temporarily barring most foreigners from entering as it tries to curb imported cases. Reports of new cases from inside the country have stopped.

■In the Mideast, Saudi Arabia announced a total lockdown on the capital, Riyadh, and Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, in addition to a nationwide curfew. In the United Arab Emirates, authorities announced an overnight weekend lockdown and used drones to tell people to stay home.

■In New York, the state’s death toll jumped by 100 in one day, pushing the number to 385, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. He added that experts expect the number to increase as critically ill patients who have been on ventilators for several days succumb to the virus. “That is a situation where people just deteriorate over time,” Cuomo said.

__ The leaders of the Group of 20 major industrialized nations held a video summit for safety reasons and vowed to work together to confront the crisis but made no specific commitments.

__ In Brazil, the country’s governors are defying President Jair Bolsonaro over his call to reopen schools and businesses, dismissing his argument that the “cure” of widespread shutdowns is worse than the disease. As of Thursday, the country had more than 2,500 cases and 59 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

So far, more than 120,000 people have recovered, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

___

Long reported from Washington, Rising reported from Berlin and Schmall from New Delhi. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.




Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

Copyright © 2020 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy