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Illinois and NY join Calif. in lockdowns

  • Two pairs of hikers maintain distance as they mingle at Vista View Point in Griffith Park, Friday, March 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order Thursday for residents to venture outside only for essential jobs, errands and some exercise, due to coronavirus concerns. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) Chris Pizzello

  • A bicycle delivery worker wears a protective face mask as he rides through a sparsely populated Times Square due to COVID-19 concerns Friday in New York. ap photo

  • Italian soldiers patrol as the Duomo gothic cathedral is visible in background, in Milan, Friday, March 20, 2020. Mayors of many towns in Italy are asking for ever more stringent measures on citizens' movements to help contain the surging infections of the coronavirus. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) Luca Bruno

  • Carpenters wear protective gear as they board up the closed Sephora store on 34th St., Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ordering all workers in non-essential businesses to stay home and banning gatherings statewide. "Only essential businesses can have workers commuting to the job or on the job," Cuomo said of an executive order he will sign Friday. Nonessential gatherings of individuals of any size or for any reason are canceled or postponed. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Mary Altaffer

  • An member of the group 'Pause the System' wears a face mask as she protests in front of the entrance to Downing Street in London, Friday, March 20, 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/Frank Augstein) Frank Augstein

  • People wearing masks, as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, ride an empty train in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, March 20, 2020. Argentina's government has ordered residents to quarantine themselves until the end of the month to help contain the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) Natacha Pisarenko

  • Health services staff members protest outside the Txagorritxu hospital demanding more protection equipment, after a Spanish nurse died Thursday from coronavirus COVID-19 in a hospital, in Vitoria, northern Spain, Friday March 20, 2020. Spain will mobilise 200 billion euros for workers and vulnerable citizens, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Tuesday. For many people the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, but for some it causes more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) Alvaro Barrientos

  • A member of the health service at Txagorritxu hospital walks along the perimeter of the hospital, in Vitoria, northern Spain, Vitoria, northern Spain, March 20, 2020. Spain will mobilize 200 billion euros or the equivalent to one fifth of the country's annual output in loans, credit guarantees and subsidies for workers and vulnerable citizens, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Tuesday. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) Alvaro Barrientos

  • A healthcare worker prepares to collect a sample to test for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing site Friday, March 20, 2020, at the Doris Ison Health Center in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) Wilfredo Lee

  • A face mask on the ground as a woman walks with her dog along a street in downtown Barcelona, Spain, Friday, March 20, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) EMILIO MORENATTI

  • An open-air double decker sightseeing bus stops on the slopes of Table Mountain, overlooking the city of Cape Town, South Africa, Friday March, 20, 2020 Anxiety rose in Africa's richest nation Friday as South Africa announced coronavirus cases jumped to 202, the most in the sub-Saharan region, while the country's largest airport announced that foreigners would not be allowed to disembark. And state-owned South African Airways suspended all international flights until June. 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)

  • A sign calling people to stay home to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus is placed on a statue of the first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion at a beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, March 20, 2020. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was further tightening restrictions on movement, with exceptions only to go out for food or other urgent matters. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty) Oded Balilty

  • The usually busy avenue running along Nemesio Camacho stadium is empty in Bogota, Colombia, Friday, March 20, 2020. Residents in the capital of Colombia start a four-day simulated home lockdown drill, similar to one surrounding nations are using to stop the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Ivan Valencia) Ivan Valencia

  • People applaud the caregivers for their work, as the coronavirus ravaged communities across the country, in Paris, Friday, March 20, 2020. Paris police imposed a ban for the weekend on the Seine River banks. 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/Michel Euler) Michel Euler

  • Carlos Vasquez, left, and his nephew R.J. Vasquez, wait for customers at their family's barber shop Friday, March 20, 2020, in Houston. The barbers at family-owned barber shop estimate they have lost nearly half of their business due to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) David J. Phillip

Published: 3/20/2020 8:06:53 PM
Modified: 3/20/2020 8:06:40 PM

Illinois and New York state joined California on Friday in ordering all residents to stay in their homes unless they have vital reasons to go out, restricting the movement of more than 70 million Americans in the most sweeping measures taken yet in the U.S. to contain the coronavirus.

The governors of the three states acted in a bid to fend off the kind of onslaught that has caused the health system in southern Europe to buckle. The lockdowns encompass the three biggest cities in America — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — as well as No. 8 San Diego and No. 14 San Francisco.

“No, this is not life as usual,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as the death toll in the U.S. topped 200, with at least 35 in his state. “Accept it and realize it and deal with it.”

Cuomo said that starting Sunday, all workers in nonessential businesses must stay home as much as possible, and all gatherings of any size will be banned in the state of over 19 million people. California likewise all but confined its 40 million residents Friday in the biggest lockdown in the nation.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a similar order set to take effect on Saturday for the state’s 12.6 million people.

Exceptions were made for essential jobs and errands, such as grocery shopping and obtaining medicine, as well as for exercise.

The lockdowns sent another shudder through the markets, where many fear a recession is a near certainty. Stocks tumbled on Wall Street, closing out their worst week since the financial crisis of 2008. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 900 points, ending the week with a 17% loss.

The increasingly drastic measures in the U.S. came as gasping patients filled the wards of hospitals in Spain and Italy, and the global death toll surpassed 11,000, with the virus gaining footholds in new corners of the world.

Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, reported 627 new deaths Friday, its biggest day-to-day rise since the outbreak began, and said new cases also shot up. Italy now has seen over 4,000 deaths — more even than China — and 47,000 infections. The soaring numbers came despite a nationwide lockdown.

The World Health Organization noted the epidemic’s dramatic speed, pointing out that it took more than three months to reach the first 100,000 confirmed cases but only 12 days to reach the next 100,000. As of Friday, Johns Hopkins University counted more than 260,000 infections worldwide.

Across the U.S., governors and public health officials watched the crisis in Europe with mounting alarm and warned of critical shortages of ventilators, masks and other protective gear at home.

As promised earlier in the week, President Donald Trump officially invoked emergency wartime authority to try to speed production of such equipment.

But while the government has vowed to fix the botched roll-out of widespread virus testing, laboratories reported serious shortages of test supplies such as swabs and chemical components.

Countries frantically prepared for a deluge of patients in the coming weeks.

In Britain, the government asked 65,000 retired nurses and doctors to return to work. A convention center and hotels in Madrid were being turned into field hospitals for nearly 10,000 patients. France’s military worked to build a makeshift medical center in the hard-hit town of Mulhouse. The U.S. readied military hospitals for civilian use, and more than 4,000 National Guard members were deployed in 31 states to help distribute food, scrub down surfaces and help in other ways.

Trump also announced the closing of the Mexican border to most travel but not trade. That brings it in line with the restrictions on the Canadian border earlier this week. The income tax filing deadline was also moved from April 15 to July 15.

“We’re about to enter into a new way of living here in Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said as California went into lockdown. “What we do and how we do it and if we get this right will determine how long this crisis lasts.”

The streets of America’s cities were quieter than normal Friday — even in many of those communities not under lockdown — but not empty.

In New York, Edjo Wheeler said he knew two people very sick with flu-like symptoms, which can indicate the coronavirus.

“That makes me walk around with my hands in my pocket to make sure I’m not touching things,’ said Wheeler, 49, who runs a nonprofit art center. He added: “If everyone doesn’t cooperate it’s not going to be effective.”

The virus has struck at the very identities of many countries: closing down cafes, restaurants and boulevard life in France, ending la dolce vita in Italy, shutting down England’s pubs and the ceremonial changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, wrecking sales of tulips in Holland and shuttering the Statue of Liberty in the U.S.

Governments are trying to balance locking down residents with the need to keep food, medicine and other essentials flowing.

In Britain, the category of vital workers includes doctors, nurses and paramedics — and also vicars, truckers, garbage collectors and journalists. In New York, people venturing outside will have to stay at least 6 feet apart. And while they will be free to go out to get some exercise to keep their sanity, there will be no “playing basketball with five other people,” Cuomo said.

“These provisions will be enforced,” the governor said. “These are not helpful hints.”

In Bergamo, the epicenter of the Italian outbreak, cemeteries were overwhelmed. Patients at the city’s main hospital lined up in a narrow ward, struggling for breath as doctors and nurses moved swiftly from one beeping machine to the next.

“When the virus arrived here, there was no containment and it spread through the valleys very quickly. ... Some said it was the normal flu. We doctors knew it was not,” said Dr. Luca Lorini, head of intensive care at the hospital, where nearly 500 beds were dedicated to people suffering severe virus symptoms. Eighty patients were in intensive care.

In the Italian farm town of Fondi, home to a wholesale produce market serving Rome and Naples, a new ordinance banned all but essential people from entering or leaving after 40 elderly residents became infected.

At a convent on the outskirts of Rome, 19 of 21 nuns were infected, according to the Italian daily Il Messaggero. A Vatican decree absolved the sins of the faithful who were sick or in quarantine, as well as those of their caregivers, if they met certain conditions.

“Certain medical centers are suffering stress that is reaching the limit,” said Fernando Simón, director of Spain’s center for health alerts and emergencies. “The difficult days in which we must bear down are coming now. We must keep our focus.”

While the illness is mild in most people, the elderly are particularly susceptible to serious symptoms. Italy has the world’s second-oldest population, and the vast majority of its dead — 87% — were over 70.

Still, even younger people are at risk.

“You’re not invincible,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned them. He noted that many countries are reporting that people under 50 make up a “significant proportion” of patients needing to be hospitalized.

Some of the only good news came from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began and where hospitals were struggling just weeks ago. For the second day in a row, no new infections were reported and only 39 cases were recorded nationwide — all brought from the outside, the government said.

With the crisis waning there, China has begun sending medical supplies to Europe.

The effects of the global economy grinding to a halt took their toll, from millions of unsold flowers rotting in piles in Kenya to the slow emptying of the world’s skies. Canada received 500,000 applications for unemployment benefits, versus 27,000 for the same week last year.

In the U.S., Congress worked to put together a $1 trillion emergency package to prop up industry and small businesses and dispense relief checks of $1,200 for adults and $500 per child. The British government also unveiled a huge relief package under which the country for the time in its history would help pay the wages of those in the private sector.

Iran’s official toll of more than 1,400 dead was rising quickly as well amid fears it is underreporting its cases.

As the virus strengthened its foothold in Africa, the continent’s busiest airport, in Johannesburg, announced that foreigners will no longer be allowed to disembark.




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