Coronavirus Live Updates: Nations Pledge Trillions to Stave Off Economic Catastrophe

Nations around the world waged a two-front war on Wednesday: fighting the spread of the virus through ever tightening restrictions on people’s movements and stabilizing economies severely damaged by those efforts.

The White House is seeking more than one trillion dollars to blunt the financial fallout from the sudden and drastic changes to daily life caused by the coronavirus.

Germany has promised $600 billion to help businesses and individuals. British leaders said they would throw more than $420 billion at the crisis. The European Union promised hundreds of billions to support member states. Leaders in France, Spain, Italy and dozens of other nations have pledged to spend whatever is needed to meet the moment.

To put that in context — and to give a sense of the scale of the current crisis — the United States appropriated about $200 billion in today’s money for the Marshall Plan to help rebuild Europe after World War II.

But even as governments and central banks around the world promised to use all the fiscal and monetary policy instruments in their arsenal to prevent an economic collapse, the ripple effects of closing borders, locking down entire nations and telling people to stay in their homes continued to swell.

Wall Street, rocked by wild swings, was poised to have another rough day. Global markets fell sharply on Wednesday as worries about the world economy persisted.

Around the world, cities expressed growing concern about funding for vital services after revenue disappeared virtually overnight.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York City’s subways and two commuter railroads, said it desperately needed $4 billion from the federal government.

With new infections continuing to rise in the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said 8.6 million residents could be told to “shelter in place” within the next 48 hours. However, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pushed back against that idea.

The term “shelter in place” has previously been associated with hurricanes and snowstorms — events of limited duration where people could be confident that, after a period of hardship, life would generally get back to normal.

But “social distancing” is the new normal for the foreseeable future, increasingly enforced by law.

It was unclear what a “shelter in place” order would look like in New York.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, where restrictions were expanded late Tuesday to include more than eight million people, downtown streets were deserted, but there were many reports of people still going to parks and socializing.

In Italy, where the death toll climbed to more than 2,500, the lockdown has been much more stringent, with people only venturing out for essential supplies. France and Spain have also tightened restrictions on nationwide lockdowns, adding hefty fines for anybody who violates the rules.

At least 100 deaths in the United States have now been linked to the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database that is tracking and mapping every known case in the country as more people are tested. On Tuesday evening, West Virginia became the 50th state to report an infection.

The 101 deaths, all announced in the last three weeks, came as the number of known coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 5,600 on Tuesday. Hundreds more are learning they have the illness each day, including more than 800 diagnoses on both Monday and Tuesday, as the nation’s testing capacity has grown significantly and as the virus spreads.

About half the country’s reported deaths have been in Washington State, including at least 30 linked to a long-term care facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland. Most of those who have died from the virus have been in their 60s or older, and several have been in their 90s. But other patients who died have been younger, including a corrections worker in New York City in his 50s and a man from the Seattle area in his 40s.

Stocks fell sharply on Wednesday after a big Tuesday rally on Wall Street, as persistent worries about the world economy overcame hopes for a major stimulus package from Washington.

Futures markets signaled that Wall Street would open sharply lower on Wednesday, too.

Major European markets were 4 to 5 percent lower, following a late-day slump in Asian shares. Futures for oil declined, with Brent crude priced below $30 a barrel for the first time since 2016. Gold fell, as did bond prices, signaling that investors were continuing to retreat from a broad array of markets.

The significant drops represented a broad shift in sentiment on Wall Street from just hours earlier, when the White House called for urgent action to pump $1 trillion into the economy. The S&P stock index rose 6 percent on Tuesday.

Asian markets rose initially on Wednesday, but investors could not sustain the momentum. Late in the day, the losses accelerated.

As the effects of the coronavirus pandemic hit the job market, the damage is likely to be much deeper and longer lasting than seemed possible even a week ago.

Marriott International, the hotel operator, said Tuesday that it would begin furloughing tens of thousands of employees worldwide. Restaurants, coffee shops, gyms and other small businesses have begun laying off workers outright. On Monday, a flood of inquiries from newly jobless New Yorkers crashed the website for the state’s unemployment insurance system.

“Everyone is afraid to hire,” said Angela Gervasi, 24, who is suddenly looking for work after being let go by her employer, a Philadelphia restaurant.

Relatively few companies outside the hospitality industry have announced significant job cuts so far, with many saying they will continue to pay employees even while they are closed. But that cushion seems unsustainable. Most small businesses do not have the financial buffer to pay workers for long if revenue dries up.

As the economic toll of the coronavirus has grown, the White House called for urgent action to speed $1 trillion into the economy,

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told senators that about $250 billion of the stimulus plan would cover the cost of sending checks to Americans to replace about two weeks of their wages. Mr. Mnuchin also said that Mr. Trump had instructed him to allow taxpayers to put off paying income taxes that are due April 15 for 90 days without penalty or interest.

Pakistan’s health care system is already on the brink of collapse. The virus may push it over the edge.

The country is at the center of one of the most densely populated regions in the world, South Asia, which has some 1.8 billion people and porous borders.

Around 246 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Pakistan, and many public health experts say they are worried that the true numbers are much higher.

As the outbreak hit neighboring Iran, thousands of Pakistanis tried to return home. Some 4,600 were quarantined at Taftan, Pakistan, a town on the border. They spent 14 days in tents, with little running water and barely working toilets.

Many of those who were released from quarantine returned home and tested positive for the virus. In Sindh Province, the number of infected jumped from 35 to 150 on Sunday, after dozens of people who underwent quarantine in Taftan were confirmed as having contracted the illness.

Many in Pakistan say they are having trouble getting tested. So far, around eight people per million have been tested in the country, compared to about 1,000 per million in Italy.

In a televised address on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Imran Khan warned that hospitals were too weak to accept an influx of people seeking testing and asked only the very ill to get tested.

He urged social distancing but said that the nation’s economy was too weak to handle a complete shutdown.

“Pakistan’s situation is not the same as that of the United States or Europe,” Mr. Khan said. “There is poverty in our country, with 25 percent of the people living in extreme poverty.”

As the number of coronavirus cases increases, the impact is being felt across every facet of American life, including transportation.

After three technicians who work in an air traffic control tower at Midway International Airport in Chicago tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily shut it down, causing scores of flights to be canceled, delayed or diverted.

Public transit agencies in many cities have struggled amid low ridership and health concerns from their employees and customers. New York City’s public transportation system, the largest in North America, is seeking a $4 billion federal bailout after the pandemic set off an extraordinary fall in ridership.

In Detroit, bus service was halted after drivers, fearing for their safety, balked at leaving their garages. The president of the union which represents the drivers said that some had reported to work in the morning and found that buses had not been adequately cleaned.

Uber and Lyft, two of the most popular ride-sharing companies, said on Tuesday that they were suspending pooled trips, in which riders pay a reduced fee by sharing the ride with a passenger headed in the same direction.

The regulations around social distancing have forced many friends and family to change the way they communicate and spend time together. It is important to stay connected during these stressful times. Here are some ideas that may help:

Pope Francis encouraged those under the severe restrictions in place across Italy and the broader world to use the “difficult days” to show others that they care, using “small, concrete gestures.”

“A caress for our grandparents, a kiss for our children, for the people we love” are “important, decisive gestures,” Francis said in an interview with the Rome daily La Repubblica on Wednesday. “If we live these days like this, they won’t be wasted.”

The coronavirus is ravaging Italy, with 2,503 deaths reported as of Tuesday and more than 31,000 cases across the country. The health care system as been overwhelmed, and daily life has been brought to a halt, with residents confined to their homes except to buy food, medicine or other necessities.

The pope has continued to conduct Mass, but in a very different setting. On Sunday, he spoke to Catholics from the library of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican at midday, a change from his usual place of delivery, the window of the papal apartment overlooking Saint Peter’s Square, which is closed.

In the newspaper interview, Francis thanked those on the front lines of the epidemic. “They are an example of this concreteness,” he said. And he urged people to reach out to those who had lost loved ones.

Gestures of affection are often “lost in the anonymity of everyday life” and in our dependence on virtual communication, he said. But, he added, actions like “a hot meal, a caress, a hug, a phone call” make “life meaningful.”

On Sunday, the pope went to two Rome churches to pray. “I asked the Lord to stop the epidemic,” he said.

The lead epidemiologist behind a report that prompted the British government to ramp up its coronavirus response has developed a fever and entered into self-quarantine, he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

The scientist, Neil Ferguson, and his colleagues at Imperial College London warned that an uncontrolled spread of the disease could cause as many as 510,000 deaths in Britain. Using mathematical modeling, the report also predicted that the virus would overwhelm hospitals and that governments had no choice but to impose lockdown policies.

American officials said the report, which projected up to 2.2 million deaths in the United States from such a spread, had also influenced the White House to strengthen its measures to isolate members of the public.

Dr. Ferguson blamed his own sickness on a density of infections.

“There is a lot of Covid-19 in Westminster,” he wrote. According to Public Health England data on Wednesday, 58 cases have been reported in that area of London.

The coronavirus can live for three days on some surfaces, like plastic and steel — though the amount of viable virus decreases sharply over this time — suggests a new study, published on Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Experts say the risk of consumers getting infected from touching those materials is still low, though they offered additional warnings about how long the virus could survive in the air, which may have important implications for medical workers.

When the virus becomes suspended in droplets smaller than five micrometers — known as aerosols — it can stay suspended for about 30 minutes, before drifting down and settling on surfaces where it can linger for hours, the researchers said. The finding is inconsistent with the World Health Organization’s position that the virus is not transported by air.

The new study also suggests that the virus can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard packages, though it disintegrates over the course of a day — meaning cardboard packages that arrive in the mail would have only low levels of the virus unless the delivery person has coughed or sneezed on it or has handled it with contaminated hands.

Another study, the largest to date of children and the virus, has found that while most develop mild or moderate symptoms, a small percentage — especially babies and preschoolers — can become seriously ill. Children account for the smallest percentage of the tens of thousands of infections identified globally.

And though the health minister of France has urged people ill with the coronavirus to stay away from ibuprofen and aspirin, there was no research to back up the contention.

The Trump administration plans to immediately turn back all asylum seekers and other foreigners attempting to enter the United States from Mexico illegally, saying the nation cannot risk allowing the coronavirus to spread through detention facilities and border patrol agents, four administration officials said.

The administration officials said the ports of entry would remain open to American citizens, green-card holders and foreigners with proper documentation. But under the new rule, border patrol agents would immediately return anyone to Mexico — without any detainment and without any due process — who attempts to cross the southwestern border. They would not be held for any length of time in an American facility.

Although they advised that details could change before the announcement, administration officials said the measure was needed to avert what they fear could be a systemwide outbreak of the coronavirus inside detention facilities along the border. Such an outbreak could spread quickly through the immigrant population and could infect large numbers of border patrol agents, leaving the southwestern border defenses weakened, the officials argued.

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