President Trump on Monday urged Americans to suspend social gatherings of more than 10 people to help combat the new coronavirus' spread in the United States, with a special plea to millennials, who Trump said are key to curbing the spread of the virus.
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Reports of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, first surfaced in early December 2019 in Wuhan, China. While the number of new cases of COVID-19 reported in China has been dropping, newly reported cases of the disease have spiked in other countries, with COVID-19 reaching global pandemic status.
On Monday, the numbers of reported cases of COVID-19 and reported deaths associated with the new coronavirus outside of China exceeded those reported inside China for the first time since the outbreak began. As of Tuesday morning, officials reported more than 182,100 cases of COVID-19 globally, including about 81,000 cases in China and about 100,000 cases elsewhere. Officials said as of Tuesday morning there had been at least 7,305 deaths linked to the new coronavirus, including about 3,200 that occurred in China and about 3,800 that occurred elsewhere.
World Health Organization officials on Friday said Europe is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the spike in COVID-19 cases around the world has caused several countries to implement stringent containment measures. For example, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last week implemented strict travel restrictions throughout the entire country, essentially locking down the country's 60 million residents. France and Spain also have implemented nationwide lockdowns, and Israel has closed nonessential businesses in the country.
Other countries—including Argentina, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Germany, Peru, and the United States—have partially or completely closed their boarders to travelers from other countries.
The United States saw its first COVID-19 case in late January, and cases have spiked since then. As of Tuesday morning, state and federal officials had reported 4,482 cases of COVID-19 and 86 deaths linked to the new coronavirus in the United States.
The rising number of COVID-19 cases has prompted federal, state, and local officials to implement new measures intended to contain the virus' spread.
For instance, many states have temporarily closed schools and banned gatherings with 50 or more people, in accordance with CDC guidance issued Sunday. Other states and localities have called for or ordered bars, entertainment, and recreational facilities to either close down completely or restrict their services to carry-out and delivery. Some states and localities also have suggested that residents follow curfews and remain at home between certain hours.
In California, officials on Monday announced that six counties—Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara—are implementing a three-week lockdown affecting about 6.7 million people. All non-essential businesses in the affected areas must close, but banks, child-care facilities, convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, health care facilities, and other essential businesses will remain open. Certain business, government, and public infrastructure services are exempt from the order.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said individuals who violate the lockdown order—which instructs affected residents to remain in their homes with certain exceptions—could be charged with a misdemeanor offense.
The Trump administration on Monday also issued new guidance for Americans on social distancing. The guidance recommends that Americans halt nonessential travel and avoid gatherings with more than 10 people for the next 15 days. The guidance also suggests that Americans keep children home from school, stay home from work if able, and avoid bars, food courts, and restaurants. Further, the guidance notes that if a person tests positive for COVID-19, everyone in that person's household should self-quarantine for 14 days.
President Trump on Monday said, "Each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus," adding, "With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly." He continued, "We've made the decision to further toughen the guidelines and blunt the infection now. … We'd much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it."
Trump said as of Monday he was not considering implementing a nationwide curfew or lockdown. He said federal officials have discussed limiting domestic travel but hope such restrictions won't be needed.
Trump and senior advisers in his administration particularly stressed the importance that young Americans, and particularly millennials, adhere to the new guidelines. Officials explained that younger Americans are key to stopping the new coronavirus' spread because they can become infected and transmit the virus even though they are likely to experience no or only mild symptoms of COVID-19.
Debbie Birx, a public health official coordinating the White House's response to the epidemic, said millennials are "the ones that are out and about, and they're the most likely to be in social gatherings and they're the most likely to be the least symptomatic." She stressed, "There are more millennials now than any other cohort and they can help us at this moment."
Trump on Monday also warned that the global COVID-19 pandemic could case an economic recession, as the S&P 500 closed down 12% and the Dow Industrial Average closed down 13% on Monday. He said the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States could affect Americans' daily lives until as late as August.
However, Trump said following suggested guidelines to help curb the virus' spread as quickly as possible would help to rejuvenate the economy. "We're thinking in terms of the virus. … Once we stop—I think there's a tremendous pent-up demand both in terms of the stock market, in terms of the economy. And once this goes away, once it goes through and we're done with it, I think you're going to see a tremendous, a tremendous surge," he said (Ansari et al., Wall Street Journal, 3/16; New York Times, 3/17; Smith et al., New York Times, 3/17; Florko, STAT News, 3/17; Lin, Los Angeles Times, 3/16; Mason/Holland, Reuters, 3/16; McGraw et al., Politico, 3/16; Rogers/Cochrane, New York Times, 3/16; Treene, Axios, 3/16).
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