In 2008 the S&P fell half off its peak and nothing physical happened to the economy. Now we have two very physical things — supply and demand shocks. The strategy of no strategy means these two physical problems will continue until a vaccine is produced, i.e. likely not for a year or more.
On February 25th, I predicted a massive drop in the stock market due to the coronavirus. At that point it had already fallen 8% from its peak. Today, it’s 20% below its peak. I think it will fall 50% below peak.
That may be conservative. In the Great Recession, the S&P fell half from its peak and nothing physical happened to the economy. Now we have two very physical things — what economists call supply and demand shocks — happening. A growing share of the labor force is not going to work and a growing share of consumers are shunning retail outlets and all other manner of service establishments for fear of getting infected.
Let me give you my partial list of the businesses that I think will go under. I think restaurants will fail. I think coffee shops will fail. I think dry cleaners will fail. I think airlines will fail. I think cruise boat companies will fail. I think hotels will fail. I think department and boutique clothing and other retail stores will fail. I think travel agencies will fail. I think movie theaters will fail. I think universities and colleges will fail. I think theaters will fail. I think theme parks will fail. I think spas will fail. I think resorts will fail. I think convention centers will fail. I think malls will fail. I think gyms will fail. I think orchestras will fail. I think hair salons will fail. I think nail salons will fail. I think barber shops will fail. I think bars will fail. I think every business that’s not online and involves customers will fail.
What share will fail?
Ten percent is optimistic.
Let me justify my view. Containing the coronavirus requires two months at a minimum. Why two months? This is the time it’s taken China to bring new infections down to single digits. Even so, China has not lifted the lockdown of Hubei Province. Indeed, every city you enter in China is now requiring a two-week period of quarantine. China is enforcing this with technology and people. You enter into Shanghai and you’re asked where you are staying. Once you get there, the neighborhood officials, who have been electronically notified of your arrival, check on you daily to make sure you are staying inside.
What happens when China’s new infection rate goes to zero? Will it lift its restrictions? Hard to say. If I’m President Xi and have gone to such lengths to eliminate the problem, I don’t want to run the risk that someone has a four-week incubation period or has slipped across the border carrying the virus and all hell breaks out again. In short, it may be a long time before China returns to something close to normal. Even then, foreigners arriving in China will surely need to spend two weeks in confinement before being let loose on the streets.
We don’t know China’s end game. But we’re pretty sure it has one. The US has no end game. Yes, the president has finally gotten serious about bringing testing on line. But it can take two weeks for infected people to show symptoms. Indeed, 1% will first show symptoms after two weeks. Suppose Joe Blow contracts the virus today. Say ten days later he starts feeling symptoms but he waits another five days to get tested. Then it takes two days to get results at which point he self quarantines or heads to the hospital. Now he’s had 17 days to infect a motherload of people either directly or indirectly. Maybe Joe works in a nursing home. We’ve seen the damage one person with coronavirus can do to a nursing home. The Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington had 120 residents. In recent weeks, 26 have died. Another 24 are definitely infected. And many of the Center’s staff have symptoms, but, as of two days ago, have yet to be tested.
Okay, back to Joe. He gets tested on day 15. But on day 14 he infects Jane Doe who also takes 15 days before going into quarantine, but infects Jack, Jill, and Sandy on day 14. You see where I’m going. Our voluntary (we or our docs decide) testing system does nothing to keep the coronavirus infection from rolling along for months if not years.
Here’s a policy that would actually save lives and the economy. Quarantine the entire country for two weeks. Italy is doing this, although no one knows its duration. At the end of two weeks, test everyone — all 327.2 million people plus any visitors and continue testing everyone once a week for months. Anyone who tested positive would, of course, be quarantined or hospitalized. We would also reopen the borders, but test everyone coming into the country. This is a policy that would a) stop the spread of the infection in its tracks and b) limit the renewed spread of the infection once the quarantine is lifted.
Could we produce hundreds of millions of tests? Yes. During WWII, we built cargo ships in four days. Can we put everyone under quarantine for two weeks? Yes, the president has this authority. Can we require weekly testing. Again, the answer is yes.
Will our president do this? Clearly not. According to him, the “foreign” virus is going to disappear on its own and in short order. President Trump is, himself, possibly infected by way of an aide to Brazil’s president. But, thus far, he has chosen not to get tested. In the meantime, he may have infected or be infecting his top aides as well as his family. And members of his administration may have infected or be infecting much, if not most of Congress. Beyond jeopardizing so many people, the president is setting the worst possible example.
The strategy of no strategy means the two physical problems hammering the economy will continue until a vaccine is produced, i.e. likely not for a year or more. How many retail and service establishments can survive that long without customers, while retaining their employees? Not many. Hence, we can expect a massive wave of layoffs and bankruptcies starting next week.
There are two other reasons to expect a 50% from peak decline in the stock market. First, the market was perceived by many to be overpriced to begin with. Second, corporate America is dramatically over leveraged. To quote the Fed, “The ratio of debt to assets for all publicly traded non-financial companies has hit its highest level in two decades, and the leverage ratio among debt-heavy firms is near a historical high.” The higher the leverage ratio, the larger the percentage decline in stock values for a given percentage reduction in profits.
Moreover, over half of corporate debt is rated BBB compared to roughly 25% in 2008. This means that a large share of corporate America faces solvency risk. Here’s the BBB rating description: “A BBB rating reflects an opinion that the issuer has the current capacity to meet its debt obligations but faces more solvency risk.”
There’s more, but you get the picture. I hope I’m wrong, but I fear an even bigger drop in the market is coming.
I am a professor of economics at Boston University, a Fellow of the American Academy, a Research Associate of the NBER, and President of Economic Security Planning, Inc. — a company that markets personal financial planning tools at maxifi.com, maximizemysocialsecurity.com, analyzemydivorccesettlement.com, and economicsecurityplanning.com. Recent books: Get What’s Yours – The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits (a NY Times Best Seller with Phil Moeller and Paul Solman), The Economic Consequences of the Vickers Commission, The Clash of Generations (with Scott Burns), Jimmy Stewart Is Dead, and Spend ‘Til the End. Follow me on twitter @kotlikoff, Circle me on Google , check out my website, kotlikoff.net, and ask me Social Security questions by clicking Ask Larry at the bottom of http://www.maximizemysocialsecurity.com.
Markets in Asia and the Middle East opened sharply lower on Monday as investors digested the relentless global spread of the coronavirus and turmoil in the oil markets. Shares in Saudi Aramco, the state oil giant, dropped 10 percent leading to a halt in trading on the Riyadh stock market.
Asian markets opened sharply lower on Monday as investors digested the relentless global spread of the coronavirus and turmoil in the oil markets.Tokyo was down 4.7 percent at midmorning on Monday, while Hong Kong was down 4.1 percent. Futures markets showed investors predicting sharp drops in Wall Street and Europe as well.
The coronavirus has unnerved investors as it spreads, clouding the prospects for global growth. Italy on Sunday put a broad swath of its industrial northern region under lockdown as the virus has spread, making it one of the biggest sources of confirmed infections outside China. France, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries also took further steps to stop the spread.
In the United States, the number of confirmed infections exceeded 500 cases. A top American expert said on Sunday that regional lockdowns could be necessary.A clash over oil between Russia and Saudi Arabia, two major producers, further unnerved investors. As the coronavirus hits demand for fuel, Saudi Arabia slashed its export oil prices over the weekend, starting an apparent price war aimed at Russia.
Lower oil prices could help consumers, but it could unsettle countries that depend on oil revenue to prop up their economies. In futures markets, the benchmark price for American and Europe oil supplies tumbled $10, or about one-quarter.Investors fled to the safety of the bond market, driving yields lower. In the market for U.S. Treasury bonds, yields broadly fell below the 1 percent level for both short term and long term holdings. The 10-year Treasury bond, which is closely watched, was yielding about 0.5 percent.
In other Asian markets, South Korea was down 3.6 percent. Shanghai was down 1.5 percent.
Italy reported a huge jump in deaths from the coronavirus on Sunday, a surge of more than 50 percent from the day before, as it ordered an unprecedented peacetime lockdown of its wealthiest region in a sweeping effort to fight the epidemic. The extraordinary measure restricted movement for a quarter of the country’s population.“We are facing an emergency, a national emergency,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in announcing the government decree in a news conference after 2 a.m.
The move is tantamount to sacrificing the Italian economy in the short term to save it from the ravages of the virus in the long term. The measures will turn stretches of Italy’s wealthy north — including the economic and cultural capital of Milan and landmark tourist destinations such as Venice — into quarantined red zones until at least April 3.
They will prevent the free movement of roughly 16 million people. Funerals and cultural events are banned. The decree requires that people keep a distance of at least one meter from one another at sporting events, bars, churches and supermarkets. The Italian outbreak — the worst outside Asia — has inflicted serious damage on one of Europe’s most fragile economies and prompted the closing of Italy’s schools. The country’s cases nearly tripled from about 2,500 infections on Wednesday to more than 7,375 on Sunday. Deaths rose to 366.
More and more countries have adopted or are considering stronger measures to try to keep infected people from entering and to contain outbreaks. More and more countries have adopted or are considering stronger measures to try to keep infected people from entering and to contain outbreaks.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia cut off access to Shiite Muslim towns and villages in the east of the kingdom, cordoning off an area in Qatif Governorate where all 11 of the country’s confirmed coronavirus cases have been identified. And local Saudi media reported that the country would temporarily close down all educational institutions and block travel to and from a number of countries in the region. The kingdom had already suspended pilgrimages to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
In Iran, which has been hit the hardest in the Middle East, state media reported that all flights to Europe would be suspended indefinitely. The health minister in France, one of Europe’s bigger trouble spots, announced a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people. The U.S. has counted at least 539 cases across 34 states — Connecticut reported its first case and Washington announced another patient being treated for coronavirus had died on Sunday — and the District of Columbia, and logged 22 deaths. Washington State, New York, California, Maryland and Oregon have declared emergencies.
A growing number of schools are shutting down across the country, raising concerns about the closings will affect learning, burden families and upend communities. The U.S. Army suspended travel to and from Italy and South Korea, now the world’s third largest hot spot, until May 6, an order that affects 4,500 soldiers and family members. And the Finnish armed forces announced that troop exercises planned for March 9-19 with Norway would be scrapped.
On Sunday, the leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, said that it was possible that regional lockdowns could become necessary and recommended that those at greatest risk — the elderly and those with underlying health conditions — abstain from travel. Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the Trump administration was prepared to “take whatever action is appropriate” to contain the outbreak, including travel restrictions in areas with a high number of cases.
“I don’t think it would be as draconian as ‘nobody in and nobody out,’” Dr. Fauci said on “Fox News Sunday.” “But there’ll be, if we continue to get cases like this, particularly at the community level, there will be what we call mitigation.”
Even as the rate of new infections appeared to taper in China, the number of cases around the world continued to rise on Sunday, with some of the biggest clusters emerging in Europe. Besides the sharp rise in Italy, Germany reported more than 930 cases; Switzerland’s total reached 281; and Britain’s health department said that three people with the virus had died and that the number of cases in the country had jumped to 273 by Sunday. The smallest E.U. nation, Malta, reported its first confirmed case on Saturday: a 12-year-old girl recently returned from a vacation in northern Italy. Her condition was described as good.
The Spanish authorities announced on Sunday that three more people diagnosed with coronavirus had died in Madrid, raising the number of coronavirus fatalities in the country to 13. There are now over 500 cases, the authorities said. Salvador Illa, Spain’s health minister, said at a news conference in Madrid that several cases in Spain were linked to people who recently traveled to Italy.
Invesco Global Market Strategist Brian Levitt and Brown Brothers Harriman Chief Investment Strategist Scott Clemons joins Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous, Brian Sozzi and Jared Blikre to discuss the latest market trends on The First Trade. #coronavirus#markets#stocks Subscribe to Yahoo Finance: https://yhoo.it/2fGu5Bb About Yahoo Finance: At Yahoo Finance, you get free stock quotes, up-to-date news, portfolio management resources, international market data, social interaction and mortgage rates that help you manage your financial life. Connect with Yahoo Finance: Get the latest news: https://yhoo.it/2fGu5Bb Find Yahoo Finance on Facebook: http://bit.ly/2A9u5Zq Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter: http://bit.ly/2LMgloP Follow Yahoo Finance on Instagram: http://bit.ly/2LOpNYz
Have things gotten plane confusing for you? With the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak occurring, are you having trouble deciding whether to cancel or postpone your air travel plans?
It seems like a fair number of people are trying to make such decisions right now. Social media certainly has had its share of “should I stay or should I go” clashes of opinions and discussions. For example, @scottbudman tweeted out these recommendations:
And someone here is worried about more than hot farts:
Then there was this question to Florian Krammer, PhD, a Professor at the Department of Microbiology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai:
On the flip side, if you don’t like lines and crowds at the airport, this may seem like a great time to fly, with an emphasis on the word seem. According to Rick Clough reporting for Bloomberg, commercial air traffic is on track to drop by 8.9% this year, which would be the biggest decline since 1978 and in fact only the fourth year that air travel has fell in that time frame. Declines also have occurred in 1991, 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and 2009 amidst the recession and the H1N1 flu pandemic. Cecile Daurat and Justin Bachman have written for Bloomberg that the airline industry stands to lose up to $113 billion in sales and that some airlines are already cutting back on available flights. Who knows? Maybe you can even find a seat on the plane that has a free seat next to it, so that you can actually do things like see your feet while sitting.
So what should you do? Well, as you’ll see in a bit, there are clearer-cut situations in which air travel is not advisable and canceling or postponing makes sense. However, for some other situations, the answer is a bit more complicated and evolving. The SARS-CoV2 outbreak and accompanying travel recommendations are evolving and serious situations. The SARS-CoV2 seems to be significantly more contagious and more virulent than the flu virus. But it is not yet clear exactly how much more. Its reported case fatality rate has been in the 1.5% to 3.8% range, nowhere near that of the original SARS virus. But things continue to change as more info emerges. There is still much to learn about SARS-CoV2 and its spread. So caution but not panic is worthwhile. Moreover, you’ve got to weigh different factors, risks, and benefits.
If your destination has some major travel warnings or restrictions, then the answer may be easy. For example, China and Iran fall into the category of “widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission and restrictions on entry to the United States.” That means that you shouldn’t consider traveling to these countries unless you absolutely have to do so. South Korea and Italy are listed as having “widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission,” which also means that postponing travel to these countries is a good idea. There’s a warning about Japan as well, if you are an older adult or someone with a chronic medical condition.
As things are changing fairly rapidly, check this website often. Bookmark the site. Treat it like you would Cristiano Ronaldo’s Instagram feed. Follow it. Learn it. Absorb it.
A second thing to do is double-check whether the meeting, the gathering, or whatever you’re going to may be canceled. Recently meetings have been like primary candidates in a political race: “it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, no problems, oh, time to shut things down.” Last minute cancellations have been occurring, so you don’t want to be stuck with a ticket and no place to go, just like what may be going on, or perhaps not going on, here:
So what do you do if your destination doesn’t have a major warning and your event still seems on track? Air travel certainly isn’t the same as staying in your apartment or house surrounded by mounds and mounds of toilet paper rolls. The only way to completely avoid the possibility of infection is to completely avoid contact with people or any of the objects or surfaces that they touch. This is may not be practical. Life is never risk-free. So there will be risks with any activity, especially ones that involve larger numbers of people.
But let’s be clear what the real risks may be. For example, how much of a risk is the recycled air in airplanes? Well, the air does go through HEPA filters. HEPA stands for “high efficiency particulate air [filter]” and is supposed to filter out at least 99.97% of microbes, dust, pollen, mold, and any airborne particles that are 0.3 microns (µm) in size. The filter may even be more efficient at filtering particles that are smaller or larger than 0.3 µm, such as French fries.
Assuming that the HEPA filter is working properly then you may not have to worry so much about the air nozzle overhead that’s creating a mini-tornado on your face. Plus, SARS-CoV2 can only travel so far in the air. It’s not as if they have little wings. Viruses don’t drink Red Bull. Instead, they hitch rides on respiratory droplets that come out of an infected person through coughing, sneezing, spitting, or the like. These droplets can travel up to three to six feet from the person.
What may be of greater concern is the close proximity between passengers on the plane. Over the past decade or so, passengers haven’t exactly been declaring, “wow, what do I do with all this legroom? There’s just too much legroom here in economy seating.” In fact, Stephanie Robertson has written for the New York Times about “Fighting the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat” and how airplane seat sizes have been shrinking since since the U.S. airline industry underwent deregulation in the 1970’s. Maintaining a three to six foot distance from other passengers may be tough even if you were to have excessive and obvious heated flatulence. So yes, if the person next to you is infectious, you could get exposed.
Then there are the various surfaces on the plane. You are probably more likely to catch respiratory viruses like coronaviruses and flu viruses through touching things that have been contaminated with the virus. That includes body parts like hands or surfaces like seat belt buckles and Baby Yoda figurines that have been touched by someone infectious. Quite a few of the surfaces in an airplane cabin would be considered “high touch,” meaning that different people touch them frequently. These include tray tables, seats, seat belts, video monitors, and that crypt-like pocket in the back of the seat in front of you. People shove who knows what in those pockets, including magazines, wrapping papers, used tissues, and maybe even a doughnut.
That’s why limiting what you touch, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and not touching your face with unwashed hands will be more important than holding your breath for the entire duration of the six hour or so flight. (By the way, you can only hold your breath for a few minutes before you pass out, so don’t even try it.) Of course, not touching your face is easier said than done, as I described previously for Forbes. Your face can feel like a gigantic planet with a massive gravitational pull on your fingers. Therefore, try keeping your hands occupied like putting them in your pockets, typing on a computer, or flashing gang signs to yourself.
Hand sanitizer can help but make sure you use it properly. Use enough sanitizer to cover all parts of your hands. Then massage your hands together as if they were the main characters in a romance novel. Keep up the rubbing until they become dry. Recite the alphabet while doing this so that you know that you’ve gone long enough, because isn’t that what lovers in a romance novel do?
Washing your hands with soap and water, if done properly, is always better than just using hand sanitizer. However, airplane bathrooms may be areas of really high touch, in more ways than one. A lot can go on in a bathroom and a decent percentage of it is not good, from a microbe standpoint, that is. The words “airplane bathroom” and “luxurious” usually don’t go together. While in a cramped airplane bathroom, it can be difficult to limit your touching, especially when turbulence makes it feel like you are an ingredient in a smoothie being made.
Therefore, definitely wash your hands thoroughly at the end of an adventure in an airplane bathroom. This may not be the easiest thing with the design of the bathroom sink. Many such bathrooms don’t have automatic sensor-driven faucets. Instead you’ve got to continuously hold down those little faucet handles, and keep pushing that lever that allows the sink to drain. After drying your hands with a paper towel, try not to touch other used items when throwing the towel away in the garbage. This can be tough when the garbage container lid slams back shut like gator’s mouth. When you are leaving the bathroom, use a paper towel to handle the door knob so that you don’t just re-contaminate your hands.
Pay attention to how everything in the cabin is maintained and cleaned. As a customer, consider it a right to know what safety and disinfection procedures are in place during and between flights. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the new coronavirus may be able to survive on surfaces for “a few hours or up to several days.” That means what happened in the cabin during the flights before yours may stay in the cabin. Therefore, before a flight, consider inquiring about the specifics of an airline’s cleaning policies. After all, scrimping and saving on such things may be one way some airlines try to cut costs, unless customers shine more of a light on such practices.
Another question that is coming up is whether flights will be canceled or grounded due to the outbreak, leaving you stranded. That will depend on where you are flying, how the outbreak proceeds, and what the governments and the airlines plan on doing. It is difficult to predict what may happen. Therefore, follow closely official CDC announcements and the news, the real news that is and not what Uncle Joey or Aunt Marmy are saying on Facebook.
Stick with airlines that have more flexible cancellation and change policies. Beware of the airlines that say, “oh, you can change your flight but it will require this massive fee and a body part.” If you have already booked a flight and the airline has instituted a new more flexible change policy, see if you can benefit from that policy too. For example:
Consider purchasing travel insurance or a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) policy to cover you in case plans have to change. As always, read the fine print of such policies, which may not always be so fine.
Also, look into alternatives to air travel. Even if you do end up taking a flight, it is helpful to know how you may get back if your return flight ends up getting canceled. Make sure that the options are viable. After all, find a bicycle and pedal like mad may not work if you are going from San Francisco to New York City.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to make blanket recommendations about air travel. (Oh, by the way, make sure that airline blankets are properly cleaned before using them.) In general, this doesn’t seem to be the best time to schedule optional travel. There’s still a fair amount of uncertainty. So if you can easily cancel your air travel, then you may want to do so.
If your travel isn’t completely optional, try to identify alternatives such as video-conferencing or sending a gigantic cake. Cutting down air travel not only may decrease your risk of getting sick but also reduce the risk of you carrying the virus to others who may be of even greater risk for bad health outcomes if they have other diseases or are older. It ain’t a bad thing for the environment either.
If you are over 65 years of age or have a chronic medical condition like lung disease, have a very low threshold for canceling your air travel. You may be at risk for worse health outcomes if you get infected. Check with your doctor before considering such travel. If you are a little kid, enjoy smearing things on your face, and don’t quite understand boundaries yet, you may not want to travel either because you won’t be able to maintain the necessary aforementioned infection control precautions. Besides if you are a kid, you are probably less likely to have essential work travel.
If canceling or postponing your air travel is difficult to do and you do end up having to travel by air, no need to be paranoid. “Be paranoid” is rarely the recommendation for any situation. Just take the precautions mentioned above, which are probably precautions that you should always take when traveling by plane regardless of whether a novel virus is circulating.
So, again, right now, you should avoid the locations that the CDC website warns you to avoid and consider canceling or postponing all non-essential air travel if it is reasonably feasible to do so. You also may want to avoid air travel if you are in a higher risk group such those over 65 years of age or with a chronic medical condition.
Of course, lots of air travel doesn’t quite fall into these categories, which makes decision making more difficult. As with all difficult decisions, your decision on whether to cancel your flight plans is personal, depending on your risk tolerance and needs. Yes, being confined close together with others in a cabin for several hours does have its risks. Yes, you are depending on others to keep surfaces clean and disinfected. Yes, you don’t know exactly what will happen in the ensuing weeks. But there are things that you can do to reduce the accompanying risks. Realize that nothing has no risk.
Be aware of the real risks and not what so-and-so with ten followers on Twitter is trying to get you to believe. Don’t listen to some of the panicky chatter out there or anyone who tells you that there is one definitive answer for everyone, such as all air travel should be canceled immediately or that no one should be concerned about air travel at all. Keep in mind the expertise and agendas of anyone who may be giving advice. Follow closely announcements from trusted sources. If you can follow what a celebrity is doing with his or her hair each day on social media, you can frequently check websites like the CDC’s. In other words, just stay appropriately grounded when making your decision of whether to fly.
I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order. Currently, I am a Professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York (CUNY), Executive Director of PHICOR (@PHICORteam), Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and founder and CEO of Symsilico. My previous positions include serving as Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University, Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Senior Manager at Quintiles Transnational, working in biotechnology equity research at Montgomery Securities, and co-founding a biotechnology/bioinformatics company. My work involves developing computational approaches, models, and tools to help health and healthcare decision makers in all continents (except for Antarctica) and has been supported by a wide variety of sponsors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NIH, AHRQ, CDC, UNICEF, USAID and the Global Fund. I have authored over 200 scientific publications and three books. Follow me on Twitter (@bruce_y_lee) but don’t ask me if I know martial arts.
Eleven people have now died in the United States after contracting the novel coronavirus. Ten of the U.S. deaths have been in Washington state and one has been in California, with the latest two fatalities confirmed on Wednesday.
At least 159 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus—known as COVID-19—in the U.S. so far, according to a virus tracker from researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The infections are scattered across at least 16 U.S. states.
Pence said that all travel coming from Iran has been suspended and “even foreign nationals who visit either [China or Iran] are barred from coming into this country for 14 days.”
Pence also said that the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services has issued new guidelines for nursing homes nationwide aiming to improve infectious disease control and ensure those operating these facilities are complying with federal standards. Many of the cases in Washington State have been linked with a nursing home.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Pence had said the U.S. is now “screening 100% of all travelers taking direct flights from all airports in Italy and South Korea” to the U.S and that Medicaid and Medicare would cover the cost for Americans who can’t afford COVID-19 testing. He added that new guidance would quickly be issued “to make it clear that, subject to a doctor’s orders, anyone can be tested.”
Federal officials noted that the American public should prepare for “more cases in the community” as the country improves its ability to track and diagnose the disease.
Outside Washington and New York, at least 14 other states have recorded confirmed COVID-19 cases. A number of these cases are Americans evacuated from the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, where over 620 passengers and crew were diagnosed with the virus.
Globally, more than 94,000 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed or clinically confirmed as of March 4 and more than 3,200 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. The vast majority of cases are in China, but diagnoses in the U.S. are expected to increase over the coming days and weeks, according to the CDC.
U.S. Citizens Document A Day In The Life On Lockdown In Wuhan
On early Wednesday morning, a U.S. plane evacuated around 240 Americans from Wuhan. Justin Steece and Priscilla Dickey were not on that plane with their families.
Here’s what to know about COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
California announced the state’s first COVID-19 death and State Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.
Local and federal health officials are now working to contact other cruise passengers as they “may also have been exposed,” according to Placer County health officials. Newsom said about 2,500 passengers traveled on the same voyage as the Placer Country victim.
As of Wednesday, 53 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in California. Of these, 24 were cases related to repatriation flights and 29 cases were not related to these flights; 12 were travel-related. 10 more involved person-to-person spread, four involved community transmission and three were “currently under investigation.”
Officials in Washington State confirmed a tenth coronavirus death on Wednesday and the state currently has 39 COVID-19 cases.
Nine of the deaths are in King County, and an additional death is in Snohomish County. The most recently reported deaths in King County include a woman in her eighties who was never hospitalized and died at her family home, and a man in his 50s who was hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center. Both of them died on Feb. 26 and were residents of Life Care Center in Kirkland, a long-term residential facility where more than 50 people have reported symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection.
On Tuesday, Acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said that he had ordered the facility to close “out of an abundance of caution” and “directed those employees to telework, if possible, in order to reduce the threat of community spread of the coronavirus.”
The center said in a statement Wednesday that there are several confirmed COVID-19 cases connected to the facility. It added that current residents and associates continue to be monitored closely” and that it is following the infection control recommendations from the CDC. The center had previously said all visits from family and volunteers are suspended for the time being, and new residents are currently not being admitted to the center.
King County announced an additional seven new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. Thirty-one cases in the state, including those who died, are in King County. At least another nine are in Snohomish County, according to Washington State’s Department of Health. About 230 people at risk of having been exposed to the coronavirus are under medical supervision.
King County signed an emergency declaration on Sunday allowing it to take extra steps to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. “Among the first actions: purchasing a motel and setting up modular housing units on publicly-owned parking lots and other available land,” the county said in a statement.
Health officials say the first patient who succumbed to the virus had no known history, travel or contact with a known COVID-19 case, suggesting he was infected by human-to-human transmission (often referred to as community transmission).
The results of a study published by Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, suggests that the true number of infections in the state is “a few hundred.”
The study “strongly suggests that there has been cryptic transmission in Washington State for the past six weeks,” Bedford tweeted.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday in response to the new cases, and directed state agencies to use “all resources necessary to prepare for and respond to the outbreak.”
The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. appeared in Washington on Jan. 21. A 35-year-old man presented himself to an urgent care clinic in Snohomish County, Wash., after four days of cough and fever, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, which reported that he had recently been visiting family in Wuhan.
The man was released from a Washington hospital on Feb. 4, according to the Associated Press.
Cruise ship evacuees
On Feb. 17, the U.S. State Department evacuated more than 300 American citizens from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan. The Diamond Princess has the largest outbreak of the novel coronavirus outside China, with at least 621 confirmed cases so far.
During the evacuation process, American officials learned that 14 of the Americans being repatriated were infected with COVID-19, according to a joint statement from the U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
After consulting with HHS, officials with the State Department decided to allow the 14 individuals, “who were in isolation, separated from other passengers, and continued to be asymptomatic, to remain on the aircraft to complete the evacuation process,” the statement said.
CDC spokesperson Richard Quartarone told TIME hospitalized patients are at facilities in Sacramento and San Antonio, Texas, or at the Nebraska Medical Center.
Evacuees who were not hospitalized were held in quarantine for 14 days after departing planes at Travis Air Force Base in Sacramento, Calif. and Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, officials said.
Most, if not all, of these evacuees have since been released from federal quarantine.
More than 100 American citizens who had been on the Diamond Princess remained in Japan, including in hospitals, the CDC said on Feb. 18. The CDC specified that these citizens will only be allowed to fly back to the U.S. if they test negative for and don’t show any symptoms of the virus during the 14-day period.
“If an individual from this cruise arrives in the United States before the 14-day period ends, they will still be subject to a mandatory quarantine until they have completed the 14-day period with no symptoms or positive coronavirus test results,” the CDC said.
The CDC also highlighted concerns with the quarantine process on board the ship, saying that it may have slowed the spread of the disease but that it “may not have been sufficient to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship.”
On Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo confirmed 11 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total in the state to 22. Of the new cases, eight are in Westchester, two are in New York City and one is in Nassau County. “We are trying to contain as much as possible the spread of each case we find – but we expect more cases,” Cuomo said.
Thursday’s cases in New York City include a man in his 40s and a woman in her 80s; neither had traveled to areas with known outbreaks or are connected to other individuals already diagnosed with the disease, according to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
On Wednesday afternoon, Cuomo confirmed five new cases, all in a single family from New Rochelle: a wife and husband in their 40s and three of their children. The entire family is under self-quarantine, Cuomo said.
On Wednesday morning, Cuomo had confirmed an additional four cases of coronavirus. All four are tied to the state’s second case of COVID-19, announced Tuesday — a man in his 50s who lives in Westchester County and works in Manhattan. Those four cases included his wife, two of his children and a neighbor who drove him to the hospital, Cuomo said.
The female child attends SAR Academy and High School in the Bronx and the male child attends Yeshiva University in Manhattan and has not been on campus since Feb. 27, according de Blasio. The children and their mother remain isolated at their home in Westchester, de Blasio said.
Cuomo noted on Tuesday that the man in his fifties had not traveled to regions with increasing COVID-19 cases, but had recently been to Miami. However he noted “that is not a place we have known there is any cluster of coronavirus.”
On Sunday, Cuomo confirmed New York’s first case of the coronavirus. He said on Twitter that a woman in her late 30s contracted the virus while traveling in Iran. She has mild respiratory symptoms but is not in serious condition, and is currently isolated in her home.
Cuomo said there is “no reason for anxiety” as the “general risk remains low in New York.” Still, residents rushed to purchase masks and hand sanitizers at pharmacies, which saw long lines out the door, according to the New York Times. Many said they were out of stock.
Doctors in Nebraska have treated 13 COVID-19 patients — all of whom were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, according to the New York Times.
Eleven involve evacuees who were infected overseas before arriving at the San Antonio Lackland Air Force Base for quarantine. The only case identified outside of the site is a man in his 70s who lives in the Houston area. He recently returned from travel abroad and is currently isolated in the hospital, according to Texas Health and Human Services.
The City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and the CDC announced Feb. 13 that the first person testing positive for COVID-19 in Texas was one of the Americans evacuated from Wuhan and transported to the military base on Feb. 7, after leaving Wuhan the previous day.
On the morning of Feb. 11, the patient exhibited signs of a fever, Jennifer McQuiston, a CDC division deputy director, said. The person was transported to a hospital that morning, where samples were gathered and sent to the CDC overnight. Officials received the positive diagnosis the following day.
“[That patient is] receiving excellent medical care,” McQuiston said at a Feb. 13 press conference. “They were, of course, not happy to learn of their diagnosis last night, and they do have loved ones in the United States that they are in contact with by phone, and we wish this individual well.”
Dr. Anita Kurian, assistant director at the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, also said at the press conference that “the risk for us at this time to the community here is still considered low.”
Illinois officials said it has four “presumed positive” cases on Tuesday. The third and fourth cases are a married man and woman in their seventies.
The first case in Illinois was a woman in her 60s who had returned to the U.S. from Wuhan on Jan. 13, health officials said at a press briefing on Jan. 30. Her husband then contracted the virus, becoming the first confirmed case of person-to-person transfer of the virus in the U.S.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Feb. 12 that it became the first state in the U.S. to begin in-state testing for the virus.
Oregon has confirmed three “presumptive positive” cases of COVID-19 in the state. One of those cases was confirmed by the CDC on Wednesday.
State officials confirmed a third case on Tuesday: an adult Umatilla County resident who is hospitalized in Walla Walla, Wash. Initial reports suggest that the resident recently went to a youth basketball game at a middle school. Athena-Weston School District officials closed the gym in question and would “conduct a deep cleaning out of an abundance of caution,” health officials said in a statement.
The state’s first and second COVID-19 cases are adults in Washington County who live together. Neither person has “ a history of travel to a country where the virus was circulating, nor is believed to have had a close contact with another confirmed case,” health officials said in a statement. “As such, public health officials are considering it a likely community-transmitted case, meaning that the origin of the infection is unknown.”
The CDC confirmed two cases of COVID-19 in Florida, the Florida Department of Health said on Monday. Officials said on Tuesday that a third person in the state had tested positive; she is the sister of a person already confirmed to have the virus.
The agency had said in a previous statement on Sunday that the first patient is an adult resident of Manatee County who has not traveled to countries identified for restricted travel by the CDC; the second patient is an adult Hillsborough County resident who had traveled to Italy. Both individuals would continue to “remain isolated until cleared by public health officials,” the Florida Department of Health said.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp confirmed the state’s first two cases of COVID-19 on Monday evening.
Both individuals are residents of Fulton County who live in the same household; one recently returned from Italy and both are isolated at home with mild symptoms, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
“We knew that Georgia would likely have confirmed cases of COVID-19, and we planned for it. The immediate risk of COVID-19 to the general public, however, remains low at this time,” said Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Rhode Island announced its first COVID-19 “presumptive positive” case on Sunday: a person in their 40s who had traveled to Italy in mid-February.
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, said in a statement that the agency has been “preparing for weeks” and “fully anticipated having a first case of COVID-19.”
“We are not seeing widespread community transmission in Rhode Island, and the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low,” Alexander-Scott said.
The agency announced a second COVID-19 “presumptive positive case” later the same day: a teenager who is “at home with mild symptoms.” She had been on the “same trip to Europe in mid-February as the male in his 40s,” according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.
“All 38 of the people who went on this trip will be self-monitoring for symptoms at home for 14 days with public health supervision, the department said in a statement. “They have been instructed to not go to school or work and to remain at home for these 14 days.”
Arizona confirmed on Tuesday its second “presumed positive” case of COVID-19, in a man in his twenties.
“This individual is a known contact of a presumed positive case outside of Arizona who had traveled to an area with community spread of COVID-19,” the Arizona Department of Health Services news release.
The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Arizona by the CDC on Jan. 26. The person had also recently returned to the U.S. after visiting Wuhan. The Arizona Department of Health Services said in a public statement that the person is “a member of the Arizona State University community who does not live in university housing,” and added that they were not severely ill but would be kept in isolation.
The infected man was subsequently released from isolation 26 days after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.
The state’s first case was announced Monday in a hospital employee who had recently traveled to Italy. Health officials later learned this person broke quarantine to attend a social event on Feb. 28 and said they would contact attendees who “had close contact with the person.”
New Hampshire announced its second “presumed positive” case of COVID-19 on Tuesday. State officials said the person, an adult male from Grafton County, had close contact with the first case and is currently isolated at home.
At this time, there is no evidence of more widespread community transmission in New Hampshire,” said state Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan in a statement after the first case was announced.
On Wednesday, New Jersey announced its first “presumptive positive case” of COVID-19 — a man in his 30s who has been hospitalized in Bergen County.
Health officials maintained that “most New Jersey residents” are still at low-risk.
On Monday, state health officials announced a presumptive case: a woman who had recently traveled to Italy.
On Feb. 1, the CDC announced that a man in his 20s who lives in Boston was diagnosed with COVID-19; he had recently traveled to Wuhan.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said the man sought medical care soon after his return to Boston. He has since been in isolation, and those who came in contact with him have been identified and are being monitored for symptoms, the agency said in a public statement.
“We are grateful that this young man is recovering and sought medical attention immediately,” said Monica Bharel, Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner, in the statement. “Massachusetts has been preparing for a possible case of this new coronavirus, and we were fortunate that astute clinicians took appropriate action quickly. Again, the risk to the public from the 2019 novel coronavirus remains low in Massachusetts.”
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the CDC announced the first case of COVID-19 in the state on Feb. 5. The person was only identified as “an adult with a history of travel to Beijing, China prior to becoming ill and was exposed to known cases while in China.”
Wisconsin health officials said in a public statement that the person is isolated at home, and is doing well.
North Carolina announced its first “presumed positive” case of COVID-19 on Tuesday. According to state officials, the person traveled to Washington state and was exposed at a long-term care facility where there is currently a COVID-19 outbreak.