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Health departments in the United States on Monday reported the largest number of coronavirus-related deaths on any one day since the onset of the outbreak. As of Monday evening, officials had reported 18 people dead, bringing the nationwide total to 85, according to a Washington Post tally.

President Trump in a Monday news conference recommended that states with evidence of community transmission of the virus should close schools, as well as bars, restaurants, gyms and other gathering spots.

“It isn’t an overreaction,” Anthony S. Fauci, a leading member of the president’s coronavirus task force, said of the recommendations released Monday.

About 4,450 coronavirus cases have been reported in the United States, though experts suspect the true number is much higher.

Here are some other significant developments:

  • U.S. markets plunged, despite the Federal Reserve’s emergency interest rate cut to zero.
  • President Trump told governors Monday that states should work on getting respirators and ventilators, and not wait for the federal government to provide them. The president’s comment was confirmed by multiple officials briefed on the call to governors.
  • “When you look at the projections, there’s every chance that we could be Italy,” the U.S. surgeon general warned Monday. Widespread social distancing could help change that trajectory, he said.
  • The director general of the World Health Organization warned at a news conference there has not been an “urgent enough escalation” in testing, isolation and contact tracing.
  • France will begin a 15-day total lockdown, limiting the freedom of movement of citizens who are allowed to leave only to see doctors, buy food or walk to essential jobs.
3:26 a.m.
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California allows local governments to halt evictions

California will allow local governments to stop evictions for renters and homeowners and protect against utility shut-offs, it said late Monday.

The order is meant to ensure that Californians are not punished for failing to keep up with their rents, mortgages and utility bills, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said, as the new coronavirus prompts many workers in the service industry or gig economy to lose substantial wages or lose their jobs entirely.

“People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19,” Newsom said in a statement. “Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices — but a place to live shouldn’t be one of them."

California was already grappling with soaring housing prices and one of the most severe homelessness crises in the country. While Newsom’s order does not restrict a landlord’s ability to recover overdue rent, it does ask that banks temporarily halt foreclosures and other evictions through the end of May.

Other jurisdictions have taken similar measures in recent days. New York state, Seattle and Boston have all imposed moratoriums on eviction proceedings.

3:01 a.m.
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Ohio orders primary polls closed Tuesday

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted the 2020 presidential election as Ohio officials ordered polls not to open late Monday “as a health emergency,” despite a state judge’s ruling that the election must go on.

Amy Acton, the state’s director of health, said the directive will avoid “the imminent threat with a high probability of widespread exposure” to the new coronavirus.

“During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said in a tweet.

He also promised to push for a remedy through the courts “to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity.”

The announcement was sure to create more uncertainty as voters, poll workers and county election officials received yet another reversal regarding the fate of Tuesday’s presidential primary, with voting set to begin at 6:30 a.m.

Earlier Monday, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard A. Frye rejected a temporary restraining order supported by DeWine to seek the delay, saying in a hearing late Monday that rescheduling the election would “set a terrible precedent.”

“There are too many factors to balance in this uncharted territory,” Frye said at a court hearing Monday evening.

2:47 a.m.
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Food banks are seeing volunteers disappear and supplies evaporate

Advocates say they are growing increasingly concerned about how they are going to get food to millions of vulnerable Americans, especially in coronavirus “hot spots” across the country — and the many more facing food insecurity because of business closures and market upheaval.

The widening coronavirus outbreak is making it difficult for food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens to fulfill their missions at a time when they are needed the most, advocates say.

The challenges are greatest in the areas that have been hardest hit by the virus and where there has been a significant decrease in food donations from grocery stores.

Advocates also say that as grocery stores grapple with panic-buying and empty shelves, their focus has shifted to restocking and adequately sanitizing grocery surfaces.

“Not in my lifetime has there been a precedent for this,” said Catherine D’Amato, chief executive of the Greater Boston Food Bank, which is servicing two coronavirus hot spots, Boston and Pittsfield, Mass. “We know how to respond to fires, earthquakes, floods. There isn’t a playbook for this.”

Read the full story here.

1:50 a.m.
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FDA says states no longer need federal approval to roll out coronavirus tests developed in their labs

The Food and Drug Administration, in an effort to speed the development of coronavirus tests, on Monday announced that states could approve tests developed in laboratories in their states — without getting FDA authorization.

The step is similar to the latitude the agency granted the New York State Department of Health last week to regulate labs on coronavirus tests. The states would be the de facto regulator, and the labs would not have to interact with the FDA.

The agency also said commercial manufacturers developing coronavirus tests could distribute the tests for use before getting FDA approval, called emergency use authorization — another significant loosening of the rules.

Those companies would be required to validate the tests before selling them and to submit an application for authorization within 15 days. That flexibility is similar to the Feb. 29 guidance that the agency granted high-complexity laboratories in academic medical centers and other entities wanting to develop their own tests.

“This action demonstrates the FDA’s ability to pivot and adapt as the situation warrants in light of a public health emergency,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on a telephone briefing with reporters.

Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, acknowledged that the new latitude for commercial manufacturers is a trade-off that carries some risks — because the tests won’t be reviewed by the FDA before being used on patients. But, he said, “That trade-off is worth doing,” given the onslaught of the coronavirus.

The Trump administration has been under fire for its failure to provide widespread testing early in the pandemic — at a time when some experts say the outbreak might have been contained.

The agency also provided recommendations for companies developing serological tests for use during the outbreak. Such tests measure the amount of antibodies or proteins present in the blood when the body is responding to a specific infection.

The agency also announced that it issued emergency use authorizations to coronavirus tests by two more big manufacturers, Hologic and LabCorp.

1:12 a.m.
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Hundreds of Brazilian inmates escape prison after new coronavirus restrictions

RIO DE JANEIRO — Hundreds of inmates staged an extraordinary escape from prisons across southeastern Brazil on Monday evening following the imposition of tighter restrictions to try to limit the potential of a coronavirus outbreak behind bars.

Video on social media showed streams of men running out of a prison complex in Sao Paulo state as a siren blared and someone yelled, “Come back on Monday!”

The dramatic scene, staggered across multiple prisons, came soon after the state prison system suspended what are known as “saidinhas” — short-term prison recesses meant to help prisoners re-acclimate to society before their release.

The Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported that at least 1,000 prisoners escaped. It wasn’t yet clear Monday evening how the prisoners were sprung loose.

The escape again highlighted the profound dysfunction of the Brazilian prison system. Overcrowded, uncontrolled and extraordinarily violent, prisons in Brazil are often where the state appears to wield the least control, rather than the most.

Now, the novel coronavirus has become another complicating factor. As the virus moves across Latin America’s largest country, authorities are taking increasingly aggressive measures to curb its rise — from canceling events and school classes to encouraging people to stay away from the beach.

So far, however, every day has brought more cases than the one before. On Monday, the count reached 234, the most in Latin America.

1:00 a.m.
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San Francisco Bay area leaders call on 6 million residents to stay home to avoid coronavirus spread

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The leaders of six San Francisco Bay area counties, among the hardest hit by the widening coronavirus outbreak, called on more than 6 million California residents Monday to stay at home for weeks unless faced with an emergency.

The move, among the strictest steps taken nationally to isolate individuals from exposure to the virus, will be enforced by local sheriff’s offices and police departments, though authorities said they would tread lightly at the outset as people become accustomed to remaining in and around their homes. Authorities referred to it as a remain-in-place order, something more commonly associated with earthquakes and mass shootings, although people will be allowed to leave home for groceries, to walk their dogs and to carry out other routine activities.

The directive is scheduled to take effect overnight and remain in place until at least April 7, and it covers six of the nine counties comprising the Bay Area, including Santa Clara County in the center of Silicon Valley, which has the most reported infections of any of the state’s 58 counties. The county has reported nearly 140 cases of infection and two deaths.

Read more here.

12:22 a.m.
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VA’s mission to see civilian patients in times of crisis vanishes from its website

The Department of Veterans Affairs serves as a backup health system in times of crisis, but its mission statement for this crucial role was deleted from the agency’s website Friday as many in the country grew concerned that the coronavirus could overload civilian hospitals.

VA has deployed medical resources to help veterans and civilians alike in the wake of hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. It even sent mental health clinicians to Orlando after the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016.

But references to VA’s “fourth mission” — absorbing the work of civilian hospitals in the event they overflow with patients — were scrubbed from VA’s emergency management website and replaced with information that doesn’t reference the mission at all.

“It’s Orwellian,” Kristofer Goldsmith, the associate director of policy and government affairs of Vietnam Veterans of America, said Monday. “It’s really frightening to see the administration apparently trying to purge that from America’s memory,” he told The Washington Post.

The emergency management office’s mission statement was updated in May 2019, agency spokeswoman Christina Mandreucci said, though she did not provide the text of that update. A Google cache of the page from Friday shows a mission statement that has remained nearly unchanged in cached pages stretching from 2014 to March 2019.

Bob Fetzer, a union representative of thousands of VA employees in four states, said he is concerned with what he is hearing from the field. “VA is unprepared. Health and safety officers are totally out of the loop throughout VA,” he said.

Read more here.

11:55 p.m.
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U.S. sees largest one-day increase in death toll since the outbreak began

Health departments in the United States on Monday reported the largest number of coronavirus-related deaths on any one day since the onset of the outbreak.

Agencies in 10 states reported at least one new fatality and four states — South Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky and Nevada — counted their first deaths, more evidence of the pandemic’s escalating effects across the country.

As of Monday evening, just before 8 p.m., officials had reported 18 people dead, bringing the nationwide total to 85, according to a Washington Post tally.

A plurality of the newly reported deaths were found in Kings County, Wash., the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, where the death toll is now 43 — far more than any other county or state has reported. Most of those deaths are connected to the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland.

It’s the 17th straight day a death has been reported somewhere in the United States. At first, the numbers increased slowly, by two or three people, but by Friday, agencies were reporting more than half a dozen per day.

A complete picture of fatal cases — how many people have died and the identities of the victims — is not yet possible. Testing has lagged, obscuring the number of positive coronavirus cases, and health departments are wary of releasing information about patients, because of privacy laws. But at least one thing is clear: The numbers will continue to rise.

At a news conference at the State Capitol on Monday in Indianapolis, Indiana State Health Commissioner Kris Box could have been speaking for leaders everywhere, saying, “We expect to see more of this across the state of Indiana in the coming days and weeks.”

11:13 p.m.
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Fox News suddenly changes its tune about coronavirus

For weeks, some of Fox News’s most popular hosts downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, characterizing it as a conspiracy by media organizations and Democrats to undermine President Trump.

Fox News personalities such as Sean Hannity and Laura In­graham had accused the news media of whipping up “mass hysteria” and being “panic pushers.” Fox Business host Trish Regan called the alleged media-Democratic alliance “yet another attempt to impeach the president.”

But that was then.

With Trump’s declaration on Friday that the virus constitutes a national emergency, the tone on Fox News has quickly shifted.

On his program on Friday, Hannity — the most watched figure on cable news — lauded the president’s handling of what the host is now, belatedly, referring to as a “crisis.”

“Tonight, we are witnessing what will be a massive paradigm shift in the future of disease control and prevention,” he said. “A bold, new precedent is being set, the world will once again benefit greatly from America’s leadership. . . . The federal government, state governments, private businesses, top hospitals all coming together, under the president’s leadership, to stem the tide of the coronavirus.”

In all, it has been a complicated dance for a network whose hosts are among Trump’s most ardent boosters and defenders — an increasingly challenging position to take as the crisis grew in magnitude.

10:58 p.m.
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How long will social distancing for coronavirus have to last? Depends on these factors.

How long are we going to have to keep this up — the closed schools, working from home, six feet of personal space and zombie-apocalypse empty streets?

It’s the question now preoccupying America as millions of parents silently scream it into the void amid the coronavirus pandemic. But it is an especially hard one for science to answer.

The best and most honest reply, according to epidemiologists and virologists, is simple: “It depends.” It’s not going to be over anytime soon — a matter of months rather than weeks.

10:10 p.m.
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White House officials teleworking amid coronavirus outbreak

Two senior White House officials are working remotely after coming in close proximity with those who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or are being tested for it.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an email Monday that she had been working from home after being in contact with a delegation from Brazil at President Trump’s personal club in South Florida earlier this month.

Nestor Forster, the Brazilian ambassador to the United States who dined with Trump on March 7 at Mar-a-Lago, has tested positive for the virus, as has Fabio Wajngarten, the communications secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who had posed for a photo with Trump.

“With my proximity to the President it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Grisham said, adding she will follow the advice of White House medical staff when gauging her return.

Outgoing acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is also teleworking “out of an abundance of caution” after being in contact with an individual whose coronavirus test result is pending, Grisham said.

9:50 p.m.
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Much of ACT and SAT college entrance testing halted because of coronavirus

Two nationwide sessions of college entrance testing in April and May were canceled Monday as fallout from the coronavirus crisis continued to hammer all aspects of the educational system.

The ACT session scheduled for April 4 was postponed till June 13, and the SAT session scheduled for May 2 was canceled outright. These actions were certain to disrupt the plans of high school juniors throughout the country who are preparing to apply to college.

Most selective colleges and universities require applicants to submit an ACT or SAT score, although there is a growing movement among colleges to make the tests optional.

The College Board, which owns the SAT, said it would issue refunds to those who registered for the May 2 session and to those who had signed up for the March 14 exam but were unable to take it last weekend because of numerous abrupt site closures.

9:43 p.m.
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U.K. government takes heat for resisting coronavirus lockdowns

Britain’s neighbors in Europe are shutting down the continent to confront the spread of the novel coronavirus: locking pubs in Dublin and cafes in Paris, closing schools, enacting curfews, and enforcing quarantines not seen since the Middle Ages.

But in London, the bars are still open. Most schools, museums and restaurants are, too.

Unlike Italy, France and Spain, the British government hasn’t stopped anyone from going anywhere. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday encouraged Britons to avoid “all non-essential contact with others,” to work from home and to self-isolate if they are elderly. That prompted some London theaters to begin to go dark. But all the measures are voluntary.

In its go-slow approach, Johnson’s government is charting its own course, resisting the tough restrictions adopted on the continent.

The timing is everything, said Chief Science Officer Patrick Vallance, who has expressed concern about “behavioral fatigue.”

“If you tell people to stay at home too early,” Vallance has said, “they get fed up with this at the very point where you need them to stay at home.”

But a growing chorus of critics, in politics and science, want more done now.

“We are losing time,” warned Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh’s medical school. She called the British government’s plan “worrying and possibly reckless.”

9:42 p.m.
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After Trump’s call with governors, Hogan: ‘There’s a problem’ with ventilators

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), chair of the National Governors Association, said leaders nationwide are scrambling to secure ventilators to ready hospitals for a surge of coronavirus patients, but there are simply not enough available.

“There is a problem with supplies and ventilators,” Hogan said. “There’s not enough supplies. The states don’t have enough. The federal government doesn’t have enough. They’re not getting distributed fast enough. And that’s a problem for all of us.”

He added some of the nation’s governors “were pretty upset” that President Trump told governors to seek their own supply of ventilators during a conference call Monday, but he thought the crisis was too big for “Monday-morning quarterbacking. We just have to get this stuff done,” he said. “There’s a lot of tension and frustration (among) the governors.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) also said he was surprised when Trump told the governors this morning that they should see if they can find ventilators on their own, comparing the fight to a war in which “we just heard our leader say you all need to get your own weapons at the state level to defeat this. But that’s the way it’s been.”