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Restrictions are dramatically ramping up amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, with Illinois and its 13 million residents — 10 million in the Chicago area — the latest to join California by moving closer to an effective lockdown. Meanwhile, New York told nonessential workers to stay home, Florida closed restaurants, bars and gyms amid spring-break revelry, and the U.S.-Mexico border is closing to nonessential travel.

Here are some significant developments:

  • The Air Force conducted two flights Friday that helped bring 89 Americans stranded in Honduras back to the United States.
  • Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Friday said President Trump had approved a major disaster declaration for the state of New York.
  • A member of Vice President Pence’s office has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to press secretary Katie Miller. “Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual,” Miller wrote.
  • Italy announced another record-breaking death toll on Friday: 627, up from 427 the previous day. The country cited 9,600 people in one day for violating lockdown.
  • The U.S. tax filing deadline has been pushed back from April 15 to July 15. “All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Twitter.
  • More than 250,000 cases have been confirmed across the globe. The World Health Organization noted that it took more than three months to reach 100,000 cases worldwide — but only 12 days to log the next 100,000. The number of deaths and confirmed cases continues to surge in Spain and Iran.
  • For a second consecutive day, China reported no new local infections. But concerns are growing about a new wave of imported cases elsewhere in the region: Hong Kong reported its biggest daily jump in cases Friday, including many that involved recent travel.

Pressure mounts on state and local governments as money for public services begins to run out

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In San Jose, coronavirus infections have ripped through fire stations, sidelining more than one-tenth of the department. In New Orleans, the court system has ground to a halt, prompting officials to consider whether they can keep paying public defenders. And in Dayton, Ohio, the mayor has begun to fear a decline in tax revenue so severe there won’t be enough money to pick up the trash.

The coronavirus outbreak is forcing every state, city and county to execute a plan of attack for confronting the global pandemic. It’s a process that Sarah Eckhardt, the top official in Texas’s Travis County, likened to “building the plane while in the air.”

But the virus — and the extraordinarily costly response to it — is also putting enormous pressure on all the normal stuff: the criminal justice, sanitation, transit, emergency response and other systems that residents expect from their state and local governments.

Although the nation is just in the first stages of what is likely to be a prolonged struggle to suppress covid-19, the strain on public services is already beginning to show. First responders are stretched thin. Courts are paralyzed. And everywhere, money for basic public services is running out, fast.

“We have to manage beyond the scope of anything one city has prepared for or can handle,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, whose city is among the worst-hit in America. “We’re spending all our reserves right now, but we won’t make it if the federal government doesn’t step up and step up big.”

Read more here.

California’s stay-at-home order means residents can’t travel across state lines

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If your state is under a stay-at-home order, can you flee to another state to avoid the restrictions?

In California, the answer is no.

Under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order instructing 40 million residents to stay home except for essential activities, residents are being directed to not travel across state lines.

The order, implemented Thursday, requires that California residents remain in the state unless it is for one of the critical infrastructure areas, according to the governor’s office. Residents are instructed to stay at home, and any travel that is not deemed essential is prohibited.

Some counties, like San Francisco, which implemented its own “stay-at-home” order earlier in the week, take cross-state travel a step further.

It is prohibited for a San Francisco resident to leave the county, not just the state of California, for any reason other than essential travel, according to the San Francisco mayor’s office. San Francisco’s order states the only travel allowed includes “travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction” and “travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the County.”

Stay-at-home orders now apply to one in five Americans

California. New York. Illinois. More than 70 million people have been told to stay at home in these three states — effectively ordering one in five of all Americans to socially distance themselves to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The orders essentially close three of the nation’s largest cities: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. They come as Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday that Americans will need to stay at home as much as possible and maintain social distance from other people for at least several weeks.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said Friday that all New Yorkers are prohibited from going into their offices unless they perform essential services, such as those who work at a hospital or grocery store or who provide Internet or water. Cuomo also has banned all nonessential gatherings. The regulations take effect Sunday.

“These provisions will be enforced,” he said. “These are not helpful hints. This is not if you really want to be a good citizen.”

Read more here.

Venezuela’s broken health system is uniquely vulnerable to coronavirus. Neighbors are afraid the country will hemorrhage infected migrants.

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CARACAS, Venezuela — Inside one of Venezuela’s largest hospitals, doctors wearing gloves and masks but no protective gowns tended to a suspected coronavirus patient.

HIV patients languished in a room a few feet away. The door was left open, to allow air to circulate — the unit here at Caracas University Hospital has no working air conditioning. Running water, albeit with dark contaminants, came back three days ago. But doctors say it’s unlikely to last for long.

As in many hospitals in this collapsed socialist state, even washing hands is a luxury. The hospital has run out of soap, leaving doctors to bring their own, when possible. None of the six X-ray machines works. Without cleaning products to disinfect surfaces — including those in the waiting room where suspected coronavirus patients are held — hospital infections are common. A shipment of gloves and masks arrived Friday; doctors say they had gone a full month without them. Current supplies, they say, will run out in one week.

“If we start getting large numbers of patients, we will collapse,” said Maria Eugenia Landaeta, head of the infectious-diseases department at Caracas University Hospital. “Long lines of patients waiting, all beds full and patients we won’t be able to hospitalize. To sum up: total chaos.”

Analysts say Venezuela, already struggling under a dangerous mix of gaps in clean water and soap, underequipped and inadequately supplied public hospitals and authoritarian red tape, is uniquely vulnerable to the pandemic.

Read more here.

Air Force evacuates 89 Americans, including U.S. women’s football team, from Honduras

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The Air Force is evacuating 89 U.S. citizens who had been unable to return home from Honduras, according to the U.S. Southern Command.

The Air Force conducted two flights Friday that helped bring the Americans to Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina. The flights out of Honduras’ Soto Cano Air Base carried mainly the entire U.S. women’s football team, which had traveled to Honduras on March 11 to play in a tournament and do charity work.

On Sunday, the group of 57 Americans — made up of players, coaches, personnel staff and family members — had learned they were stranded in Honduras after the government sent workers home, called off flights and shuttered public transportation for at least seven days in efforts to contain the virus. The team was supposed to fly home Monday.

The U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa worked closely to facilitate both flights. On Thursday, the State Department issued a rare Level 4 travel warning against all international travel and that Americans abroad could face trouble getting to the United States.

On Thursday, President Trump had told reporters at the White House that the United States was considering tapping the military to help stranded travelers, including hundreds of Americans in Peru, though he did not offer specifics.

Schumer says Trump approved ‘major disaster declaration’ for New York, offering more federal relief

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Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday said President Trump had approved a major disaster declaration for the state; a move that will allow the federal government to provide even more resources and relief.

No president has ever declared a major disaster in response to a public health issue before, according to E&E news. The designation is typically reserved for major natural events, including hurricanes, storms, drought and volcanic eruptions — or any other disaster “that the president believes has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of the state and local governments to respond,” according to FEMA.

“A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work,” FEMA wrote.

After invoking the Stafford Act to provide federal assistance to state and local governments, Trump invited state governors to request that he issue major disaster declarations as well, according to the Atlantic. The Atlantic reports that under a major disaster declaration, the federal government can provide unemployment assistance, food coupons, emergency transportation and other essential resources.

In the case of New York, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said in a statement that she and her colleagues in the New York congressional delegation had sent a letter to Trump earlier this week, urging him to adhere to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s (D) request for a major disaster declaration in the state. She said it would provide a bevy of additional federal resources as New York continues to combat covid-19.

“New York State has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and we need more resources in order to be fully equipped,” she wrote Wednesday. FEMA notes that the type of assistance varies based on each governor’s request.

Other legislators, including from Iowa and Washington state, have sought similar disaster designations.

Florida, New Jersey, Nevada and Connecticut all curbing large swaths of business

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Florida, New Jersey, Nevada and Connecticut all moved Friday to curb large swaths of business as states take economic hits to combat the coronavirus.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an executive order Friday afternoon that all on-premises restaurant sales must cease and all gyms and fitness centers must close. Restaurants can keep their kitchens open for takeout and delivery services only, a dramatic escalation from DeSantis’s announcement earlier this week that restaurants were permitted to stay open at 50 percent capacity.

Friday’s announcement came three days after the governor restricted bars, pubs and nightclubs, closing them for 30 days, although scenes of spring break revelry in Fort Myers, Siesta Key and Clearwater Beach continued this week, albeit at a more subdued pace.

DeSantis, however, does see the need for blowing off steam in the face of the coronavirus pandemic: The new executive order lifts some restrictions on restaurants to allow the sale of to-go sealed alcoholic beverages accompanying meals.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced a similar crackdown at his Friday news conference, saying he expects to issue an executive order Saturday that will shut down all nonessential businesses. Murphy also expects the executive order to prohibit “gatherings of any sort”; the details are still in the works, officials say.

In Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced he was using his powers under the state’s emergency declaration to order all nonessential businesses to close at midnight until April 16. If businesses defy the directive and stay open, he said, state and local law enforcement will have the ability to treat it as a criminal act.

“Previously, I asked nonessential businesses to close. I’m no longer asking them to do that,” Sisolak said. “This is not the time to try and find loopholes.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), too, signed an executive order Friday stating all nonessential businesses must close starting at 8 p.m. on Monday and lasting through at least April 22.

“It’s tough medicine,” Lamont said during his Friday news conference. “I think it’s the right medicine.”

Lamont, who is also urging residents to stay home when possible, said businesses but not individuals could face fines if they choose not to comply.

“The municipal police are not going to be heavy-handed,” Lamont said. “If there’s a local retail store that stays open, there will be a friendly reminder that the governor has an executive order that you should be closed.”

FDA warns consumers to steer clear of unapproved at-home coronavirus tests

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The Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that consumers should avoid fraudulent and unauthorized products sold as at-home test kits for the coronavirus.

The agency said it hasn’t approved any such at-home tests. Some firms are beginning to offer them, in an effort to capitalize on the public’s continued frustration in not being able to get tested.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, in a statement, said the agency “sees the public health value in expanding the availability of COVID-19 testing through safe and accurate tests that may include home collection, and we are actively working with test developers in this space."

On Tuesday, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx said experts were exploring “innovative solutions,” like self-swabbing, but did not have enough data yet.

The Gates Foundation is one of several entities working on such a test.

Front-line heath workers push back against CDC mask guidelines for coronavirus

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Medical associations and unions pushed back Friday against new federal guidelines for conserving and reusing masks, saying it will leave them unprotected against a dangerous infection carried by waves of patients already at their doors.

“Needless to say, this is frightening for our staff,” Katie Oppenheim, chair of the union for University of Michigan nurses, said on a conference call with reporters.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents 112,000 health professionals, said the delays in procuring additional equipment — when officials knew from the experience of other countries this would be a problem — were unethical.

“If I sound angry,” she said, “I am.”

President Trump has announced steps in recent days to address the nation’s dwindling supplies of protective equipment for health-care workers — authorizing the release of emergency stockpiles, and working with manufacturers to ramp up production in a wartime-like effort. But health-care workers on the front lines are voicing frustration, and panic, that such help may arrive too late.

If they can’t stay healthy, they say, the whole system will fall apart.

Read more here.

Member of Pence’s office tests positive for the coronavirus, spokeswoman says

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A member of Vice President Pence’s office has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to press secretary Katie Miller.

“Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual,” Miller wrote. “Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

Pence leads the White House coronavirus task force. Additional information about the positive case was not immediately available.

Trump’s clubs and hotels, including Mar-a-Lago, suffer from coronavirus fallout

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President Trump’s company — significantly reliant on tourism, conventions and restaurant income — has been sharply impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with at least two properties closing and two hotels laying off staff, according to people familiar with the company.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ordered all restaurants and bars in the state to close Friday and imposed special restrictions in a few places including Palm Beach County — home of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

Previously, Mar-a-Lago had been partially open, offering limited sit-down service at its beachfront bistro, according to a letter sent to members.

Before that, Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas was shuttered in response to a statewide order from Nevada’s governor. It will not reopen until April 17, the hotel told customers. Some employees at the hotel have already been laid off, according to a letter one employee received.

In New York, Trump’s hotel on Central Park remained open Friday, but the hotel warned its investors that “we cannot predict the duration of this unprecedented event; however, the hotel expects a significant shortfall in revenues,” according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.

By late Thursday, 51 of the New York hotel’s 300-plus employees had been laid off, according to a person familiar with the Trump hotel’s operations.

Read more here.

Census Bureau says it will extend counting deadline

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As cities and states across the U.S. announced lockdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Census Bureau said Friday that it will extend the deadline for counting everyone in the U.S. by two weeks.

The nonresponse follow-up operation, where enumerators go door-to-door to count people who have not responded, will start in late May instead of mid-May, and it will end Aug. 14 rather than July 31, said Tim Olson, associate director for field operations. People can also respond online, by phone, or by mail until Aug. 14.

The bureau will also delay a count of homeless people by one month until the end of April.

This is the first decennial census to which respondents are being asked to respond online. Most households in the U.S. received invitations this week to respond to the census online, by phone, and by mail. More than 18.6 million households had already responded as of Friday.

The bureau plans to employ hundreds of thousands of temporary workers is being affected by coronavirus concerns.

The bureau has recruited 2.8 applicants, 600,000 people have accepted job offers and are in the midst of going through background checks and fingerprinting, and more than 8,000 people a day are applying. But the bureau has suspended activities related to hiring and onboarding through at least April 1, Olson said, adding that the mobile assistance program, in which employees help people at large gatherings fill out the census, has also been delayed until at least mid- to late April.

Barr directs U.S. attorneys to ensure that federal employees can travel amid local restrictions

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Attorney General William P. Barr directed U.S. attorneys around the country Friday to reach out to state and local officials to make sure that federal employees will be able to move freely amid travel and other restrictions.

In a memo, Barr noted that some jurisdictions had imposed shelter-in-place or lockdown orders, and he expected those to increase.

“As you know, many federal employees, including Department of Justice Employees carrying out law enforcement functions, are at times required to travel for official purposes,” he wrote. He asked the U.S. attorneys to inform local authorities “that federal employees must be allowed to travel and commute to perform law enforcement and other functions and should not be prevented from doing so, even when travel restrictions are in place.”

Alone no more: People are turning to dogs, cats and chickens to cope with self-isolation

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On a normal Sunday at a PetSmart in Gaithersburg, Md., Lucky Dog Animal Rescue would hold an adoption event and find homes for about 15 dogs.

But as coronavirus news started to spread this past week, the waiting list skyrocketed from 10 to 40 would-be adopters. “And we had 30 adoptions in three hours at that event alone,” said Mirah Horowitz, the rescue’s executive director.

Forget toilet paper, milk and hand sanitizer: There is now a rush to stock up on cats and dogs. And rabbits and fish, even a couple of chickens.

As millions of people across the United States work from home and as schools close, the promise of companionship even in a time of isolation is prompting some to take in animals. Many say they finally have the time to properly train and care for a new pet. Animal rescuers across the country say they are seeing a spike in interest in adoption and fostering, as well as offers to help everywhere, from open-admission shelters to smaller nonprofit groups.

In California, where 40 million residents were ordered on Thursday night to stay home except for essential jobs or trips, such as getting groceries, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) noted an important exemption.“You can still walk your dog,” he said.

Read more here.