New York Times
A U.S. government report found medical facilities stretched to capacity and in need of everything from ventilators to thermometers. Iran moved to end a shutdown of businesses.
RIGHT NOWStocks had their best day in nearly two weeks after indications that the coronavirus outbreak could be near a peak in the United States.
Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain was moved into intensive care on Monday, according to a statement from his office.
Earlier Monday, British officials had given assurances that he was healthy enough to run the country, but some unease arose over a lack of information on his condition.
Mr. Johnson wrote Monday on Twitter from a hospital in London that he was “in good spirits,” and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for him, said Mr. Johnson was working from his bed and remained “in charge” of the government.
But Mr. Raab admitted that he had not spoken to the prime minister since Saturday, and some commentators expressed concern about the persistence of virus symptoms about 10 days after the prime minister’s case was diagnosed.
Andrew Neil, one of Britain’s most prominent interviewers, asked on Twitter why Mr. Johnson had not spoken to his stand-in, Mr. Raab, since Saturday. “Something not right here,” Mr. Neil added.
British officials say they are not going to give constant updates on Mr. Johnson’s condition and declined to comment on reports that the prime minister had received oxygen when he arrived at St. Thomas’ Hospital on Sunday.
Mr. Johnson, 55, first experienced the symptoms of the virus on March 26, was tested that day and received the positive result around midnight, going into self-isolation in Downing Street, but chairing meetings by videolink.
He was expected to resume normal working at the end of last week, but on Friday Mr. Johnson’s aides said that he still had symptoms, especially a high temperature, and had not ended his self-isolation. In a video statement in which he explained the situation, he still looked unwell.
Several other key figures in the government have self-isolated after suffering symptoms of the coronavirus, including the health secretary Matthew Hancock, who has now returned to work, and the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty. Mr. Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, disclosed on Saturday that she, too, is suffering symptoms.
Mr. Johnson was initially criticized for his slow response to the outbreak, but later moved to place Britain under a virtual lockdown, closing all nonessential shops, banning meetings of more than two people, and requiring people to stay in their homes, except for trips for food or medicine.
The announcement of Mr. Johnson’s hospitalization came hours after Queen Elizabeth II issued a rare televised address on Sunday, attempting to rally her fellow Britons to confront the pandemic with the resolve and self-discipline that have seen the nation through its greatest trials.
New York sees a possible plateau, but warns that it is still in crisis.
As the number of new deaths held relatively steady in New York, where another 599 people died over the past day, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo expressed cautious optimism Monday that the state’s sharply rising curve of infections and deaths might be starting to level off.
“It is hopeful,” he said, “but it is also inconclusive, and it still depends on what we do.”
New York City remains the center of the nation’s outbreak, with harrowing scenes of panicked doctors and besieged hospitals. One city councilman said officials were considering creating temporary mass graves in one of the city’s public parks, an idea Mr. Cuomo was dismissive of.
But even as Mr. Cuomo spoke of a “possible flattening of the curve,” he made it clear that hospitals were already being stretched to the limits. And he doubled the maximum fine for violating social distancing rules, to $1,000, calling compliance more important than ever.
“If we are plateauing, we are plateauing at a very high level, and there is tremendous stress on the health care system,” Mr. Cuomo said, adding that system was already at maximum capacity.
Then he used a driving metaphor: “This is a hospital system where we have our foot to the floor, and the engine is at redline. And you can’t go any faster, and by the way you can’t stay at redline for any period of time, because the system will blow.”
New York’s 599 new deaths from the virus marked a slight increase from Saturday, when 594 people were reported dead, but a drop from Friday, when the state’s daily death toll peaked at 630. All told, 4,758 people have died from the virus in New York. Nationwide, at least 10,522 people have died.
And Mr. Cuomo cautioned against overconfidence. “This is an enemy that we have underestimated from Day 1, and we have paid the price dearly,” he said, warning that just because the numbers looked like they might be moving in the right direction did not mean that the crisis was over. “Other places have made that mistake.”
Mr. Cuomo sounded more confident about the supply of ventilators than he has in days, insisting at one point that “everyone has what they need,” if not what they would like, even as they continue to split some machines among more than one patient and use other devices in ways that are less than ideal.
And he thanked the state of Oregon for sending 140 ventilators to New York, and several other states for agreeing to send their ventilators to current hot spots. “That is the right attitude,” he said. “That’s the only way we do this as a nation.”
Mr. Cuomo was sharply critical of New Yorkers who are growing lax on social distancing.
“Look: people are dying, people in the health care system are exposing themselves every day to tremendous risk, walking into those emergency rooms,” he said. “And then they have to go home to their family, and wonder if they caught the virus and they’re bringing it home to their family. If I can’t convince you to show discipline for yourself, then show discipline for other people.”
Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak
The virus has infected more than 1.2 million people in at least 176 countries.
Wisconsin postpones Tuesday’s elections as cases rise.
Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin on Monday issued an emergency order postponing voting in the state’s elections that were set for Tuesday, circumventing Republican opposition as coronavirus cases rise in the critical political battleground state.
The new executive order suspends in-person voting for more than two months, until June 9, unless the state Legislature and the governor are able to agree on an alternative date. But court challenges are also likely.
The elections include both presidential primaries, a statewide Supreme Court race and local contests. All absentee or early-voting ballots already cast in those races will remain valid.
The order comes after weeks of wrangling between Mr. Evers, a Democrat, and the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature. Already, 15 states and one territory had either pushed back their presidential primaries or switched to voting by mail with extended deadlines, but until Monday, it appeared that Wisconsin would proceed with voting this week.
Iran will lift a nationwide shutdown of businesses, saying that economic activity must continue.
Iran, a regional epicenter for the virus, will lift a nationwide business shutdown and the majority of the work force will return to work by Saturday, the government has announced.
President Hassan Rouhani said that economic and government activity had to continue, and that the idea that Iranians had to “chose between the economy and their health” was a false choice.
“This is completely false and rejected,” he said. “Both economic activity and health protocols can be implemented together.”
The return to business as usual this week covers all provinces except Tehran, the capital, which will follow suit a week later.
Health Minister Saeed Namamki had warned Mr. Rouhani on Friday that if the country reopened too soon it could breed a new a wave of contagion and “jeopardize the health and economy of the country.”
Iran had 60,500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 3,739 deaths as of Monday, but health experts inside and outside Iran say the true numbers are likely several times higher.
Iran has been struggling to combat the outbreak with a severe shortage of medical equipment and an economy on the skids, in part because of punishing American trade sanctions.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, approved the government’s request on Monday to withdraw $1.8 billion from the country’s national development fund. The government said it planned to use the money to purchase much needed medical equipment and to help pay unemployment insurance.
Many Iranians had already returned to work on Saturday as some government and many private companies opened shop after a two-week New Year holiday and a 10-day government shutdown of nonessential workers and businesses and a ban on intercity travel.
Traffic choked the highways of Tehran and commuters packed the subway trains over the weekend.
A new government report confirmed that hospitals are facing severe shortages.
Hospitals continue to confront severe shortages in testing and protective equipment for medical staff working to combat the coronavirus outbreak, according to a government watchdog report released on Monday that appears to undercut President Trump’s assurances that states have sufficient resources.
Staff and patients alike are put at risk by the lack of available protective gear, according to the report by the inspector general of Health and Human Services.
Hospital administrators are forced to grapple with “sharp increases” in prices for items such as masks, gloves and face shields from vendors, the report continues.
The lack of testing has forced hospitals to extend the stays of patients, pushing the facilities even farther beyond their capacities. Hospitals are also in need of thermometers, disinfectants, medical gas, linens, toilet paper and food. And doctors around the United States are still pleading for ventilators, even as the federal government has limited the number of lifesaving devices issued to states.
The report was based on interviews conducted March 23 through March 27 with more than 320 hospitals across 46 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The findings are in line with pleas made by governors, medical workers and hospital administrators, but they contrast sharply with statements made by Mr. Trump, who said this weekend that hospital administrators were “thrilled to be where they are.”
“Whenever local shortages are reported, we’re asking states to immediately meet the demand. And we’re stockpiling large amounts in different areas,” Mr. Trump said at a White House news briefing on Saturday.
The report was issued days after reports that protective equipment in the government’s strategic national stockpile was nearly depleted, forcing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to conduct an international search for such equipment. Those efforts have also increased competition for states and localities.
California is trying to organize states to work together, instead of competing, to secure medical supplies.
As the pandemic has spread across America, chaos has reigned in the process of securing much-need medical supplies for front line workers. States are competing with one another, and with the federal government. The process has drawn in fraudsters, and a number of F.B.I. investigations are underway.
In California, the state has received moldy masks that were useless, and in Los Angeles, a deal put together by a labor union to secure millions of N95 masks for the county’s hospitals never materialized, spurring a federal investigation.
California, the most populous state with 40 million people, is trying now to band together with other, smaller states to procure supplies. The goal is twofold: to bring order the process; and to ensure that smaller states do not lose out to California, which has the ability to outbid other states because of its size.
“This has been described, I think appropriately, as the wild, wild West,” Gov. Gavin Newson said on Sunday. “We are trying to organize in a more deliberative manner.”
Last week, Mr. Cuomo put the supply chain problem this way: “You now literally will have a company call you up and say, ‘Well, California just outbid you.’ It’s like being on eBay with 50 other states, bidding on a ventilator.”
Mr. Newsom said he has been deluged by text messages and phone calls from friends who tell him they have friends with supplies to offer. “Some of the friends of our friends are not all above board. There’s a lot of fraud,” he said.
Mr. Newsom said he has been in discussions with other states to organize their procurement efforts, and he said he would have more specific announcements to make this week. “We are trying to avoid the competition in this space with each other,” he said.
The state — which has not seen a surge in cases like New York and Louisiana, but is preparing for a possible jump in hospitalizations in the coming weeks — said Monday it was sending 500 ventilators to the national stockpile to aid New York.
In doing so, California follows similar actions by Oregon, which has said it was sending 140 ventilators to New York, and Washington State, which has offered up 400 ventilators to New York.
Amid quarantine orders, highway checkpoints appear along some state lines.
As stay-at-home orders have spread across the United States, checkpoints have appeared along some state lines, where certain visitors are being told to quarantine for 14 days.
Governors in Rhode Island, Texas and Florida have ordered some drivers coming from out of state to be stopped at the border and reminded of the quarantine requirement. No state has blocked drivers from passing through on their way to their final destination. Some municipalities have added checkpoints and restrictions of their own.
Texas set up checkpoints on its border with Louisiana on Sunday to screen people for the coronavirus, widening the scope of a mandatory quarantine order for visitors from one of the country’s emergent hot spots, the authorities said.
Photos of the checkpoints appeared on the Facebook page of the Louisiana State Police, which advised travelers to exercise caution and remain alert for traffic congestion in a post mentioning the enforcement measures. The post said commercial traffic would not be obstructed.
The screening measures came a week after Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas expanded a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for travelers arriving from Louisiana, as well as air travelers from a number of other states and cities. The Texas Department of Public Safety said Monday that it was increasing its presence along the Louisiana border, where troopers had set up roadway screening stations to gather required forms from road travelers.
The steps taken by the Texas authorities recalled an order last month by Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, who ordered checkpoints in her state that singled out vehicles with New York license plates to enforce a similar quarantine.
Some two weeks after Marie Margolius, 27, drove from her apartment in Brooklyn to a family home in Middletown, R.I., to stay with her family, the National Guard dropped by.
The family cars, all with Massachusetts license plates, were parked in the front yard. The officers took notes of the family members’ names and date of arrival into town and instructed them to continue self-isolating.
“It felt surreal seeing these men in uniform, wearing masks, knocking on doors in an effort to get a handle on who’s here,” she said. “But it made me feel safe. The fact that they are attempting to really understand the situation in our community was sort of comforting.”
The first legal challenge to public health restrictions has been filed by the A.C.L.U. in Puerto Rico.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed its first lawsuit over government-imposed virus restrictions.
The suit, filed over the weekend, argues that Puerto Rico’s nightly curfew and some other strict rules aimed at limiting public contact are unconstitutional. The police in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, have cited hundreds of people for violating the 7 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew since it was imposed on March 15.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez’s executive order also requires that people stay home during the day unless they are going to a grocery store, pharmacy, bank, gas station or medical appointment, or are providing medical care. Those found guilty of violating the order face a $5,000 fine or up to six months in jail.
The order further limits gatherings to close family members, a criterion the lawsuit says should not be defined by the state and is too vague for practical application by the police. Three plaintiffs who joined the lawsuit said that they fear arrest when they leave their homes each day to care for their elderly mothers.
(Puerto Rico has restricted traffic to alternating days based on license plates.)
“The order expects constitutional rights to be blindly handed over to the government, and that is unacceptable,” the lawsuit says.
On Sunday, Gov. Vázquez announced even tighter rules, shutting down all businesses except pharmacies and gas stations later this week from Good Friday through Easter Sunday.
Stocks rally as investors see some hopeful signs.
Even as officials were warning Americans to brace themselves for a week of sadness, death and challenges, U.S. stocks rallied and global markets surged on Monday as investors looked to signs that the outbreak was peaking in some of the world’s worst-hit places.
The S&P 500 rose nearly 6 percent, more than erasing last week’s 2 percent drop.
After grappling with intense market volatility during the month of March as efforts to contain the spread of the virus weighed on the economy, investors were cheered by numbers showing that the pace of new confirmed infections and deaths was slowing in some places in Europe. In the United States, the Trump administration, while warning of a hard week ahead, suggested that the outbreak could be near its peak in some places.
Analysts highlighted the tentative deceleration of infections in New York as a good sign for other virus hot spots in the United States, as well as stock market sentiment. European stocks were trading higher after a modest rally in Asia picked up steam later in the day.
U.S. Treasury bond prices fell in Asian trading. But the price of oil, which generally rises on good economic news, fell amid a continuing spat over supplies between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Japan will declare a state of emergency as the virus surges in Tokyo and other cities.
With new cases of the virus rapidly increasing in Tokyo and other cities in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that he would declare a state of emergency in seven prefectures that include the country’s largest population centers.
Mr. Abe, whose country faces a deep recession as the virus hinders trade and tourism, also announced an economic stimulus package worth nearly $1 trillion. He said that the government would suspend $240 billion in tax and social security payments and pay about $55 billion to households whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic.
The seven prefectures to be covered by the state of emergency, which Mr. Abe said would last about a month, are Chiba, Fukuoka, Hyogo, Kanagawa, Osaka, Saitama and Tokyo.
Under an emergency law enacted last month, Mr. Abe can ask prefectural governors to close schools, request that residents refrain from going out or holding events, and order building owners to contribute their facilities for medical use. He cannot issue stay-at-home orders or force businesses to close, as other countries have done.
Mr. Abe said that public transit would continue to run and that supermarkets would remain open.
Nearly three months into its outbreak, Japan is continuing to record new daily highs in confirmed infections, with the health ministry announcing 383 on Monday. Japan’s total number of cases has more than doubled, to 3,654, in the last eight days.
Japan has so far not reported the sort of explosive rise in cases that other countries have experienced, even though it has not taken aggressive steps like restricting people’s movements or testing widely for the virus. Its leaders have said for weeks that they have managed to contain the outbreak by quickly identifying clusters and tracing close contacts to infected people, but experts fear that the limited testing has allowed the virus to spread.
In remarks to reporters, Yoshihide Suga, Mr. Abe’s chief cabinet secretary, said that “in urban areas, including Tokyo, the number of infections is rapidly increasing, and the number of infections that cannot be tracked is increasing.”
In Tokyo on Sunday, the governor, Yuriko Koike, announced 143 new cases, a record high. By Monday evening, the city had announced an additional 83 cases. In all, Tokyo has reported more than 1,000 cases and 30 deaths.