Coronavirus updates: US braces for possible recession as death toll hits 85; Ohio cancels primary

President Donald Trump took a remarkably different tone Monday about the increasing threat of coronavirus, warning the country that restrictions — like limiting gatherings to 10 people and massive school closures — could stretch into July or August. 

“If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus and we’re going to have a big celebration all together,’’ said Trump, who had mostly downplayed the virus’ threat until recent days. On Monday, he conceded that the United States could be headed for a recession

The U.S. death toll hit 85, with more than 4,660 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. More cases are expected in the coming days as the government ramps up testing. Worldwide, more than 7,150 people have been killed by the virus.

Other important headlines on coronavirus: 

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom called to close all bars, restaurants and wineries in the state, one day after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti did so in his city. California also suspended its state legislature for the next month.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced extraordinary restrictionsto contain the spread, including that residents should not leave their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Business restrictions were also put in other states, including New York, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland and others.
  • Orangetheory, SoulCycle and other fitness centers closed across America
  • The Supreme Court, for first time since 1918, postponed oral arguments.

Americans don’t trust Trump on coronavirus

Americans overwhelmingly don’t believe hearing from President Trump about the coronavirus, and their confidence in the federal government’s response to it is declining sharply, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Just 46% of Americans now say the federal government is doing enough to prevent the spread of coronavirus, down from 61% in February. And  37% of Americans now say they had a good amount or a great deal of trust in what they’re hearing from the president, while 60% say they had not very much or no trust at all in what he’s saying. The poll of 853 adults was conducted Friday and Saturday – before Trump’s latest press conference.

Lockdowns, layoffs sweep nation

San Francisco was a places where residents were ordered to “shelter in place” for the next three weeks. People are expected to stay indoors until April 7 unless traveling for essential reasons, like visiting the grocery store or pharmacy. Other counties around the country, including some in Pennsylvania and Colorado, face similar restrictions. 

The economic impact is starting to be felt by thousands, as laid-off workers scramble to figure out a backup plan for paying bills after losing their jobs almost overnight. The stock market was rattled, the Dow dropping nearly 3,000 points. 

Thirty-seven states have closed schools, and Trump’s administration is encouraging kids to take classes from home wherever possible. Even more states and cities are closing bars and restaurants, but allowing takeout and delivery service in an effort to help keep businesses afloat. 

The administration did shoot down a rumor circulating the internet about any possible mandated national quarantine and curfew. 

As Dow Jones plummets, US workers scramble to figure out ‘Plan B’

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 2,997 points Monday, its biggest drop of all time, eclipsing the 2,352-point fall it had on Thursday. This happened despite the Federal Reserve’s emergency action to cushion the economy from a pandemic that is shutting down global business and travel.

Monday’s 12% drop for the S&P 500 means it has plummeted nearly 30% since setting a record less than a month ago, and it’s at its lowest point since the end of 2018. Losses accelerated in the last half hour of trading after Trump said the economy may be headed for a recession.

In San Francisco, tour guide Manuel Gomez, 49, saw a group cancel, and Alberto Sensores, 60, cleaned windows to stay busy at an empty restaurant near heavily touristed Pier 39. Both only have savings to last them 10 to 15 days.

“I have no Plan B,” Gomez said.

Jessica Menton, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

No Ohio election on Tuesday, called off due to ‘health emergency’

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration ordered polls closed on Tuesday as a “health emergency.” DeWine announced this change at 10:08 p.m. Monday after a judge ordered polls to remain open. Tuesday, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose will seek a legal remedy to extend voting. 

“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 a unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus,” DeWine said in the release. 

The Republican governor’s statement capped a night of confusion, with Ohioans — and poll workers — unsure if there would be an election.  That was still unclear barely eight hours before polls were scheduled to open at 6:30 a.m.

– Rebecca Morin. USA TODAY; Jackie Borchardt and Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer

McDonald’s closes dining rooms, play areas amid coronavirus crisis

The McDonald’s fast-food chain will shut down seating areas at all of its company-owned outlets throughout the U.S., limiting sales to walk-in takeout, drive-thru and delivery service. Play areas will also be closed.

Though the move only currently applies to restaurants McDonald’s corporately owns, the company expects many of its franchisees to follow suit. That is likely to mean large swaths of McDonald’s restaurants – of which there are roughly 13,800 in the U.S. – will operate as drive-thru only.

“Franchisees are strongly encouraged to adopt similar operations procedures while keeping the needs of their people and communities at the center of their decisions,” McDonald’s said. 

– Charisse Jones

California Gov. Gavin Newsom calls for all bars and restaurants to close

As part of what he called an “aggressive, but necessary” step to stem the transmission of the novel coronavirus across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday night said restaurants should be closed for seated dining and should open only for drive-thru, pick-up or other delivery options.

The guidance is an about-face from one day earlier, when Newsom said bars should close but restaurants could stay open. On Sunday, he recommended that restaurants reduce maximum occupancy by half to provide an opportunity for social distancing.

Also in California, the state legislature suspended work until at least April 13, shortly after approving up to $1 billion in new spending on Monday to combat the outbreak. It is believed to be the first unexpected work stoppage in the California Legislature in 158 years, according to Alex Vassar, an unofficial legislative historian at the California State Library. 

– Rebecca Plevin, Palm Springs (Calif.) Desert Sun

San Francisco Bay Area counties ordered to shelter-in-place

In the most restrictive measure yet by local governments, officials in six San Francisco Bay Area counties on Monday issued a shelter-in-place mandate affecting nearly 7 million people.

The order, effective Tuesday, says residents must stay inside for three weeks and venture out only for necessities. The order affects the counties of San Francisco, Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa, as well as the city of Berkeley.

People should work from home unless they provide essential services such as public safety, sanitation and health care.

“The most important thing you can do is remain home as much as possible,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed posted on Twitter. “There is no need to rush out for food or supplies, as these stores will remain open.”

Residents can still go outside to perform essential functions, such as obtaining services or supplies for the household, and they’re also allowed to go exercise and take pets out as long as they maintain a social distance of at least six feet.

– Gabrielle Canon

Orangetheory, SoulCycle and other gyms close across the country

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the closure of fitness clubs across the nation, with popular clubs — from Orangetheory, SoulCycle, Gold’s Gym and Equinox — announcing closures Monday.

Some cities and states are instituting across-the-board closings of gyms and fitness centers as part of temporary shutdowns of restaurants, theaters and other places people gather.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday announced gyms and fitness centers in the city would be shut down until March 31. On Monday, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced gyms would close in those states that evening.

The Boca Raton, Florida-based Orangetheory announced it was closing its franchise-owned high-intensity training locations nationwide at end of classes Monday, and asking independent owners to follow suit. In a letter to members, CEO David Long and president David Carney said the closure “is not a decision we made lightly.”

‘Big Brother Germany’ cast has no idea coronavirus is happening

The world is reeling over the coronavirus outbreak that grew into a global pandemic, but the sequestered cast of “Big Brother Germany” probably is unaware of the size and extent of its spread.

Fourteen men and women competing on Germany’s equivalent of “Big Brother” have been cut off from news and current events since entering the competition on Feb. 6, when the coronavirus story was focused on a section of mainland China. 

The contestants, restricted to a “Big Brother” house where they are under constant surveillance, have no idea how dire the situation has become worldwide.

“Big Brother Germany” broadcaster Sat.1 defended its decision to keep the contestants in the dark to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (via Google Translator): “Of course, the residents will be informed if there is reason to do so.”

– Cydney Henderson

Map: Which states have coronavirus cases?

Contributing: The Associated Press

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