UNITED STATES—April 2, 2020—Life as we know it is changing across the U.S. due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13. Coronavirus is spreading widely and rapidly in the United States, and shelter-in-place orders are either recommended or mandatory across the country as officials try to slow the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, which threatens to overwhelm our medical system as healthcare workers face possibly severe equipment shortages. Businesses are suffering as social distancing and shelter-in-place orders keep services to an absolute minimum. Read below for regular coronavirus updates.


April 2, 2020

COVID-19 Updates: 10 Million Americans Out of Work, More Than 1 Million Cases of COVID-19 Worldwide.

Unemployment

A stunning 6.6 million people filed for unemployment this week, according to NPR, doubling last week’s record which had already shattered every prior record in history. Ten million Americans are now out of work as stay-at-home orders force non-essential companies to shut down across the country with no clear end in sight. The current situation is a sudden jolt to an economy that had been experiencing a nearly 50-year low unemployment rate of 3.5%.

As shocking as these numbers are, they are just the beginning. Some who lost jobs were unable to get through to unemployment offices that are overwhelmed with claims, so the reported numbers are likely lower than the reality as the system works to catch up. Additionally, forecasters at Oxford Economics predict that 20 million people will become unemployed in the coming weeks, according to NPR.

The New York Times notes this recession is like no other in history. Typically the economy slows first and job losses follow over time, but what would normally happen over the course of many months has stunned the country in a matter of weeks. As impacts of the pandemic ripple through the economy, the cascading effects will reach into every sector. Companies that were able to allow their employees to work from home initially are now beginning layoffs as revenue declines.

Even typically recession-proof jobs like education and healthcare are feeling the effects, according to The New York Times. Schools have moved online; testing and other programs have been canceled for the year, and widespread joblessness means the tax revenues that help fund schools will sharply decline. Though hospitals and the healthcare workers treating COVID-19 are vital, the business of healthcare as a whole is in trouble as elective procedures, preventative care, and mental health appointments are canceled, leaving providers in those fields also facing cuts. In this unprecedented economic crisis, it seems everyone is likely to feel its effects on some level.

1 million cases

Worldwide reported cases of COVID-19 passed 1 million on Thursday with more than 50,000 deaths. More than 45% of these cases come from the U.S., Italy, and Spain, according to U.S. News and World Report. In the United States, coronavirus has sickened more than 244,000 people with at least 6,200 deaths, and cases continue to grow at a staggering rate. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday that the state would run out of ventilators in just six days, and 45 mobile morgues have been deployed in New York City to assist funeral homes in accommodating the city’s dead, according to The New York Times.


April 1, 2020

COVID-19 Updates: New York Hospitals Near Capacity, Economists Fear Longer Downturn  

Hospital capacity

The U.S. now reports at least 214,000 cases of COVID-19 nationwide, nearly double the amount reported in Italy, which has the next highest caseload globally. More than 4,800 Americans have died, with New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut accounting for half of the fatalities as infections continue to surge in the region. The New York Times reports that so far 12,000 patients have been hospitalized in New York, which is straining the state’s healthcare system. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that at the current rate of spread, the system would likely reach capacity in the next seven to 21 days.

In addition to hospital capacity, medical supplies like masks, gowns, and ventilators also continue to run low. The nation’s emergency stockpile is already nearly empty, according to The New York Times, long before the peak of the outbreak reaches most parts of the country. President Trump said Wednesday that he is considering banning certain domestic flights into and out of virus hot spots like New York City.

Economic outlook

With infections mounting even under aggressive social distancing, the economic toll of the virus continues to climb as well. The New York Times reports that some economists are beginning to fear a longer and more painful economic downturn that would affect every part of the world. The length and depth of the financial crisis likely depends on how long the pandemic lasts. According to The Times, there are two possibilities:

  1. We gain control of the pandemic quickly, leading to a sharp economic recovery later this year as people rush to engage in all the activities they’ve been deprived of, like shopping, traveling, and eating out.
  2. The threat of the virus looms into next year (or beyond), and even after some control is gained, the social and economic landscape will have permanently altered, leading to a much slower and more difficult recovery.

In a longer financial crisis, widespread bankruptcy could cripple entire industries, diminish production output, and damage global supply chains, according to The New York Times. Fear and anxiety could become fixtures in our collective psyche, leading people to spend less and save more. Some of our social distancing behavior patterns may also persist even after the virus is contained. Crowded public spaces like packed restaurants or busy stores may continue to feel unsafe, changing the way we engage in economic activity. At this point, much is unknown about how the pandemic and resulting financial crisis will play out, but it is already proving to be an unprecedented and unpredictable global event.


March 31, 2020

COVID-19 Updates: Computer Models Predict Staggering Death Toll, CDC Considers Widespread Use of Masks, Stock Market Records Worst Quarter Since 2008

U.S. fatality predictions

America’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at more than 3,300, surpassing the reported number of deaths in China, but computer models of the epidemic released by the White House reveal that this is just the beginning. According to NPR, these models predict that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans will die from COVID-19, even with aggressive social distancing measures in place. Discontinuing these measures would result in a much higher death toll.

The model extrapolates the outbreak’s trajectory based on data from how it is currently playing out in hard-hit places like New York and New Jersey. NPR reports that officials are hoping those outbreaks turn out to be anomalies and that other states are able to gain better control of the spread and lower overall death rates, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says we need to prepare ourselves for this possibility.

Masks for all

Up to this point, the CDC has said that masks should only be worn by individuals showing active symptoms to prevent them spreading the virus to others, but those guidelines are currently under review, according to The New York Times. In an interview with NPR, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said new data suggests that as many as 25% of those infected and transmitting COVID-19 will never show any symptoms at all. Additionally, those who do become symptomatic begin actively transmitting the virus 48 hours before feeling sick. This results in a virus that is three times more infectious than the flu and sheds light on why the U.S. case count is doubling every three to four days even with social distancing in place, according to The New York Times.

If everyone wears a mask any time they are out in society, community transmission by these asymptomatic carriers could be reduced. The New York Times reports that places like Hong Kong and Taiwan that required universal mask wearing have seen significantly reduced spread of the virus. However, the problem with recommending widespread mask use is supply as medical-grade masks are already in critically short supply for the healthcare workers being exposed to COVID-19 every day.

Stock market

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a sharp toll on the stock market in the first quarter of the year. CNN reports the Dow dropped 23.2% since the start of 2020, marking its worst first quarter in history. The S&P 500, down 20%, had its worst quarter since 2008. March marked the worst month for both indexes since October 2008 during the Great Recession. As travel restrictions and shelter in place orders swept the nation, U.S. oil prices also dropped 54% in the industry’s worst month ever. With President Trump announcing this week that social distancing guidelines would remain in place at least through the end of April, the economic toll of the virus is far from over.


March 30, 2020

COVID-19 Updates: Three in Four Americans Under Stay at Home Orders, New Technology Offers Hope

Stay at home

Following President Trump’s announcement that federal social distancing guidelines would remain in place for at least another month, many states, cities, and counties issued or expanded closures and shelter in place orders. With new rules taking effect in Virginia, Kansas, Maryland, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C., about three quarters of Americans are now under orders to stay at home, according to The New York Times. The United States reports more than 160,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,000 deaths, according to The New York Times. For context, the number of deaths has tripled in the last four days, and more people have now died from the pandemic than those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

New technology

One of the critical challenges facing America in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak is the shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare and other frontline workers, but a new breakthrough could change the way we address this problem, according to NPR. Battelle, an Ohio-based company, has developed a Critical Care Decontamination System that is capable of sanitizing up to 80,000 pieces of PPE at a time, including N95 masks, goggles, and face shields.

The modular system uses vapor phase hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate equipment that is loaded into an air-locked, dual-chamber shipping container. Once the equipment is cleaned, it can be packed and shipped back to hospitals for reuse. Late Sunday, the FDA gave full approval for Battelle to scale and ship its decontamination machines to the hardest-hit areas of the country, according to NPR. The first systems to be deployed are headed for New York City, Seattle, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.


March 28-29, 2020

COVID-19 Updates: Social Distancing to Continue Through April

U.S. COVID-19 cases

At least 17 states now report 1,000 or more coronavirus cases as officials work to prepare health systems for the coming onslaught amid crucial lifesaving and PPE equipment shortages, according to The New York Times. More than 2,000 people in the U.S. have died with more than 123,000 cases of COVID-19 reported nationwide.

The worst of the U.S. outbreak continues to be centered around New York City, where a New York Times analysis found that if the current growth rate of COVID-19 continues, the city will see a worse outbreak than either Wuhan, China or the Lombardy region of Italy—the two hardest hit regions to date.

Social distancing extended

After suggesting last week that he would like to have the economy running normally by Easter, President Trump on Sunday announced that social distancing guidelines would remain in place until at least the end of April. This means that Americans should avoid nonessential travel, work from home if possible, avoid bars and restaurants, and not gather in groups of more than ten for at least another month, and possibly longer.

According to The New York Times, public health officials worked to convince the President that extending social distancing guidelines was necessary to save American lives, even as the economic consequences are steep. His advisors estimate that 200,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 even with aggressive measures in place; the number would be far higher if social distancing guidelines are relaxed too soon.

For business owners, this likely means an ongoing period of being shut down or experiencing dramatically reduced sales. Many of the provisions in the economic stimulus package are designed to help, and the Small Business Association is offering disaster recovery loans to companies impacted by the pandemic. Also be sure to check out this article by ISSA Editorial Director Jeff Cross on planning for what comes next.


March 27, 2020

COVID-19 Updates: $2T Stimulus Becomes Law as U.S. Surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 Cases

U.S. COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have passed 100,000 with more than 1,500 deaths, according to The New York Times. Some form of shelter in place orders are active in 24 states where at least 223 million Americans have been asked not to leave their homes except for the most essential reasons, like buying food or seeking medical care. Disruptions to daily life continue as schools and businesses around the country remain closed and the economic impacts sweep the nation. States that have yet to hold their primary elections are also scrambling to make alternative plans, according to The New York Times.

After initial clusters of the virus were concentrated in larger travel hubs of the East and West Coast, the middle of the country is beginning to see COVID-19 cases spread. New Orleans is the epicenter of possibly the fastest growing outbreak currently in the world, where health officials believe that Mardi Gras celebrations in late February likely accelerated the spread of the virus. Cases are also on the rise in cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, and Chicago, as well as smaller cities like Greenville, Miss., and Pine Bluff, Ark. Many of the smaller communities or more rural areas in the middle of the country have fewer medical resources with which to face the outbreak, so even a relatively small spike in cases can be devastating, according to The New York Times.

Stimulus

On Friday, President Trump signed the $2 trillion economic stimulus package into law after the bill passed the House. After a week of tough negotiations, the stimulus makes history as the largest emergency aid package ever passed. The legislation includes provisions to help corporations, small businesses, and individual workers weather a struggling economy, while also designating funds to support healthcare systems as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about what’s in the bill from CNN.


March 26, 2020

COVID-19 Updates: U.S. Leads the World in COVID-19 Cases, Senate Passes Stimulus, Unemployment Hits Record High

U.S. COVID-19 cases

The U.S. now has more known COVID-19 cases than any other country in the world, surpassing both Italy and China since yesterday. According to The New York Times, more than 81,500 people in the U.S. have been infected with more than 1,100 deaths. New York remains the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak with more than 37,000 cases and 387 deaths. Staff and resources in New York hospitals are strained under the weight of the outbreak, and medical personnel are facing important personal protective equipment shortages. The New York Times reports that a Naval hospital ship is being loaded with medical staff and supplies and is expected to arrive in New York City on Monday. The ship will be used to expand the capacity of New York hospitals to care for COVID-19 patients.

Stimulus and stocks

The Senate unanimously passed the $2 trillion economic stimulus package late Wednesday night, according to NBC News. The largest stimulus in modern history, the bill is designed to protect corporations, small businesses, and individual workers from the worst of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also designating funds to expand testing and support healthcare systems. The House is expected to vote on Friday. Read more about what’s in the bill from CNN.

As the stimulus advances through Congress, the stock market has continued to rally on the anticipation of economic help for hard-hit companies, according to The New York Times. Over the past three days, the S&P 500 has gained more than 17%, its best three-day rise since 1933.

Unemployment

As the economy grinds to a halt amid various lockdown orders and social distancing guidelines across the country, unemployment claims rose last week to a staggering 3.28 million, according to CNBC. This is more than quadruple the previous record from 1982 of 695,000 claims. During 2009’s Great Recession, the high mark was 665,000.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us by far the largest and most sudden loss of jobs in history, but Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell points out that this is a very specific situation. According to CNBC, Powell points out that the virus is a concrete problem to solve, and the economy will likely rebound on the other side. “At a certain point, we will get the spread of the virus under control. At that time, confidence will return, businesses will open again, people will come back to work,” he said.

In the short-term, however, the economic effects are devastating for many. To address unemployment, the stimulus bill includes a four-month boost in unemployment payments and an additional 13 weeks of extended benefits. The bill also removes some restrictions to unemployment, making benefits available to the self-employed, freelancers, independent contractors, gig workers, and others.


March 25, 2020

COVID-19 Updates: Congress Reaches Agreement on $2T Stimulus

The U.S. now has more than 63,000 COVID-19 cases and 897 deaths. The surge in COVID-19 cases is expected to continue as testing finally begins to expand across the country, according to The New York Times. CNN reports that nearly a third of the world’s population is under some form of lockdown as the virus spreads around the globe. The U.S. has not issued a nationwide lockdown yet, but state-by-state shelter in place measures continue as many schools prepare to move to distance learning for the remainder of the academic year.

Stimulus

Congressional lawmakers reached a deal early Wednesday on the $2 trillion economic stimulus package to keep the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York Times reports this is the largest stimulus bill in modern history. As a bipartisan effort, the bill is expected to pass both houses of Congress and receive the President’s signature quickly in order to enact the measures as soon as possible. Here are five key measures in the bill:

1 | Direct payments for taxpayers

Taxpayers earning up to $75,000 per year ($150,000 for couples) will receive $1,200 each in direct payments from the federal government. Families will also receive $500 for each dependent child. Payments will be based on your most recent tax return’s adjusted gross income, and will phase out for those with higher incomes, according to CNBC.

2 | Expanded unemployment benefits

According to CNN, the federal government will add $600 a week to individual state benefits for four months. The bill also provides up to 13 weeks of extended benefits which will expand to cover freelancers, gig workers, and the self-employed who are typically not eligible for unemployment.

3 | Emergency small business loans

Small businesses that commit to not laying off workers can receive emergency loans from community banks through June 30. The loan will be forgiven for any company that continues to pay workers through the crisis, according to The New York Times.

4 | Industry bailouts with oversight

The Federal Reserve will control a $425 billion fund that would provide loans to distressed companies. The oversight for large corporate bailouts was a point of contention during negotiations, but lawmakers settled on specific rules, such as limitations on stock buybacks and appointing an inspector general to monitor funds.

5 | Help for hospitals and healthcare systems

In addition to supporting the economy, the bill includes provisions to support the healthcare systems needed to survive this pandemic, including $100 billion for hospitals and billions more to manufacture personal protective equipment, expand testing, and build new facilities to house patients.


March 24, 2020

Coronavirus Updates: Still No Deal on Stimulus, Stock Markets Rally, Trump Discusses Reopening Economy

Coronavirus cases continue to rise in the U.S. and around the world. U.S. cases have topped 52,000 with more than 700 deaths. More than 25,000 of these cases are in New York state. The surge in COVID-19 cases is expected to continue as testing finally begins to expand across the country, according to The New York Times.

Stimulus

After a hopeful start to the day, Congress has still not reached an agreement on the nearly $2 trillion economic stimulus package that aims to protect the U.S. economy from the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In stimulus talks, Democrats have objected to certain elements of accountability and oversight for corporations that would receive funds in the Senate’s draft of the bill, and they believe the original bill put more emphasis on helping industries than it did workers. CNN reports that negotiators are making headway with compromises like appointing an inspector general and allowing congressional oversight for a $500 billion fund that would aid hard-hit companies. According to CNN, congressional leaders have indicated that they are close to a final deal, but a vote will likely not be scheduled until Wednesday.

Stock market

Perhaps in response to the promising news of an imminent deal on the stimulus, stock markets rallied Tuesday, making significant gains. According to ABC News, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 11.37%, the S&P 500 gained 9.38%, and the Nasdaq gained 8.12%. This represents the best single-day gain for the Dow since 1933. The market has been extremely volatile for weeks as economic uncertainty spread with the same speed as the outbreak itself, and more volatility is likely ahead as the pandemic and its effects are far from over.

Reopening the economy

Concerned about the flailing economy, President Trump suggested Tuesday that he hopes to “open up” the nation by Easter (April 12), saying, “This cure is worse than the problem,” according to USA Today. Trump’s comments suggest he hopes to end shelter in place orders and allow most businesses to reopen and operate normally while continuing to practice social distancing. This timeline conflicts with the advice of most health experts who have said that as the U.S. performs more tests, cases of COVID-19 will continue to rise, likely necessitating more and longer restrictions on social and economic activity in order to gain control of the epidemic, according to the Associated Press. As hospitals around the country are already facing crucial equipment shortages, experts caution that continued restrictions are necessary to avoid overwhelming our healthcare system, which will have economic costs of its own in addition to the cost in human life.


March 23, 2020

Coronavirus Updates: Shelter-in-place Orders Widen, $1.8 Trillion Stimulus Fails in Senate, Stocks Fall Despite Fed Efforts

Shelter in place

With more than 33,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 428-plus deaths in all states, ten times the number from a week ago, more and more areas continue to go into mandatory shelter-in-place orders, leaving only “essential” companies open. Though what is considered essential can vary by location, with most including only emergency services, grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants offering take out or delivery, according to USA Today. Through these orders, some carpet cleaning companies must cease operations, causing undoubted economic hardship. Most restoration companies will likely be classified as essential under the “emergency services” category. Businesses suffering extreme economic hardships can apply for low-interest SBA loans.

Stimulus package

The $1.8 trillion stimulus package working its way through the Senate failed to pass yesterday, according to NPR. Democrats voted against the bill, saying the bill did too much for large corporations and not enough for citizens. They say:

1) The bill doesn’t go far enough to help citizens facing hardships due to the virus and its response and are looking to expand funding to unemployment, food stamps, and other programs that would help those economically affected.

2) The bill doesn’t put enough restrictions on large corporations or require enough transparency from them. Democrats are calling for preventions against executive raises and “sufficient protections to prevent stock buybacks and to make sure that workers keep jobs.”

Discussion of the bill hit another wall early today but is expected to go to a vote again as early as tonight.

Stocks and the fed

The Federal Reserve announced it would buy bonds and mortgage-backed securities as much as is needed to keep the economy afloat. It had previously announced it would buy up to $500 billion and cut interest rates to close to zero. Despite this announcement early this morning, the Dow and S&P both fell 3%.


March 16, 2020

Coronavirus Updates: Closures Mount in Effort to Slow COVID-19 Outbreak

COVID-19 cases are now confirmed in 3,800 people and in 49 states, according to The New York Times live tracking maps.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, and the response in the United States and in other countries with sustained transmission has shifted from containment to mitigation. As a result, extreme social distancing measures are beginning to take effect across the country, including closures of schools, bars, restaurants, and other public spaces, bans on large public gatherings and visitors to nursing homes, and canceled concerts, trade shows, and sporting events.

According to health experts, the best way to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak is to slow the rate of its spread so that the healthcare system is able to keep up with the need, as illustrated in the now-familiar graph that calls on society to “flatten the curve.”

In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Drew Harris, a population health analyst at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, said that in a pandemic, mitigation is crucial. “This reduces the number of cases that are active at any given time, which in turn gives doctors, hospitals, police, schools and vaccine-manufacturers time to prepare and respond, without becoming overwhelmed,” Dr. Harris explained.

Social distancing measures

As the need for a commitment to extreme social distancing became clear last week, cancelations and closures flooded through every aspect of society. Late last week, officials in Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia announced that schools would be closed statewide for several weeks. Many other individual cities followed suit, including the public school districts of Los Angeles and San Diego, according to NPR. On Sunday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced public schools would be closed until at least April 20 but acknowledged the closure may last through the end of the school year, according to NBC News. In an interview with CNN, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also said he would not be surprised if Ohio schools did not reopen this year. If schools close nationwide, approximately 50 million K-12 students would be impacted, according to NPR.

Gov. DeWine also announced Sunday that all bars and restaurants would close across the state of Ohio beginning at 9:00 p.m. Restaurants are permitted to continue carryout and delivery service, but customers may not dine in under the new order, which DeWine said “will be in effect for as long as it needs to.” Illinois has also closed bars and restaurants through at least March 30, and officials in other states and cities are considering similar actions, according to NBC News.

In an effort to limit large gatherings, the N.B.A suspended its season and Major League Baseball postponed its opening day. The N.C.A.A. canceled March Madness and all remaining winter and spring championships. Disney is closing its cruise line and all its parks. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo banned all gatherings of more than 500 people, which prompted all Broadway shows to shut down. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art are also closed.

Major events across the country have also been canceled or postponed, including the South by Southwest festival in Texas, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California, and the Tribeca Film Festival. Many cities have canceled St. Patrick’s Day parades and celebrations set to take place this week. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden both canceled campaign events in Ohio, which has its presidential primary vote on Tuesday. The New York Times is maintaining an updated list of major cancelations and closures both in the U.S. and abroad.

As more closures poured in and officials heightened calls for all citizens to take social distancing seriously, shoppers swarmed grocery stores across the country to stock up on supplies needed for extended time at home. In many stores, paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies were sold out, according to USA Today. Stores began limiting quantities of supplies like bottled water and disinfecting wipes. Many stores have reduced their hours to allow staff time to clean and restock in order to keep up with demand as Americans prepare for the possibility of increasing social distancing and quarantine measures.

COVID-19 around the world

Globally, 167,400 people are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, and at least 6,329 have died, according to The New York Times. About half of these deaths have occurred outside China, which continues to see new cases decline as the outbreak surges in other countries around the world. Italy recorded its largest one-day increase in cases on Sunday, reporting 3,590 cases and 398 deaths in a 24-hour period and putting Italy’s total caseload over 24,700, according to The Hill.

With the U.S. at 3,823 confirmed cases and 67 deaths, NBC News and other sources have pointed out that we are on a similar trajectory to Italy in terms of infection rate, just about 10 days behind. That is a sobering fact considering healthcare systems in the hardest-hit areas of Italy have been overwhelmed with cases they don’t have the resources to treat. According to NBC News, doctors in Italy have reported that patients are dying because there aren’t enough respirators and intensive care units are overflowing.

As CNN points out, the actions of other countries farther along in the outbreak can provide useful lessons for the U.S. The push to “flatten the curve” of infection through social distancing is an effort to avoid precisely the surge of infection that is overwhelming Italy right now. In South Korea, on the other hand, expansive testing and innovative drive-through testing booths have helped keep the fatality rate there under 1% (Italy’s is over 14%). CNN reports that some U.S. cities have established drive-through testing, and President Trump announced Friday that these measures would be expanded to more locations.

Keep checking back for all of Cleanfax’s news and updates on the coronavirus outbreak. Also be sure to visit the ISSA resource page, www.issa.com/coronavirus, where you can access all of GBAC’s coronavirus tip sheets and other current information about COVID-19.


March 5, 2020

Coronavirus Updates: COVID-19 Begins to Spread in U.S.

Coronavirus cases are on the rise with the U.S. now reporting 163 cases across 18 states and 11 deaths, according to The New York Times. Worldwide cases in the coronavirus outbreak number more than 97,000 in 81 countries with sustained community transmission now occurring in South Korea, Japan, Italy, and Iran, as well as China. Several patients in the U.S. have no known connection to the virus, which suggests community transmission is occurring here as well, though so far on a much smaller scale.

So far all but one death in the U.S. has occurred in Washington, where a cluster of the virus is concentrated in the Seattle area. The eleventh death was a 69-year-old man in California who had recently been on a cruise on the Grand Princess, according to The New York Times. The ship is in the midst of a three-leg cruise that went from San Francisco to Mexico, Mexico to Hawaii, and Hawaii back to San Francisco. Some passengers, like the man who died, got off the ship in Mexico and returned to California. It is believed that he was exposed to the virus on the ship. Another patient being treated in Sonoma County was also onboard the ship.

The Grand Princess is currently being detained off the coast of San Francisco while officials work to screen the 2,500 passengers and contact others who were onboard the ship. The New York Times reports that as of Wednesday, 11 passengers and 10 crew members were showing symptoms. The close quarters of a cruise ship can allow infection to spread rapidly, as evidenced by the Diamond Princess, a ship in the same cruise line that was quarantined off the coast of Japan last month. More than 600 passengers contracted the virus, including some Americans. With 54 confirmed cases in the state and the detained cruise liner full of passengers to screen, California has declared a state of emergency, according to The New York Times.

As individual states work to confront a growing number of COVID-19 cases, U.S. lawmakers in Congress reached an agreement on an $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus bill to address the health crisis, according to The New York Times. The bill provides funds that will expand testing, support agencies dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, and provide tele-health services to Medicare patients to minimize their risk of exposure.

Globally, China continues to report that new cases of the virus are declining, but as the virus begins to spread in other countries, effects of the coronavirus outbreak ripple around the world. Stock markets are down and airlines around the world face billions in losses as travel advisories are issued and tourism declines. The New York Times reports that global airline revenues could lose as much as $113 billion. The S&P 500 fell more than 2% on Thursday, and The Washington Post reported that the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 700 points as concerns mount about the economic costs of the outbreak.

Italy and Iran have both shut down schools as the virus spreads to more than 3,000 people in each of those countries. Globally, more than 290 million students in preschool through 12th grade have faced weeks-long school closures due to the outbreak, according to The Washington Post. Cultural events and trade shows around the world have also been cancelled, and officials are already discussing possible scenarios for the Summer Olympics, set to be held in Tokyo this July, according to The New York Times.

We’ll keep you informed of any changes to planned events for our industry, so keep checking back for all of Cleanfax’s news and updates on the coronavirus outbreak. Also be sure to visit the ISSA resource page, www.issa.com/coronavirus, where you can access all of GBAC’s coronavirus tip sheets and other current information about COVID-19.