Sweeping restrictions take effect in coronavirus response as health officials warn US is at a tipping point

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls for the Army Corps of Engineers to assist the state in building thousands of hospital beds for the expected growing number of coronavirus patients in the coming weeks.

Posted: Mar 17, 2020 2:41 PM
Updated: Mar 17, 2020 2:41 PM

The number of cities and states ordering people to distance themselves over the coronavirus pandemic is rising Tuesday as health officials tout a consistent message: Limit your interactions now or overwhelm the health systems meant to take care of you.

As these measures are taking hold, the Trump administration is exploring ways to send money directly to Americans, possibly within two weeks, in a bid to curb the economic fallout, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Tuesday.

While the White House has suggested limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, state and local officials are giving orders for an altered American reality as coronavirus cases across the US reach at least 5,010 -- a jump of more than 1,500 from Sunday -- with 87 deaths.

Among the measures:

• About 7 million people in and around San Francisco have been told to "shelter in place," generally requiring them to stay inside and leave only for essential needs.

• Ohio called off its presidential primary hours before polls were to open Tuesday, though Florida, Arizona and Illinois still were holding theirs.

• States including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin put a ban this week on gatherings of 50 people or more. Some of these are closing restaurants, though some are allowing drive-through and pickup service.

• Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday the state was allowing no more than 10 people to gather on beaches statewide.

• Miami says that, by Wednesday, it will close all entertainment businesses, like theaters, as well as fitness centers. Dine-in restaurants may sell food for takeout or delivery.

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Public health officials say the US has reached a tipping point -- warning that if residents don't take the call to action seriously, the country may approach the situation in Italy, which went on total lockdown last week and where hospitals have been overwhelmed with more than 24,000 cases.

The faster the disease spreads, the faster physicians will get sick, leading to a difficult scenario, Dr. Carlos Del Rio, a professor at Atlanta's Emory University School of Medicine, told CNN Tuesday.

"I'm really worried about ... having the worst possible combination: too many patients; too (few) doctors, nurses ... to take care of them."

"Stay home. Do not leave," Del Rio said. "The economic pain is going to be significant, but we can stand it as a nation. We can do it for a month and stand it.

In Washington, Mnuchin expressed some support for an idea gaining backing among lawmakers: Sending $1,000 checks to Americans. It will be discussed in Capitol Hill meetings, he said.

"I think it's clear we don't need to send (checks to) people who make $1 million a year ... but that's one of the ideas we like," Mnuchin said.

Stocks have whipsawed up and down Tuesday, a day after the Dow saw its worst one-day point drop in history.

It should be weeks before we see a peak, Dr. Anthony Fauci says

The federal government had released a new set of guidelines Monday for the next 15 days to fight the spread of the virus. One part of those guidelines: steering clear of groups with more than 10 people.

How soon that could help the country reach its peak in cases is up for debate.

On Tuesday at the White House, a reporter asked when the number of US cases could peak if the public adheres to social distancing.

"It probably would be several weeks or maybe longer before we know whether we had an effect," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. "And maybe, at the end of the day, we'll see a curve that would've been way, way up.

Fauci said persuading younger people -- who researchers say may be less likely to show symptoms but still be able to pass on the virus to more vulnerable people -- to stay out of gathering places such as bars and restaurants was key.

He hopes to say sooner rather than later that "we've seen that inflection and we're coming down," Fauci said.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House task force response coordinator, also urged people Tuesday to cancel elective surgeries to ease strains on physicians and hospitals.

The federal guidelines came largely after governors across the country signed new orders and directives in response to the virus -- and called on the federal government to step up its efforts.

Source: Not enough medical equipment is stockpiled

Department of Health and Human Services officials said in a call with medical professionals Monday there isn't enough stockpiled medical equipment like masks, gowns and gloves in the national stockpile to fill in the gaps that states and local communities may see, a source on the call told CNN.

On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence urged construction companies to donate construction-grade N95 masks to local hospitals and forego additional orders as the nation's hospitals work to procure masks for healthcare workers.

"Those industrial masks that they use on construction sites are perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to be protected from a respiratory disease," Pence said.

HHS officials said the government didn't yet have a solution for possible equipment shortfalls but was working on one.

"We have been transparent that more supplies are needed -- hence the request to Congress for additional funding so we could procure more and scale up production," an HHS spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.

One Georgia hospital ripped through months' worth of supplies while tending to coronavirus patients, its president has told CNN.

Scott Steiner, president and CEO of Phoebe Putney Health Systems, told CNN that despite being well-prepared in terms of protective gear -- with six months' worth of inventory stockpiled -- the system has gone through five months' worth of that inventory in just six days.

Closed restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms

The mayor of New York City said he will limit all bars, restaurants and cafes to take out or delivery services.

"You have to think of this as something where you're going to see a massive mobilization to save lives, to help people through their suffering with this disease," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

Residents across the country received similar guidance.

In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed issued "shelter in place" guidance Monday, requiring the city's residents to stay inside and leave only for things like grocery shopping, and going to the police, bank, gas stations and pharmacies.

Health officials also issued these orders for surrounding areas, altogether encompassing about 7 million people: San Mateo, Santa Clara, Marin, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties, along with the city of Berkeley.

"This is going to be a defining moment for our city and we all have a responsibility to do our part to protect our neighbors and slow the spread of this virus by staying at home unless it is absolutely essential to go outside," Breed said.

Public health officials in Colorado ordered restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters and casinos to close their doors for 30 days. Facilities will still be allowed to sell food and beverages through options like drive-through and delivery services.

"Based on the experience of other countries, the state of Washington, and modeling data, the sooner we begin social distancing measures on a large enough scale, the more quickly we can slow transmission of the virus," Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said.

Similar orders were issued in states including Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky, Louisiana and Indiana.

Meanwhile, states such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin put a ban this week on gatherings of 50 people or more.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday recommended no gatherings with 50 people or more take place for the next eight weeks.

The CDC also said last week closing schools for eight weeks or more may have a great impact on curbing spread of the virus, compared to two- and four-week closures.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47432

Reported Deaths: 2687
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11546683
Lake5104242
Elkhart321144
Allen2737129
St. Joseph190866
Cass16389
Hamilton1538100
Hendricks1390100
Johnson1256118
Porter72037
Tippecanoe6948
Madison65564
Clark64044
Bartholomew58244
Howard56557
LaPorte56326
Kosciusko5354
Vanderburgh5026
Marshall4823
Jackson4693
Noble46928
LaGrange4677
Hancock44035
Boone43743
Delaware43150
Shelby42325
Floyd37144
Morgan32731
Montgomery29320
Grant29126
Clinton2882
Monroe27628
Dubois2666
White26010
Henry25815
Decatur24932
Lawrence24225
Vigo2318
Dearborn22823
Harrison21222
Warrick21229
Greene18532
Miami1822
Jennings17411
Putnam1688
DeKalb1604
Scott1607
Daviess14216
Orange13623
Wayne1366
Steuben1282
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Ripley1157
Jasper1142
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette987
Newton9810
Starke923
Whitley905
Randolph784
Huntington742
Jefferson722
Wells711
Fulton691
Jay680
Washington681
Gibson672
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush563
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Posey380
Blackford372
Spencer371
Crawford300
Fountain302
Tipton301
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike100
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 56183

Reported Deaths: 2907
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10023420
Cuyahoga7571372
Hamilton5770197
Marion273038
Lucas2700302
Pickaway218841
Summit2110206
Montgomery193126
Mahoning1818231
Butler154744
Columbiana129560
Stark1091112
Lorain99767
Trumbull92565
Warren82321
Clark7659
Delaware55315
Belmont54422
Fairfield54316
Tuscarawas54110
Medina50832
Lake49218
Licking46612
Miami45531
Portage43258
Ashtabula43144
Wood41251
Geauga40042
Clermont3946
Wayne36051
Richland3325
Allen30840
Mercer2808
Greene2489
Darke24625
Erie23622
Holmes2263
Huron2112
Madison1938
Ottawa14323
Crawford1355
Washington13120
Putnam12715
Sandusky12714
Hardin12012
Ross1183
Morrow1161
Auglaize1064
Coshocton942
Monroe8817
Jefferson872
Union821
Muskingum811
Hancock781
Hocking788
Preble731
Williams692
Clinton680
Guernsey683
Lawrence680
Shelby654
Fulton610
Ashland581
Carroll583
Logan581
Wyandot586
Brown561
Defiance503
Athens491
Knox481
Fayette460
Highland441
Champaign391
Scioto380
Van Wert340
Seneca332
Perry321
Henry290
Adams231
Paulding230
Pike230
Jackson220
Vinton222
Gallia161
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
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