President Trump’s hurried demands to get the nation “back to work” before Easter probably couldn’t come at a worse time. Across the US, but mainly in a handful of ‘hot spots’, most notably New York City and the surrounding area, the number of confirmed cases and deaths attributed to COVID-19 is climbing at an alarming rate.
According to John Hopkins data, Wednesday was the deadliest day yet for the US with 233 fatalities reported, taking the US to 65,273 cases and 938 deaths. In New York and California, the number of confirmed cases is doubling every few days.
As Russia reports record growth for a second day, President Vladimir Putin has ordered the country’s capital and largest city, Moscow, to close up all restaurants, bars and “non-essential” shops. In an online post, Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin ordered the closure of government offices and religious sites – which he urged Muscovites not to visit – and asked all other Russians not to visit the capital during a planned ‘nationwide holiday’ set to last for all of next week. The Kremlin has also halted all international air traffic, both for airlines and charter flights, excluding repatriation flights bringing Russian citizens back into the country.
Russia reported 182 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours on Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 840, along with 3 deaths.
Last night, President Putin delivered a nationwide address where he delayed a vote on constitutional amendments that would allow him to remain in the Kremlin until 2036, and announced that next week would be a national holiday, urging Russians to stay at home. He didn’t declare a national emergency or any other type of special circumstance, but a government medical advisor has reportedly told Putin that given the spread already documented in Moscow, that he must shut the country down to prevent a full-blown outbreak.
The lockdown comes as roughly one-third of the world’s population is now facing some degree of movement restriction: Indian PM Narendra Modi followed up his decision to lock down the second-largest country in the world by announcing a $22.6 billion relief package to help the “poor and suffering.”
“It’s only been 36 hours since the lockdown was imposed,” the country’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a news conference on Thursday. “Now we have come up with a package which will immediately take care of the welfare concerns of the poor and suffering workers and those who need immediate help.”
The relief package includes medical insurance coverage of up to $66,400 per person (a considerable sum in India) for those battling the virus on the front lines, incuding medical workers, sanitation workers and community health workers.
The measure is expected to cover 2 million people, a tiny fraction of the country’s population. Firefighters have been repurposed to spray disinfectant around the country, and police have been acting aggressively to enforce the lockdown.
More importantly, the government will provide 800 million people, roughly two-thirds of the country’s population, with 5 kilograms of rice or wheat each month for the next three months for free.
“We do not want anyone to go hungry,” Sitharaman said.
Other measures announced include fast-tracking subsidies and benefits for farmers, construction workers, widows and the disabled as well as increasing the minimum wage. Workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which guarantees 100 days of unskilled manual work per year, will see their wages rise by $26. Of course, like Russia and most other major countries at this point, India has also banned international flights.
Across the UK, as Britons trudge through their first full week of lockdown, more than half a million people in the UK have signed up as volunteers to support the NHS, according to the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) March 26, 2020
Globally, the number of coronavirus cases topped 480k on Thursday, and at its current pace, will likely top 500k by Friday, according to Johns Hopkins data. The total number of cases in the US, at last check, was 69,197, a sliver behind Italy, leaving the US in third place globally for number of cases, and far lower down the rankings for number of deaths. The US has recorded 978 deaths as of Thursday morning, leaving behind Spain and France in terms of death toll.
The death toll in coronavirus-ravaged Spain continued to climb on Thursday, with more than 600 additional fatalities reported so far. In total, more than 4,000 people have been killed by the novel coronavirus in Spain so far. Only Italy has recorded more deaths during the outbreak, and only Spain and Italy have recorded more deaths than mainland China – though we suspect the US will join them soon enough.
Yesterday, we discussed the boom in cases in the tri-state area, the suburban area around New York City. Now, on Thursday, the tally of known coronavirus cases in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia stands at 1,051 as of Thursday morning after Maryland reported an additional 74 cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 424, Virginia reported 101 more cases for a total of 392, and DC reported 48 new cases Wednesday, bringing its total to 235. Yesterday, Maryland extended its school closures another four weeks out to April 24.
An inmate at a Washington DC jail has tested positive for the virus, the first to do so, as the US fears an outbreak inside its prisons similar to what happened in Italy and China.
In Florida, the total number of confirmed cases is climbing rapidly. Last night, the Miami City Commission unanimously voted to implement a citywide curfew from 10 pm to 5 am beginning on Friday.
— Joey Flechas 🏝 (@joeflech) March 26, 2020
The situation in NYC is growing increasingly dire, while Louisiana also experiences a sudden surge in cases, as the NYT pointed out. According to one study, Louisiana is experiencing the fastest growth in new cases in the world, which is why President Trump approved Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request for a major disaster declaration, which unlocked additional federal funding to combat the outbreak.
— Sharon Finlay 🏳️🌈🇨🇦 (@sharonafinlay) March 26, 2020
The situation in and around New Orleans is particularly acute, with the city reporting 827 confirmed cases as of Wednesday night, more than the total number of cases in all but 15 states, while Orleans Parish, which is the same boundary-wise as the city of New Orleans, has reported the largest number of deaths per capita in the country.
Find more statistics at Statista
In New York, city hospitals are being overrun as they report an “apocalyptic” surge in patients who are seriously ill from COVID-19, as Elmhurst Hospital in Queens reported 13 deaths in one day on Wednesday.