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Ohio, Louisiana Declare Coronavirus Lockdown

Ohio, Louisiana Declare Coronavirus Lockdown

A Team Rubicon volunteer helps transfer perishable food from the Cincinnati Art Museum to local food banks in the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Jason Whitman/Image of Sport via AP)

Sunday, 22 March 2020 03:47 PM

As U.S. cases of coronavirus spiked on Sunday, Ohio and Louisiana became the sixth and seventh states to announce broad lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus with nearly one in three Americans under orders to stay at home.

New York, California, Illinois, Connecticut and New Jersey have also issued orders - the five states are home to 96 million Americans. Cases nationwide topped 31,000 on Sunday, with at least 385 dead, according to a Reuters tally. 

"Every piece of evidence that I can lay my hands on indicates that we're at an absolutely crucial time in this war and what we do now will make all the difference in the world," said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. "What we do now will slow this invader. It will slow this invader so our health care system ... will have time to treat casualties."

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered all 4.6 million people in his state to stay at home starting at 5 p.m. on Monday unless they’re performing an essential task like getting food or medicine.

Workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors’ offices and other critical infrastructure are exempt from the directive issued Sunday by the Louisiana Democrat.

“The bottom line is we are in a race against time when it comes to this coronavirus and it’s rapid spread in Louisiana,” Edwards said at a news conference.

The impact of the coronavirus in Louisiana is a trajectory similar to that of Italy, where infected patients have overwhelmed hospitals, he said, warning that Louisiana’s health system could soon be overloaded.

“There is no reason to believe we won’t be the next Italy,” Edwards said. Already, Louisiana has the third highest number of cases per capita among U.S. states, he said.

As of Sunday, coronavirus infections in Louisiana have climbed to more than 830, with 20 deaths, state health officials said.

The mayor of New York City, the epicenter of the nation's coronavirus epidemic, on Sunday described the outbreak as the biggest domestic crisis since the Great Depression and called for the U.S. military to mobilize to help keep the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

"If we don’t get more ventilators in the next 10 days people will die who don’t have to die," said Mayor Bill de Blasio, as the nation's most populous city saw COVID-19 cases top 9,600 and deaths climbed to 63.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged the federal government to take over acquisition of medical supplies so states do not have to compete with each other for desperately needed resources. He also repeated a request for the Army Corps of Engineers to build temporary hospitals.

Help is not coming quickly enough, Cuomo said.

"Time matters, minutes count, and this is literally a matter of life and death," he said. "At the same time, there is not going to be chaos, there is not going to be anarchy. Life is going to go on. Different. But life is going to go on."

The number of cases of the highly contagious respiratory illness in the United States and Spain are exceeded only by China and Italy. Italy reported record numbers of daily coronavirus deaths last week.

"This is going to be the greatest crisis domestically since the Great Depression," de Blasio told CNN, referring to the economic crisis of the 1930s. "This is why we need a full-scale mobilization of the American military."

Around the globe, billions are adapting to a new reality, with countries like Italy, Spain and France on lockdown and several South American nations taking similar measures to try to stay ahead of the contagion, as global cases exceeded 315,000 and deaths top 13,000.

The lockdown affecting large segments of the American public to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus is likely to last 10 to 12 weeks, or until early June, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday.

Lawmakers in Washington are nearing a deal that could pump a record $1 trillion into the economy to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus and will vote on the bill Monday.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Mnuchin said the package would give an average U.S. family of four a one-time payment of $3,000.

Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky on Sunday became the first member of the Senate to announce he had tested positive for coronavirus. At least two members of the House of Representatives previously said they tested positive.

MEDICAL CRISIS

De Blasio said the city is not getting needed medical supplies from the federal government to contend with the rapid spread of the sometimes deadly illness.

"If the president does not act, people will die who could have lived otherwise,” de Blasio told NBC.

Hospitals are scrambling for protective equipment for healthcare workers and for ventilators as they brace for a wave of patients who will need help breathing as severe cases often lead to pneumonia and decreased lung function.

Over the past week, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has been pushing for aggressive steps to stem the economic hit, after Trump spent several weeks downplaying the virus' risks.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Sunday said the White House recognized the urgency of New York's situation.

"Not only is New York trying to get resources themselves, but we're going to be pouring it in from the federal government," he told CBS News.

U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co Inc said it delivered 500,000 donated masks to New York City on Sunday morning.

Cuomo warned that 40% to 80% of New York state residents may eventually contract coronavirus. He chastised those who were still congregating in parks and other places and not practicing social distancing. He noted 53% of the cases in New York are between the ages of 18 and 49.

"It's insensitive, arrogant, self-destructive...and it has to stop, and it has to stop now," he said. "This is not a joke and I'm not kidding."

© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


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As U.S. cases of coronavirus spiked on Sunday, Ohio and Louisiana became the sixth and seventh state to announce broad lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus with nearly one in three Americans under orders to stay at home.
coronavirus, new york, california, connecticut, virus, new jersey, lockdown
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2020-47-22
Sunday, 22 March 2020 03:47 PM
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