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Trump Tells Governors to Seek Out Respirators on Their Own: Live Updates

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Leading health officials are holding a news conference to address the latest plans for combatting the coronavirus crisis.CreditCredit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Trump administration on Monday released new guidelines for the public to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including closing schools and avoiding groups of more than 10 people, discretionary travel, bars, restaurants and food courts.

Mr. Trump, flanked by task force members, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “This afternoon we’re announcing new guidelines for every American to follow over the next 15 days.”

The new measures reflected the increasing gravity of global attempts to contain the virus as governments around the world, from Canada to Hungary, moved to close their borders to foreign travelers, and world leaders pledged to work together to coordinate on efforts to share information and assuage consumer fears.

“It seems to me if we do a really good job, we’ll not only hold the death down to a level that’s much lower than the other way had we not done a good job, but people are talking about July, August,” Mr. Trump said about the duration of the crisis.

Dr. Fauci stressed that some of the White House guidelines were inconvenient, but they would stop the spread of the virus. He conceded that some would say the government was overreacting, but he was emphatic: this was not an overreaction.

“I say it over and over again: When you’re dealing with an emerging infectious diseases outbreak, you are always behind where you think you are,” he said.

Mr. Trump, addressing rumors that a nationwide lockdown was under consideration like the ones imposed by Italy and Spain, said that would not happen.

“If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now,” Mr. Trump said, “we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus and we’re going to have a big celebration all together.”

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Credit...Saul Martinez for The New York Times

As businesses and schools closed across the United States, public spaces emptied and people kept a wary distance on sidewalks and in supermarkets, millions of Americans found their lives upended on Monday, trying to work from their living rooms, look after suddenly homebound children, or just keep enough food on hand.

Nations around the world shut their borders and ordered shops and restaurants to close, and people across the United States awoke to the fact that they were not far behind, with the new coronavirus epidemic sweeping into every corner of their lives.

Though relatively few Americans have been tested, more than 4,000 have tested positive. The clear message from officials was that it would continue to grow unabated and whole sectors of the economy and society would grind to a halt and stay that way for weeks or months.

The stock market plummeted yet again on Monday on the mounting bad news. In less than a month, the pandemic has caused trillions of dollars in losses and wiped out most of the market gains made under President Trump’s low-tax, low-regulation policies — one of his favorite boasts.

The airline industry asked for more than $50 billion in emergency government support. Economists warned that crowded, tourism-dependent New York City could be especially vulnerable economically.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for a halt to all gatherings of more than 50 people, airlines canceled flights and mothballed planes, and states and cities around the country shut down bars, restaurants, stores, libraries and museums.

America’s legal gates to the world are closing fast, as the Trump administration added Great Britain and Ireland to a list of European nations whose residents are barred from entering the country. More and more, those European countries are closing their doors to each other.

In the United States, the sense of being cut off increasingly seems to apply to the states themselves, as Washington has been slow to produce either promised aid or a coherent strategy and President Trump advised governors — some of whom were shocked — that they should look to buy their own ventilators and respirators, which are in desperately short supply.

On Monday, health officials ordered millions in six counties in the Bay Area to “shelter in place,” one of the most significant restrictions yet to American life in the race to stop the coronavirus outbreak from surging in the United States.

The order, which goes into effect Tuesday, is expected to disrupt life for millions of residents in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties. The City of Berkeley also issued the same order.

And families were left to worry about lost wages, about inadequate supplies of medicine and protective gear, about leaving the ill and elderly even more isolated and vulnerable, and about jobs, institutions, relatives and neighbors that might vanish and never return.

President Trump told a group of governors Monday morning that they should not wait for the federal government to fill the growing demand for respirators needed to help people diagnosed with coronavirus.

“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times.

“We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”

The suggestion surprised some of the governors, who have been scrambling to contain the outbreak and are increasingly looking to the federal government for help with equipment, personnel and financial aid.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, whose state is at the center of the domestic outbreak, and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico both reacted angrily to the administration’s slow response to the crisis.

“If one state doesn’t get the resources and materials they need, the entire nation continues to be at risk,” said Ms. Lujan Grisham.

Mr. Trump used much of the call to repeat the same upbeat rhetoric he has offered in public, assuring the governors: “We’re going to get it remedied and hopefully very quickly.”

Alluding to the Federal Reserve’s emergency intervention, Mr. Trump also told the governors that the central bank’s purchase of $500 billion of Treasury bonds and $200 billion of mortgage-backed securities will “probably go up substantially from that level.”

Without directly faulting former President Obama, he said “we broke down a system that was broken, very badly broken” and vowed to create one “that I think is going to be the talk of the world.”

But aside from his rose-colored predictions — which are at odds with his medical advisers, who say the worst is yet to come — Mr. Trump often evinced little awareness of the severity of the contagion.

Explaining why he did not include the United Kingdom in his initial travel ban from Europe last week, Mr. Trump said “all of the sudden we were getting numbers that weren’t good so we had to put U.K. in.”

Britain had nearly 500 coronavirus cases last week.

The top official of the European Union said on Monday that she was proposing a shutdown of all non-essential travel into the bloc to stem the spread of the coronavirus, and President Emmanuel Macron said national leaders would approve it.

Mr. Macron said the leaders of the member countries had discussed and agreed to the proposal by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. Ms. von der Leyen said the leaders of those countries would make a formal decision on Tuesday.

“We propose to introduce a temporary restriction to non-essential travel to the European Union,” she said after a teleconference with G7 leaders. “Of course there will be exemptions for E.U. citizens coming back home, health care workers, doctors and nurses.”

The restriction would initially be in place for 30 days and would apply to travel from non-European Union countries into the bloc.

It would not restrict travel from one European Union country to another, but some of the member states have already taken the first steps in that direction. Ten of the 26 countries that make up the passport-free Schengen Area, which allows for largely free movement across mainland Europe, have reintroduced border controls, partly or fully suspending the rules of the flagship European Union program, a spokesman for the European Commission said.

Eight European Union member countries that are in the Schengen Area have notified the commission, the administrative branch of the European Union, that they have started checking travel documents of those arriving from other countries within the passport-free zone: Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania and Poland.

Two Schengen Area countries that are not European Union members have done the same, Norway and Switzerland.

The measures were introduced over the past few days as the outbreak in Italy worsened, but it is the first time the Commission announced the full tally of countries now opting to harden their borders and ports of entry in a bid to arrest the spread of the coronavirus.

Other European nations have taken tough travel measures to limit arrivals from Italy and, in some cases Spain, but these do not in and of themselves constitute a change of Schengen rules.

The European Commission earlier Monday proposed a set of policies that would aim at keeping goods flowing within the European Union, but would allow countries to toughen their own border measures for travelers depending on how vulnerable they were to the outbreak.

Stocks on Wall Street plunged on Monday and trading was immediately halted after an extraordinary move by the Federal Reserve failed to prevent further panic.

Investors were also confronted with weak economic readings out of China and the United States, the world’s largest economies. Chinese officials reported that retail sales, manufacturing activity and investment in the first two months of the year had slumped even more than economists expected, and a gauge of manufacturing activity in New York State collapsed by the most ever in a month.

“Unfortunately this is the new reality,” wrote economic analysts with the investment bank Jefferies in New York. “This report is a harbinger of what is to come.”

The S&P 500 fell 8 percent at the start of trading. A drop of more than 7 percent triggers an automatic “circuit breaker” that halts trading for 15 minutes, a measure meant to prevent the markets from crashing.

European markets tumbled and bond prices moved sharply higher, sending yields — which move in the opposite direction — down. Crude oil prices were also lower, signaling concern that demand for crude will continue to fall.

The Fed’s emergency interest rate cut on Sunday underscored its deepening worry that the spread of the pandemic is sharply depressing revenue for industries around the world while consumers hunker down, raising the risk of a worldwide recession. The central bank cut interest rates to near zero and said it would buy hundreds of billions of dollars in government debt, moves reminiscent of its actions during the 2008 financial crisis.

Those moves were engineered to ensure that credit flows freely, spurring businesses and households to continue borrowing and spending. But markets appeared to absorb the action as the latest indication that the world had arrived at a dangerous place.

The consequences of China’s harsh measures to halt the virus — restricting the movement of about 700 million people at one point — became apparent on Monday when the government released economic data showing industrial output falling to its lowest level in decades and unemployment rising at its highest rate ever in February.

While the economic ramifications of China’s approach are still playing out, Beijing did succeed in slowing the rise of new infections, as the total number of cases outside the country has for the first time surpassed those inside it.

Declaring “we are at war,” President Emmanuel Macron of France prohibited public gatherings, no matter how small, starting on Tuesday, and postponed upcoming municipal elections.

His order, amounting to a nationwide directive for people to stay in their homes except for essential needs, is one of the most stringent anywhere in Europe. He said that even someone meeting a friend on a street or in a park would be punished, though he did not specify any penalties.

Across the continent, governments were racing on Monday to catch up to an epidemic whose spread and consequences have consistently outpaced their efforts to respond. The pace of reported new coronavirus infections accelerates daily — more than 6,000 on Thursday, about 7,000 on Friday, more than 8,000 on Saturday and about 9,000 on Sunday, bringing the total to about 53,000.

Germany, Spain and Switzerland joined the list of countries effectively closing some or all of their borders. France and Spain warned that their health care systems could be overwhelmed.

And in Italy, still the hardest-hit country in Europe and the first to impose a nationwide lockdown, medical resources are already inundated and the government announced $28 billion in emergency aid to individuals, businesses and the health care system to stave off chaos and financial ruin.

The government of Spain, where there had been almost 8,000 cases and almost 300 deaths by Sunday, ordered residents to mostly stay at home. They may leave only to seek food or medical care, assist others in need, or go to work — though many workplaces have shut down. Schools, restaurants and bars were ordered to close.

France, with more than 6,600 cases and 148 deaths by Monday, ordered all “non-indispensable” businesses closed.

Repair of the fire-ravaged Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris halted because the workers could not be kept far enough apart.

Jérôme Salomon, a top official in France’s health ministry, said on Monday that the situation there was “deteriorating very quickly,” with hundreds of coronavirus patients in critical condition.

“We are seeing that the number of cases is doubling every three days,” Mr. Salomon told France Inter radio.

Italy had almost 25,000 infections and more than 1,800 deaths as of Sunday.

The government’s aid package delays mortgage, loan and tax payments, and offers extended parental leave, sick leave for people in quarantine, babysitting vouchers, and grants for self-employed and seasonal workers.

“We never considered fighting a flood with buckets,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. “We are trying to build a dam to protect businesses, families and workers.”

The lobbying group for America’s biggest airlines on Monday called on the government to provide the industry more than $50 billion in emergency support in the form of grants, loan guarantees and tax relief. The group, Airlines for America, warned that the current situation is not sustainable for the industry and that there is no end in sight to the crisis.

“This is a today problem, not a tomorrow problem,” said Nicholas E. Calio, chief executive of Airlines for America. “It requires urgent action.”

The industry group said that flight cancellations are outpacing new bookings and that the dramatic decline in demand is getting worse by the day. The request included $25 billion in grants for passenger carriers, $4 billion in grants for cargo, $25 billion in loan guarantees.

Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said on Monday that “we’re in touch” with the airlines “about their balance sheets and their cash flow.”

“We don’t see the airlines failing, but if they get into a cash crunch we’re going to try to help them,” he said.

The coronavirus outbreak has devastated the industry.

On Sunday, United Airlines executives said they were in talks with union leaders about reducing payroll costs. The moves being considered include furloughs, pay cuts and reducing minimum hours.

United’s corporate officers will be taking a 50 percent pay cut, Oscar Munoz, the chief executive, and Scott Kirby, the president, said in a letter. Both have already said they would forgo their base salaries through June.

In a sharp reversal of British policy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday said everyone should avoid unnecessary travel and contact with others, work at home and stop going to places like bars, restaurants and theaters to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr. Johnson called the measures “very draconian,” but he stopped well short of the kinds of steps taken by some other European countries that have been hit harder by the epidemic. He did not order schools or businesses closed, did not tell people to stay in their homes, and said the government was not mandating restrictions, but rather “giving very strong advice.”

Mr. Johnson and his government had faced harsh criticism for its laissez-faire approach to the pandemic. They had spoken hopefully of “herd immunity” — in which many people would be infected, recover and then, it is hoped, be immune — while it was inevitable that many people would take ill and die.

But at a news conference on Monday with top medical officials, he said: “Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.”

In particular, people over 70 and those with serious illnesses should avoid contact with others, Mr. Johnson said, suggesting that as a result people should not visit nursing and retirement homes.

“Other countries are at different stages in their movement up the curve,” he said, adding that more severe actions could be on the way.

When asked if he envisioned taking law enforcement action against people who take unnecessary risks, Mr. Johnson said, “we have the powers if necessary, but I don’t believe it will be necessary to use those powers.”

Chris Witty, the chief medical officer of England, said, “we should not be under any illusion that if we do this for just a couple of weeks, that will be sufficient.”

Britain had almost 1,400 confirmed infections on Sunday, compared to about 5,000 each in France and Germany, and almost 8,000 in Spain. But the number of infections in Britain has been doubling every two to three days, indicating that its crisis is not far behind those of its neighbors.

If a person has the virus, everyone in the same household should stay under quarantine for 14 days, officials said.

Schools, malls, restaurants and workplaces were shuttered and flights were suspended across the Middle East as several countries moved aggressively to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

In Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Kuwait, daily life was a whisper of its usual self.

Saudi Arabia sent government workers at all but a few essential agencies home for 16 days. Government employees in Kuwait are being sent home for two weeks. And the Lebanese government declared a state of health emergency, telling people to stay home unless absolutely necessary, an order that was being breached left and right in Beirut on Monday in the absence of enforcement.

Bahrain announced its first death from the coronavirus, and in Iran — where reports of infected senior officials, cabinet ministers and lawmakers have taken on a numbing regularity in recent weeks — a 78-year-old member of the Assembly of Experts died. The Assembly is the clerical body that selects the country’s supreme leader.

Iran has suffered more coronavirus deaths than any country other than China and Italy, with 129 more reported on Monday. Official news agencies said President Hassan Rouhani had announced plans for public screenings around the country starting Tuesday, but did not specify how the testing would be done.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s annual Persian New Year speech at a shrine in the city of Mashhad was called off ahead of the holiday on Friday, and Iranians looked set to celebrate Nowruz quietly at home, with officials urging people to avoid gatherings and stop visiting relatives.

Wealthy Gulf countries are offering some relief to businesses hit by the emergency, though the budgets of oil producers like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will suffer from falling oil prices.

Saudi Arabia announced a stimulus package of $13 billion to help small and medium-sized businesses, while the Emirates said it would inject $27 billion into the economy. Qatar said it would provide economic relief and exempt some businesses from water and electricity bills.

Reporting was contributed by Elisabetta Povoledo, Tim Arango, Thomas Fuller, John Eligon, Conor Dougherty, Jim Tankersley, Niraj Chokshi, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Ian Austen, Catie Edmondson, Peter Baker, Katie Robertson, Jonathan Martin, Michael Cooper, Karen Weise, Reid J. Epstein, Katie Glueck, Shane Goldmacher, Jeanna Smialek, Neil Irwin, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Safak Timur, Emmet Lindner, Marc Santora, Megan Specia, Aurelien Breeden, Raphael Minder, Melissa Eddy and Tiffany May.

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