Coronavirus News – March 19

Trump invokes emergency powers to marshal private sector for pandemic

President Donald Trump has invoked emergency powers that allow the government to marshal the private sector in response to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump is employing the Defense Production Act as the government bolsters resources for an expected surge in cases of the virus. He said Wednesday that he will expand the nation’s testing capacity and deploy a Navy hospital ship to New York City. A second ship will be deployed to the West Coast. The Defense Production Act give the president a broad set of authorities to shape the domestic industrial base, so it can provide essential materials and goods needed in a national crisis. It allows the president to require businesses and corporations to prioritize and accept contracts for required materials and services. More from Time here.

Coronavirus relief package signed into law

President Donald Trump signed into a coronavirus relief package that includes provisions for free testing for COVID-19 and paid emergency leave. The Senate had earlier approved the House bill. The legislation will provide many workers with up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they are being tested or treated for coronavirus or have been diagnosed with it. Those who have been told by a doctor or a government official to stay home because of exposure or symptoms would also be eligible. The payments are capped at $511 a day, roughly what someone making $133,000 annually makes. Workers with family members affected by coronavirus and those whose children’s schools have closed will still receive up to two-thirds of their pay, though that benefit is limited to $200 a day. More here from CNN.

Federal contingency plans for pandemic could stretch up to 18 months, longer

A 100-page federal plan on tackling the coronavirus pandemic shows the Trump administration is making contingency plans for a pandemic that could stretch up to 18 months or longer and could include multiple waves of illness. Government agencies are having a difficult time predicting how to forecast the COVID-19 spread and how severe the U.S. outbreak will be. The document doesn’t say the administration believes the pandemic will last 18 months but lays out contingency plans they are making to assume a longer timeline. They are also preparing for a scenario where supply chain and transportation impacts due to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak will likely result in significant shortages for government, private sector and individual U.S. consumers. More from CNN here.

CDC data shows nearly 40% of U.S. hospitalizations for coronavirus aged 20 to 54

New CDC data showed that nearly 40% of coronavirus patients sick enough to be hospitalized were aged 20 to 54. But the risk of dying is significantly higher in older people. Of the 508 patients known to have been hospitalized, 38% were between ages 20 and 54. And nearly half of the 121 patients who were admitted to ICUs were adults under 65 years old. The new data underscores an appeal issued Wednesday by Dr. Deborah Birx, leader of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force and a physician and state department official, imploring the millennial generation to stop socializing in groups. More from the New York Times about the new CDC data here.

Italy’s death toll nears China’s, U.S. deaths reach 150

Italy is poised to pass China in deaths due to coronavirus as the global death toll has passed 9,000. In the U.S., deaths jumped to 150 across 22 states, including the first reported in Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri and Pennsylvania. More updates on numbers from USA Today here.

China reportedly hits milestone: zero new local infections

China has reported no new local infections for the first time since the crisis began there three months ago. The virus has reportedly killed 3,245 people in China so far, making up more than one-third of the global death toll. China is not out of danger from a revived contagion and instability as Chinese officials said 34 new cases confirmed Thursday came from people who had arrived from elsewhere. The Chinese government reportedly took drastic measures to quickly lower the number of infections, which was an extreme experiment in size and scope. Read the latest from the New York Times about China’s lowering numbers here.