Articles, Blog

Amid virus outbreak, U.S. communities brace for disruption

March 11, 2020


JUDY WOODRUFF: The coronavirus outbreak has
etched grim new headlines tonight. In U.S. financial markets, the viral spread,
coupled with a 25 percent plunge in world oil prices, sent the Dow Jones industrials
average down more than 2,000 points, to close at 23851. The Nasdaq fell 625 points, and
the S&P 500 was down 225. All three indexes were off more than 7 percent
today, and they are down nearly 20 percent from their peaks just last month. We will return to the economy and the markets
in just a moment. But, first, Amna Nawaz looks at the new deadly
toll from the coronavirus, including 26 here in the U.S., and drastic new quarantine measures. AMNA NAWAZ: As the number of confirmed COVID-19
cases in the U.S. continues to rise, officials are stepping up measures to control the virus
spread, heeding a weekend warning from Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at
the National Institutes of Health. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, Director, National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: In real time, you got to evaluate the situation. If
we continue to see the community spread go up, I think you seriously need to look at
anything that’s a large gathering, again, I have to underscore, Chuck, particularly
if you are an individual who has an underlying condition and are vulnerable. AMNA NAWAZ: Across the country, communities
are bracing for disruption. Airlines now say they could lose more than $110 billion. And schools are assessing their own closures
in real time. After a member of New York’s Columbia University was exposed to COVID-19,
classes were canceled today and tomorrow, with remote classes planned for the rest of
the week. Further north in Westchester, Scarsdale public
schools have closed until March 18, after a middle school faculty member tested positive.
And across the country, Stanford University canceled in-person classes until March 22,
after a faculty member contracted the virus. Earlier today, in Oakland, California, officials
prepared to receive thousands of passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship, docked
since March 4; 21 people aboard have tested positive for coronavirus. On Twitter, the president wrote — quote — “Last
year 37,000 Americans died from the common flu. At this moment, there are 546 confirmed
cases of coronavirus, with 22 deaths.” The virus, which affects the respiratory system,
has proven to be more dangerous for older people. In Albany today, New York Governor Andrew
Cuomo urged seniors to remain cautious. At least 142 people in his state have tested
positive. GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): The fear and hysteria
is outpacing the reality of the situation, but the reality of the situation is, people
in that target group should be careful. AMNA NAWAZ: Meanwhile, in London, store shelves
lay bare. Tesco, the country’s largest retailer, has now restricted bulk purchases of products
like antibacterial gel and dried pasta. German health officials today lauded their
country’s preparedness, like this roadside testing in Southeast Germany. THOMAS LINHART, Malteser Aid Agency (through
translator): One advantage, of course, is that we are here on an open space, far away
from infrastructure. This means that, with this station, we contribute to keeping the
general practitioners from being overloaded and, above all, keep the hospitals free and
operational. AMNA NAWAZ: In Italy, officials over the weekend
locked down the hard-hit northern region, including Milan and Venice, and today expanded
the quarantine to the entire country, 60 million people, in an effort to contain the coronavirus. One Milan residents said the restrictions
are sparking fear outside the quarantine zone. BARBARA MICHELON, Milan Resident (through
translator): You can see the terror in people, even via e-mail. In my job, I have to travel
to other cities and abroad. All these travels have been canceled also because of people’s
fear. AMNA NAWAZ: But, in Paris, Disneyland remains
open and crowded, even after one worker tested positive for coronavirus. Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu said today all Israelis entering the country from abroad must self-quarantine
for 14 days. Still, there are signs of recovery. In China,
where the virus began, authorities say the number of new cases in recent days are in
single digits. And the mayor of South Korea’s most affected city said new cases over the
weekend are the lowest in a week-and-a-half. Late today in the U.S., questions about President
Trump’s contacts with two Republican congressman who are now self-quarantined. Doug Collins
of Georgia shook hands with the president on Friday, and Matt Gaetz of Florida flew
with the president on Air Force One today. Both had contact with a conference-goer in
the D.C. area who was later diagnosed with coronavirus. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Amna Nawaz.

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