Illinois, New York join California in locking down against the coronavirus
Illinois and New York state joined California on Friday in ordering all residents to stay in their homes unless they have vital reasons to go out, restricting the movement of more than 70 million Americans in the most sweeping measures taken yet in the U.S. to contain the coronavirus.
The governors of the three states acted in a bid to fend off the kind of onslaught that has caused the health system in southern Europe to buckle. The lockdowns encompass the three biggest cities in America — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — as well as No. 8 San Diego and No. 14 San Francisco.
"No, this is not life as usual,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as the death toll in the U.S. topped 200, with at least 35 in his state. “Accept it and realize it and deal with it."
Cuomo said that starting Sunday, all workers in nonessential businesses must stay home as much as possible, and all gatherings of any size will be banned in the state of over 19 million people. California likewise all but confined its 40 million residents Friday in the biggest lockdown in the nation.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a similar order set to take effect on Saturday for the state's 12.6 million people.
Exceptions were made for essential jobs and errands, such as grocery shopping and obtaining medicine, as well as for exercise.
The lockdowns sent another shudder through the markets, where many fear a recession is a near certainty. Stocks tumbled on Wall Street, closing out their worst week since the financial crisis of 2008. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 900 points, ending the week with a 17% loss.
The increasingly drastic measures in the U.S. came as gasping patients filled the wards of hospitals in Spain and Italy, and the global death toll surpassed 11,000, with the virus gaining footholds in new corners of the world.
Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, reported 627 new deaths Friday, its biggest day-to-day rise since the outbreak began, and said new cases also shot up. Italy now has seen over 4,000 deaths — more even than China — and 47,000 infections. The soaring numbers came despite a nationwide lockdown.
The World Health Organization noted the epidemic’s dramatic speed, pointing out that it took more than three months to reach the first 100,000 confirmed cases but only 12 days to reach the next 100,000. As of Friday, Johns Hopkins University counted more than 260,000 infections worldwide.
Across the U.S., governors and public health officials watched the crisis in Europe with mounting alarm and warned of critical shortages of ventilators, masks and other protective gear at home.
As promised earlier in the week, President Donald Trump officially invoked emergency wartime authority to try to speed production of such equipment.
But while the government has vowed to fix the botched roll-out of widespread virus testing, laboratories reported serious shortages of test supplies such as swabs and chemical components.
Countries frantically prepared for a deluge of patients in the coming weeks.
In Britain, the government asked 65,000 retired nurses and doctors to return to work. A convention center and hotels in Madrid were being turned into field hospitals for nearly 10,000 patients. France's military worked to build a makeshift medical center in the hard-hit town of Mulhouse. The U.S. readied military hospitals for civilian use, and more than 4,000 National Guard members were deployed in 31 states to help distribute food, scrub down surfaces and help in other ways.