|Saturday, March 21, 2020 2:00 PM EST|
|Italy now has more than 53,000 recorded infections and more than 4,800 dead. The rate of increase keeps growing, with more than half the cases and fatalities coming in the past week. Italy has surpassed China as the country with the highest death toll, becoming the epicenter of a shifting pandemic.|
|March. 21, 2020|
|Intensive care beds at Los Angeles County‘s emergency-room hospitals are already at or near capacity, even as those facilities have doubled the number available for COVID-19 patients in recent days, according to newly released data obtained by The Times.|
Trump suspends travel from Europe to battle coronavirus
President Trump announced the United States was suspending all travel to much of Europe for 30 days to combat the coronavirus and called for payroll tax relief to help the struggling economy.
Trump also called on nursing homes stop all non-medical visits and announced federally backed small-business loans, with a proposed increase of $50 billion.
“We are responding with great speed and professionalism,” the president said in a national address. “Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow.”
His comments come as the coronavirus toll continued to mount in California on Wednesday, as the World Health Organization labeled the outbreak a pandemic and President Trump prepared to address the nation.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed its first coronavirus-related death and six new cases, bringing the county’s total to at least 28, including four cases in Long Beach. There was also a new case in Pasadena.
The county’s first victim was a woman older than 60 who had underlying health issues, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county health department’s director. The patient was not an L.A. County resident but had been visiting here after extensive travel over the past month, including a long layover in South Korea.
“Shortly after being hospitalized, she unfortunately passed,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer said that one of the new cases included the county’s second instance of community spread. That individual is hospitalized.
Three individuals are household contacts of an L.A. County resident previously confirmed to have the virus. One of those people is currently hospitalized.
One individual had traveled to France and returned home ill. Another traveled to a religious conference in a different state and was a close contact of someone at the conference who later tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The county has developed a risk-assessment tool that considers how many community transmissions there have been and whether new cases are accelerating, Ferrer said.
“We’re trying to use that to drive our judgments about when things need to close,” she said. “We will get to a point, unfortunately, here in L.A. County, where we will be asking for events to close. But we’re not there yet,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer stressed the public’s need to be cautious in large gatherings and suggested that people assess themselves whether they should venture into crowded areas. Those who are pregnant, elderly or have underlying health issues are especially vulnerable to developing serious effects from the virus.
To date, the county’s public health lab has completed 72 tests for COVID-19. That number does not include those performed by commercial labs.
Elsewhere in the county, Pasadena confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus in a resident, officials announced Wednesday.
Coronavirus: Germany’s Angela Merkel urges ‘solidarity and reason’
The German chancellor urged understanding and solidarity one day after the government said up to 70% of people in the country could become infected with the coronavirus. Infections in Germany rose by 57 on Wednesday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday said “solidarity and reason” were central to the country’s response to the virus.
“The virus is in Europe, it is there, and we must understand that,” Merkel said at a press conference to discuss the country’s response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2) outbreak.
About 60% to 70% of people in Germany are likely to be infected because the virus is new, there is no vaccine or treatment, and the population has no immunity, Merkel said, repeating comments made ahead of a coalition government meeting on Tuesday.
SINGAPORE – The Government’s foremost priority is to prevent retrenchments amid the economic uncertainty, both for the sake of workers and companies in the long run, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Wednesday (March 11).
Laying off workers at the slightest sign of problems will create longer-term issues for the company too, as these workers take with them experience and know-how, he added.
This would make any future upturn harder for these companies as they would have reduced their own capabilities, Mr Heng said.
At the same time, it is important for companies to release workers to new, growing industries if they find that their business model is no longer viable, he added.
Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, was speaking at a Budget 2020 Roundtable jointly organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times, with OCBC Bank as the presenting sponsor.
Addressing a question from the moderator, ST associate editor Vikram Khanna, he noted that the Government is looking at specific measures to help workers who are retrenched over this period of economic uncertainty, and details of these measures will be announced as part of a second stimulus package.
New ‘social distancing’ rules as Covid-19 is declared a pandemic
Advice on how people should keep their distance from one another is to be issued by the government as the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.
Boris Johnson will announce today that Britain is moving into the “delay” phase of fighting the virus as he chairs a Cobra emergency meeting to sign off “social-distancing” measures telling people how to stay away from others
Advice to stay at home if you have a cough and fever even if you have not travelled, ways of “cocooning” elderly people, and suggestions about standing farther apart will all be considered. Ministers are pledging “whatever it takes” to fight the virus.
Emergency legislation will be published next week and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, will