Lockdowns, stay-at-home policies multiply as coronavirus cases, deaths mount

By | March 21, 2020

In the U.S. and across the globe, more people were under official lockdowns or stay-at-home policies early Saturday as coronavirus cases and fatalities mounted.

In New York City, coronavirus patients were dying at a rate of more than one an hour, with that rate expected to rise, the city’s health commissioner said Friday, according to The New York Post.

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After California’s governor issued the nation’s strictest “stay at home” order Thursday night, taking effect at midnight Friday, governors New York, Illinois and Connecticut did likewise – with Oregon among the states expected to follow next.

Between New York, California and Illinois, more than 70 million residents are being ordered to stay home – approximately 20 percent of the country.

“This is not a permanent state, this is a moment in time,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said, trying to assure the nation’s most populous state that the order would eventually lift.

New York state, the state with the most COVID-19 cases in the nation, received a Major Disaster Declaration on Friday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), giving it access to a share of $ 42 billion in federal Disaster Relief Fund dollars, the Post reported.

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Early Saturday, New York had more than 8,400 confirmed cases and nearly 50 deaths, while the entire the U.S. had more than 19,600 confirmed cases of the virus and about 250 deaths.

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All told, the orders would confine more than 70 million Americans to their homes – able to go out only for essential reasons, such as vital work duties or to gather food and supplies.

In Los Angeles, the sight of nearly empty freeways was startling in a city long known for extensive traffic snarls.

Extremely light traffic moves along the 110 Harbor Freeway toward downtown mid afternoon, Friday, March 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. Traffic would normally be bumper-to-bumper during this time of day on a Friday. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is ordering the state's 40 million residents to stay at home indefinitely. His order restricts non-essential movements to control the spread of the coronavirus that threatens to overwhelm the state's medical system. He called up 500 National Guard troops Thursday to help with distributing food.

Extremely light traffic moves along the 110 Harbor Freeway toward downtown mid afternoon, Friday, March 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. Traffic would normally be bumper-to-bumper during this time of day on a Friday. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is ordering the state’s 40 million residents to stay at home indefinitely. His order restricts non-essential movements to control the spread of the coronavirus that threatens to overwhelm the state’s medical system. He called up 500 National Guard troops Thursday to help with distributing food. (AP)

Outside the U.S., Colombia’s president called for three weeks of home isolation, to begin Tuesday, with the capital Bogota already on lockdown Friday, The Associated Pres reported.

Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela were already on lockdown.

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Nations were hoping to avoid situations in China and Italy, where the most cases have occurred. China had more than 81,000 cases early Saturday while Italy had more than 47,000.

Worldwide, the case tally was above 275,000 and the death toll was above 11,300 – with no downturn expected in either figure anytime soon.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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