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Coronavirus update: Markets recover but outlook darkens as NY orders New Rochelle containment

·Senior Reporter
·4 min read

The coronavirus crisis grew more serious on Tuesday, as Italy’s countrywide quarantine — and New York’s governor sending National Guard forces to one town in order to isolate rising infections there — underscored the world’s increasingly fraught containment efforts as the disease moves closer to becoming a pandemic.

The World Health Organization maintains the global COVID-19 outbreak is still an epidemic, after seeing encouraging reductions of cases in China and South Korea.

However, Italy’s stunning announcement to restrict movement in the country of 60 million raised the stakes for other regions — including continental Europe — which are fighting uphill battles to prevent further spreading. Around the world, the number of deaths set a grim new milestone of 4,000 amid 116,000 infections, including the first death in New Jersey.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, told Congress on Tuesday that the new concern is Europe, where cases are surging.

“Ninety-nine percent of the cases that occurred last night occurred outside of China. This isn’t China right now, the epicenter, the new China is Europe, and there’s a lot of people coming back and forth from Europe,” he said. “That’s why you’re seeing more (cases) in New York.”

In the U.S., new diagnoses are rising at a rapid pace — with New York becoming America’s largest epicenter, even though California and Washington state were the first to report infections. On Tuesday, New York’s governor announced that the National Guard would create a “containment area” around New Rochelle, the largest source of soaring infections within the Empire State.

Hundreds of US coronavirus cases have surfaced, with NY the single-biggest area
Hundreds of US coronavirus cases have surfaced, with NY the single-biggest area

Markets recover after Trump floats stimulus

U.S. markets staged a tentative rebound on Tuesday, amid assurances from the White House that some form of stimulus could be on the way to mitigate the virus’ impact. The administration is reportedly working on providing a payroll tax cut, and ways to help hourly wage workers avoid losing a paycheck if they are unable to work.

Still, gloom surrounding global growth has only widened as infections in the U.S. and Europe soar, and more companies float contingency plans to allow employees to work remotely.

WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday that despite lower levels of infection in China, it’s “not time to take the foot off the accelerator.” However, China’s declining case count has “shown us that you can stop this thing.”

Harris suggested the U.S. would see an inevitable rise in cases, especially as people with no known foreign travel links unwittingly infect others. The list of event and school cancellations is growing, as colleges and school districts in hard-hit areas consider what actions to take, and how to continue the school year remotely.

“What happens in the next couple of weeks is really in the hands of everyone,” she said.

Fears grow for health system

Health experts around the globe have been warning of the potential to spread, with the WHO saying on a daily basis that there is still time to curb the outbreak.

“The great advantage we have is that the decisions we all make...can influence the trajectory of this epidemic,” WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Yet the U.S. expects even more cases in the coming weeks, as testing kits have become more widely available in commercial labs, hospitals and physician offices. In addition, CDC tests at public and academic labs have also been deployed.

Of the millions of tests available, 4,856 tests have been reported. The U.S. currently has more than 760 positive cases — mostly on the West Coast and in New York. The rising infections have prompted a number of universities — such as Harvard University — to either cancel classes entirely, or move them online.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with insurance executives on Tuesday, and emerged with an agreement that coronavirus tests will be covered by health plans. Some insurers have also added telehealth as a free service amid the outbreak.

Yet Farzad Mostashari, a doctor and a former official with HHS, CDC and New York State, predicted the health care system is going to be overwhelmed by the cases in the U.S.

He told Yahoo Finance there needs to be a change in the guidelines from the CDC to help address the specific way the virus spreads. Currently, the guidelines for health professionals focuses on airborne travel, which is not how the virus spreads, he said.

Anjalee Khemlani is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @AnjKhem

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