March 15 (UPI) — Director of the National Institute of Infectious Disease Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that he would not rule out implementing a national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
When asked on CNN’s State of the Union about imposing a national limit on people congregating at restaurants and bars similar to those in other nations combatting outbreaks, Fauci said he’d like to see “a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see” in such areas.
“Whatever it takes to do that, that’s what I’d like to see,” he said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the third death in the state on Sunday, saying a 79-year-old woman who had “multiple major underlying health issues” died after contracting the virus.
Cuomo also anticipated a shortage of intensive care unit beds in the state where 729 people have tested positive for the virus as he called for businesses to consider closing their doors and having employees work remotely when possible.
“I want private businesses to aggressively consider work from home and voluntary closings. Depending on what businesses do on a voluntary basis, we could consider mandatory actions later on,” he said.
There are 3,244 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and 62 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University figures as of Sunday morning. A CNN tally recorded deaths in 12 states including 40 in Washington, five in California, four in Florida, three in New York, two in New Jersey and Louisiana, and one each in Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, South Dakota, Virginia and Oregon.
Christian Wood, of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, became the third player in the league to test positive for COVID-19 along with Utah Jazz teammates Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, ESPN reported. Wood and the Pistons played the Jazz on March 7, days before Gobert was diagnosed with the virus and the league canceled play.
Also, Daniel Goldman, who was the Democrats’ counsel to the Intelligence Committee during President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings, said he has tested positive for coronavirus and “I am almost back to 100%,” according to a Twitter post.
Fauci said that Americans must prepare for a change in daily life as the country attempts to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“We need to be very serious about — for a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the United States,” he said. “We have to just accept that if we want to do what’s best for the American public.”
As government officials throughout the United States have begun encouraging a practice known as “social distancing” — defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “remaining out of places where people meet or gather” and “avoiding local public transportation — many events have been canceled or postponed and businesses have implemented new policies.
Georgia election officials on Saturday postponed the state’s presidential primary scheduled for next week, moving the election date from March 24 to May 19. Early voting in the presidential primary ended a week early on Saturday and is scheduled to resume on April 27.
Louisiana also postponed its April 4 primary to June 20 on Friday.
Hoboken, N.J., implemented a city-wide curfew requiring residents who are not working to stay home from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., while Austin, Texas and New York City banned gatherings of more than 250 people and 500 people respectively.
Walmart also announced it would shorten its store hours beginning March 15, with stores opening at 6 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m.
“This will help ensure associates can clean and stock products. Stores operating under more reduced hours will keep current hours of operation,” the company said.
American Airlines on Saturday night announced that it would cut down on long-haul international flights in response to decreased demand and restrictions based on travel due to the coronavirus, reducing international capacity by 75 percent compared to 2019 from Monday through May 6.
President Donald Trump also tweeted Sunday that travelers can expect longer waits at airports amid more stringent coronavirus screenings.
“We are doing very precise medical screenings at our airports,” Trump wrote. “Pardon the interruptions and delays, we are moving as quickly as possible, but it is very important that we be vigilant and careful. We must get it right. Safety first!”
Appearing on ABC News This Week Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that although the outbreak will slow the U.S. economy he does not anticipate a recession after the stock market saw historic drops last week amid concern about the coronavirus and oil prices.
“The real issue is not the economic situation today,” he said. “This is a unique situation. We are going to have a slowdown. Later in the year economic activity will pick up as we confront this virus.”