The United States saw its greatest single-day spike in coronavirus infections and fatalities on Mar 17, as COVID-19 surged by 2,075 cases and 28 deaths. The US totals now stand at 6,362 known infections and 114 deaths.

The increases come as local governments expand social restrictions on Americans. San Francisco mayor London Breed has enacted a “shelter in place” order for her city of 890,000 people. San Francisco and nine neighboring counties are asking nearly 8 million Americans to stay in their homes in order to curb the spread of the virus. The order applies to all nonessential activities, excluding work, grocery shopping or healthcare needs, and will remain in place until at least April 7.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio was reportedly weighing a similar shelter in place order and has told New Yorkers to be ready for it within the next 48 hours. The governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have created a tri-state curfew nightly from 8:00pm to 5:00am.

No federal lockdowns have been issued as yet, but President Trump said it may be necessary for some hard-hit areas. The latest CDC guidelines discouraged gathering in groups of 50 or more, but the President said Monday that number should be 10.

And Then There Were None

COVID-19 has now been reported in all 50 states, as the nation’s lone holdout West Virginia recorded its first known infection Tuesday morning. The unidentified patient lives in the state’s Eastern Panhandle, according to the WV Department of Health, which said its public health lab had tested 137 residents with 1 positive, 122 negatives and 14 pending.

The virus was also reported for the first time in Guam on Mar 15, with three cases now confirmed on the North Pacific island.

In the last seven days, US infections and deaths have increased by 5,061 and 76 respectively. Deaths have now been reported in 18 states:

  • Washington: 55 deaths 
  • New York: 16
  • California: 13
  • Florida: 7
  • Louisiana: 4
  • New Jersey: 3
  • Colorado: 2
  • Indiana: 2
  • Texas: 2
  • Virginia: 2
  • Georgia: 1
  • Illinois: 1
  • Kansas: 1
  • Kentucky: 1
  • Nevada: 1
  • Oregon: 1
  • South Carolina: 1 
  • South Dakota: 1

Surgeon General Jerome Adams has warned that the US risks becoming Italy, which has seen its infections and deaths soar to 31,506 and 2,503 respectively. One British ex-pat living in Udine (northeast of Venice) called the current circumstances “a living hell” and urged other to learn from Italy’s mistakes and not to underestimate the virus.

Economic Hardships

The US economy has been reeling since last week, when the US stock markets collectively dropped into bear market territory and on Mar 12 the Dow Jones had its worst day (at the time) since 1987, according to Fox Business. Three days later, the Dow Jones had its worst point drop ever, falling 2,997 points or 12.9%, CNN Business reported.

On Tuesday, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the COVID-19 pandemic could drive the US unemployment rate as high as 20% without federal intervention, Bloomberg reported.

The same day, the White House proposed a $1 trillion stimulus package to stabilize the economy by supporting small businesses, guaranteeing loans to the airline and hotel industries, and by putting cash directly into Americans’ hands, the LA Times reported. Details on the proposed checks for individuals were under discussion, but may be as much as $1,000 or more, according to the LA Times.

“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said at a White House press briefing. “Americans need cash now and the President wants [them] to get cash now. And I mean ‘now’ in the next two weeks.”