This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Monday, March 9th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here. Our guide topreparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.
Wall Street Sees Worst Performance In A Decade
5:00 p.m. Reflecting global economic uncertainty caused of the spread of COVID-19, U.S. stocks fell more than 7 percent on Monday, the biggest decline since December 2008, when the country was in the midst of a recession.
The sell-off began after a precipitous drop in oil prices that was exacerbated by a crude oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia over the weekend. All told, oil prices fell more than 20 percent, marking the sharpest decline since the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
Things got off to a rocky start in morning, when a 7 percent fall in the major indexes triggered a circuit breaker, a 15 minute halt to trading intended to protect the market from steep losses.
“Markets want to hear that the global economy is open for business, and the problem is, it isn’t easy to say that going forward,” Patrick Chovanec, of investment advisory firm Silvercrest Asset Management, told the New York Times.
Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Schwab Center for Financial Research, told Bloomberg News, “The market was poised and vulnerable to this volatility and crude oil has just exacerbated it."
He added: "The coronavirus itself has been the main cause of the correction, but now it’s being exaggerated even further.”
According to both Bloomberg and the New York Times, President Trump is expected to meet with his economic advisers later today to discuss possible stimulus packages like paid sick leave and tax relief.
On Monday, Trump downplayed the country's coronavirus outbreaks in a tweet, saying, "Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on."
3:30 p.m. A 7-year-old-girl in the Bronx and a city employee who lives in Westchester are among the latest confirmed cases of COVID-19 that involve New York City.
There are now 20 people who have tested positive in New York City, including the New Rochelle attorney who is currently hospitalized at New York Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center. (N.B.: The state does not include the man in its New York City tally.)
During a press conference on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned of months of disruption and said it was up to New Yorkers to do their part in combatting the spread of the virus.
"It’s going to be a long battle undoubtedly," he said.
Since Sunday, there have been eight additional cases, including Rick Cotton, the executive director of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who lives in Manhattan. Governor Cuomo announced earlier in the day that Cotton had tested positive.
De Blasio said Cotton, who is in his mid-70s, is currently working from home and under quarantine.
Of the new cases, the 7-year-old Bronx girl is the youngest known case to date in NYC. She attends Westchester Torah Academy and may be connected to the cluster in that county, where 98 people have been infected to date.
The mayor said that the girl was "doing well" and was quarantined at home. Her mother, father and two sisters have all tested negative.
Similarly, de Blasio said the city employee who tested positive has not shown any symptoms and is under quarantine. His family members have also tested negative. However, he noted that the individual had been in a city office for three hours, but did not provide further details.
Because the person is at his home in Westchester, he is not officially counted in the city's tally.
Of the other cases the mayor described, two have involved older New Yorkers. One is a 68 year old man in Brooklyn with diabetes and heart disease, who is currently in an intensive care unit in a hospital. The man had recently traveled, the mayor said, but the source of the infection is still unclear.
Another is a 75-year-old man in Queens, who also has diabetes and was admitted to a hospital with pneumonia and shortness of breath.
The mayor described the man as "critically" ill. He is in an intensive care unit in a Queens hospital.
A 22-year-old man Brooklyn who tested positive for the disease is also hospitalized. The man, who had a vaping habit, was transported to a Brooklyn hospital by EMS. He is currently stable.
In a departure from recent press conferences, the mayor on Monday instructed people who feel sick to "get on the phone." He had previously told New Yorkers to simply "get to a doctor." Some doctors had criticized de Blasio for his message, saying that doctors' offices and even hospitals are not prepared to handle COVID-19 patients who simply walk in without appropriate protective gear.
On Saturday, it was reported that a hospital in Rockaway saw 41 staffers go into quarantine after an infected patient arrived in the emergency room. The following day, St. John's Episcopal Hospital issued a coronavirus update on its website and asked individuals experiencing symptoms to "refrain from visiting."
Following up on his advice on Sunday, de Blasio urged employers to allow individuals to work from home if possible and to stagger hours so as to minimize density in workspaces and crowded commutes.
He advised New Yorkers to avoid being "packed like sardines" on subways and buses, and encouraged biking or walking instead.
Asked if the city would consider canceling the Manhattan St. Patrick's Day parade, which typically draws millions of revelers to densely packed sidewalks and bars in midtown, de Blasio said, "No, we do not have a plan to cancel the parade at this point." It is scheduled to proceed as planned on Tuesday, March 17th. The popular NYC Half Marathon is also still scheduled for this Sunday.
The city has also started sending text updates on the coronavirus. Those who wish to receive alert should text "COVID" to 692692.
CDC: "A Good Chance That Many Will Become Sick"
1:30 p.m. In its first press briefing in more than a week, a doctor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned people about the worsening spread of COVID-19 and, in particular, instructed older Americans to avoid crowds and begin stockpiling prescription medicine as well as food supplies.
"As the trajectory of the outbreak continues, many people in the United States will—this year or next—be exposed. And there’s a good chance that many will become sick," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
She added, however, that most people are expected to recover.
Messonnier has reportedly come under fire from President Donald Trump for a memorable press briefing call on February 25th, in which she said that Americans needed to prepare for a "severe" disruption to their every day lives.
Though her statements struck a less alarmed tone after Vice President Mike Pence took direct control of the federal COVID-19 response, Messonnier has reverted to increasingly blunt language about the possibility of increased spread of the disease.
There are now more than 500 confirmed cases in 34 states across the country, with at least 19 deaths, according to the CDC. New York now leads the case count with 142 positive tests. Governor Cuomo declared an emergency on Saturday.
During Monday's call, Messonnier turned most of her attention to older individuals, or those over 60, which are the most vulnerable to developing serious complications from the respiratory disease.
She said that those who have family members, friends or neighbors in that age range should understand their role in protecting them. "My parents are in their 80s," she said. "I’ve asked them to stick close to home."
NJ Patient With Coronavirus: "It's Very Serious"
12:15 p.m. The first patient with coronavirus in New Jersey spoke out to CBS New York. James Cai, a 32-year-old physician's assistant with residences in Manhattan and Fort Lee, said he was not a smoker and has no underlying health conditions. He believed that he got it while attending a medical conference at the Times Square Westin.
In the interview, Cai said, "The virus is everything. Diarrhea, watery eyes, shortness of breath, chest pain, you name it. High fever. Every day is getting worse."
He added, "People have to take coronavirus seriously. It’s very serious."
During his Sunday press conference, de Blasio said that the Fort Lee patient had seen 11 patients at the King David Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. Those patients have not exhibited symptoms yet.
Fordham Suspends "Face-To-Face" Instruction, Princeton Plans Virtual Instruction After Spring Break
12:15 p.m. Fordham University announced it would end "face-to-face instruction" on all its New York campuses starting at 1 p.m. on Monday. The communication also said, "All residential students are encouraged to return home immediately. Beginning with the start of classes on Wednesday, March 11, faculty will teach their classes online or electronically."
The school also notified its community that an "undergraduate commuter student...exhibited symptoms consistent with the coronavirus." The student has been tested is self-isolating; if the student does have COVID-19, the school said, "[T] he New York City Department of Health will work in concert with University Health Services to reach everyone with whom the student has been in contact, and University staff will also follow-up on this initial contact with each person."
Princeton University also let students know that they would implement virtual instruction, starting March 23rd, which is after their spring break. The school's president Chris Eisburger wrote, "We encourage students to consider staying home after Spring Break. If students choose to remain home after Spring Break, we will make sure that they are able to meet their academic requirements remotely."
He added, "Though we recognize that a personal, 'high touch' educational environment is one of Princeton’s great strengths, we also recognize that these are extraordinary times that require exceptional measures to deal with a health risk that affects us all."
12 p.m. The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York climbed overnight to 142, making New York the state with the most infections in the country.
One of the people who have tested positive is Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who delivered the news during what have now become daily briefings on the spread of coronavirus, did not disclose any details about how Cotton contracted the disease or what his condition is. Cotton, who is in his mid-70s and has lead the Port Authority since 2017, is now under quarantine. The Port Authority oversees the city's three major airports: La Guardia, Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International. Cotton had been coordinating the agency's response to the coronavirus.
Washington state, which had an outbreak in the Seattle area, had previously led the caseload count. The latest count there is 136. It is followed by California, which has 114 cases.
The majority of the New York cases are in Westchester county, where 98 people have tested positive. Most, if not all, of the cases there are connected to a 50-year-old New Rochelle attorney who worked in Manhattan and was the second person in the state to test positive. Prior to falling ill, the man had attended several large gatherings, including a funeral and a bat mitzvah. He is currently hospitalized in New York Presbyterian hospital.
New York City now has 19 confirmed cases, according to the state's tally, which does not include the New Rochelle attorney.
"New Rochelle is a significant hot spot," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the closure of all schools in New Rochelle, according to state officials. "We could be talking weeks," Cuomo said.
Since last week, all nursing homes in New Rochelle have been closed to visitors.
On Sunday, Scarsdale announced that schools in the district would close from Monday through March 18th after a middle school faculty member tested positive for the virus.
The governor said that going forward, all public schools in New York will be closed for 24 hours should a student test positive.
Markets Plunge, Triggering Temporary Halt In Trading
A 7 percent drop in U.S. stocks during the early minutes of trading on Monday resulted in a 15-minute halt to trading, a so-called "circuit breaker" measure that kicks in during steep declines. The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq were all down 7 percent.
Circuit breakers were introduced after the October 1987 stock market crash.
Europe also saw its indexes drop by 7 percent. Asian markets saw its benchmarks fall between 3 to 5 percent.
The volatility in the global markets was preceded by a fall in oil prices that was caused by a demand due to the spread of COVID-19 but which was exacerbated this weekend by a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of the word's major producers.
The worsening epidemic in Europe and the U.S. has created a climate of uncertainty that has wreaked havoc on the financial markets. According to the New York Times, the S&P 500 index has fallen 12 percent since February 19th, the biggest drop in nine years that comes out to roughly $3 trillion in wealth.
President Donald Trump and his administration has been increasingly criticized for downplaying the spread of the virus and dispensing misinformation about testing capacity and the potential severity.
"The testing has been amazing," Trump said last Friday during a press conference at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency has been blamed for a flaw in the test kits that delayed broader testing for weeks in the country. On Saturday, a Federal Drug Administration official said that the CDC has tested 1,583 people for the coronavirus since the first cases were identified.
On Monday, Trump tweeted praise for the U.S. coronavirus task force.
NYC Now Has 16 Confirmed Cases
Appearing on NY1, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday morning said that the city had three additional confirmed cases of COVID-19: two individuals in Brooklyn and one in Queens.
That brings the total number of confirmed cases in NYC to 16, including the New Rochelle attorney who is being treated at a Manhattan hospital. City health officials are currently awaiting the results of 86 tests.
De Blasio did not offer details on any of the new cases, including one in the Bronx that was announced on Sunday.
The mayor continued to urge New Yorkers to stay home if they are sick and to avoid crowded subways and buses, a social distancing measure that is designed to stem the spread of the virus.
Nontheless, he said that city health officials have discovered that transmission of the coronavirus requires close contact involving what he described as a "direct hit" of body fluids onto the eyes, nose or mouth. In general, scientists say that viruses are spread by viral droplets that access a person's cells through the mouth, nose or eyes.
The mayor has also asserted in recent days that the virus can only last on surfaces for only a few minutes. "We are getting our own direct information," he said on NY1, adding, "We are learning things that are somewhat different from what the assumptions are in the global medical community."
However, many scientists say such information is still unclear.
Asked about the mayor's claim, Dr. Ian Lipkin, a leading virologist who has been researching COVID-19, pointed to a recent study showing that the new coronavirus can persist on surfaces for days. The study, which is under review, was conducted by scientists at the Princeton, UCLA, National Institutes of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Columbia, Hofstra Cancel Classes
Columbia University on Sunday evening announced that it would suspend classes on Monday and Tuesday because a member of its community had been quarantined following exposure to COVID-19. The university will hold remote classes for the remainder of the week until the start of Spring Break on Friday.
"Please understand that the decision to suspend classes does not mean that the University is shutting down," said Lee Bollinger, Columbia University's president in an email to students and faculty. "All non-classroom activities, including research, will continue in accordance with the new travel and events restrictions announced recently. At this point, just to restate what is important to know, we do not have a confirmed case of the virus on campus. This action is intended to prevent the virus from spreading."
Barnard college said it would follow Columbia's lead and take the same precautions.
Meanwhile, Hofstra University on Long Island announced it would suspend classes for the entire week following a student who is being isolated and tested for the virus. According to the university, the individual reported flu-like symptoms after attending a conference where one of the attendees tested positive.
YeshIva University, which suspended classes at its Wilf campus last week in Washington Heights after two people tested positive for COVID-19 (the son and rabbi of the New Rochelle attorney), announced the classes would continue to be suspended and also extended the decision to its Beren campus in Midtown Manhattan.