America locks down as coronavirus cases, deaths spread

As much as a third of America is under lockdown orders while virus deaths in New York City rose to an average of one per hour.

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EmptyNYCStatueofLiberty
The Statue of Liberty at dawn, overlooking an unusually quite New York City on lockdown.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Last Updated:
March 21, 2020 - 2:10pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

By decree or by choice, much of America sheltered in place Saturday in an unprecedented effort to slow a coronavirus pandemic that was growing in both infections and deaths with no immediate end in sight.

In the nation's capital, senators worked through the weekend in an effort to craft a massive aid package that would address everything from supply shortages to paying family bills and staving off layoffs. President Trump's chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, predicted the package could reach $2 trillion or more when finished.

Meanwhile, hard-hit New York said its confirmed cases of the virus surpassed 10,000 while New York City saw an average of one coronavirus death per hour during a critical stretch of Friday. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we get to a day when we have double-digits new people dying every day,” Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city's health commission, said in a grim warning of things to come.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday the rapid rise in cases was due to aggressive testing. “The more tests you take, the more positives you find,” Cuomo said. “If you find a positive, you can isolate that person. We’re actually looking for positives."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's chief expert on infectious disease, warned the pandemic was likely to stretch for several more weeks and that the goal was simply to slow its spread through social distancing and isolation while increasing testing.

Fauci's colleague, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told employees Friday that as many as 70,000 Americans could be infected by end of next week nut he cautioned it was mostly a function of more widespread testing and not necessarily an explosion of the virus.“Testing is now going to be much more available across the country,” Collins told colleagues, according to ABC News.

Between a fifth and a third of of America's population was already under orders to remain at home, as California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut were among the states to impose shelter-in-place rules.

Across the globe, Italy continued to sit at the epicenter of the European outbreak, recording a grim 793 deaths on Saturday alone.