National coronavirus updates: US plans for new normal as economic impact of coronavirus deepens

The latest:There are more than 461,000 cases in the United States as of 7:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 9, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.By early Thursday, the U.S. death toll surpassed 16,000 people.Globally, the number of cases has surpassed 1.5 million with more than 95,000 deaths, Hopkins reports. Another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week.School closures have been extended in some states, with Pennsylvania’s governor ordering schools closed the rest of the academic year.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has new guidance for essential workers.Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told House Democrats that the $1,200 direct payments for Americans from the stimulus relief package are scheduled to begin next week, the Associated Press reported.School closures extended in some statesPennsylvania schools will remain shuttered for the rest of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened thousands and caused hundreds of deaths statewide, under an order signed Thursday by the state’s education secretary.The extended shutdown order affects more than 1.7 million students in public and private K-12 schools. It means children will spend the rest of the year learning remotely. Pennsylvania’s order comes one day after Oregon’s governor ordered the closure of its schools for the rest of the academic year.In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont said public schools there will likely be required to stay closed until at least May 20 to fight the spread.Schools currently are under orders to stay shuttered until April 20, but Lamont has suggested previously that students might not return until the fall.Another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last weekAnother 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, as American workers continue to suffer from devastating job losses, furloughs and reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic.It was the second largest number of initial unemployment claims in history, since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967.Altogether, about 16.8 million American workers, making up about 11% of the U.S. labor force, have filed initial claims for jobless benefits in just the prior three weeks alone. About 7.5 million workers filed for their second week of benefits or more last week.Numbers at those levels are startling and contrast starkly with any other economic downturn on record, especially because of how quickly they’ve surged.Job losses during the Great Recession for example — as deep as they were — came at a much slower pace. It took two years for 8.6 million Americans to lose their jobs in that crisis. This time around, as businesses across the country close to slow the spread of coronavirus, the unemployment crisis has been far more acute, condensed into just a few weeks.Warm weather won’t being end to virus, experts sayWith health experts warning that warmer months won’t bring an end to coronavirus, officials are developing a framework for what America’s new normal could look like.President Donald Trump has previously claimed that increased temperatures will bring an end to the virus.But members of a National Academy of Sciences committee said in a letter to the White House Tuesday that the data is mixed on whether the virus spreads less easily in the heat. However, that might not matter much given the lack of immunity.The nation has already had to adjust to a world where social distancing is key to reduce the impact of coronavirus. Families gathered Wednesday night for virtual Passover Seders, and weekend Easter celebrations are anticipated to be online as well for many.Though Attorney General William Barr called current social distancing measures “draconian,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told lawmakers that the White House task force is developing a framework for what a return to normalcy will look like for Americans, a source told CNN.But normal may not look exactly like it once did. The handshake, for example, may need to become a thing of the past, said Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).”I think what we’re going to have embedded and imprinted in us forever is the realization that something as catastrophic as what the world is experiencing now can happen,” Fauci said.Trends in projected deathsWednesday was another record day of deaths with an increase of 1,922 reported fatalities, according to data supplied by Johns Hopkins University.And though the impact has been grave thus far, there is a glimmer of hope with models projecting lower numbers of deaths by the time the pandemic subsides.The U.S. will reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, according to modeling by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. The peak of demand on hospital beds and ventilators is projected to hit on or around Saturday.On Tuesday, the IHME estimated about 82,000 people will die from coronavirus disease by August. On Wednesday, that estimate was lowered to 60,415.That decrease is thanks to the actions taken by Americans, said White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx.”What has been so remarkable, I think, to those of us that have been in the science field for so long,” Birx said, “is how important behavioral change is, and how amazing Americans are at adapting to and following through on these behavioral changes.”CDC teams protecting areas with low transmissionSome areas have yet to see high transmission rates of the virus, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deployed eight teams in hopes of keeping it that way, a federal official involved in the day-to-day coronavirus response told CNN.The “community protection field teams” work directly with state and local health departments, but the official declined to say where the teams would be placed.A second federal health official said at least one would be deployed to Wyoming.”They have not had a lot of cases. You want to make sure it stays that way,” the senior federal health official told CNN when asked about Wyoming. “You work closely with them to make sure their public health capacity is working. Find cases, interrupt clusters, and do containment as opposed to mitigation,” the official said.”If containment is achieved, you don’t have to have broader heavy duty mitigation restrictions.”States say measures are workingIn the meantime, many states are reporting that social distancing measures and stay at home orders are working to mitigate the virus.Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson lauded the state’s targeted approach and residents’ social distancing measures Wednesday, noting the state has 2.5 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.”That makes a difference in how we get out of this, how soon we get out of this and that we beat that curve and so I want to thank everybody for paying such close attention to it and doing a good job,” Hutchinson said.And though Kentucky saw its largest increase in reported cases Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear said that the state’s low numbers relative to the rest of the nation show that social distancing measures are working.California is a hotspot with more than 18,700 cases, but the state has seen results as well with its strict social distancing measures. Responding early to the virus has slowed the doubling of cases in Santa Clara country from three days to two weeks or longer, said Health Officer Dr. Sarah Cody.”We cannot let up. Most of the people living in our community are still susceptible,” Cody stressed. “This is a marathon, maybe an ultra-marathon.”

The latest:

  • There are more than 461,000 cases in the United States as of 7:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 9, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
  • By early Thursday, the U.S. death toll surpassed 16,000 people.
  • Globally, the number of cases has surpassed 1.5 million with more than 95,000 deaths, Hopkins reports.
  • Another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week.
  • School closures have been extended in some states, with Pennsylvania’s governor ordering schools closed the rest of the academic year.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has new guidance for essential workers.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told House Democrats that the $1,200 direct payments for Americans from the stimulus relief package are scheduled to begin next week, the Associated Press reported.

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School closures extended in some states

Pennsylvania schools will remain shuttered for the rest of the academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened thousands and caused hundreds of deaths statewide, under an order signed Thursday by the state’s education secretary.

The extended shutdown order affects more than 1.7 million students in public and private K-12 schools. It means children will spend the rest of the year learning remotely. Pennsylvania’s order comes one day after Oregon’s governor ordered the closure of its schools for the rest of the academic year.

In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont said public schools there will likely be required to stay closed until at least May 20 to fight the spread.

Schools currently are under orders to stay shuttered until April 20, but Lamont has suggested previously that students might not return until the fall.

Another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

Another 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, as American workers continue to suffer from devastating job losses, furloughs and reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the second largest number of initial unemployment claims in history, since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967.

Altogether, about 16.8 million American workers, making up about 11% of the U.S. labor force, have filed initial claims for jobless benefits in just the prior three weeks alone. About 7.5 million workers filed for their second week of benefits or more last week.

Numbers at those levels are startling and contrast starkly with any other economic downturn on record, especially because of how quickly they’ve surged.

Job losses during the Great Recession for example — as deep as they were — came at a much slower pace. It took two years for 8.6 million Americans to lose their jobs in that crisis. This time around, as businesses across the country close to slow the spread of coronavirus, the unemployment crisis has been far more acute, condensed into just a few weeks.

Warm weather won’t being end to virus, experts say

With health experts warning that warmer months won’t bring an end to coronavirus, officials are developing a framework for what America’s new normal could look like.

President Donald Trump has previously claimed that increased temperatures will bring an end to the virus.

But members of a National Academy of Sciences committee said in a letter to the White House Tuesday that the data is mixed on whether the virus spreads less easily in the heat. However, that might not matter much given the lack of immunity.

The nation has already had to adjust to a world where social distancing is key to reduce the impact of coronavirus. Families gathered Wednesday night for virtual Passover Seders, and weekend Easter celebrations are anticipated to be online as well for many.

Though Attorney General William Barr called current social distancing measures “draconian,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told lawmakers that the White House task force is developing a framework for what a return to normalcy will look like for Americans, a source told CNN.

But normal may not look exactly like it once did. The handshake, for example, may need to become a thing of the past, said Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

“I think what we’re going to have embedded and imprinted in us forever is the realization that something as catastrophic as what the world is experiencing now can happen,” Fauci said.

Trends in projected deaths

Wednesday was another record day of deaths with an increase of 1,922 reported fatalities, according to data supplied by Johns Hopkins University.

And though the impact has been grave thus far, there is a glimmer of hope with models projecting lower numbers of deaths by the time the pandemic subsides.

The U.S. will reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, according to modeling by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. The peak of demand on hospital beds and ventilators is projected to hit on or around Saturday.

On Tuesday, the IHME estimated about 82,000 people will die from coronavirus disease by August. On Wednesday, that estimate was lowered to 60,415.

That decrease is thanks to the actions taken by Americans, said White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx.

“What has been so remarkable, I think, to those of us that have been in the science field for so long,” Birx said, “is how important behavioral change is, and how amazing Americans are at adapting to and following through on these behavioral changes.”

CDC teams protecting areas with low transmission

Some areas have yet to see high transmission rates of the virus, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deployed eight teams in hopes of keeping it that way, a federal official involved in the day-to-day coronavirus response told CNN.

The “community protection field teams” work directly with state and local health departments, but the official declined to say where the teams would be placed.

A second federal health official said at least one would be deployed to Wyoming.

“They have not had a lot of cases. You want to make sure it stays that way,” the senior federal health official told CNN when asked about Wyoming. “You work closely with them to make sure their public health capacity is working. Find cases, interrupt clusters, and do containment as opposed to mitigation,” the official said.

“If containment is achieved, you don’t have to have broader heavy duty mitigation restrictions.”

States say measures are working

In the meantime, many states are reporting that social distancing measures and stay at home orders are working to mitigate the virus.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson lauded the state’s targeted approach and residents’ social distancing measures Wednesday, noting the state has 2.5 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.

“That makes a difference in how we get out of this, how soon we get out of this and that we beat that curve and so I want to thank everybody for paying such close attention to it and doing a good job,” Hutchinson said.

And though Kentucky saw its largest increase in reported cases Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear said that the state’s low numbers relative to the rest of the nation show that social distancing measures are working.

California is a hotspot with more than 18,700 cases, but the state has seen results as well with its strict social distancing measures. Responding early to the virus has slowed the doubling of cases in Santa Clara country from three days to two weeks or longer, said Health Officer Dr. Sarah Cody.

“We cannot let up. Most of the people living in our community are still susceptible,” Cody stressed. “This is a marathon, maybe an ultra-marathon.”