Millions of Americans are under orders Saturday from their state and local governments to stay home, venturing out only for essential needs, including trips to pharmacies, supermarkets, and gas stations, and solo exercise.
California and New York residents have been ordered to stay home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, a disease that claims more victims every day. Illinois residents join in the stay-at-home strategy later Saturday.
Early Saturday morning the global count of infected cases was 275,452, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
New Jersey and Oregon will likely be the next U.S. states to order their residents to stay home as part of the fight against the virus that has disrupted the very fabric of life around the world.
Children no longer go to school, adults are either working from home or have been laid off from work. Weddings and sports events have been canceled. Millions of people in the U.S. have applied for unemployment insurance. Places of worship are closed until further notice. Nothing is the same.
Medical and emergency workers who are on the front lines of the battle against the virus in the U.S. find themselves ill-equipped for the fight. Their supply of weapons – masks and ventilators — that not only protect them, but their patients, too — is either gone or quickly diminishing. They do not have tests either to determine who has the confounding virus that kills some people and is asymptomatic in others. The government has been slow to act.
Cuba, whose economy depends heavily on tourism, said Friday it will not allow any foreign tourists to enter the country, beginning Tuesday. The ban will be in effect for 30 days.
The drastic measure is being initiated in an effort to prevent any more COVID-19 cases, President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on state television. Cuba has reported at least 19 cases of the coronavirus and one death.
The South Korea Centers for Disease Control reported 147 new cases of the virus Saturday. The Asian nation has 8,799 infections and 102 deaths attributed to the virus.
More than 10,200 new cases were reported Friday in Europe, which World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this week had become the epicenter of the outbreak after cases began to wane in China, where the outbreak began.
Spanish officials warned Friday that the situation could soon overcome the country’s health care system. They announced plans to turn a Madrid conference center into a makeshift hospital. Earlier this week, a four-star inn in Madrid was converted into a hospital.
Germany, another hard-hit country, is trying to increase the number of intensive care beds, which now total 28,000, by establishing temporary hospitals in hotels, rehabilitation clinics and other facilities. There are nearly 20,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany. Officials there say coronavirus could strike as many as 10 million Germans unless proper precautions are taken, including social distancing.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shut down dining establishments, bars and other leisure businesses. (VOA)