The surge of coronavirus cases throughout the United States and around the world has brought countries to a practical standstill.
While countries like Italy, Spain and China have declared complete lockdowns in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, life in the United States also has dramatically changed in just a week.
From work to entertainment to even worship, several aspects of American life have been reordered as health officials encourage the public to carry out “social distancing” to prevent the spread of the infection.
“The less public gatherings we have now the better. It’s a new virus. We don’t have immunity to it. We don’t have a vaccine to it. We want to decrease the amount of spread,” Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel said Sunday.
In the New Jersey city of Hoboken, a strict nightly curfew was imposed that would ban any resident from being outside between 10 a.m. until 5 a.m. the next day. It is one of the first – and most far-reaching – of such measures taken in the U.S. to limit the spread of the virus.
Starting late last week, many employers switched to telecommuting. Major companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft ramped up remote working orders to protect their employees — a move seen by other companies nationwide.
Meanwhile major sporting events – like the start of the MLB season, the end of NBA season and March Madness NCAA basketball tournaments – have been postponed or outright canceled to prevent large crowds from gathering.
“Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees, and fans,” MLB said in a statement this week. “MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices that have been impacted by coronavirus.”
In New York City, Broadway shows have gone dark for the foreseeable future, while late-night shows, concerts and other public events have been canceled or are playing without fans in the seats.
Elsewhere, supplies in supermarkets — most notably toilet paper and hand sanitizer — have flown off the shelves as many Americans have chosen to stay indoors or self-quarantine. The frenzy to stock up on groceries and other items has led to empty shelves and disappointed shoppers.
“I haven’t seen it like this since the morning of 9/11,” one store manager at a Foodceller in Long Island City told Fox News on Thursday night.
Even worship has been impacted by the virus. Churches and places of worship have canceled Masses or services with some moving to the digital world to provide a semblance of normalcy for practitioners. The drastic measures come as many are observing Lent in the lead-up to Easter, Christianity’s most sacred holiday, on Sunday, April. 15.
The death toll in the U.S. reached at least 57 as of Sunday morning, cases have been recorded in 49 states and the District of Columbia. West Virginia is the only state without any recorded cases.
Nearly 3,000 cases have been seen nationwide — up from the less than 500 cases recorded in the U.S. at the start of the week. The U.S. government’s top infection expert warned this week that the country should expect a possible surge in the coming days.
Meanwhile, air travel in and out of the country has taken a hit as the federal government and airlines seek to limit people’s exposure to the virus.
On Sunday, President Trump announced Saturday the United States will expand its European travel restrictions to include the United Kingdom and Ireland. The move to restrict travel from Europe’s passport-free “Schengen Area” comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections surged throughout the European continent.
Under the restrictions on European travel, American citizens, green card holders, and others are still allowed to return home to the U.S. but will be funneled to 13 airports and be subjected to health screenings and quarantine orders.
On Saturday night, thousands of travelers returning from Europe crowded terminals in cramped, hours-long lines.
American Airlines announced Saturday it’s reducing the number of international flights by 75 percent until at least May 6, grounding most of its widebody fleet, Reuters reported. Trump has also suggested Congress work toward measures to provide U.S. airlines with financial support as they face a sharp decline in demand amid the outbreak.
The House of Representatives on Saturday voted 363-40 to approve a coronavirus response package negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of the American people,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a tweet ahead of the vote.
The global pandemic comes during a U.S. presidential election year – as primaries face cancellations in some states not willing to bring voters to the polls amid the outbreak.
Georgia became the second state to postpone its presidential primary, originally scheduled for March 24, announcing on Saturday voters wouldn’t go to the polls until May 19. Meanwhile, voters in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio would still vote in their presidential primaries on Tuesday as planned, officials said.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons suspended visits with prisoners, including most made by lawyers, for 30 days. A county jail in Chicago also limited visits, with the sheriff’s office announcing all lawyers and members of the clergy would be tested for COVID-19 before being allowed to engage with inmates.