The race to get home was in full swing Sunday for Americans abroad amid a national state of emergency and U.S. travel bans that fueled long lines at entry points for some major airports.
The weekend brought more vitally important news on the coronavirus front: President Trump tested negative for the virus and the U.S. expanded its European travel ban to include the United Kingdom and Ireland. Stores and supermarkets curbed hours or shut down all together. Cities and states tightened restrictions.
Almost 3,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S., with a death toll of more than 50. Globally, more than 150,000 cases and almost 6,000 deaths have been reported. In Hoboken, New Jersey, the mayor has enacted a curfew and ordered restaurants to shut their dining rooms. Walmarts and many grocery stores are limiting their hours. Nike and Urban Outfitters are closing their stores worldwide.
Today's quick read on coronavirus headlines is as follows:
- There are long lines and frustrated travelers at airports like Chicago's O'Hare, New York's JFK, Dallas-Fort Worth as Trump travel restrictions hit hard
- Dr. Anthony Fauci told Americans to get ready to ‘hunker down' and doesn't believe a 14-day nationwide shutdown would be overreaction
- Parents are bracing to have their kids home on an extended break as schools across the U.S. close their doors this week
- US servicemembers — and their families — are dealing with the reality of not being able to travel domestically. That means they can't move to new bases, as many had planned.
- Google updates its homepage. ‘Do the five' delivers coronavirus-related information to the masses.
Refresh this page for the latest updates on coronavirus.
Long lines greet Americans returning from abroad
U.S. travelers flying back from Europe late Saturday were greeted with snaking lines and hours-long waits at major airports as expanded coronavirus screenings required by the government's new European travel restrictions took effect.
The restrictions ban Europeans from flying to the United States for 30 days and require U.S. travelers to be screened upon arrival at 13 U.S. airports.
Travelers at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, New York JFK and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport took to social media to complain about the waits, with many worried that the logjam wasn't helping to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The situation was so bad at O'Hare that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called out the Trump administration on Twitter. Get the latest updates on the situation at American airports here.
– Dawn Gilbertson
Fauci: US should brace to ‘hunker down’ even more
A top official in the coronavirus response says the U.S. should be prepared “to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that it is not clear whether the spread of the virus has been blunted.
Asked if he would prefer something like a 14-day national shutdown, Fauci told NBC: “You know, I would prefer as much as we possibly could. I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting.”
Fauci, making the Sunday talk show rounds, told ABC's “This Week” that domestic travel restrictions have not been seriously considered by the federal task force – yet.
“I do not see that right now in the immediate future,” Fauci said. “But, remember, we are very open minded about whatever it takes to preserve the health of the American public.”
— David Jackson
Parents brace for kids at home as many schools close
The first wave of widespread school closings in the U.S. will hit families hard starting Monday. Twenty states and a number of large urban school districts — including Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest — are shutting down all K-12 schools as part of a sweeping attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin have made plans to close all schools.
Major metropolitan districts such as Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, have also shuttered. And a growing number of smaller districts around the country have also chosen to close.
‘You can't Netflix them all day':Coronavirus closed this school. The kids have special needs.
– Erin Richards
Military restrictions slam brakes on moves for thousands of families
The Pentagon has issued new travel restrictions forcing thousands of service members and their families to cancel trips and delay scheduled moves to installations across the nation. The restrictions, which also apply to civilians who work for the Defense Department, halt all change-of-station moves. Spring is usually the busiest time of year for the moves, and the restrictions take effect Monday through May 11 – at least. Some families have signed leases at new locations they now can't go.
Troops also will be able to travel only locally during their leaves under the restrictions.
Lt. Col. Mike Burns, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, said division officials are aware of the restrictions’ consequences. “We’re doing everything we can to help any soldier affected by this new change in policy,” he said.
– Steve DeVane, The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
Walmart cuts hours at 24-hour stores, some other locations starting Sunday
Walmart stores normally open 24 hours will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. until further notice, the company said late Saturday. Other stores, which are typically open until midnight, will also have reduced hours.
“This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing,” Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Walmart U.S., wrote in a blog post.
Grocery store chains including Florida-based Publix, New York-based Wegmans and H-E-B are among retailers closing earlier. Urban Outfitters is among retailers closing all of its stores globally because of the coronavirus. Apple announced it will close all its retail stores outside Greater China until March 27. Changes at more regional and national retailers are expected in the coming days.
– Kelly Tyko
How late is your store open?:Coronavirus cuts store hours at Walmart, Publix, Kroger, H-E-B, and more
Coronavirus tips: What you need to know
Here are some important reads from USA TODAY:
In Hoboken, New Jersey: A curfew, and no going out to eat
Mayor Ravinder Bhalla tweeted that due to concerns over the coronavirus, bars and restaurants would no longer be permitted to serve food in their dining rooms. These businesses will only be allowed to offer food takeout and delivery services.
Hoboken bars that do not serve food are to shut down by 11 a.m. Sunday, March 15. They are no longer permitted to serve alcohol, the mayor said.
Bhalla did not give an end date for the new policy. The city also is imposing a curfew that will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily as of Monday, March 16, until further notice, requiring residents to remain in their homes outside of emergencies or being required to work.
– Debbie Waldeyer, Bergen Record
US hospitals will run out of beds if coronavirus cases spike
No state in the U.S. will have enough room to treat novel coronavirus patients if the surge in severe cases here mirrors that in other countries.
A USA TODAY analysis shows that if the nation sees a major spike, there could be almost six seriously ill patients for every existing hospital bed.
That analysis, based on data from the American Hospital Association, U.S. Census, CDC and World Health Organization, is conservative. For example, it assumes all 790,000 beds will be empty.
Since two thirds are not, the reality could be far worse: about 17 people competing for each open bed.
– Jayme Fraser and Matt Wynn
Map: Which states have coronavirus cases?
There have been almost 3,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with amore than 50 deaths, according to a dashboard run by Johns Hopkins University. The majority of the deaths have been in Washington state, while California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, New Jersey and South Dakota have all reported deaths.
Here's a look at which U.S. states have reported cases of COVID-19: