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Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today | Press "Enter" to skip to content

Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

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Worries about the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. are prompting organizers to cancel sports and cultural events across the country. And they have intruded on the presidential race for the first time: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden each called off primary-night events scheduled for Tuesday.

The organizers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival are in talks to postpone it until the fall. Austin, Texas, has called off its annual South by Southwest festival. The rock band Pearl Jam scrapped the first leg of an upcoming tour.

“The whole live music industry is really being shaken and challenged by this,” says Ben Sisario, who covers music for The Times. “It’s a business model about a large amount of people coming together in a small space.”

  • The Tucson Festival of Books, which usually draws more than 100,000 people, is canceled.

  • Harvard, Ohio State and other universities are suspending in-person classes and moving to online teaching.

  • Professional soccer in Spain and Portugal will be played in empty stadiums for at least two weeks. The N.C.A.A. is considering something similar for its basketball tournaments.

  • St. Patrick’s Day parades were canceled in Boston and across Ireland, and the Nakameguro district of Tokyo canceled its Cherry Blossom Festival.

See more canceled and postponed events here.

Leaders of the nursing-home industry are calling for sweeping new precautions to protect residents, including an end to social visits by relatives and friends.

Receptionists should screen everyone — staff members, family members, contractors and government workers — for signs of illness, and admit only those who are healthy and have essential business.

The coronavirus has been most dangerous to older adults and patients with chronic health problems — the very people who reside in nursing homes. At least 18 residents of one hard-hit facility in Kirkland, Wash., have died, and four other facilities in the Seattle region have cases.

Defenseless: Seasonal flu is also a menace to nursing homes, but the homes can fight back against the flu with vaccines and antiviral drugs used protectively. Nothing like that is yet available to check the coronavirus.

What you can do: If you have a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility, research the facility — especially staffing and sanitation ratings — and ask about the plan for a potential outbreak. If you make the difficult decision to relocate your loved one, be sure to account for all their medical and logistical needs.

On the first day of nationwide restrictions on movement and public gatherings, Italians dutifully stayed away from the country’s streets, shops, churches and soccer fields, our Rome bureau chief, Jason Horowitz, reports.

Some of the country’s busiest tourist spots are almost deserted. “In Rome, water cascaded out of the usually mobbed Trevi Fountain,” Jason wrote, “but there was no one around to see it.”

Matteo Renzi, a former prime minister, told The Times that sweeping measures like the government’s decree were necessary to protect the rest of the continent.

“Today, the red zone is Italy,” he said, but unless other countries also take drastic steps, soon “the red zone will be Europe.”

Living under lockdown: “In just two weeks, all the usual certainties have gone,” an Opinion contributor writes from Milan. “It’s been a spiritual exercise in letting go.

  • New York imposed a “containment area” around a portion of New Rochelle, the New York City suburb with more than half the state’s reported cases. Gathering places like schools, houses of worship and community centers will be shut for two weeks; National Guard troops will be sent in to scrub down the schools and deliver food to quarantined residents.

  • The first coronavirus death reported in the Northeast is a 69-year-old man in New Jersey.

  • The number of cases in the United States passed 950 on Tuesday afternoon, up from just over 300 on Friday.

  • Spain suspended its parliament after a member tested positive. The country has more than 1,600 cases and 35 deaths so far — the second most in Europe, after Italy.

  • One of Cyprus’s first cases is a heart surgeon at the country’s largest medical center, Reuters reported, which halted all admissions, outpatient clinics, operations and visits. Every nation in the European Union has reported at least one case.

  • The Democratic Republic of Congo reported its first case. Seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa have now been hit by the virus.

Steps to take against the coronavirus. This should sound familiar by now, but we’ll keep repeating it: Wash your hands; stay at least six feet away from others; and check in with people who are less able to prepare.

How to boost your immune system: There’s no magic pill or miracle food, but you can manage your stress (through meditation, for example), improve your sleep habits, check your vitamin D levels, avoid excess alcohol and eat a healthy diet.

Do you have an upcoming cruise? You can expect increased health screenings and temperature checks before boarding. And if you’re looking for a way out, you may be in luck: Some companies are loosening their typically strict cancellation policies.

You kid’s school is closed — now what? Education may be disrupted, but that doesn’t mean your children have to lose out, starting with predictable, consistent routines at home that provide a sense of security.

Cellphones are germ vehicles and hard to clean. When we go outside, we place cellphones in a plastic Ziploc bag: The touch screen still works. When we’re back home, we take them out of the bag.

— Sue Stephenson, Southern California

Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

Sign up here to get the briefing by email.


Melina Delkic, Adam Pasick, Lara Takenaga, Jonathan Wolfe and Tom Wright-Piersanti contributed to today’s newsletter.


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