US explores possibility that coronavirus spread started in Chinese lab, not a market

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As an aid package stalled in the Senate, states moved to keep more than 100 million Americans at home.


Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s corona-virus response coordinator, said that the New York metro area is experiencing a virus “attack rate” of nearly one in a thousand, or five times that of other areas.

President Trump, at his near-daily coronavirus briefing, hinted on Monday that the economic shutdown meant to halt the spread of the virus across the country would not be extended.

“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down,” he said. “America will again and soon be open for business,” the president added, without providing a timeline for he believes when normal economic activity can resume in the United States.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said that the New York metro area is experiencing a virus “attack rate” of nearly one in a thousand, or five times that of other areas.

“So to all of my friends and colleagues in New York, this is the group that needs to absolutely social distance and self-isolate at this time,” Dr. Birx said. “Clearly, the virus had been circulating there for a number of weeks to have this level of penetrance into the general community.”

Mr. Trump continued to push two traditional malaria medications, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, in combination with a common antibiotic, azithromycin, as a treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the corona-virus, despite caution by the government’s top doctors.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was not present for Mr. Trump’s White House briefing. Mr. Trump has been frustrated in recent days by some of Mr. Fauci’s public commentary contradicting his remarks. Mr. Fauci has been a frequent, though not daily, presence at the president’s side at corona-virus briefings.

Mr. Trump said that 10,000 units of chloroquine will be distributed in New York City on Tuesday. Dr. Fauci and others have said that its effectiveness remains highly uncertain. In fact, Banner Health, a hospital system in Arizona, reported on Monday that a man died and his wife was in critical condition after the couple self-medicated with chloroquine.

But Mr. Trump’s enthusiasm is undimmed.

“It would be a gift from God,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s something we have to try.”

Mr. Trump sent mixed signals from the White House podium, agreeing at one point with his surgeon general and saying, “It’s going to be bad,” then suggesting that the response to the virus may have been overblown. He invoked not only the seasonal flu but the national toll of car crashes. “You look at automobile accidents,” Mr. Trump said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody, ‘no more driving of cars.’”

“This is going away. We’re going to win the battle,” Mr. Trump said, citing jobs, “anxiety and depression” and suicide as arguments for restoring the U.S. economy.

Mr. Trump signed an executive order to keep people and businesses from hoarding supplies needed in the fight against the novel coronavirus, and from engaging in price gouging.

Attorney General William P. Barr recently directed federal prosecutors across the country to prioritize fraud schemes related to the pandemic and to prosecute offenders.

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