Officials in the nation's capital have announced the first death of a patient from the COVID-19 illness.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the death of the 59-year-old man on Friday.
She said he was admitted to the hospital last week after showing coronavirus symptoms, including a fever and cough, and tested positive. The mayor said the man also had “other underlying medical conditions” but provided no additional details.
DC health officials said there were 71 confirmed cases as of Thursday night.
U.S. officials are expected to announce new restrictions on the southern border Friday as they try to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. and Mexico have been working on plans to limit cross-border traffic, according to officials on both sides of the border. The plan is expected to look much like restrictions already announced on all-but-essential travel and trade between the U.S. and Canada.
"We're looking at both our northern and our southern border," Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters at the White House, explaining that the restrictions were aimed at "eliminating non-essential travel across that border."
"We want to make sure that cargo continues, trade continues, heath care workers continue to be able to traverse that border. But tourism, some recreational activities and other things needs to stop during this crisis," he said.
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Thursday he proposed steps to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that "won't paralyze economic activity and keep the border open to commerce and work." He promised details on Friday.
Pompeo said on Twitter that he was working closely with his Mexican counterpart "on travel restrictions that balance protecting our citizens from further transmission of #COVID19. Together, we can reduce public health risks and prioritize essential cross-border commerce and trade."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials briefed business leaders Thursday on plans to prohibit non-essential travel with Mexico, similar to a measure announced earlier this week on the Canadian border, said Paola Avila, chair of the Border Trade Alliance, a business group.
The measure would effectively close the U.S. to all tourist and recreational visits along the Mexican border, said Avila, who participated in a conference call with CBP officials.
U.S. officials provided a long list of "essential" workers that would be unaffected going to and from their jobs, including farmworkers, restaurant and grocery store employees and bus drivers, said Avila. Mexico was preparing similar restrictions on visitors from the United States.
Keeping trade flowing, as the U.S. and Canada agreed to do, contains the economic damage. Mexico is the U.S.'s largest trading partner, just ahead of Canada. The U.S. accounts for about 75% of Mexican exports, including autos, computers and medical devices.
While halting travel for students, shoppers, families and many workers would be a major blow to border economies, the impact has already been felt.
The State Department on Thursday issued a new travel alert urging Americans not to go abroad under any circumstances and to return home if they are already abroad unless they plan to remain overseas. California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state's 40 million residents to stay at home, restricting nonessential movements.
"People are not crossing anyway," said Avila, who is also the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce vice president for international business affairs. This is the right thing to do. If you don't have to cross, don't."
The U.S. has also been considering whether to immediately turn back to Mexico anyone who crosses the border illegally, including asylum-seekers. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he planned to announce such a measure "very soon," relying on a law that says he can deny entry to people or reject cargo if the U.S. surgeon general determines there is a "serious danger" of bringing a communicable disease to the United States.
California has issued a "stay at home" order to residents as it tries to stem the march of the coronavirus across the most populous US state, reports BBC.
Governor Gavin Newsom told Californians they should only leave their homes when necessary during the pandemic.
He earlier estimated more than half of the 40 million people in his state would contract Covid-19 in just the next two months.
The virus has claimed 205 lives in the US and infected more than 14,000.
Globally nearly 250,000 patients have tested positive for the respiratory illness and more than 10,000 have died.
What does California's order mean?
Mr Newsom said on Thursday evening: "This is a moment we need to make tough decisions. We need to recognise reality."
California is among the first US states to bring in blanket restrictions. Earlier this week Nevada said non-essential businesses should close for 30 days.
The governor's order will allow residents to leave their homes to buy groceries or medicine, or walk a dog or take exercise, but seeks to limit public interactions.
It will force businesses deemed non-essential to close, while allowing others including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and petrol stations to stay open.
About half of the state's population is already subject to similar stringent measures, including the city of San Francisco.
The Democratic governor said parts of the state were seeing infection rates double every four days.
Speaking at a press conference in Sacramento, Mr Newsom said the virus "will impact about 56% of us - you do the math in the state of California, that's a particularly large number".
The governor did not clarify how his officials had calculated that figure, which would amount to nearly 22.5 million infected people.
But his spokesman acknowledged the estimate did not take into account the mitigation measures being implemented state-wide.
More hospital beds needed
This is the most drastic measure that any US state governor has taken to try to tame the virus - going further even than New York, which has more coronavirus cases than California.
Speaking from the state's emergency operations centre in Sacramento - a place that is normally used to coordinate the response to wildfires or earthquakes - Mr Newsom called on people here to only leave their homes if it was absolutely necessary - to get food, collect medicines, or care for a friend or relative.
He said said that based on projections nearly 20,000 more hospital beds would be needed to deal with the effects of the outbreak than the state could currently provide.
He is asking Congress for a billion dollars in federal funding to support California's response to the crisis, and calling for a navy hospital ship to be deployed to the Port of Los Angeles to help deal with the anticipated surge in patients.
So far, California has recorded fewer than 1,000 cases of the virus and 19 deaths, according to the Los Angeles Times.
On Wednesday Mr Newsom wrote to President Donald Trump appealing for urgent federal help.
On Thursday Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the Senate needed to pass a $1 trillion economic rescue plan by Monday.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act would include hundreds of billions of dollars worth of loans to big corporations and small businesses, large corporate tax cuts and $1,200 (£1,000) cheques for taxpayers.
Where are the other US coronavirus 'hot zones'?
A nearly empty baggage claim area at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada
Along with New York and Washington, California is among the US states worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday alone, New York City's recorded caseload of Covid-19 more than doubled to 3,954 - greater than the confirmed number of coronavirus patients in the whole of the UK.
Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN the most populous city in the US would run out of medical supplies within three weeks if the "explosion" of infections continued at such a rate.
He implored the federal government to help New York obtain 15,000 ventilators, three million respirator masks, 50 million surgical masks and 45 million gowns, gloves and coveralls.
The mayor said the virus had so far claimed the lives of 26 people in the city.
The US Department of State, meanwhile, on Thursday urged Americans to forgo all foreign travel.
What does the US travel warning say?
In an effort to contain the global coronavirus pandemic, the nation's foreign ministry issued a Level 4 travel advisory - its top-tier warning, usually reserved for nations at war - that said "do not travel".
Only four days ago the department sent out a Level 3 notification recommending that Americans "reconsider travel".
The latest warning said: "If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe."
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday his administration was working with the military to bring home hundreds of Americans who have been stranded overseas amid a global shutdown on international travel.
The US travel embargo follows similar measures issued by other countries, including Canada a week ago.
It comes as the White House cancelled this year's meeting of G7 leaders in the US.
What's happening with the G7?
The annual meeting of the world's seven most powerful economic countries was due to be held in June at the Camp David presidential retreat in the US state of Maryland.
But the leaders of the US, Britain, Italy, Japan, Canada, France, Germany and the EU will instead speak via video conference.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the decision was taken "in order for each country to focus all of its resources on responding to the health and economic challenges of Covid-19".
A series of other high-profile events, from sports tournaments to music festivals, have been cancelled around the world this month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Insisting the federal government is not a "shipping clerk," President Donald Trump on Thursday called on states to do more to secure their own critically needed masks, ventilators and testing supplies as the pressure mounted on hospitals struggling to cope with a rising number of coronavirus patients.
During another fast-moving day in the capital, Trump and his administration took additional, once-unthinkable steps to try to contain the pandemic. The State Department issued a new alert urging Americans not to travel abroad under any circumstances. And Trump said the government should take partial ownership of companies bailed out during the pandemic, a step that would mark an extraordinary federal reach into the private sector.
Hoping to inject some good news into the dreary outlook, Trump held a White House briefing trying to highlight new efforts underway to find treatments for COVID-19 as infections in the country climbed past 11,000, with at least 168 deaths.
He offered an upbeat promotion of therapeutic drugs in early testing that he said could be "a game-changer" in treating those suffering. But critics quickly accused him of spreading misleading information and overly optimistic projections after the head of the Food and Drug Administration made clear that the drugs Trump discussed were still being tested for their effectiveness and safety. That process takes months and may or may not yield any results.
The FDA later reminded the public in a statement that there are "no FDA-approved therapeutics or drugs to treat, cure or prevent COVID-19."
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers worked urgently toward a $1 trillion aid package to prop up households and the U.S. economy that would put money directly into American's pockets. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed making direct payments of $1,200 per person, $2,400 for couples and $500 for each child, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by The Associated Press.
Congress has also been discussing loans that would have to be paid back to shore up airlines and other industries and was working to increase production of medical supplies and build temporary field hospitals under new authorities unlocked when Trump invoked the Defense Production Act Wednesday.
At the White House, where temperature checks continued and officials and journalists sat separated from one another as they practiced social distancing, Trump also stepped up his criticism of China, chastising the country he had previously praised for not warning the world earlier about a disease that started in Wuhan, but has since spread across the globe.
Indeed, the death toll in Italy from the coronavirus overtook China's on Thursday, with at least 3,405 deaths in a country with a population of 60 million."
"If people would have known about it, it could have... been stopped in place, it could have been stopped right where it came from," Trump said.
"But now the whole world almost is inflicted with this horrible virus and it's too bad," he added, lamenting how the U.S economy was healthy "just a few weeks ago."
Trump grew agitated when one reporter noted the economy had essentially ground to a halt. "We know that," Trump snapped. "Everybody in the room knows that."
More than eight weeks after the first U.S. case of the virus was detected, the federal government is still struggling to respond. Testing in the U.S. lags dramatically behind other developed nations, and states still say they cannot conduct wide-scale testing because they don't have the swabs or other materials necessary to process them.
And as the number of confirmed cases mounts, doctors and nurses are sounding warnings about the shortage of crucial supplies, including masks and other gear needed to protect health care workers, along with ventilators to treat respiratory symptoms of the virus.
Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued guidance telling health care workers that if no masks are available, they could turn to "homemade" options "(e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort."
But Trump insisted against the evidence Thursday that there are more than enough supplies available to meet needs. And he said that it was up to states to obtain them.
While willing to "help out wherever we can," he said "governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work."
"The federal government's not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping," Trump said. "You know, we're not a shipping clerk."
After the briefing, Trump traveled to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has now been tasked with leading the national coronavirus response, for a teleconference with governors — some of whom have complained about a lack of guidance from Washington.
Again and again during the call, governors said they were having difficulty securing supplies, including the materials needed to process tests, with some sounding panicked. Some said they were competing with the federal government for purchases. Officials in the room, however, insisted there was plenty available on the market to purchase.
Among those expressing concern was Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who told Trump he feared the state would begin to exceed its capacity to deliver health care in as soon as a week.
"I'm asking for help in terms of surging our medical capacity here in Louisiana," he told the president. He said the state was "going to do everything we can to mitigate and slow the spread, but in the time that we have, we've got to increase our surge capacity. That is my biggest concern."
For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
As the virus threat has become more acute, Trump has begun to describe himself as a "wartime president." As he and members of Congress craft bailout packages, Trump said he believed the government should take partial ownership of some companies hard hit by the pandemic and aided by taxpayers. Some Republicans in Congress have pushed back on the idea, saying it amounts to the government picking winners and losers, as they criticized President Barack Obama of doing after the 2008 financial crisis.
On the medical front, Trump and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, described several existing drugs and treatments currently under testing to see if they can help those with COVID-19. Among them: chloroquine, a drug long used to treat malaria; remdesivir, an experimental antiviral that's being tried in at least five separate studies; and antibodies culled from the blood of COVID-19 patients when they recover.
Chloroquine is widely available already and could be used off-label, but Hahn said officials want a formal study to get good information on whether it helps people with COVID-19 and is safe. No new and imminent treatments were announced at the briefing.
"We're looking at drugs that are already approved for other indications" as a potential bridge or stopgap until studies are completed on drugs under investigation, Hahn said.
Social distancing has proved to be a challenge in the tight quarters of the White House briefing room. When task force members walked out for the briefing, they spread out widely. "We practice what we preach," Surgeon General Jerome Adams said.
But moments later, the vice president's press secretary popped out into the briefing room and directed them to move closer together, presumably to make room for her boss.
Trump, who is at increased risk of serious illness because of his age, stood so close to some of the officials answering questions at the podium that they could not stand fully in front of it.
Trump took note of the cramped quarters, too, and claimed that social distancing was making the media "nicer." Yet he later laced into reporters, suggesting he would like to limit briefings to two or three of his favorite supporters. And he assailed some of his coverage, slamming as "fake news" outlets whose reporters have worked to hold his administration accountable for its delayed response.
The Trump administration on Tuesday expressed its intent to offer cash payments for working Americans as part of an economic stimulus package amid coronavirus fallout.
"We're looking at sending checks to Americans immediately," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a White House press briefing. "And I mean now, in the next two weeks."
When asked how much the cash payments could be, Mnuchin told reporters that he is meeting with lawmakers on the issue, adding that "they may be a little bit bigger than what's in the press."
In an attempt to further lessen financial stress for Americans, Mnuchin said individual taxpayers can delay paying taxes of up to 1 million dollars and companies can defer tax payments of up to 10 million dollars. This could provide 300 billion dollars of liquidity to the economy, compared with 200 billion dollars proposed last week, he said.
The U.S. treasury secretary noted that the expected economic stimulus package will support small businesses, airlines and hotels. "We are going to use all the tools we have, if we don't have them, we'll go to Congress," said Mnuchin. "There is wide range of bipartisan support."
Mnuchin also reiterated President Donald Trump's interest in seeking a payroll tax, which, however, has sparked backlash from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Despite stock market volatility in recent days, Mnuchin said the administration believes in keeping the markets open and that Americans need to know they have access to their money. He added that "we may get to a point where we may shorten the hours."
Earlier in the day, Bloomberg reported that Mnuchin is negotiating with lawmakers on an 850-billion-dollar stimulus plan to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, citing people familiar with the matter.