With conferences getting canceled and mass public transportation getting disrupted, the COVID-19 virus is not only a threat to people around the country, but is also putting their plans into disarray.
As of early Saturday evening, there were 437 coronavirus cases across more than half of the 50 states, and 19 people have died.
New York declared a state of emergency on Saturday, speeding up the process of purchasing medical supplies and hiring help to contain the illness, joining other states such as Washington, Maryland, California, and Utah. Eighty-nine cases were reported in the Empire State by Saturday evening. Washington state, where 16 patients died, has more than 100 known cases.
At least one person from New Jersey who attended last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, tested positive for the coronavirus, the American Conservative Union announced Saturday afternoon. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who was tasked with leading the administration’s response to the virus, were in attendance, but organizers and the White House said there is no indication that either one was in close proximity to the infected attendee.
A day earlier, it was revealed that two people who attended last week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s policy conference in Washington, D.C., tested positive for the virus. Pence and several other high-profile officials and 2020 candidates for president attended AIPAC, along with nearly 20,000 others.
Trump signed legislation on Friday that made $ 8.3 billion in emergency funding available to combat the coronavirus’s spread, as the number of cases worldwide eclipsed the 100,000 mark after the outbreak began in Wuhan, China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, may appear two to 14 days after exposure.
Precautions are being taken in a variety of ways, including the cancellation of heavily attended events. This includes the annual technology, film, and music conference South by Southwest, which brings millions of dollars and thousands of people into the city of Austin, Texas. It was scheduled from March 13 to 22, but the organizers said Austin canceled the dates, and SXSW would “faithfully follow the City’s directions.”
At least nine technology events have been called off because of the coronavirus, which Recode reports has an economic cost surpassing $ 1 billion.
The American Enterprise Institute’s World Forum, which is an annual meeting of business leaders, government officials, and conservative intellectuals in Sea Island, Georgia, has also been canceled.
The Ultra electronic music festival in Miami was canceled, and Coachella, a large music festival set to begin in April in the California desert, is facing a growing petition with thousands of signatures to shut down. Still, Riverside County Public Health said it was “confident” about its plans, and large events such as Coachella are still cleared to take place.
Big healthcare policy events set to take place in Washington, D.C., next month were shut down, including a conference by America’s Health Insurance Plans, the top insurance industry lobbying group.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced late Saturday a resident was diagnosed with coronavus, becoming the first case in the city. The first known diagnosed case in Virginia was also announced Saturday. A U.S. Marine assigned to Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, tested positive with the coronavirus after he “recently returned from overseas, where he was on official business,” Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said in a tweet. The Marine is being treated at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.
Businesses are starting to encourage employees not to come into work, including major tech companies such as Apple, Alphabet Inc., and Microsoft Corp. Even Congress is devising a plan to have staff telework “in light of the unique and unusual circumstances presented by the coronavirus.”
Political fundraisers are also getting shut down. And the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States, announced Saturday it would cancel its upcoming forum in Florida that would have featured Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the top two remaining candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. The state had reported two deaths from the virus last week.
In the entertainment world, the studios behind the upcoming James Bond movie, No Time to Die, pushed back the global release date six months to November because of the coronavirus.
Professional sports leagues are working on contingency plans. Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James denounced the possibility of the NBA playing games without fans amid the spread of the coronavirus. “We play games without the fans?” James said Friday night after a game. “I ain’t playing. I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.”
Amtrak suspended its nonstop Acela service between Washington, D.C., and New York City through late May, citing lower demand, while airlines are waiving cancellation fees and scrapping domestic flights. Twenty-one people aboard a cruise ship, moored off the coast of California for days, tested positive for the coronavirus. Pence met with executives of the cruise line industry on Saturday in Florida to discuss about developing a plan for passengers who have come in contact with the virus.
In-person classes at Stanford University are canceled starting next week, becoming the second major university to do so. The University of Washington was the first, moving classes online.
On Friday, San Francisco announced the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade next weekend is canceled.
Trump struck an untroubled tone when asked if he was worried about the coronavirus getting close to the White House. “I’m not concerned at all,” he told reporters Saturday evening, adding that he will still hold “tremendous” campaign rallies as he seeks reelection this year.