Up to 150 million Americans could be infected with the coronavirus, a Congresswoman confirmed Thursday as the national outbreak rose to over 1,700 cases and 41 deaths.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib confirmed earlier reports that Congress’ doctor Dr. Brian Monahan predicts between 70 to 150 million people in the United States could eventually be infected with the novel coronavirus.
The startling figures were revealed as many public spaces, airports, streets and highways became deserted of people and cars Thursday evening and panicked shoppers rushed to buy supplies.
Disney Parks and Capitol Hill were among the many places closed off to the public as Broadway also went dark.
Dr. Monahan’s prediction underscores how severe the outbreak could become in the U.S. as the White House continues to downplay the severity and asks the public to remain calm. He originally shared the information with a closed-door meeting of Senate senior staff on Tuesday when they were told they should prepare for the worst.
Congresswoman Tlaib questioned Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), about the prediction during a hearing of the House of Representatives with members of the president’s coronavirus task force on Thursday.
It could see 46 percent of the U.S. population infected with the virus at the upper end of the projection, as the country braces itself for further cases.
Even at the lower projected level of infection, the estimated rates combined with the current mortality rate for the coronavirus predicts 700,000 deaths for the country’s 327 million population.
By comparison German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned this week that up to 70 percent of her country’s population could get the virus.
Scroll down for video
Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center is empty after the last tour group left Thursday
Disneyland will temporary close the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim in response to the threat posed by the coronavirus
Few people are seen at San Francisco’s popular Fisherman’s Wharf tourist destination on Thursday as the coronavirus has negatively affected a wide range of industries all across the nation and 150 million cases are predicted
New York City residents getting last remaining food at Costco in Queens just hours after State of Emergency declared
Empty shops and passenger areas at Newark Airport Terminal B on Thursday as the U.S. outbreak worsens
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib made the remarks about the comments from Dr. Monahan during a hearing of the House of Representatives with members of the president’s coronavirus task force, confirming earlier reports by US media outlets including Axios and NBC News.
Monahan’s original statement was made in a closed-door meeting Tuesday in which only staffers and not Senators were present.
‘Congress’s attending physician told the Senate that he expects between 70 to 150 million people to eventually contract the coronavirus in the United States,’ Tlaib said.
Asked by Tlaib whether he believed the projection was accurate, Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told the hearing: ‘We really need to be careful with those kinds of predictions because that’s based on a model.’
He added that ‘all models are as good as the assumptions that you put into the model’ and that with containment and mitigation the upper end of the projection could be avoided.
An airline worker stands in the empty international terminal at LAX airport in Los Angeles as travelers preempt a travel ban from Europe that President Trump announced on Wednesday to begin on Friday at midnight
Highways in New York lay quiet as Congress learned that up to 150 million Americans could be infected with the coronavirus
New Yorkers scrambled to buy supplies after a state of emergency was declared in the city and Broadway shut down
Shelves in New York lay empty by 7.30pm on Thursday as New Yorkers began to panic shop as the state of emergency began
Washington D.C. also began to look like a ghost town as the NHL game at Capital One was postponed due to the virus
About 80 percent of coronavirus cases are mild, and the overall mortality rate is around one percent, according to the latest estimate provided by Fauci to Congress on Wednesday.
At the low end of the projection this would mean about 700,000 deaths. At the high end it would mean 1.5 million deaths.
Heart disease was the leading cause of death for Americans in 2018, with just over 650,000 deaths in 2018. The flu and pneumonia caused around 60,000 deaths.
As of Thursday evening, there are more than 1,700 cases and 41 deaths in the United States.
Risk from coronavirus starts to increase for people who are over 60 and is heightened more for those over 80, as well as for people with conditions like diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, or whose immune systems are compromised.
According to Axios, Dr. Monahan said that 80% of people who contract the coronavirus will recover.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib questioned Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), about the predictions that up to 150million Americans could be infected by the coronavirus
‘We really need to be careful with those kinds of predictions,’ said Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases after he was questioned by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on the prejections
Latest figures in the United States as of 12am on Friday morning stand at 1,758 cases and 41 deaths
Fauci noted that a 2014 model by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projected the African Ebola outbreak could affect more than a million people.
But this was eventually not the case and the final number was under 30,000.
Fauci also responded to a query about people having difficulty getting access to tests, for which US authorities have come under severe criticism.
‘The system is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing,’ said Fauci.
‘Let’s admit it.
‘The idea of anybody getting it easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes, but we’re not.’
Last Friday leaked documents revealed US hospitals are preparing for 96 million coronavirus infections and nearly half a million deaths from the outbreak.
The spread of the deadly disease could be far worse than officials claim, with 480,000 Americans expected to die from the virus and 4.8 million hospitalized, according to a presentation hosted by The American Hospital Association (AHA) in February.
This puts the crisis on a level more than 10 times greater than that seen in a severe flu season.
Dr. James Lawler, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, presented the harrowing ‘best guess’ estimates of the extent of the outbreak to hospitals and health professionals as part of the AHA webinar called ‘What healthcare leaders need to know: Preparing for the COVID-19’ on February 26.
The slides, obtained by Business Insider, suggest that hospitals need to ramp up preparations now to reduce the death toll around the US.
At the time of the presentation, there were more than 80,000 confirmed cases around the globe.
At the time, the US had around 60 cases and no deaths. Fast forward just two weeks, and the US has more than 1,700 cases and 41 confirmed deaths.
Worldwide, more than 128,000 people have now been infected.
People walk near the Theater District in Manhattan as Broadway shows announce they will close by 5pm Thursday
A nearly empty 7th Avenue in Times Square is seen at rush hour after it was announced that Broadway shows will cancel performances due to the coronavirus outbreak in New York. A state of emergency was declared in the city Thursday
The Metropolitan Opera canceled performances and rehearsals through March 31 due to fears of the coronavirus spreading
The comments from Tlaib came as a state of emergency was declared in New York City and a lock down was place don a suburb of Philadelphia as officials struggle to contain the virus.
New York’s roads and streets became increasingly more deserted on Thursday as Broadway was shut down and all large gatherings were suspended.
Areas normally flooded with tourists stood silent as panic shopping gripped the city.
The generally bustling Times Square was empty as increasing numbers of employees worked from home and others sheltered from the outbreak.
Panicked New Yorkers rushed to stock up on essentials forming long lines and clearing shelves of produce as Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency in the city due the coronavirus outbreak.
He made the decision on Thursday afternoon saying the last 24 hours had been ‘very, very sobering’ and that the world had been turned ‘upside down’ in just a day.
The announcement immediately sparked furious panic shopping from New Yorkers as grocery stores across the city saw chaos and frantic stockpiling with residents fearing the worst.
Trader Joes’ shelves in Manhattan were bare as a state of emergency was declared in New York and shoppers panicked
Lines stretched for blocks as New Yorkers rushed to pick up supplies after a state of emergency was declared
Fruit and vegetable aisles were empty as shoppers panicked and rushed to stores amid rumors Manhattan would quarantine
De Blasio attempted to calm the panic, asking for a stop in the spread of misinformation and stating that Manhattan would not be quarantined.
‘NO, there is NO TRUTH to rumors about Manhattan being quarantined,’ he said in a tweet.
‘Whoever is spreading this misinformation, PLEASE STOP NOW!’
Concerned shoppers revealed that some stores were limiting the number of people allowed inside because of the need for distancing between customers and so lines waiting outside were becoming more extreme.
Across the country roads appeared deserted as more and more public attractions shut down.
A video taken from Seattle showed only a couple of cars traveling at the busiest time of the day.
‘It’s rush hour in Seattle and there’s only a couple of cars in the SR-99 Tunnel. This is so unusual. So many people are using precautions, like working from home, to help protect themselves from,’ said reporter Franque Thompson.
The Capitol Visitor Center has suspended all public tours until the end of March due to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
Disneyland will temporary close the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim in response to the expanding threat posed by the Coronavirus Pandemic. The closure takes effect Saturday and lasts through the end of March
Washington D.C. became a ghost down as public tours were called off until the end of the month and even Disney revealed it was to close its gates.
Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks in Southern California will close from Saturday through the end of the month, the company said on Thursday.
No cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have been reported at the parks in Anaheim, California, a company representative said in a statement.
Earlier on Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom had recommended against gatherings of more than 250 people to help contain the spread of coronavirus, which has killed more than three dozen people in the United States.
Disney decided to close both of its Southern California parks after reviewing Newsom’s guidelines ‘and in the best interest of our guests and employees,’ its statement said.
The Disney-run hotels in Anaheim will remain open through Monday to give guests time to make travel arrangements, the company said. Disney will pay its employees during the shutdown and refund payments for hotel bookings, it added.
Ushers leave Hammond Stadium after a baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and the Baltimore Orioles was canceled
A view of an empty Metro North train platform at Grand Central Terminal during rush hour on Thursday
New York City residents go crazy getting last remaining food at Costco in Queens
Shoppers wait in a long line snaking through a supermarket to pay for groceries in Brooklyn
Also on Thursday, Congress announced it is shutting the Capitol to the public until April in reaction to the spread of the coronavirus, a rare step that underscores the growing gravity with which the government is reacting to the viral outbreak.
In a statement, the House and Senate sergeants at arms said congressional office buildings and the Congressional Visitor Center, through which tourists enter the Capitol, were also being shuttered.
In an email to lawmakers’ offices, the sergeants at arms said the Capitol will be closed to all tours, including special ones led by House and Senate members and their aides.
No tours will be permitted in the Capitol Visitor Center, a massive three-level underground structure, which opened in 2008 and had greeted more than 21 million visitors through 2018.
Lawmakers’ offices will be required to meet any official visitors at building entrances, and they were asked to escort them out after the meetings.
Only lawmakers, staff, journalists and visitors with official business will be permitted to enter the buildings. The closures begin at 5 p.m. EDT Thursday, and the buildings are scheduled to reopen on April 1.
The officials said they were acting on the advice of District of Columbia health officials and of Congress’ own doctors.
Major League Baseball also delayed the start of its season by at least two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak and suspended the rest of its spring training schedule.
Opening day had been scheduled for March 26. The decision announced by Commissioner Rob Manfred on Thursday left open whether each team would still play 162 games.
JFK terminal 1 on Thursday remained quiet ahead of the Europe travel ban
The ban will apply to travelers who have visited 26 countries in the EU’s Schengen border-free area
Airports also remained eerily empty as passengers voted against travel amid expectations of the Europe to United States travel ban that will come into force at midnight Friday.
Worried American citizens flooded to European airports on Wednesday night as President Trump announced the ban, desperate to make it home in case further restrictions were enforced or the outbreak worsened.
Chaos is unfolding in airports across the country where media members have been kicked out, travelers entering the US complain that they aren’t screened upon landing, and disgruntled Americans pay up to $20,000 to get a last minute ticket home.
The ban will apply to travelers who have visited 26 countries in the EU’s Schengen border-free area in the last 14 days, but not travelers from the UK or Ireland, or to US citizens, American permanent residents and their immediate family members.
Although Trump’s new measures won’t take effect until Friday at midnight, travelers are still in a frenzy over the confusing new rules.
International airports across the country have become eerie ghost towns with few travelers in light of the coronavirus panic.
Some American travelers have complained about a lack of safety procedures and caution at airports across the country.
A worker stands next to baggage carts outside the empty international terminal at LAX airport as travel comes to a halt
A worker staffs a security checkpoint in the international terminal at O’Hare Airport, nearly devoid of travelers Thursday
What we know and what we DON’T about Donald Trump closing borders to Europeans
President Donald Trump unexpectedly announced a drastic ban on foreigners traveling to the United States from Europe in an effort to curb the deadly coronavirus from spreading, but his vague plan seemed to only heighten fears.
Americans in Europe rushed to airports late on Wednesday and early on Thursday morning in a desperate bid to get home, before confusion over who would be affected by the ban was cleared up.
While U.S. citizens and lawful residents will be allowed to return home, most foreigners from the 26 banned countries will be denied entry beginning on Friday.
Here, DailyMail.com details what we know – and more crucially what we don’t know.
WHO IS COVERED BY THE BAN?
Foreigners who are traveling directly from any of the 26 countries on Trump’s European ban list will not be admitted into the United States.
Foreigner means anyone coming from outside the U.S. and is not a U.S. citizen or doesn’t have a valid green card.
The countries include EU members France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. See right for the full list.
It is unclear if passengers flying from a non-European destination will be asked when they were last in Europe.
Foreigners who are in the U.S. on a work visa or a tourist visa are likely going to barred from entering the U.S. if they visit a European country and try to re-enter the country.
WHO IS NOT COVERED BY THE BAN?
The restrictions don’t apply to U.S. citizens, legal U.S. permanent residents, meaning those with green cards, immediate family members of U.S. citizens or others ‘identified in the proclamation’ that was signed by Trump on Wednesday night.
It also doesn’t apply to foreigners with diplomatic, NATO, military or government visas. And for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have a foreign child or are adopting a foreign child, according to NAFSA.
Americans who are currently in Europe will be allowed back in — though they will be subject to an ‘enhanced’ health screening and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Trump did not mention any restrictions on Americans traveling to Europe and the ban will last for 30 days.
WHAT ABOUT FOREIGNERS COMING FROM OTHER COUNTRIES? WILL THEY BE ASKED IF THEY WENT TO BANNED DESTINATIONS?
It is unclear how airports will be screening for foreigners who have visited an European country and later traveled to another country that isn’t on the ban list.
For example, London’s Heathrow airport is a major travel hub for Europe and is exempt from the ban, meaning Europeans could possibly travel to London to fly out to the U.S.
Heathrow’s most popular destination is JFK in New York City.
Heathrow has a daily average total of 219,458 passengers, with 49.5 percent of those passengers classified as departures.
Around 94 percent of passengers who travel out of Heathrow are coming or going to international destinations.
Several international airlines also have designated layovers in cities worldwide, meaning passengers might be able to travel to Asia or other North American countries and bypass the ban if screening officials aren’t being thorough.
WHAT HAPPENS TO AMERICANS WHEN THEY TRAVEL FROM EUROPE?
Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday that Americans returning from Europe ‘will be screened as they return through 13 separate airports.’
Currently, there are 11 airports that are designated to receive passengers who recently visited China or Iran, which had previous travel restrictions placed on them.
The airports in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Hawaii and Detroit could possibly be utilized to accept travelers from the European countries.
It was not mentioned if screening included testing for every passenger.
It is unclear how passengers are expected to self-quarantine when they still need to travel home from the airport, particularly if the airport they are routed through is not close to their final destination.
Trump on Thursday encouraged travelers to self-isolate after returning from Europe.
HOW EXACTLY ARE PEOPLE SCREENED FOR CORONAVIRUS?
In addition to the passenger being asked if they have visited any of the banned European countries, officials look for symptoms of the virus.
The most common symptoms include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and fatigue.
To confirm if a passenger has coronavirus, a sample is collected for a diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2, which is the strain of virus that leads to the respiratory disease.
Medical officials often take a sample by putting a swab up the nose. A swab can also be taken through the mouth if the person has a wet cough.
The samples are sent off to be tested by various health departments and clinical diagnostic laboratories. Results usually come back within 2-7 days.
In Cleveland, a clinic said a new in-house coronavirus test it developed would deliver results within eight hours.
WHO WILL ENFORCE THE BAN?
It is unclear who will be responsible for enforcing the ban.
International airlines could be tasked with denying boarding for European passport holders at the gate or at check-in.
Another option could see European passengers being turned away at the U.S. border if they somehow made it on a U.S-bound flight.
Additionally, it is unclear if the government will use federal resources to send additional officials to check passports and enforce the ban at airports.
CAN AIRPORTS EVEN TEST FOR CORONAVIRUS?
One of the main concerns over the spread of the virus has been over a shortage of testing kits available, as Vice President Mike Pence said passengers will be tested at one of the 13 airports upon arrival.
Airports and local clinics have repeatedly said they did not have supplies to test people who are concerned they have the virus.
It has been reported that fewer than 10,000 people have been tested in the U.S. compared to 20,000 per day in South Korea.
The CDC revealed on Tuesday that only 8,554 Americans had been tested for coronavirus, with the agency’s director saying state and local health labs are understaffed and ill-equipped to keep up with the crisis.
Health officials and Democrats have slammed the limited supply of tests, while some government officials claimed there was a surplus of testing kits, citing figures of 1.1 million tests at labs across the country and a million more on the way.
However during the coronavirus task force briefing, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, confessed that Americans will only be able to find out whether they have contracted COVID-19 if a doctor gives the go-ahead.
Despite a claimed 4 million more tests due to be delivered by the end of the week, Azar said: ‘There’s a false premise. Just because I as a person say I’d like to be tested for coronavirus, I can walk into a Minute Clinic and say ”give me my test please” – that’s not how diagnostic testing works in the United States or frankly anywhere else.’
Why wasn’t the United Kingdom included in the ban?
Despite the UK having 373 cases and Ireland having 43 cases, in addition to the UK imposing far fewer restrictions in response to the virus than many EU countries, Trump’s travel ban excluded the two. Trump has properties in both nations.
Trump said on Thursday: ‘One of the reasons UK basically has been (excluded from the restrictions is) it’s got the border.
‘It’s got very strong borders and they’re doing a very good job.’
The exemption will raise questions about the coherence of his policy.
Trump had accused Europe of not acting quickly enough to address the ‘foreign virus’ and claimed that U.S. clusters were ‘seeded’ by European travelers.
But the UK has no screening of people coming from France – to which it is connected directly by the Channel Tunnel – or other European countries, as Nancy Pelosi quickly pointed out.
On Thursday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, one of America’s top scientists, explained the ban on European countries.
He said: ‘When we were looking at the pure public health aspect of it we found that 70 percent of the new infections in the world were coming from Europe, that cluster of countries, and of the 35 states – 30 out of 35 of them who were more recently getting infections were getting them from them – that was predominantly from Italy and from France and from Germany.’
How many people does this affect?
Europe is the most popular international destination for Americans and according to flight tracker FlightAware, there are around 400 flights across the Atlantic from Europe to the United States each day, converting to around 72 million passengers a year.
Although Americans aren’t outright barred from traveling to Europe, many have already cancelled bookings to European cities.
The time of year the ban falls under is when several grade schools and universities have spring break.
What do health officials say about the Europe ban?
Some evidence has suggested travel restrictions – such as the ones imposed in China early on in the pandemic – can contain the virus by stopping cases being imported to the rest of the world.
Margaret Harris, of the World Health Organisation, admitted that travel bans are useful in the early stages of an outbreak but said they are of little use when the disease starts spreading freely within communities – as it has done in the U.S.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘It is uncertain what the US intends to achieve with the recently announced travel ban to the Schengen area of Europe.
Hunter continued: ‘Many of us have been pointing out since the COVID-19 epidemic began that travel bans have a poor record on preventing the spread of epidemic diseases. At best travel bans only delay the spread of an epidemic by a short while.
‘Introducing an international travel ban at a time when the US is now one of the countries with the most rapidly accelerating internal transmission rates will do little if anything to reduce the burden of infection within the US.’
What does this mean for the tourism and airline industry?
The global travel industry is already reeling from declining bookings and canceled reservations as people try to avoid contracting and spreading coronavirus.
With Europe being the most popular travel destination for Americans, the move will hit tourist reliant-heavy countries hard.
Airlines scrambled to adjust to the new restrictions, with many telling customers they were still assessing options and asking for patience from those trying to contact them.
Even before Trump’s announcement, the International Airline Travelers Association was forecasting a 24 percent fall in Europe’s passenger traffic this year and $37 billion in lost potential ticket sales.
Italy, which is all but closed off as authorities try to control the spread of the virus there, has been particularly hard hit.
An industry trade group warned that airlines worldwide could lose up to $113 billion in revenue from the virus — several times the damage caused by the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. Since mid-February, shares of American Airlines have dropped by nearly half, United Airlines by more than one-third, and Delta Air Lines more than one-fourth.