Americans woke to a new reality on Monday as multiple states and jurisdictions across the country enact new restrictions as part of their effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
School districts across the country have shuttered schools, bars and nightclubs have been closed, and restaurants are increasingly serving take-out food only. With at least 3,485 confirmed cases and 65 fatalities in the U.S., officials have taken drastic measures to encourage social distancing, changing how Americans eat, work, and study. Globally, the number of fatalities have surpassed 6,500, according to an estimate from Johns Hopkins University.
Here is your COVID-19 update for Monday, March 16.
CDC Recommends All Events of 50 People or More Be Canceled or Delayed Until May
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Sunday that people begin avoiding groups or events of 50 people or more until at least early May.
"Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals," the CDC said on its website.
"Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual," the statement added.
The recommendation doesn't apply to day-to-day operations of places like schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses.
The recommendation would mean most public events in the U.S. would be shutdown over the next eight weeks.
The CDC noted that its guidance wasn't "intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials."
The recommendation from the CDC is meant to encourage "social distancing" which health experts say can help the country's health care system from being overwhelmed by "flattening the curve" - or the rate of infections.
Dozens of major events have been cancelled over the last week with the NBA, NHL and MLB all suspending or pushing back the start of their seasons. Several states have also elected to issue orders, or ask that bars and restaurants be closed in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.
On Sunday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered that all bars, nightclubs, restaurants (except takeout/delivery), entertainment venues and gyms to be closed until March 31.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is also expected to order all bars and restaurants close at 3 p.m. ET today. Restaurants will still be allowed to serve takeout and delivery.
Some Las Vegas Casinos to Close Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Some of the most popular casinos on The Strip have decided to close their doors amid the rapidly spreading coronavirus. MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts announced Sunday that their properties would close on March 17.
Wynn Resorts said Wynn Las Vegas and Encore would be closed for at least two weeks beginning at 6 p.m. "as part of its continuing effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19."
In a statement, MGM Resorts said they would close casino operations on Monday, March 16, and would not be accepting hotel reservations before May 1.
"Despite our commitment to dedicating additional resources for cleaning and promoting good health, while making difficult decisions to close certain aspects of our operations, it is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression," Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts said in a statement.
"Accordingly, we will close all of our Las Vegas properties as of Tuesday, March 17th, for the good of our employees, guests and communities. This is a time of uncertainty across our country and the globe and we must all do our part to curtail the spread of this virus. We will plan to reopen our resorts as soon as it safe to do so and we will continue to support our employees, guests, and communities in every way that we can during this period of closure," Murren added.
MGM Resorts owns and operates a number of popular resorts on The Strip, including the Bellagio, the MGM Grand, and The Mirage.
The move was likely anticipated by both companies after casino operations were ordered to be shut down last month in Macao due to a coronavirus outbreak there.
White House Cancels Annual Easter Egg Roll Amid Coronavirus
The White House issued a statement today, cancelling its annual Easter Egg Roll amid fears over the coronavirus pandemic.
"The health and safety of all Americans must be the first priority, especially right now,” First Lady Melania Trump said in a statement. “I deeply regret this cancellation, but we need to make difficult decisions in the short term to ensure a healthy country for the long term. During this time, I encourage everyone to listen to state and local officials, and follow CDC guidelines in order to help protect the health and well-being of everyone."
The event was scheduled to be held at the White House on April 13.
To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
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