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More states lock down residents as Trump defends virus response

More of the country shut down Friday to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. New York and Illinois joined California in ordering everyone except essential workers to stay home. Meanwhile, President Trump invoked emergency powers to move medical supplies amid growing questions about shortages of masks and ventilators. And Italy's death toll leapt by more than 600. William Brangham reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    More of the country is closing down tonight, trying to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

    New York state and Illinois have now joined California in taking that step, with more states expected to follow.

    Meanwhile, President Trump invoked emergency powers to move medical supplies into place as quickly as possible, as U.S. infections topped 15,000, with more than 200 deaths.

    William Brangham begins our coverage.

  • William Brangham:

    In much of California, stay-at-home orders have already brought much of public life to a halt, and, today, those orders expanded statewide.

    Governor Gavin Newsom asked the entire state, 40 million people, to stay home. He cited an analysis that half the state could be infected in the next eight weeks if more aggressive moves weren't taken, so he ordered that nothing but the most essential activities continue.

  • Governor Gavin Newsom:

    We will have social pressure that will encourage people to do the right thing, just a nod and look, saying, hey, maybe you should reconsider being out there on the beach, being 22 strong at a park.

    It's time for us to all recognize, as individuals and as a community, we need to do more to meet this moment.

  • William Brangham:

    It's unclear how the new orders will be enforced, but it's one of the most drastic containment efforts under way.

    Across the country, another huge effort. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered every employer in his state to keep their workers at home.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo:

    One hundred percent of the work force must stay home. These are nonessential services. Essential services have to continue to function. Grocery stores need food. Pharmacies need drugs. Your Internet has to continue to work.

    The water has to turn on when you turn the faucet. So, there are essential services that will continue to function.

  • William Brangham:

    And Illinois' governor issued a shelter-in-place order, effective tomorrow. These states have seen a surge in COVID-19 cases. And they, along with Washington state, are the hardest-hit in the country. Their hospital systems are already being stressed and critical protective supplies are running low.

    The White House offered some forms of relief today. President Trump said he had invoked the Defense Production Act and directed certain companies to change their focus and produce supplies needed for the coronavirus fight.

    And the president also announced an extension to the April 15 tax filing deadline.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We are moving it all the way out to July 15, no interest, no penalties. Your new date will be July 15.

  • William Brangham:

    In a move to stem the spread of the virus across countries, he announced the U.S. and Mexico had agreed to close down the southern border to nonessential travel.

    But in what turned into a testy, contentious press conference, the president also said several things that are factually wrong. For example, he cited the wrong symptoms for COVID-19.

  • President Donald Trump:

    They're sneezing, they are sniffling, they don't feel good, they have a temperature. There are a lot of different things.

  • William Brangham:

    Actual symptoms are fever, but also dry cough and trouble breathing. Sneezing and sniffling are not.

    He implied that an unproven anti-malaria drug could prevent infection. There's zero proof of that.

    One of his top health officials, Dr. Anthony Fauci, had to correct the record moments later.

  • Anthony Fauci:

    The answer is no.

  • William Brangham:

    And contrary to all public health guidance, the president implied the U.S. didn't need additional testing for the virus.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We're hearing very positive things about testing. It's able to test millions of people. But we inherited a broken, old, frankly, a terrible system. And we fixed it, and we have done a great job.

  • William Brangham:

    Across Pennsylvania Avenue, negotiations began between senators and the administration over a $1 trillion economic relief package to provide some cushion for the economic toll the virus is taking.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.:

    I don't think I need to tell anybody how catastrophic that is. That's happening all over this country. And it's going to accelerate. Today's a payday. Today, some people in this country will get paid and told, not only are they not working on Monday, but they're not getting paid any longer.

  • William Brangham:

    The Republicans' relief plan proposes direct payments to individuals of up to $1,200 and $2,400 for couples, loans to small businesses struggling to meet payroll, and relief for hard-hit industries, like commercial airlines.

    But Democrats again pushed for a different focus.

  • Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.:

    The medical priority has to be the first priority. Everything else follows from that. Unfortunately, their plan doesn't address that as much as we believe it should.

  • William Brangham:

    Meanwhile, Capitol Hill was rocked by reports that some senators had sold substantial amounts of stock after they received early private briefings on the state of the outbreak.

    In Italy, more tragic news. The nation saw its biggest daily rise in coronavirus deaths, more than 600 in the last 24 hours. Worldwide, the death toll from this pandemic surpassed 11,000 people today.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

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