Governor Gavin Newsom Announces Major Financial Relief Package: 90-Day Mortgage Payment Relief During COVID-19 Crisis

Governor Newsom announces financial institutions will provide relief for the vast majority of Californians

Californians economically impacted by COVID-19 may receive 90-day grace periods to make mortgage payments

Financial institutions agree not to negatively impact credit reports as a result of accepting payment relief

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that financial institutions will provide major financial relief for millions of Californians suffering financially as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Millions of California families will be able to take a sigh of relief,” said Governor Newsom. “These new financial protections will provide relief to California families and serve as a model for the rest of the nation. I thank each of the financial institutions that will provide this relief to millions of Californians who have been hurt financially from COVID-19.”

Governor Newsom secured support from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers to protect homeowners and consumers.

Under the Governor’s proposal, Californians who are struggling with the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible for the following relief upon contacting their financial institution:
90-Day Grace Period for Mortgage Payments

Financial institutions will offer, consistent with applicable guidelines, mortgage payment forbearances of up to 90 days to borrowers economically impacted by COVID-19. In addition, those institutions will:

Provide borrowers a streamlined process to request a forbearance for COVID-19-related reasons, supported with available documentation.
Confirm approval of and terms of forbearance program; and
Provide borrowers the opportunity to request additional relief, as practicable, upon a continued showing of hardship due to COVID-19.

No Negative Credit Impacts Resulting from Relief

Financial institutions will not report derogatory tradelines (e.g., late payments) to credit reporting agencies, consistent with applicable guidelines, for borrowers taking advantage of COVID-19-related relief.
Moratorium on Initiating Foreclosure Sales or Evictions

For at least 60 days, financial institutions will not initiate foreclosure sales or evictions, consistent with applicable guidelines.
Relief from Fees and Charges

For at least 90 days, financial institutions will waive or refund at least the following for customers who have requested assistance:

Mortgage-related late fees; and
Other fees, including early CD withdrawals (subject to applicable federal regulations).

This article is credited to CA.GOV.

Coronavirus Tax Relief

Stimulus Checks Should Go Out This Week Or Next

Coronavirus Tax Relief

Economic Impact Payments: What You Need to Know

March 30, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that the distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. However, some taxpayers who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the economic impact payment.
Who is Eligible for the Economic Impact Payment?

Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible. Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return are also eligible and will not be required to file a return.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child.
How Will the IRS know Where to Send My Payment?

The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.

For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.

The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?
In the coming weeks, Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.

I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?
Yes. The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099 to generate Economic Impact Payments to recipients of benefits reflected in the Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099 who are not required to file a tax return and did not file a return for 2018 or 2019. This includes senior citizens, Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are not otherwise required to file a tax return.

Since the IRS would not have information regarding any dependents for these people, each person would receive $1,200 per person, without the additional amount for any dependents at this time.

I have a tax filing obligation but have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?
Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?
For those concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return, these economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.

This article is credited to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

IR-2020-61, March 30, 2020

How to Protect Yourself and Prepare for the Coronavirus

90-Day Mortgage Payment Relief During COVID-19 Crisis

How to Protect Yourself and Prepare for the Coronavirus

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus a pandemic, and the number of cases continues to rise worldwide. These basic steps can help you reduce your risk of getting sick or infecting others.

By Amelia Nierenberg

Here’s what you can do:

  • Stay home if you can.
  • Wash your hands. With soap. Then wash them again.
  • Stay informed.
  • With children, keep calm, carry on and get the flu shot.
  • Do not stockpile masks.
  • But do stock up on groceries, medicine, and resources.

The coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, with over 200,000 confirmed cases and at least 8,000 dead. In the United States, there have been at least 8,000 cases and more than 100 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

Coronavirus is here, and it’s spreading quickly. Older Americans, those with underlying health conditions and those without a social safety net are the most vulnerable to the infection and its societal disruption.

Though life as we know it is sharply off-kilter, there are measures you can take.

Most important: Do not panic. With a clear head and some simple tips, you can help reduce your risk, prepare your family and do your part to protect others.

Stay home if you can.
Even if you have no underlying health conditions, and no symptoms, be extra cautious to protect other people

You can do your part to help your community and the world. Do not get close to other people.

How You Can Help Victims With Coronavirus

This is called “social distancing” or “physical distancing,” and is basically a call to stand far away from other people. Experts believe the coronavirus travels through droplets, so limiting your exposure to other people is a good way to protect yourself.

Avoid public transportation when possible, limit nonessential travel, work from home and skip social gatherings. Don’t go to crowded restaurants or busy gyms. You can go outside, as long as you avoid being in close contact with people.

That might be hard to follow, especially for those who can’t work from home. Also, if you’re young, your personal risk is most likely low. The majority of those who contract coronavirus do not become seriously ill, and it might just feel as if you have the flu. But keeping a stiff upper lip is not only foolhardy but will endanger those around you.

If you develop a high fever, shortness of breath or another, more serious symptom, call your doctor. (Testing for coronavirus is still inconsistent — there are not enough kits, and it’s dangerous to go into a doctor’s office and risk infecting others.) Then, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and your local health department for advice about how and where to be tested.

Wash your hands. With soap. Then wash them again.
It’s not sexy, but it works

Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. That splash-under-water flick won’t cut it anymore.

A refresher: Wet your hands and scrub them with soap, taking care to get between your fingers and under your nails. Wash for at least 20 seconds (or about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice), and dry. Make sure you get your thumbs, too. The C.D.C. also recommends you avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands (tough one, we know).

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which should be rubbed in for about 20 seconds, can also work, but the gel must contain at least 60 percent alcohol. (No, Tito’s Handmade Vodka doesn’t work.)

Also, clean “high-touch” surfaces, like phones, tablets, and handles. Apple recommends using 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, wiping gently. “Don’t use bleach,” the company said.

To disinfect any surface, the C.D.C. recommends wearing disposable gloves and washing hands thoroughly immediately after removing the gloves. Most household disinfectants registered by the Environmental Protection Agency will work.

Try to stand away from other people, especially if they seem sick. Wave, bow or give an elbow bump, rather than shake hands. Maybe skip the kiss on the first date.

Stay informed.
Knowing what is accurate can protect you and your family

There’s a lot of information flying around and knowing what is going on will go a long way toward protecting your family.

With children, keep calm, carry on and get the flu shot.
The good news is that cases in children have been very rare

Right now, there’s no reason for parents to worry, the experts say; coronavirus cases in children have been very rare.

The flu vaccine is a must, as vaccinating children is good protection for older people. And take the same precautions you would during a normal flu season: Encourage frequent hand-washing, move away from people who appear sick and get the flu shot.

As with airplanes, it’s always best to make sure your metaphorical oxygen mask is on before helping others. When talking to your children about an outbreak, make sure that you first assess their knowledge of the virus and that you process your own anxiety. It’s important that you don’t dismiss their fears and that you speak to them at an age-appropriate level.

Be sure to be in communication with your child’s school, including about early dismissals or possible online instruction. Be prepared for schools to close; many districts and universities around the world have already taken that step.

Communicating with your workplace about child-care concerns that you have is suggested as well.

If your children are stuck at home, get some games going, turn on a movie and try to make it feel a little like a vacation, at least for the first few days.

Don’t stockpile masks.
Unless you are already infected, face masks won’t help

Face masks have become a symbol of coronavirus but stockpiling them might do more harm than good.

First, they don’t do much to protect you. Most surgical masks are too loose to prevent inhalation of the virus.

(Masks can help prevent the spread of a virus if you are infected. The most effective is the so-called N95 masks, which block 95 percent of very small particles.)

Second, health care workers and those caring for sick people are on the front lines. Last month, the surgeon general urged the public to stop stockpiling masks, warning that it might limit the number of resources available to doctors, nurses, and emergency professionals.

But do stock up on groceries, medicine, and resources.
Preparation is the best way to protect your family and loved ones

Stock up on a 30-day supply of groceries, household supplies, and prescriptions, just in case.

If you take prescription medications or are low on any over-the-counter essentials, go to the pharmacy sooner rather than later.

And, in no particular order, make sure you’re set with soap, toiletries, laundry detergent, toilet paper, and diapers if you have small children.

Coronavirus Tax Relief

How You Can Help Victims With Coronavirus

From charities that support children to organizations that feed families, there is no shortage of ways to get involved.

Some charities are helping feed families during the coronavirus outbreak while others are providing medical supplies.
Some charities are helping feed families during the coronavirus outbreak while others are providing medical supplies. Credit…Aleksandra Michalska/Reuters

By Derrick Bryson Taylor

The coronavirus that started in Wuhan, China, late last year has spread to at least 154 countries and killed thousands.

Some countries and regions have been hit harder than others. In many areas, daily life has come to a halt, local economies have unraveled, and medical facilities are coping with a shortage of crucial supplies.

Many charities and organizations are helping those affected by the pandemic. Here is what you can do to support them.
Not sure where to give?

Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. There are organizations that focus on medical services, relief supplies and more.
Simply Give Money

GlobalGiving is a large global crowdfunding community that connects nonprofits, donors, and companies. It has set a goal of reaching $5 million in donations. Money received will go toward sending emergency medical workers to communities in need, providing medical supplies to hospitals and helping deliver essentials to families.
Give Toward Medical Supplies

Relief International, which operates in 16 countries throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia, has focused some of its efforts on helping Iran, where more than 20,000 infections and at least 1,500 deaths have been reported.

The group has so far provided more than 50,000 pieces of medical protective gear, including 24,000 masks and 5,000 pairs of goggles, as well as 40,000 kits to test for the coronavirus; 85 percent of all donated funds go directly to its programs.

Heart to Heart International is distributing urgently needed equipment and medication to its partners around the world. Medical supplies are also being delivered to providers on the front lines.
Donate Blood Or Help Provide Food

Those seeking to give something other than money can look to the American Red Cross. There is a severe blood shortage because of a high number of blood drive cancellations during the outbreak, it said. Healthy donors are urged to give blood, platelets or AB plasma.

World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals to children and others in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Little Rock, Ark., after many schools closed. Beginning Monday, it will give food to families in Los Angeles, where schools are also closed.

Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries across the country. Its COVID-19 Response fund will help food banks across the country.
Donate To Help Children

UNICEF is providing hygiene and medical kits to schools and health clinics.

Save the Children has partnered with No Kid Hungry to make sure schools and community programs have the support they need to keep children fed during the pandemic.

First Book has the goal of delivering seven million books to children in the United States who do not have internet access or home libraries so they can continue learning while schools are closed.
Donate Through GoFundMe?

More than 22,000 coronavirus-related GoFundMe fund-raisers have started in the past few weeks, raising more than $40 million from more than 630,000 donations worldwide, the crowdfunding site said.

The company has also created the Covid-19 Relief Fund, which has raised more than $127,000.

Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Protect Yourself and Prepare for the Coronavirus

Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide

Questions about COVID-19 and food safety answered.

By, J. KENJI LÓPEZ-ALT

Editor’s Note: To proactively mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Serious Eats staff is operating remotely for the foreseeable future. Here’s how we’re handling the resulting limitations.

As the father of a young toddler, the son of two senior parents in the at-risk age group, and the chef/partner of a restaurant that up until recently employed a few dozen people and fed hundreds on any given night, knowing what is and isn’t safe in the current environment is of the utmost importance to me, especially as it relates to food and dining.

Like many densely populated metropolitan areas, the Bay Area is now on complete lockdown. All non-essential businesses are closed, gatherings of large groups of people are banned, and residents have been told to leave their houses only if necessary. Among the businesses still running—at least in limited capacity—are supermarkets and restaurants, the latter of which are solely allowed to operate as take-out and delivery venues. I expect more cities will follow suit in the coming days and weeks.

Even so, plenty of folks—myself included—have been confused or curious about the safety of allowing restaurants to continue preparing and serving food. Is it actually safe? Should I reheat the food when I get it home? Is it better to support local businesses by ordering food, or am I only putting workers and delivery people at risk? And if I’m cooking my own food, what guidelines should I follow?

To answer these questions, I referenced dozens of articles and scientific reports and enlisted the help of Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist from the North Carolina State University and cohost of Risky or Not and Food Safety Talk.

Whether you managed to stock your fridge and pantry, or were left staring at empty supermarket shelves, there’s good news: you can still eat safely, even from restaurants, provided you follow a few basic guidelines.

I’ll start by going over what we know about the virus, followed by some basic rules to safely shop, cook, and order food.

COVID-19 Food Safety Questions, Answered
SARS-CoV-2: What we know
How does COVID-19 spread?
How long does the virus stay on contaminated surfaces?
Should I avoid touching things other people have touched?
How long does the virus last on food?
Can I get COVID-19 from contaminated food?
Are we sure food isn’t a vector of COVID-19 transmission?
I’m still not convinced. How could food not be a vector?
What about eating with your hands?
Are there any special risks associated with food?
Am I more likely to get COVID-19 from take-out, delivery, or cooking at home?
Does Chinese food pose a greater risk than other food? What about imported food and goods?
If I’m still concerned, does reheating food before eating it destroy the virus?
How do I sterilize my food?
Does “the danger zone” apply to SARS-CoV-2?
Are we going to run out of food?
What’s the safest way to shop at the grocery store or supermarket?
Is it okay to buy produce from open bins?
Should I be using an antibacterial soap?
What about hand sanitizers?
What should restaurant owners and culinary professions know?
How fast does COVID-19 spread?
Why does this epidemic seem to be spreading faster than previous ones?
What exactly does “flatten the curve” mean?

SARS-CoV-2: What we know

SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that is causing the current outbreak of COVID-19, the name of the disease associated with it (not to be confused with SARS-CoV-1, the coronavirus that caused the original 2002 SARS outbreak). It’s important to remember that while SARS-CoV-2 bears close similarities to other coronaviruses (such as SARS-CoV-1 or MERS), it is a novel virus, and new information is emerging minute by minute.

Consequently, there’s a lot we don’t know. That said, there’s also a lot that we do know with a good deal of confidence.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Coronavirus is a respiratory virus, which means that it’s spread primarily through the respiratory system. According to the Center for Disease Control (the CDC), the main transmission route is through person-to-person droplet infection—that is, the inhalation of aerosolized saliva or mucus carrying a viral load. (Viral load is the number of virus particles in a given volume of liquid—higher viral loads equate with stronger chances of infection.) This is similar to previous coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV-1 or MERS. Additionally, people are most contagious when they are symptomatic; coughing and sneezing spread the virus around.

Aside from inhalation, are there other ways coronavirus can spread?

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) reports that it is also possible—but unlikely—that the virus could be spread through “smear” infection. In these cases, a healthy person would touch a contaminated surface with their hands—say, a can of soup, a touchscreen ATM, or a subway turnstile—then transfer the virus to their eyes or nose. There have been no known cases of this method of transfer, and it is thought to be far less likely than droplet infection. Washing your hands before touching your face further reduces this likelihood, as coronavirus cannot be absorbed through your skin.

Currently, the CDC reports that there have been no known cases of fecal-oral transmission of COVID-19. In such a case, viral load in the stool of a carrier would make its way into the mouth of a healthy person. Some possible oral-fecal transmission routes would be from poor hygiene during food preparation or the exposure of food crops to human fecal matter in the field during growth or harvest. After exposure, the virus would also have to be able to infect its host somewhere along the digestive tract.

A recent, non-peer-reviewed* Chinese study of 73 possible COVID-19 patients published in Gastroenterology reports that the viral RNA was detectable and viable in the stool of over 50% of patients with COVID-19. During the original SARS coronavirus epidemic, the CDC suggests that “fecal/oral transmission may have occurred in some settings.” Harvard Magazine cites a particular outbreak at a Hong Kong apartment complex where 329 residents were infected with SARS, with a vertical pattern of spread. It’s theorized that faulty plumbing could have facilitated the fecal-oral or fecal-respiratory spread of the virus.

Currently, the CDC reports no fecal-oral transmission of COVID-19, but the possibility is not ruled out.

*As all research on COVID-19 is new, very little, if any, has been through rigorous peer-review processes thus far.

How long does the virus stay on contaminated surfaces?

A study funded by the NIAID and published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in aerosols (airborne droplets smaller than five micrometers) for up to three hours, on copper for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on stainless steel or plastic for up to three days. (Follow the link for more comprehensive graphs of viral load decay.)

This means that if a delivery person or package handler infected with the virus coughs or sneezes on packages or envelopes, the virus can stay on those packages for up to a day, while plastic take-out containers or steelwork surfaces can hold the virus for three days. The viral load on any surface will decrease logarithmically with time; that is, the number of virus particles decreases rapidly at the start, then slowly approaches zero over time.

According to Chapman, there is currently no consensus on the minimum viral load necessary for infection. Some scientists put the number as low as a single virion—given ideal conditions (read: if your food has alone virion on it, you’d have to intensely smear the food on your hands then purposely rub them in your eyes and up your nose).

Should I avoid touching things other people have touched?

Avoiding all potentially contaminated surfaces is unrealistic. Still, there are two easy ways you can minimize the risk: Transfer food and other goods—whether delivered to your door or bought at the store—to clean containers when it makes sense to, and wash your hands thoroughly after checking the mail or venturing out of your home.

Coronavirus is fragile and easily destroyed by hand soap, disinfectant wipes, and cleaning sprays (we’ll get to more specific details on this).

How long does the virus last on food?

The data for how long the virus can remain viable on food is limited, but in general, viral loads remain more stable on non-porous surfaces like metal and plastic and break down faster on organic surfaces like cardboard.

Can I get COVID-19 from touching or eating contaminated food?

there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 has spread through food or food packaging

According to multiple health and safety organizations worldwide, including the CDC, the USDA, and the European Food Safety Authority, there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 has spread through food or food packaging. Previous coronavirus epidemics likewise showed no evidence of having been spread through food or packaging.

Are we sure food isn’t a vector of COVID-19 transmission?

No, we don’t know for sure. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that food is not a vector. The epidemiology of foodborne pathogens is well studied, with government data going back to 1938. The spread pattern of COVID-19 does not fit models of foodborne outbreaks, which are defined as two or more people getting sick from the same contaminated food or drink.

For instance, Singapore has tracked its COVID-19 patients and submitted them to extensive interviews by teams from the Ministry of Health to try to determine patterns of spread. It’s been found that most cases are linked to clusters of people, including hotel guests attending conferences, church groups, and shoppers, while none are linked to contaminated food or drink.

The fact that every person eats multiple times a day and thus far no link has been found between eating and viral clusters are strong evidence that no such link exists.

I’m still not convinced. How could food not be a vector?

Let’s say a food worker coughs while preparing my food, how could I not pick up the virus from eating it? This confused me as well, which is why I specifically inquired about it. According to Chapman, the risk is minimal. Even if a worker sneezes directly into a bowl of raw salad greens before packing it in a take-out container for you to take home, as gross as it is, it’s unlikely to get you sick.

This 2018 overview of both experimental and observational study of respiratory viruses from the scientific journal Current Opinion in Virology (COVIRO) explains that respiratory viruses reproduce along the respiratory tract—a different pathway than the digestive tract food follows when you swallow it. And while you might say that you just inhaled that salad, more likely you ate it with a fork and swallowed it.

What about eating with your hands?

So, if ingesting the virus isn’t a concern, what about this scenario: worker coughs on a cutting board then assembles a hamburger directly on that board before placing it in a take-out container. You then come home and eat that burger with your bare hands, then pick your nose, or do something else that deposits the virus along your respiratory tract. In this situation, the viral load has been diluted several times. First when it was transferred from the board to the burger bun. Next, more viral load was shed when the bun was placed in the takeout container. It is diluted again when you pick up the burger before interacting with your face in inadvisable ways. While he didn’t rule out the possibility of picking up the disease this way, Chapman described it as “a moonshot, even before you touch your face.”

Using clean silverware when possible and washing your hands after eating and before touching your face further minimizes that risk.

Are there any special risks associated with food?

None that have been recognized. Food handlers are specifically trained in proper safety and hygiene procedures. Federal and state-level regulations mandate everything: the location of handwashing sinks, the type of soap used in them, the frequency of work-surface sanitation, the temperature of the dishwasher, the temperature to which various foods must be cooked, the rate at which they must be chilled, the cleaning and storage process for raw product, et cetera. Any restaurant or market that handles, packages, or serves food should be—and usually is—following all of these guidelines. The penalties for noncompliance vary by jurisdiction but are typically severe, ranging from posted notices for minor violations to outright shut-downs to multiple minor violations or major violations. (Here are California’s code and enforcement guidelines, for reference.)

The point is: Eating food is not any riskier than any number of other activities you perform on a daily basis in which you come into contact with items other people have handled. Indeed, the hygiene standards in place at food service operations make that risk even smaller.

Am I more likely to get COVID-19 from take-out, delivery, or cooking at home?

5 Key Things in the $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package

The main risk factor is proximity to other people, so inasmuch as you have a higher chance of coming in contact with other people outside your own home, picking up food is a higher risk than having it delivered or cooking it yourself.

That said, there are other risks associated with cooking at home, particularly in shopping at supermarkets and handling potentially contaminated food packaging. The cook at your local restaurant most likely follows stricter hygiene and safety protocols than the supermarket worker stocking the shelves. A good rule of thumb is to treat anything that comes into your home from outside, whether food, mail or other people, as potentially contaminated and act accordingly. Wash your hands after bringing it home, transfer to clean containers and/or sanitize packaging when possible, and wash your hands before, during, and after cooking. (And stop picking your nose.)

Does Chinese food pose a greater risk than other food? What about imported food and goods?

There’s no indication of additional risk associated with imported foods or other products. Viral load decreases on all products with time—whether that’s a plastic toy or a bunch of bananas. The increased transportation time for imported goods means that it’s far more likely to be contaminated by the person unloading the shipping container or stocking the grocery store shelf than anyone at its point of origin.

While it is true that COVID-19 originated in China, all indications show that the transmission to other countries has been person-to-person, which is why efforts by authorities ranging from state and local governments to the WHO is focused on limiting person-to-person contact, not the movement of goods.

If I’m still concerned, does reheat food before eating it destroy the virus?

Yes. As with any bacteria or virus, safe cooking is a function of temperature and time. The hotter the temperature, the less time you’ll need to reduce viral or bacterial load to a safe level. With salmonella, for instance, 165°F (75°C) is hot enough to make a 5-log reduction in bacterial load in under a second (that is, only one out of every 100,000 bacteria will survive that temperature and time). At 145°F (63°C), the same reduction in pathogens would take around 10 minutes. (Bear in mind this is the temperature of the food, not the oven.)

Temperatures and times for coronavirus are not yet fully researched, but scientists suggest a temperature of 149°F (65°C) for at least 3 minutes is sufficient. Experts assume that the virus will respond like other pathogens and that hotter temperatures will require shorter times, but we currently do not have experimental data to prove it.

When reheating or cooking solid foods, such as a chicken breast, a steak, or a loaf of bread, it is very unlikely that any viral or bacterial load will have penetrated past the surface unless the food has been pierced or cut, so heating just the exterior is sufficient (for safety, if not for palatability).

How do I sterilize my food?

Heat liquids like soups, stews, and sauces to a brief simmer, making sure to stir frequently so that it heats evenly throughout.

Microwave vegetables, pasta, thick purées like mashed potatoes, and meat until piping hot—hot enough that you’d worry about burning your mouth if you took a bite. For most microwaves, that means about 90 seconds per serving on high heat (but microwave power can vary).

Sauté loose bite-sized items like short pasta shapes, loose vegetables, or stir-fries until they maintain a steady sizzle as you stir them around the pan. A minute or two in a preheated skillet is sufficient for a couple of servings.

To reheat cutlets, casseroles, or bread in the oven, preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C), place the food on an oven-safe tray with shallow sides (high sides can block hot air from circulating), and heat until the surface of the food is too hot to touch for more than an instant.

If you own a sous-vide circulator, follow the appropriate sous vide recipe guide in our archives. Treat whatever food you are reheating as if it were starting from raw. (See the next section for more information on the safety of slowly reheating food.)

Chopped-and-formed foods like meatloaf, meatballs, dumplings, falafel, etc. should be thoroughly heated to the center, following the time and temperature guidelines stated above (heat to an internal temperature of at least 149°F/65°C, and hold it there for at least 3 minutes).

If you want to be extra careful, use a digital thermometer to check the temperature of your food inside and out before serving or eating.

Does “the danger zone” apply to SARS-CoV-2?

You may be familiar with the concept of “the danger zone,” the temperature range of 41°F to 135°F in which bacteria thrive. Proper food handling dictates that foods spend no longer than four hours total between those temperature ranges before consumption. When reheating food, this includes the original cook time, the cooling time, and the reheating time (pay extra attention to this when reheating foods sous vide). The good news is that viruses require a host cell to replicate, which means that the coronavirus will not multiply on your food, even within the danger zone. Indeed, just as it does on other surfaces, the viral load on your food will decrease with time.

That said, you should still continue to follow good food safety procedures and mind that danger zone—all the normal bugs are around, even during the coronavirus pandemic.

Are we going to run out of food?

Because limiting your time out of the home can slow the spread of the virus, it’s a good idea to make fewer, larger trips to the supermarket. But how much food do you really need? Initial panic and hoarding behavior has caused short-term shortages at supermarkets and grocery stores across the country. But there’s good news: the FDA reports that there are currently no long-term issues with food supplies. In all likelihood, you’re still going to be able to buy eggs, dairy, dried and canned goods, paper products, fresh meat and produce, and even soap next week and next month. There’s no need to buy a three-month supply of canned soup or years’ worth of toilet paper.

That said, we have yet to see the long-term effects of COVID-19 on farms (especially as it relates to seasonal workers whose dense living arrangements are ripe grounds for coronavirus spread), or the trucking and shipping industry. Food wholesalers will also have to alter supply chains to accommodate higher sales in supermarkets and online retailers, and lower sales in restaurants. Many restaurants have shuttered for an indeterminate period, and others, like my own restaurant, Wursthall, have shifted to limited, take-out-and-and-delivery-only menu formats. (Beyond food safety, this brings with it a host of other economic implications.)

Time will tell, but the reality is that those of us who were food-secure before this outbreak will likely remain so. It’s those of us who were most vulnerable before the outbreak who are most likely to suffer now. I urge you to look into local organizations that assist families and individuals in need to see how you can help. Time and money are equally valuable resources these days.

What’s the safest way to shop at the grocery store or supermarket?

Here’s my strongest recommendation: go to the local grocery store instead of the big shops. Smaller stores mean fewer customers, which lowers the odds of running into infected people and contaminated surfaces.

Moreover, while the Costco and Safeway near my house have had trouble keeping anything on their shelves, I’ve made trips to my local Japanese market, Chinese supermarket, and Latin produce market and found them fully stocked with goods, and nearly empty of people. (And I promise you, they’ll appreciate the business right now).

Here are a few ways you can keep yourself safe at the supermarket:

Go at off-peak hours to avoid crowds. Bonus: Most supermarkets restock their shelves with deliveries late at night. Hit them up at this time or early in the morning and you’ll be rewarded with wide open, freshly stocked aisles.

Keep your distance in line. I’ve seen people lining up right next to each other for the pharmacy and the supermarket checkout. Don’t do that! Wait in line at least 6 feet away from the person in front of you, and gently request that anyone behind you follow the same rule, for everyone’s safety.

Overfill your prescriptions if possible. Talk to your Doctor about ensuring you have enough of your prescription medications to last for at least several weeks to avoid extra trips to the pharmacy.

Using the self-checkout lane reduces your contact with other people, but it also increases interaction with secondary potential infection points, like the touchscreen display and the bar code scanner. On balance, I’d recommend avoiding person-to-person contact over surface contact and stick with the self-checkout. If you do go with a cashier, bag your own groceries rather than having them handled by another person any longer than necessary.

Wash your hands when you get home and if possible, use a hand sanitizer after leaving the store and before touching the door to your vehicle or home.

Don’t hoard. This is not the zombie apocalypse. Get what you’ll need for a few weeks at most.

Use touchless pay systems. Your phone probably already has a touchless pay system you can link to your bank account. If you can’t go touchless, use a credit card and avoid cash when possible.

Is it okay to buy produce from open bins?

So long as you are following proper food preparation procedures at home—clean, separate, cook, and chill—and following the basic hygiene guides explained here and elsewhere, the risk from getting COVID-19 through the products that other people have touched is minimal.

Remember: not a single positive case has been linked to food.

Should I be using antibacterial soap?

There is no advantage to using an antibacterial soap over any other soap. First off, COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not a bacterium. More importantly, the mechanism by which soap protects against viruses is inherent to all soaps. The same properties that make soap effective for cleaning greasy pots and pans make it effective against viruses.

Viruses are protected by a lipid and protein membrane. Soap is a surfactant specifically intended to dissolve lipids. As Professor Pall Thordarson, acting head of chemistry at the University of New South Wales explains in The New York Times, soap molecules act like miniature crowbars that pry open virus particles, effectively neutralizing them.

Any hand or body soap is effective for washing ourselves, no antibacterial agents needed.

What about hand sanitizers?

Assuming you can get a bottle, the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol. Most brands of hand sanitizer fall into this range. I would recommend sticking to regular old soap at home and carrying around a small bottle of sanitizer with you when venturing outside. It’s especially useful to have when you want to sanitize your hands before re-entering your vehicle or touching your front doorknob.

How long does an infected individual remain contagious after their symptoms clear up?

If you’ve had flu-like symptoms including a fever, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, or shortness of breath, but have not been tested for COVID-19, the CDC recommends staying at home for 72 hours after your fever clears and at least 7 days after your symptoms first started. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, they recommend home isolation (that is, staying in a designated “sick room” in your home with minimal contact with other people) until your fever and symptoms have cleared, and two tests took 24 hours apart both return negative results.

How You Can Help Victims With Coronavirus

What special precautions should restaurant owners, kitchen managers, or other folks with food-related businesses be taking?

As the chef/partner at a restaurant, I have a few priorities.

First and foremost is to keep my employees, customers, and community safe from the virus, and to ensure that we are doing our part to keep the virus from spreading. To this end, we’ve implemented the following procedures. Given the unlikelihood of food-borne transmission, many of these steps may be overkill, but they cost us very little to implement and every reasonable chance to reduce transmission is one we should take.

Safety for staff:

Schedule staffing density to levels that allow a minimum of six feet of distance between all employees at all times. As too many small business owners are aware, this is probably the easiest one to implement right now, as there simply isn’t work for a full staff at the moment. Most of our employees have been furloughed for the time being (more on that in the section below).

Do not incentivize working while ill or going out while symptomatic. Encourage your staff to take the epidemic seriously. If you can, offer short-term sick leave without the need for a doctor’s note to avoid unnecessary hospital or doctor’s office visits. If an employee is symptomatic, send them home (with sick leave pay, when possible). If your operation has a sick leave policy that involves the accrual of hours, ignore the accrual and offer full sick leave benefits even to new employees. Currently, the contagion period after symptoms clear up is not known. Any employee who has been positively diagnosed with COVID-19 or has shown the symptoms should continue to stay at home until local health officials deem it safe to resume work.

Hold meetings remotely when possible. If in-person meetings are necessary, keep attendance at a bare minimum and hold the meetings sitting at least six feet apart from one another.

Create systems for contact-free exchange of necessary documents, food, and equipment. Rather than passing equipment or food to each other, one employee will set it on a table, step away, and allow the other to come pick it up. Paychecks and other documents are laid out on a table for employees to walk up to one at a time and pick up as necessary.

Prop open any doors that are regularly accessed, including the entrance to the main kitchen, dish room, prep kitchen, offices, and bathrooms.

Reiterate the importance of hygiene and food safety protocols to all crew members. Communicate those protocols in all languages spoken in the kitchen (in our case that’s English and Spanish) both verbally and in print.

Ensure that handwashing stations, in particular, are well-maintained and that every worker has an adequate supply of soap and gloves to use as necessary.

Provide hand-sanitizing stations to non-kitchen workers where handwashing sinks are not as readily available, such as by the front door or the dining room-side of the pass.

Safety for customers and the community:

Transition to take-out only service. We no longer offer dine-in service and will not resume until scientists and state officials deem it safe to continue.

Remove all physical menus and payment points. Printed menus can be a source of surface transmission of viral particles. We have transitioned to an online-only ordering system. If you must continue to use printed menus, either sanitize plastic-coated menus with an EPA-approved sanitizing product or use single-use paper menus that customers can discard on their own.

Switch to no-contact payment methods. All of our take-out orders must be ordered online. We accept no cash or on-site credit card orders. If you can’t go online-only, encourage the use of contact-free credit card devices and have the POS operator step back from the device before allowing a customer to come up to tap their phone or insert their credit card. Avoid cash as much as possible.

Offer contact-free door opening if possible. Restaurants and businesses that follow current American Disabilities Act guidelines will likely have pneumatically-operated doors with a push switch both inside and out. Encourage its use among staff and with signage for customers, and push the button with a knee or elbow instead of your hand. If possible, keep the front door propped open.

Offer contact-free pickup. We place ready-to-go orders on a table by our front door with the name of the customer who ordered it. We have signage asking guests to maintain six feet of distance with the party in front of them in case of a line (we have not had a line yet, for better or worse).

Remove all condiment bottles, loose napkins, loose silverware, water bottles, and table decorations. Anything that may result in more than one customer touching the same surface is a potential point of cross-contamination.

After physical health, I and my team’s second priority is to work as hard and smart as we possibly can to come up with creative ways to generate revenue that will allow us to rehire employees that we have been forced to furlough, to make sure that employees and their families suffer as little as possible during these tough times, to guarantee that they’ll have a job to return to when this is all over and to use our resources to help those who are most vulnerable in our greater community. To this end, we suggest the following and are still working around the clock to come up with new ways to tackle the problem.

No small business owner wants to see their employees suffer or struggle. We’d move mountains to guarantee their wellbeing if we could.

Guarantee jobs for all furloughed employees as soon as you can generate the revenue to rehire them and guarantee their safety and allow any benefits that are dependent on the length of employment to continue rolling during any shut-down period.

Facilitate the transition to unemployment benefits for all employees who qualify for them. I do not know of any restaurant that is able to keep their full staff employed, which means many folks will be relying on unemployment benefits to make ends meet. Research your state’s unemployment benefit policies and procedures and get the messaging out to staff in all languages spoken at your facility.

Directly assist employees who may be struggling to make ends meet. Those with children out of school, with large families, or with spouses who are also currently out of work especially need help. Our goal is to tactfully and proactively help by providing meals to deliver to employees who need them, and to rehire those who are hit especially hard before those who can weather the storm more easily.

Sell gift cards. We currently offer gift cards redeemable when we eventually reopen that will give customers an additional 10% value when redeemed. This extra cash goes towards maintaining the minimum operating expenses of the business. (Gift cards are not a viable long-term revenue solution, as they don’t generate extra income in the long run, they merely put off debt to an unknown future date.)

Come up with creative alternate revenue streams. Many restaurant owners are forgoing profits and salaries and putting that money back towards directly helping staff and feeding needy community members. Personally, I take no income from Wursthall and I am donating 100% of the commission from my two books sold on bookshop.org towards a fund that will be used to make meals for employees and the greater community. Additionally, we are currently in contact with several organizations to figure out how we can best use our facilities to prepare and get food to those in need. Ideally, our take-out business will be supplemented by a free-meal service that generates enough revenue through donations to be able to hire back our kitchen staff in shifts to prepare meals, and our front of house staff to coordinate and deliver. It’s not easy to redesign a business from the ground up, but every chef I have spoken to is working in the same boat and working on similar projects.

Every other food business owner and chef I’ve spoken to have the same goals in mind. If you have ideas for what business operators could be doing to help their employees or community at this time, please do not hesitate to comment with specific or broad suggestions.

Social distancing, good hygiene, and avoiding touching your face are the most important precautions you should be taking, but there are other ways to help stay healthy. First, as much as you can, try to get good sleep, reduce stress, eat well, and relax. Meta-analyses of scientific research show that long-term stress and fatigue can weaken your immune system’s response to infection, and a healthy immune system is your first line of defense not just against the coronavirus, but against a host of other pathogens that could get you sick and potentially take up valuable healthcare resources.

As difficult as it may be to keep your mind relaxed, now is not the time to stress about work or get angry about politics (or to stay up all night researching and writing articles, for that matter). Turn toward hobbies you know bring you comfort and relaxation. Play some video games. Do some puzzles. Spend time with your family.

One good way to keep yourself occupied. Clean your living space, especially hard, high-traffic surfaces. Wipe down counters, refrigerators, doors (especially the handles), and bathroom fixtures with an EPA-approved disinfectant cleaning product a couple of times a day, and more frequently if you are still going in and out of your house or handling packages that have been delivered to you.

(And if you’re the type of person that finds cooking and eating relaxing, well I know a great place to find recipes, a pretty good cookbook,** and a decent restaurant that’s still open for take-out in the Bay Area.)

If you order either my first book, The Food Lab or my upcoming children’s book Every Night is Pizza Night through that link, not only will 100% of my sales commission be going directly towards producing food to be served free of charge to needy families and individuals affected by school and business shut-downs in San Mateo, an additional 10% of the sale cost will go to a nationwide network of independent bookstores.

How can I help?

Aside from keeping yourself, your family, and your community safe by following distancing and hygiene protocols, the best way you can help is most likely at a local level. In my own research I’ve found that the organizations most in need are those addressing folks who were already food-insecure before the outbreak occurred. Homeless shelters and programs that distribute food to children and seniors seem to be particularly hard-up for monetary and food donations.

Local healthcare workers and emergency responders are also working hard around the clock. In many communities, grassroots organizations are already springing up to try and connect individual donors and restaurants with food resources to spare with hospitals and healthcare workers. It’s worth a local Google search to try and find organizations in your area.

On a national level, Charity Navigator has a list of highly-rated charities that are directly working on COVID-19 relief.

Here are a couple more frequently asked questions that are not directly related to food safety.

How fast does Covid-19 spread?

The International Journal of Infectious Disease reports that the early phase of the COVID-19 epidemic has shown exponential growth—in line with the World Health Organization’s assessment. What is exponential growth? It means that over each given measurement period (say, each day), the number of cases will increase by the same factor.

With exponential growth, small differences in the growth factor can affect large downstream changes. That is why slowing the spread early on (“flattening the curve”) is so important.

Why does Covid-19 seem to be spreading faster than previous coronavirus epidemics?

One likely answer is “stealth” spreading. Those infected with SARS-CoV-2 typically don’t show symptoms for several days, and even then, symptoms can be mild, leading them to attend public events and mingle with crowds as they normally would. Consequently, according to a mathematical simulation published in the journal Science, 86% of Covid-19 infections were undocumented prior to the January 23rd travel restrictions implemented by many countries, following the World Health Organization declared that the outbreak was an international emergency.

Here in the US, folks have still been partying like it’s 1999 as recently as last weekend, despite the advice given by Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Infectious Disease (NIAID), to lawmakers last Wednesday, urging them to tell constituents to cancel parties and large events. Some politicians have even suggested people go out to the pub. (This is bad advice.)

Additionally, the journal Nature reports that researchers have identified an enzyme found in human cells called furin that might factor into Covid-19 activation. This is significant because furin is found in cells in the lungs, liver, and small intestines, making them all potential sites for Covid-19 infection, though the scientists warn that this is still an untested hypothesis and that coronaviruses can act unpredictably.

What exactly does “flatten the curve” mean?

“Flattening the curve” is not necessarily about limiting the total number of infections caused by the outbreak. Rather, the idea is to spread those infections out over as long a period of time as possible in order to ease the strain on our healthcare system.

The New York Times reported on a Harvard University analysis that showed that even in a moderate scenario that assumes 40% of American adults contract the coronavirus sometime in the next 12 months, hospitals in many areas of the country will need two to three times the number of beds they currently have. If that same 40% gets infected in a six-month period, that number jumps up to four to six times as many.

Intensive Care Units (ICU) will be hit even harder. New York State has a total of 3,000 ICU beds, only 600 of which are currently unoccupied. At the current rate of spread, epidemiologists—scientists who study the spread of diseases—predict that the outbreak will peak in New York in 45 days, requiring 37,200 ICU beds. That’s over 60 times as many beds as are currently available.

Spreading out the infections over a longer period of time can also buy medical researchers more time to work on a vaccine to further slow the spread of the disease.

5 KEY THINGS IN THE $2 TRILLION CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS PACKAGE

HOW YOU CAN HELP VICTIMS WITH CORONAVIRUS

5 Key Things in the $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package

The largest economic stimulus measure in modern history would authorize direct payments to taxpayers and loans to small businesses and create a $500 billion corporate bailout fund.

By Catie Edmondson

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials and top Democrats finalized an agreement early Wednesday morning on a roughly $2 trillion rescue package to confront the coronavirus pandemic, the largest economic stimulus measure in modern history.

After days of partisan bickering and closed-door haggling, negotiators emerged from their final huddle and announced that they had struck a deal to send relief to workers, businesses, and hospitals devastated by the pandemic and the economic disruption it has caused. The Senate is expected to pass the mammoth bill later on Wednesday and send it over to the House, which is also planning to move quickly to send it to President Trump for swift enactment.

The sheer size and scope of the package would have been unthinkable only a couple of weeks ago in a deeply polarized Congress that has found it impossible in recent years to agree on major new policy initiatives.

“In effect, this is a wartime level of investment into our nation,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said on the Senate floor in announcing the deal.
Here’s what’s in the Stimulus Package.

The government will send direct payments to taxpayers.

The U.S. Now Leads the World in Confirmed Coronavirus Cases

Lawmakers agreed to provide $1,200 in direct payments to taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 per year before starting to phase out and ending altogether for those earning more than $99,000. Families would receive an additional $500 per child, in an attempt to create a safety net for those whose jobs and businesses are affected by the pandemic.

Unemployment benefits will grow substantially and go to many more Americans.

Lawmakers agreed to a significant expansion of unemployment benefits that would extend jobless insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits. At the insistence of Democrats, the program was broadened to include freelancers, furloughed employees and gig workers, such as Uber drivers.

Small businesses will receive emergency loans if they keep their workers.

The bill provides federally guaranteed loans available at community banks to small businesses that pledge not to lay off their workers. The loans would be available during an emergency period ending June 30 and would be forgiven if the employer continued to pay workers for the duration of the crisis.

“There is broad general agreement that small businesses in this country will not be able to survive unless there is extraordinary assistance,” said Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and the chairman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, who worked with Democrats to create the program. “The goal is to keep employees connected to their employers so that people aren’t just having to stay home and aren’t just feeling the stress of being laid off, but the uncertainty of whether they’ll even have a job to go back to.”

Distressed companies can receive government bailouts — but with strings attached.

Loans for distressed companies would come from a $425 billion fund controlled by the Federal Reserve, and an additional $75 billion would be available for industry-specific loans — including to airlines and hotels.

The creation of the Federal Reserve fund was one of the chief sticking points in the negotiations, as grim memories of the 2008 Wall Street bailout — which activists in both parties came to regard as a flawed program that benefited rich corporations at the expense of American workers — hung over the negotiations. Democrats successfully pressed for immediate disclosure of the recipients and stronger oversight, including installing an inspector general and congressionally appointed board to monitor it. Companies that benefit could not engage in stock buybacks while they received government assistance, and for an additional year after that.

Democrats also secured a provision ensuring that Trump family businesses — or those of any other senior government officials — cannot receive loan money through that fund, though they could potentially still benefit from other parts of the bill.

Hospitals staggering under the burden of the coronavirus would receive aid.

The agreement includes $100 billion for hospitals and health systems across the nation, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, told Democrats in an early morning letter. It also includes billions more, he said, to furnish personal and protective equipment and increased for health care workers, testing supplies, and new construction to house patients.

Lawmakers also agreed to increase Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers, the letter said.

Emily Cochrane and Nicholas Fandos contributed to reporting.

Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide

The U.S. Now Leads the World in Confirmed Coronavirus Cases

By Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Scientists warned that the United States someday would become the country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. That moment arrived on Thursday.

In the United States, at least 81,321 people are known to have been infected with the coronavirus, including more than 1,000 deaths — more cases than China, Italy or any other country has seen, according to data gathered by The New York Times.

With 330 million residents, the United States is the world’s third most populous nation, meaning it provides a vast pool of people who can potentially get Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

And it is a sprawling, cacophonous democracy, where states set their own policies and President Trump has sent mixed messages about the scale of the danger and how to fight it, ensuring there was no coherent, unified response to a grave public health threat.

A series of missteps and lost opportunities dogged the nation’s response. Among them: a failure to take the pandemic seriously even as it engulfed China, a deeply flawed effort to provide broad testing for the virus that left the country blind to the extent of the crisis, and a dire shortage of masks and protective gear to protect doctors and nurses on the front lines, as well as ventilators to keep critically ill alive.

China’s leaders, stung by the SARS epidemic in 2003 and several bird flu scares since then, were slow to respond to the outbreak that began in the city of Wuhan, as local officials suppressed news of the outbreak.

But China’s autocratic government acted with ferocious intensity after the belated start, eventually shutting down swaths of the country. Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan quickly began preparing for the worst.

The United States instead remained preoccupied with business as usual. Impeachment. Harvey Weinstein. Brexit and the Oscars.

Only a few virologists recognized the threat for what it was. The virus was not influenza, but it had the hallmarks of the Spanish flu: relatively low lethality, but relentlessly transmissible.

What the cameras missed — in part because Beijing made Western journalists’ lives difficult by withholding visas and imposing quarantines — was the slow, relentless way China’s public health system was hunting down the virus, case by case, cluster by cluster, city by city.

For now, at least, China has contained the coronavirus with draconian measures. But the pathogen had embarked on a Grand Tour of most countries on Earth, with devastating epidemics in Iran, Italy, France. More videos emerged of prostrate victims, exhausted nurses, and lines of coffins.

The United States, which should have been ready, was not. This country has an unsurpassed medical system supported by trillions of dollars from insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid. Armies of doctors’ transplant hearts and cure cancer.

The public health system, limping along on local tax receipts, kills mosquitoes and traces the contacts of people with sexually transmitted diseases. It has been outmatched by the pandemic.

There was no Pentagon ready to fight the war on this pandemic, no wartime draft law. There was eventually a White House Coronavirus Task Force, but it has been led by politicians, not medical experts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the great disease-detective agencies in the world, and its doctors have contributed mightily in skirmishes against Ebola, Zika, and any number of other health threats.

But the agency retreated into silence, its director, Dr. Robert Redfield, almost invisible — humbled by a fiasco in the failure to produce basic diagnostic testing.

Now, at least 160 million Americans have been ordered to stay home in states from California to New York. Schools are closed, often along with bars, restaurants, and many other businesses. Hospitals are coping with soaring numbers of patients in New York City, even as supplies of essential protective gear and equipment dwindle.

Other hospitals, other communities fear what may be becoming.

The world will be a different place when the pandemic is over. India may surpass the United States as the country with the most deaths. Like the United States, it, too, is a vast, democracy with deep internal divisions. But its population, 1.3 billion, is far larger, and its people are crowded even more tightly into megacities.

China could still stumble into a new round of contagion as its economy restarts and be forced to do it all again.

In the meantime, with the virus loose in the streets while millions of Americans huddle indoors, when will it be safe to come out and go back to work?

“The virus will tell us,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical School.

When a baseline of daily testing is established across the country, a drop in the percentage of positive tests will signal that the virus has found as many hosts as it can for the moment and is beginning to recede.

When hospital admissions have hit a clear peak and begun to plateau, “we can feel optimistic,” Dr. Schaffner said. “And when they begin to drop, we can begin to smile.”

That moment may arrive this summer. But as soon as the first of Americans begin venturing cautiously out, we will have to start planning for the second wave.

Staying Calm And Focused In Times Of Coronavirus Panic: Awesome At Home Activities To Get Started Today

5 Key Things in the $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Staying Calm And Focused In Times Of Coronavirus Panic: Awesome At Home Activities To Get Started Today

As COVID-19 slowly makes its entrance into major cities and tiny suburbs throughout the country, it’s becoming progressively more challenging to remain calm and not panic.

We have been told by authorities to remain in our homes in order to avoid spreading COVID-19. However, that does not mean that we need to go bananas inside and focus entirely on what is occurring in the world outside. You should attempt to restrict just how much news you watch. Particularly some of the overhyped reporting that just propagates fear and anxiety. Most importantly, get updates and information from trusted sources, and then focus your attention elsewhere.

You can limit contact with other individuals and clean your hands more thoroughly, but your ability to stay calm originates from within. That means you’ll need to take the necessary steps in minimizing your stress and anxiety and promoting calmness while the virus runs its course.

We’re going to discuss three of the very best methods in which you can stay calm and focused in times of COVID-19 panic!
Meditation & Mindfulness

You’re concerned and stressed out as a result of the fast spread of the Corona-virus. If you’ve never tried meditation or any mindfulness processes in the past, this is the best time to partake in them and get some practice under your belt.

According to the Mayo Center, meditation can play a big function in helping you to keep your psychological and psychological health, even benefiting aspects of your physical health.

Here’s what meditation can do for you.

● Greater outlook on life (positivity).
● Increased feelings of peace.
● Greater self-awareness.
● Lowered levels of stress and tension.
● Enhanced focus.

The greatest part is: There are a lot of different types of meditation.

If you have the ability to focus for extended periods of time, you may desire to try guided meditations or visualization strategies. When you’re seeking to remain more active while you’re quarantined, you can do yoga or Pilates.
Finding a Creative Outlet.

You may be confined in your house for the next couple of weeks, however, that doesn’t mean you need to resort to going insane. That’ll most likely just escalate your feelings of panic during such trying times!

This is the opportunity to try out some new (or old) activities and interests. When you’re concentrated on building or creating something new, you’re reducing the degree of focus on the negativity surrounding you. That suggests imagination is a strong technique in assisting you to relax.

A creative outlet can be nearly anything. Here are a couple of things you may wish to experiment with (if you have the supplies in your home).

● Painting, coloring, or sketching.
● Singing or playing musical instruments.
● Taking pictures or videos of things you enjoy.
● Put together something with things lying around your house.
● Composing.
● Puzzles.
● Reading something and then composing an essay about it (yes, remember English 101 class?). This is a fantastic way to take your mind off the world’s problems.

Basically, the goal here is to find an activity or task that demands an extreme degree of focus and makes you happy. You won’t even realize that you’ve just invested the last hour drawing your favorite cartoon character.

Giving Back & Assisting Others.

It’s completely natural to be afraid of the unknown however giving back to others can help you to confront this fear once and for all. When you’re giving back to your local community or assisting those in need, you’ll be providing compassion and happiness in the atmosphere instead of fear, stress, and anxiety.

With numerous individuals ill or self-quarantined, the majority of people aren’t allowed to leave their homes. Nevertheless, those people do still have needs that they now can’t satisfy on their own.

As long as you’re keeping your distance and not exposing anybody to the virus, you can deliver food and groceries or do things like mowing their lawn or walk their dog. It’ll make you feel good about yourself while also helping those who require it! Call your neighbors, post something on your Facebook to let those in need know you are readily available to help in any way and provide your contact information.

Final Thoughts.

You can’t do anything yourself when it concerns treating or stopping the spread of COVID-19, however, there are things you can do that can lessen your panic and invoke an overwhelming sense of peace.

By taking advantage of mindfulness, finding a creative outlet, and even giving back to those who require it, you’ll be able to remain calm and focused even now!

Stimulus Checks Should Go Out This Week Or Next

The U.S. Now Leads the World in Confirmed Coronavirus Cases