WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States would close its border with Canada to “non-essential traffic” and New York City moved nearer to ordering residents to stay at home as the country struggled to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The glimmering casinos of Las Vegas, America’s gambling capital, were ordered to go dark starting on Wednesday as the disruption caused by the pandemic stretched into nearly every aspect of American life.
“This is only common sense,” said Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak in mandating the closure of all non-essential businesses, including the casinos that drive his state’s economy.
With cases of the respiratory illness caused by the virus reported in all 50 states and the total number of known U.S. infections surging past 6,400, millions of Americans stayed at home instead of commuting to work or going to school. The U.S. death toll has topped 100.
Many people have lost jobs with numerous businesses closing during the crisis even as President Donald Trump’s administration works with Congress to approve economic stimulus legislation.
“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected. Details to follow!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Wall Street’s main indexes slumped at the open on Wednesday as growing signs of coronavirus damage to corporate America overshadowed optimism about sweeping official moves to protect the economy.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that he was “almost to the point” of recommending the most populous U.S. city adopt a “shelter-in-place” policy that would keep residents confined to their homes.
De Blasio, speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, said he planned to speak with Governor Andrew Cuomo about the matter later in the day. New York City had 923 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Tuesday evening. De Blasio said he expects the number of cases in his city to increase rapidly.
“We are going to top 1,000 today undoubtedly. We are going to be at 10,000 not so long from now,” the mayor said.
“We have a little bit more we have to make sense of – how we are going to get people food and medicine,” de Blasio said when asked how close he was to implementing the “shelter-in-place” policy in the city of more than 8 million people. “But I have to say it has to be considered seriously starting today.”
New York, Washington state and California are the states with the most cases of the virus.
Health officials appealed to youth to “do their part” by heeding guidelines on self-isolation to blunt the coronavirus outbreak and warned that the White House may have to extend its action plan if 15 days proves insufficient.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey in Washington and Maria Caspani in New York; Additional reporting by Nathan Layne; Writing by Will Dunham and Daniel Trotta; Editing by David Gregorio)