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Coronavirus live updates: American life is shutting down; dire China numbers hint at worse to come

State officials and mayors began imposing the most severe emergency measures to date over the weekend, pushing the United States into a state of quarantine as the new coronavirus spreads more rapidly and brings daily life to a standstill nationwide.

At least four states and a host of cities effectively forced restaurants, bars and other businesses to shut their doors. Widespread school closures and bans on large gatherings are also set to take effect.

In Washington, the Federal Reserve said Sunday it would drop interest rates to zero, part of a sweeping emergency action to make borrowing costs as low as possible and protect the economy as it hurtles toward recession.

As of early Monday, at least 67 people had died and more than 3,700 people had tested positive for the virus, after a dramatic jump over the weekend. In just 24 hours, the number of cases jumped by nearly a third, Vice President Mike Pence said.

Still, at the White House, President Trump and other administration officials offered mixed messaging about the pandemic.

“We’re doing great. It will all pass,” he said, encouraging Americans to “relax” and stop flocking to supermarkets to load up on groceries and other supplies.

But the weekend was nonetheless marked by chaos at airports around the country, as workers struggled to carry out “enhanced entry screenings” for travelers coming from Europe. Terminals were packed to the brim, flights were delayed for hours and passengers were stuck on long lines as they received questions about their health and instructions to self-quarantine.

At hospitals, meanwhile, medical professionals are bracing for the worst as they attempt to expand bed capacity and set up triage tents in preparation for an expected surge in coronavirus patients.

The pandemic cast a heavy shadow over the Democratic presidential debate, too, where former candidates Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) collided on health policy — in front of an an empty audience, as states delay their primaries over the virus.

On Monday, Google will launch one of its much-anticipated websites dedicated to combating the pandemic and the White House says it will issue new guidance for Americans on how to best practice social distancing.

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