New York suburb faces containment zone; UK emergency rate cut


The Atlantic Council’s Coronavirus Alert is a regular summary of policy, economic, and business events around the emergency. To stay updated, sign up to the Coronavirus Alert here.


Authorities plan to impose a containment zone around a New York suburb to contain a cluster of coronavirus cases, which have now surpassed 1,000 in the United States. The Bank of England made an emergency cut in interest rates in a bid to lessen the economic impact, while the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak started a gradual return to work.


There are now in excess of 120,000 cases worldwide in almost 120 countries and territories; more than 4,300 people have died.  

QUOTE: “[O]fficials must pull the trigger on aggressive interventions. Time matters. Two weeks of delay can mean the difference between success and failure,” Tom Bossert, Atlantic Council distinguished fellow who served as homeland security adviser to US President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to 2018, writes in The Washington Post. “If we fail to take action, we will watch our health-care system be overwhelmed.”


  • New York plans to create a one-mile containment zone around New Rochelle, a suburb of the city in Westchester County, in a bid to stop the spread of an outbreak of coronavirus there, CNN reported. The 108 cases in the suburb probably makes it the largest cluster in the United States, CNN said. There were more than 170 cases in New York state as of March 10, The Wall Street Journal said.
  • The outbreak in the United States has surpassed 1,000 in thirty-eight states and Washington DC, The New York Times reported, citing its own database. At least thirty-one people have died from coronavirus, the article said. “How Delays in Testing Set Back the US Coronavirus Response” a headline in the paper says.
  • Residents and workers from at least eleven elder-care facilities in the Seattle area have tested positive for coronavirus, and at least three of which have reported deaths, The Wall Street Journal said. The Life Care Center of Kirkland, east of the city, is linked to nineteen of the twenty-two fatalities in King County through March 9, the Journal reported.
  • UK health minister Nadine Dorries has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating, the BBC reported. Six people have now died from the virus in the UK, with 382 cases confirmed, the BBC said.
  • Up to 70 percent of the population is likely to be infected with coronavirus, Reuters cited German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying. “When the virus is out there, the population has no immunity and no therapy exists, then 60 to 70 percent of the population will be infected,” she told a press conference, the newswire reported. Merkel promised to do “whatever is necessary” to confront the crisis, Bloomberg said.
  • A shortage of chemicals used for preparing samples may delay coronavirus test results, Politico reported, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield. “Increased demand for testing has the potential to exhaust supplies needed to perform the testing itself,” news service Stat cited the American Society of Microbiology as saying on its website.
  • Hubei, the Chinese province where the coronavirus outbreak was first discovered, has started a staggered return to work, its government said today, the Financial Times reported. “How China Slowed Coronavirus: Lockdowns, Surveillance, Enforcers,” runs a headline in The Wall Street Journal.

QUOTE: “We would like the country to realize that as a nation, we can’t be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a White House briefing, CNN reported. “Everybody should say, ‘All hands on deck.’”


  • The Bank of England made an unexpected cut to interest rates, by 0.5 percentage points to 0.25 percent, in response to the “economic shock” of coronavirus, the Financial Times said. That’s the biggest cut since March 2009. While the “magnitude of the economic shock” is still very uncertain, “activity is likely to weaken materially in the United Kingdom over the coming months,” the FT cited the Bank as saying.
  • The US Treasury will probably push back the April 15 tax filing deadline as part of measures to counter the economic effects of coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal said. Neither a final decision, nor the mechanics of how the measure would work in practice, are settled, the paper said.
  • A recession in the nineteen-nation euro bloc “looks unavoidable” in the first half because of the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, HSBC said in a report, Bloomberg said. Italy will bear the brunt of the downturn and Germany will also go into recession, HSBC said. Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, said leaders need to act urgently to avoid a major economic shock similar to the global financial crisis, Bloomberg also reported.
  • Germany’s finance minister and senior bankers will meet on March 13 to discuss measures to mitigate the economic impact of coronavirus, Reuters reported. German ports are braced for their trade to take a large hit in coming days due to a plunge in shipments from China, the newswire said in a separate article.
  • Thailand has approved almost $13 billion in a stimulus package to bolster an economy reliant on tourism and exports, the Financial Times reported.

QUOTE: “More economic disruption is coming, and the administration’s focus should be on preparing people to absorb the shocks,” Jason L. Riley writes in The Wall Street Journal. “Hope that Mr. Trump’s efforts to protect public health will be based on the vast amounts of information and expertise at a president’s disposal.”


  • Informa Group, a conference organizer, may have to postpone as many as one-hundred events in spring and summer worth an estimated £450 million, Conference & Incentive Travel reported.  
  • Coachella music festival, due to take place in the California desert next month, is postponed until October, following a request by local health officials, the BBC said.

QUOTE: “We have no idea when a recovery will take place and we don’t know exactly what it would look like,” said Patrick Healy, chairman of the airline Cathay Pacific, which warned of a substantial loss in the first half, Reuters reported. “All we know is we remain in a very dynamic situation.”


From the Atlantic Council