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Virus-related shutdowns bringing US economy to grinding halt

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How did the picture darken so sharply, so quickly? The speed of the virus’ spread appeared to surprise economists as it hopscotched to 117 countries, including the United States, infecting a documented total of roughly 150,000 people worldwide and killing more than 5,500. And what health experts agree was the U.S. government’s fumbling early response to the crisis has undermined the confidence of consumers, investors and businesses. Anxieties have escalated. U.S. officials are bracing for a dramatic acceleration of cases — beyond the roughly 2,200 that have been documented so far in 49 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, like fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. Yet as the gravity of the crisis had seeped into public consciousness, suddenly everyone is shrinking from public gatherings of any real size for fear of contracting the virus, and organizers can’t call off events fast enough. […]

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